©House of Lords / Roger Harris

Rwanda Bill sent back to MPs after peers inflict seven defeats on government

The Safety of Rwanda Bill has been sent back to MPs by peers, after the House of Lords inflicted seven defeats on the government on Wednesday evening.

The Lords voted that the government’s bill should have “due regard” for international law, and that the UK’s treaty with Rwanda should be fully implemented before flights start. 

Peers defeated the government on all seven votes by margins of around 50, including passing an amendment that would exempt individuals who have supported British troops from deportation to Rwanda.

When peers voted on amendments on Monday, the government lost by around 100 votes. 

Then, in a series of vote on Tuesday evening, a majority of MPs in the House of Commons voted to disregard the Lords’ amendments. 

Speaking in the Lords debate in Wednesday, Labour’s Vernon Coaker told peers that the reputation of the country was at stake, stressing that it “can’t be right” that the fundamental bill exempts ministers from following international law.

He criticised the House of Commons for rejecting all the Lords’ initial amendments “carte blanche”.

He also bemoaned the continuing parliamentary ping pong which is set to continue after the Easter recess, saying it was the “government’s own management of its own timetable”.

While prime minister Rishi Sunak has said he wants flights to get off the ground in the spring, it is unclear if the two parliamentary houses will be able to reach a consensus before they go on recess next week.

This means that a new vote will need to be scheduled in the commons for MPs to consider the changes.

The defeats for the government on Wednesday included:

  • An amendment to make sure the legislation has “due regard” for international law (271 votes to 228).
  • An amendment that states it is only safe in Rwanda while the provision in the treaty with the UK is in place (285 to 230).
  • An amendment to check whether Rwanda complies with its treaty obligations (276 to 226).
  • An amendment allowing individual appeals based on safety in Rwanda (263 to 233).
  • An amendment requiring age assessments for those being deported to be carried out by the local authority (249 to 219).
  • An amendment preventing those who say they are victims of modern slavery from being deported (251 to 214).
  • An amendment to prevent the deportation of those who have served with or for the UK’s armed forces (248 to 209).

Politics.co.uk is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of UK politics. Subscribe to our daily newsletter here.