The House of Lords has voted in favour of four amendments to the Illegal Migration bill that would strengthen the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.


Baroness Chakrabarti’s amendment says that the Illegal Migration bill must conform to the UK’s obligations under relevant international human rights treaties. According to the Baroness, “These are the [European Convention on Human Rights] of 1950, the refugee convention of 1951, the conventions on statelessness of 1954 and 1961, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989, and the anti-trafficking convention of 2005”.

She asserted,“This interpretation amendment is essential to protecting the most vulnerable people, including by any amendments to follow. It is equally important for the international rules-based order and for our reputation as a great democracy in a troubled world.”

The Lords also voted to remove the provision of the bill that would see the duty to deport apply retrospectively to those who arrived in the UK without permission from March 7th, when the bill was introduced, rather than when it receives royal assent and enters into law.


Lord Dubs’ amendment protecting the rights of unaccompanied children was also passed. Under the bill, lone minors arriving “illegally” would be unable to apply for asylum.


Lord Dubs said: “The clear point is this: the impact of the Bill will be that children claiming asylum in the UK will automatically be turned away, based on the method by which they have travelled and arrived in the UK. That, in effect, will mean that children will be refused an application for asylum, regardless of their need for protection as child refugees. … What we are doing with this Bill is shutting the door on some of the most vulnerable human beings on earth: refugee children. These are children who have escaped the most appalling situations. The Government was wobbly even in the Commons during Report on this issue, and the right thing would be for them to accept this amendment. There is absolutely no argument why they should turn their backs on children, the most vulnerable refugees that there are.”


The fourth successful amendment opposed the bill’s stipulation that victims of modern slavery or human trafficking could be removed from the UK.


Lord Hunt explained, ‘Like many noble Lords, I was very proud and very supportive of the Government when the Modern Slavery Act was taken through Parliament. This Bill undermines that Act completely. The Minister has not come up with one substantive piece of evidence to suggest that there is a fault in the actual system contained in that legislation. Unamended, this Bill is a completely untried and untested proposal, but it will undoubtedly strengthen the hands of the trafficking networks. Traffickers know; they keep people under control with threats that they will not receive help if they reach out to the authorities. We really must remove this provision.”