Members of the Lords have savaged the government’s latest Rwanda bill, which seeks to overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling that the country is unsafe for refugees.


By 274 votes to 172, the upper chamber backed an amendment insisting that the new legislation must comply with the law. The Lords inflicted four further defeats on the government by supporting further amendments attacking the bill.


The Supreme Court has ruled that Rwanda is not a safe country to send asylum seekers, as there is a danger that they could be sent back to their countries of origin, where they risk being tortured or killed.


Lord Clarke, the former Conservative chancellor, home secretary and justice minister, warned the government that it could not legally choose to decide the facts of a case independently of a Supreme Court decision.


He said: “I cannot recall a precedent in my time where a Government of any complexion have produced a Bill which asserts a matter of fact—facts to be fact.

“It then goes on to say that it should be regarded legally as a fact interminably, until and unless the bill is changed, and that no court should even consider any question of the facts being otherwise.”


He added: “It is no good blaming the Human Rights Act; I do not believe that it was in any way probable that the British courts were going to come to any other conclusion.”


If the bill became law, Lord Clarke said that the Supreme Court would probably strike it down again  “as incompatible with the constitutional arrangements  which we prize so much in this country.”


Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights has insisted that the proposed Rwanda legislation was “fundamentally incompatible” with the UK’s human rights obligations and would flout international law.


Separately, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has also warned the Bill threatens to breach the UK’s obligations under international law.


Meanwhile, the latest government figures released to the National Audit Office  have revealed that the cost of sending 300 asylum seekers to Rwanda would amount to £1.8 million per person. Even if the UK sends no-one to the African country, the cost will be £370 million over five years.


Diana Johnson, the chair of the home affairs select committee and a Labour MP, expressed shock at the costs.

“These are staggering figures. Huge initial outlay and ongoing costs raise serious questions about how this can be cost-effective, even compared to high hotel accommodation costs.

“What we are left with is a very expensive programme the government hopes may offer a deterrent to those seeking to cross the Channel in small boats. Yet, there is little evidence for this either.

“Unless the government deals with the realities of the situation and focuses its energy and the public’s money on fixing the real issues in the asylum and immigration system, it will achieve nothing.”,1.8m%20per%20asylum%20seeker.