This week, the Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill returned to the House of Commons for its final stages before moving to the House of Lords.
I have opposed this Bill at every opportunity as I do not believe it deals with the fundamental issues in our asylum system. It proposes unworkable solutions that will cost the taxpayer and it undermines international humanitarian conventions at a time when cooperation is needed more than ever.
The Government says the Bill is needed to stop dangerous crossings of the English Channel and to return people who travel in them. Yet Ministers have failed to negotiate a single returns agreement with EU countries and nothing in this Bill changes that. That is why only five people have been returned this year.
The Government claims the Bill will mean push backs at sea even though Border Force officials have said it is dangerous and unworkable. The Government claims the Bill will mean offshore processing even though no country has agreed and the cost to the taxpayer is huge. It claims the Bill will fix the asylum system even though it will add even longer delays to asylum cases being assessed. And it claims the Bill will stop trafficking gangs even though it reduces protections for modern slavery and trafficking victims.
I supported several proposed amendments to the Bill this week, including amendments to: criminalise those who advertise dangerous Channel crossings on social media; remove clause 9 of the Bill relating to citizenship; protect child victims of modern slavery; reintroduce a safe route for unaccompanied children; expand family reunion for unaccompanied children; and restrict the use of age assessments.
I also supported proposed amendments to: create an offence of human trafficking for sexual exploitation; remove differential treatment and offshoring proposals from the Bill; expand the BNO visa scheme for young Hong Kong nationals; reduce fees for registering a child as a British citizenship to cost-price; scrap fees for those who have served more than five years in our armed forces when applying for indefinite leave to remain.
Regretfully, not all of these amendments were voted on due to time restrictions. Unfortunately, the Government made its opposition to all these proposed amendments clear and they were not made to the Bill.
I once again voted against the Bill in its entirety at its Third Reading. However, the votes of Government MPs pushed Bill through by 298 to 231. The Bill will now be considered by the House of Lords.