Tag Archives: nationality and borders bill

The Nasty and Brutish Bill

Not its formal title of course (that’s Nationality and Borders), but it better describes the anti-asylum seekers, refugees and victims of modern slavery bill that was passed last night.

I wrote on Lib Dem Voice in January in what now seem relatively moderate terms criticising the Bill which has been opposed by, among others, the UNHCR.  I won’t write an essay now, but I want to say how grateful we are to colleagues in the party for all that so many do, working and volunteering in the sector – and to share some of what happened at the last stages of what earlier today became an Act of Parliament.

The last vote called would have made it quite clear that the Bill / Act complies with the Refugee Convention. The amendment, considered necessary by some of the most senior lawyers in the land (and by Lord (Ken) Clark, who understood the duties of a Lord Chancellor), was moved by Shami Chakrabarti who was splendid.  The Labour front bench took the view that we were at the end of the road on the Bill, and while they supported the principle were not prepared to vote to support one of their own. But she did call a vote – if she hadn’t, we were geared up to do so.  It was defeated 157 to 212.

The 157 included 35 Labour peers (their group is 167 – the others who were here abstained); and 72 Liberal Democrats (out of 83). You can work out how the percentages compare.

The previous day a vote was called by a Bishop (and they don’t do these things lightly) on offshoring / outsourcing. 221 opponents defeated the 216 of us who supported it and who included 73 Lib Dems and 102 Labour.

Posted in Op-eds | 5 Comments

Farron: Nationality and Borders Bill worst legislation I’ve seen in 17 years

In a passionate speech in the House of Commons yesterday, Tim Farron condemned the Nationality and Borders Bill saying it is based on a bogus premise, that we are swamped by asylum seekers. He slammed the “utterly bogus, completely contrived and arbitrary notion” that asylum seekers should be treated if they got here by illegal routes.

Farron asked why are we not granting asylum seekers the right to work? He said if MPs vote for this Bill, “they are voting for deaths in the channel”. People come here not because of the pull factor, but because of the push factor and …

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Brian Paddick: the Lords takes up cudgels against the Nationality and Borders Bill

I am sure we have all been appalled by the scenes in Ukraine and share a feeling of helplessness.

Over the weekend the Home Office have said that Ukrainian nationals, without close relatives in the UK, fleeing the war in Ukraine must apply for a visa to come to the UK “in the normal way” and one Minister went as far as to say people could come here – on the condition they agreed to be seasonal workers picking cabbage and kale.

Today in the House of Lords we vote on the Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill.

In recent times, only 6% of immigrants to the UK have been refugees and yet 94% of the Bill is aimed at making it more difficult for those fleeing situations like Ukraine to come to the UK.

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Welsh Lib Dems call for UK to follow Ireland and let in Ukrainian refugees

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have called on the UK Conservative Government to axe the Nationality and Borders Bill amid the ongoing Russian Invasion of Ukraine. In a letter to Home Secretary Minister Priti Patel, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds has urged her to drop the “cruel” bill stating that the events over the last few days demonstrates its “cruel consequences”.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have also called on the Government to follow the lead of Ireland and waive visa requirements for all Ukrainians and open a resettlement scheme immediately.

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Showing understanding, welcome and humanity – The Windermere Children

I was moved to tears watching “The Windermere Children” on TV this week.

It told the story of how, in 1945, our government took in 700 traumatised children from the camps in Germany and Poland. They had witnessed scenes more harrowing than we can imagine, almost certainly lost all of their family, killed by the Nazis.

300 of them were taken to a place near to Lake Windermere, and I saw how gradually they began to understand that they were free, were not going to be taken away, that they were loved, welcomed and treated with respect.

All the way through they were treated with dignity. Trauma was understood and taken account of. Time was given for them to express what had happened in their own way. Any wrong doing was not punished in way usual for those times, but with understanding and in a way that they understood what was wrong. The love and welcome were consistent.

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Sally Hamwee writes…Lib Dem Lords will do our best to fight Nationality and Borders Bill

Ministers quite often urge “professional curiosity”,  a probing, analytical approach, not a careless, unthoughtful, knee-jerk response.  They haven’t applied it to the Nationality and Borders Bill – that’s the Bill that creates deserving and undeserving asylum-seekers, allows the Home Secretary to make people stateless, and provides for pushing back small boats at sea. And more.

Professional (political) curiosity should also prompt questions from us all about how a Bill (whose 100 plus pages I would like to throw out almost wholesale) can have any appeal.  Have people had bad encounters with individual refugees? Unlikely. Is it fear of the “other”? We are a mongrel nation; I tick the “White Briton” box, but I often think about what recent immigrants my family were.  Is it insecurity about housing, jobs, the economy? Quite possibly – and that’s where government effort should go, along with taking a lead on integration and valuing refugees.  This Bill extends the hostile environment to one of aggressive hostility.

Nor is it trauma-informed, and won’t become so by asserting that this is what guides the Home Office.  That’s the very clear view of the many organisations who know that assessing an asylum seeker’s age is not a straightforward matter of science, but should be about safeguarding (there’s a lot in the Bill that’s very damaging to children).  And that someone who has been subject to appalling experiences at home and undertaken an almost unimaginable journey to the UK is not going to be able instantly to relate their story fully and cogently, or probably for a considerable time (if ever).

We are told the Bill is to break the business model of smugglers.  I thought that politicians who admire successful business people should understand that they find ways round obstacles. The Bill will strengthen their hold over asylum seekers; it plays into their business model.

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We must oppose illiberal powers to strip British people of citizenship

Our illiberal Government is trying to strengthen its ability to deprive people of British citizenship. We must take action to worsen a two-tier system of citizenship for those who have been born British citizens.

How did this mess begin?

Originally, the Home Secretary could only deprive naturalised citizens of citizenship, and not if it would make someone stateless. This power wasn’t used until 2002. Then, Labour expanded the power to cover British-born citizens. We were the only major party to oppose. In 2006, Labour expanded the power once again, and again we were the only major party to oppose.

Unfortunately, the Coalition widened the power’s illiberality. In 2014, it expanded the deprivation powers to foreign-born British citizens without dual nationality, allowing them to be made stateless if the Government believed they could obtain citizenship elsewhere.

Under Javid, the Government used this power on a British-born citizen without dual citizenship, on the assumption that they could theoretically become a citizen of another country. The use of these powers also increased. Between 2006-2012, the power was used 21 times – but 104 times in 2017.

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