The Archbishop of Canterbury is expected to criticise the government’s Illegal Migration Bill as the controversial legislation is debated in the House of Lords today.
Justin Welby has previously slated the government’s treatment of migrants, including its flagship Rwanda deportation plan.
It is likely he will be similarly critical of the contents of the Illegal Migration Bill, which seeks to detain and then deport anyone arriving in the UK on a small boat – sending people either to their country of origin or a third nation like Rwanda.
The bill also looks to limit the ability of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to prevent the deportation of asylum seekers.
Archbishop to speak in House of Lords – Politics latest
The archbishop made an intervention in the Lords last December, saying that “control has become cruelty” in the migration system – adding that the country needs a system “which balances effective, accurate and clear control with compassion and dignity, a system which is based in our history and proper moral responsibilities”.
Archbishop Welby also branded the Rwanda deportation scheme “opposite the nature of God” just over a year ago after it was announced by the Boris Johnson administration.
The debate in the Lords is due to start this morning, with almost 100 members of the upper house expected to speak.
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Alf Dubs, who escaped from the Nazis on the Kindertransport – an organised effort to save children from the Holocaust – is one of those on the order paper, alongside former Conservative leader Michael Howard and ex-chancellor Norman Lamont.
The legislation is the latest attempt by the Conservative government to “stop the boats” – one of Rishi Sunak’s five pledges made in January this year.
More than 40,000 people made the journey last year despite the passage of the Nationality and Borders Act, and a further 6,000 have already crossed in 2023.
Writing in The Times this morning, Suella Braverman, the home secretary, and Alex Chalk, the justice secretary, urged peers not to stand in the way of the “will of the British people” by impeding the legislation.
While some amendments will be tabled today, the key votes are expected later this summer.
No one has yet been sent to Rwanda, with the Illegal Migration Bill aiming to make this easier and make legal challenges less likely to stick.
Another pillar of the plan is the hosting of people arriving in the UK at former military bases and on ships before they are ex-patriated.
One such vessel – the Bibby Stockholm barge – has just arrived in the UK for refurbishment, after which it will head to Portland on the Dorset coast, where it will host migrants.
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Jim Draper, the leader of Portland town council, told Sky News this morning that the authority “had sort of been promised some money” by the government, but had not seen any of it yet.
Mr Draper said his “small council on the south coast can’t really stand up to the might of the Home Office”, even with threats of legal action made by their own – Tory – MP, Richard Drax.