The government secures victory as the Lords challenge on the “Illegal Migration Bill” ends

The “Illegal Migration Bill” is poised to become legislation following the government’s success in winning a series of final votes in the House of Lords. This bill is central to the prime minister’s commitment to curbing the number of small boats crossing the English Channel.

It imposes a legal obligation on the home secretary to detain and remove individuals who enter the UK illegally. In a late-night debate in the House of Lords, attempts to reintroduce time limits on child detention and modern slavery protections were rejected. The bill will now proceed to royal assent and become law.

The legislation stipulates that the government must detain and remove those who arrive in the UK unlawfully, either to Rwanda or another deemed “safe” third country. However, there are no similar return agreements in place with any other countries, and the Court of Appeal recently deemed the Rwanda plan unlawful, although ministers are challenging this judgement.

For weeks, the government has been engaged in a struggle with the House of Lords over the final shape of the bill, with a cross-party group of peers repeatedly proposing amendments. The bill has undergone multiple exchanges between the House of Commons and the House of Lords in a process known as parliamentary ping-pong.

Among the rejected amendments, one sought regular reports from the National Crime Agency on immigration crime operations every three months. Peers voted against this by a majority of 35. Another amendment aimed to provide safeguards for victims of modern slavery based in the UK, proposing a 14-day grace period to access support and cooperate with criminal proceedings against traffickers.

During the Lords debate, Home Office minister Lord Murray of Blidworth highlighted the strain that small boat arrivals had placed on the UK’s asylum system, with daily accommodation costs amounting to £6 million for taxpayers.

The resolution of the impasse between peers and MPs now paves the way for the bill to receive royal assent, officially turning it into an Act of Parliament or law.

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