Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights has condemned the Illegal Migration Bill, warning the UK risks “turning its back on the vast majority of refugees”. The 152-page report will embolden opponents of the measures ahead of the Bill’s final stages in the Lords.
The committee, whose members include former Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman and leading Labour barrister Baroness Kennedy, warns Britain is in danger of breaching international human rights obligations. Key measures in the Bill give ministers the power to deport anyone who arrives in the country illegally, and to bar migrants’ asylum claims.
SNP barrister Joanna Cherry, who chairs the group, said the Bill breached the European Convention on Human Rights, adding: “Most people fleeing persecution or conflict have no safe and legal way of getting here.
“Under the Bill, any refugee or victim of modern slavery who comes to the UK irregularly and indirectly, as most do, will have their asylum claim declared inadmissible.
“They will also be subject to detention without time limit and removal from the UK irrespective of the merits of their claims.”
But Dame Andrea Jenkyns, a former education minister, defended the goals of the Bill.
She said: “Britain has demonstrated she is one of the most generous nations in the world, giving safe home to tens of thousands of Ukrainian, Afghani, and Hong Kong refugees, but no nation can survive with an open border policy that sees waves of people arrive on our shores each day.”
The Home Office is rowing back on plans to house asylum seekers in a barge near Liverpool.
Peel Ports Group, operator of The Port of Liverpool, said it could “not see any conceivable scenario” in which public services would be “able to provide the necessary support” for refugee accommodation in the Birkenhead area.
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