City of Sanctuary is deeply disappointed that the Commons rejected all the Lords’ amendments yesterday, 25th April. This followed a wide campaign across the sector with many of our supporters writing to their MPs asking them to support the progressive amendments to the Immigration Bill,
Commons debated and voted on the Lords amendments and all of the non-government amendments were rejected by the Commons:
Amendment 87: Unaccompanied refugee children: relocation and support (3,000 children) was narrowly defeated after a good debate and to cries of “Shame” by 294 to 276. The Government restated its previous position∗ (see below) about focussing assistance on those most in need outside of the EU and noted that “it would involve a charge on public funds”. Lord Dubs has tabled a compromise amendment for the Lords.
Amendment 60 Overseas domestic workers. Vote lost by 304 to 268. The Government offered a concession to use s.4(1) 1971 Act to ensure that where an overseas domestic work is referred to NRM, leave/permission to work is continued without having to make a further application.
Amendment 84: Immigration Detention time limit and judicial oversight. Vote lost 302 to 266, government amendment A passed instead. The Government has promised a short review in 12-18 months to measure impact of measures implemented. It states that there will be a removal plan for each person entering detention, a quarterly panel review – removal plans subject to internal scrutiny – and the automatic bail hearing at 6 months.
Amendment 85: Guidance on the Detention of Vulnerable Persons (prohibiting the detention of pregnant women). Vote lost 302 to 266. Government amendments A and B passed instead. The Government argues it needs to keep detention for certain limited circumstances (e.g. public risk, poor compliance history, etc.) and states that anyone going into detention will have a detailed consideration of appropriateness of detention as part of removal plan. Baroness Lister is proposing further amendments for the Lords
59: Asylum Seekers: permission to work after six months. Vote lost 303 to 60. No substantial debate of this issue as the focus was on the 3,000 children amendment. However, the Labour party abstained in the vote, thereby failing to support a policy that they had put their name to and voted for in the Lords!
Click here to see what is going back to the Lords today and the official reasons for refusing the Lords amendments.
Update from House of Lords 26th April:
“Government defeated on Lords amendments”
Lords Dubs’ compromise amendment was passed by 279 votes to 172. It will ensure the relocation of “a specified number of unaccompanied refugee children from other countries in Europe” to be determined by the Government in consultation with local authorities.
Lord Ramsbotham’s amendment on time limits on detention was passed by 271 votes to 206 and a further amendment regarding the detention of pregnant women tabled by Baroness Lister was also passed by 259 votes to 203.
Lord Alton’s compromise amendment which would have given asylum seekers permission to work after nine months was defeated (157 in favour and 217 against) because Labour did not support it. Lord Rosser (Labour) stated “we are currently reviewing this issue as part of a wider policy review and consequently we will not be supporting the Motion sending the matter back again to the Commons—albeit now saying nine months rather than six months”
As Lord Alton tactfully responded “I am disappointed that the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, feels unable today to come into the Lobby with us. After all, he was a signatory to this very same amendment, when it provided for six months, when it was before your Lordships’ House on a previous occasion.”
The amendments approved by the Lords will now go back to the Commons for reconsideration.
∗ Government concession on children at risk
In a written statement on refugees and resettlement (21 April), James Brokenshire, outlined that 3,000 children at risk would be resettled to the UK from the Middle East and North Africa between now and 2020. This is in addition to the 20,000 who will be brought to the UK under the Syrian Resettlement Scheme. “Children at risk” will include unaccompanied children and separated children, as well as child carers and those at the risk of child labour, child marriage or other forms of neglect, abuse or exploitation. Click here for the full statement.