This week the Nationality and Borders Bill returned to the House of Commons for it’s final reading. Despite months of line-by-line scrutiny in committee, the Bill has not been improved and I remain fiercely opposed to it.
Watch my speech here.
This Bill was driven by a Home Secretary intent on extending the Conservative’s hostile environment policies to ensure migrants and asylum seekers feel unwelcome and unwanted in the UK.
Not only is the legislation dangerous, but it is also poorly written. Demonstrated by the fact the Government tabled 80 amendments to its own Bill after Committee scrutiny had concluded.
I voted against the Bill.
Speaking against the Bill during this week’s debate, I raised my particular concerns around Clause 9 of the Bill. This gives the Home Secretary the power to deprive a person of their British citizenship without any prior warning.
In my speech I said:
The Government declare that citizenship is a privilege not a right. They have got it backwards. Citizenship is a right not a privilege, and this clause represents a fundamental breach of the rule of law.
I secured my British citizenship in the 1980s after nearly two decades in this country. It is people like me, and those with migrant heritage who have the most to fear from this Clause, and this Government.
Black, Asian and minority ethnic people, whether they are migrants or not, are frightened of what this Government could do to them, particularly in the wake of the Windrush scandal.
To deprive someone of their citizenship is a serious undertaking and it should be subject to appropriate safeguards – that must include giving individuals notice.
I added my name to Amendment 12 which would have removed this Clause from the Bill in its entirety.
Watch the clip from my speech here.
I also supported several proposed amendments, including amendments to:
- criminalise those who advertise dangerous Channel crossings on social media;
- create an offence of human trafficking for sexual exploitation;
- remove differential treatment and offshoring proposals from the Bill;
- expand the BNO visa scheme for young Hong Kong nationals;
- reduce fees for registering a child as a British citizenship to cost-price;
- scrap fees for those who have served more than five years in our armed forces when applying for indefinite leave to remain;
- protect child victims of modern slavery;
- reintroduce a safe route for unaccompanied children;
- expand family reunion for unaccompanied children;
- and restrict the use of age assessments.
Frustratingly, but not unsurprisingly, the Government made its opposition to all of these proposed amendments clear and they were to made to the Bill.
Despite opposition to the Bill, the votes of Tory MPs pushed the Bill through by 298 to 231. With passage in the Commons now complete, the Bill will be considered in the House of Lords in the New Year.