Despite impassioned opposition, the bill aiming to curb small boat Channel crossings survives a significant challenge.
Amid a wave of controversy, the House of Lords dismissed a critical challenge to the Illegal Migration Bill. The motion, proposed by the Liberal Democrats, was decisively defeated by a substantial majority of 103 votes, with a final tally of 179 to 76.
Dubbed a ‘fatal motion’, this attempted legislative blockade was designed to thwart the Bill’s goal of ending small boat Channel crossings, a frequent method of illegal migration. However, the Lords’ resounding rejection has breathed new life into the divisive legislation.
Lord Paddick, proposer of the defeated motion, echoed widespread concerns: “This Bill is all pain and no gain. This is a question of principle.” His sentiments were mirrored by figures like the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, who had earlier deemed the Bill “morally unacceptable and politically impractical”.
The response from the Government has been pointed. Former Brexit chief negotiator and minister, Lord Frost, took a stand against critics, “I disagree with [the Bill] being shameful, inhuman, immoral or even evil. I actually rather resent it.” He further justified the legislation, arguing that the UK, like any sovereign nation, should maintain control over its borders and immigration policies.
Simultaneously, proponents of the Bill, like Home Office minister Lord Murray of Blidworth, highlight its moral underpinnings: “We must end the callous exploitation of vulnerable people by the people smugglers… uphold the law and ensure fair play for those who abide by our immigration rules.”
The fierce debate reached a fever pitch during a 10-hour session in the House of Lords. Tory former immigration minister, Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate, criticised the Government’s approach, suggesting it “will actually have the opposite outcomes to those expected.”
This bill’s journey has been marked by harsh criticism, moral questioning, and fiery debate. Yet, with this defeat, the Illegal Migration Bill has taken a significant step towards becoming law, sparking profound implications for the UK’s immigration and asylum policy.