Documents to download

The Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill has three stated objectives: 

  • To increase the fairness of the system to better protect and support those in need of asylum.
  • To deter illegal entry into the United Kingdom, thereby breaking the business model of people smuggling networks and protecting the lives of those they endanger.
  • To remove more easily those with no right to be in the UK. 

The bill would also make changes to nationality law and to processes for identifying and protecting victims of trafficking or modern slavery. The Government contends that the bill will deliver comprehensive reform to fix what it calls a dysfunctional asylum system. 

However, several provisions in the bill have proven highly controversial. They include powers related to the so called ‘pushback’ of those seeking to cross the Channel in small boats, the creation of two tiers of those seeking asylum, and the Government’s interpretation of the 1951 refugee convention. The bill has attracted criticism from refugee advocacy groups, the Joint Committee on Human Rights, the UN Refugee Agency, and others. Other political parties have been similarly critical. Labour, the Scottish National Party, and the Liberal Democrats all voted against the bill being given a second reading in the House of Commons. It passed by a margin of 366 votes to 265. 

The Government subsequently moved over 100 amendments at committee and report stages, which have been incorporated into the bill. Some of these amendments were introduced to correct drafting errors or make minor administrative changes. However, a significant number were substantial, replacing ‘placeholder’ clauses that had previously been present in the bill, or introducing new policy provisions. These included the deprivation of British citizenship without notice, which again has generated significant debate. 

A range of opposition amendments were also moved during these stages but were either withdraw or defeated at division. Opposition parties again voted against the bill at third reading, where it was passed by 298 votes to 231. 

On 5 January 2022, the second reading of the bill is scheduled to take place in the House of Lords. This briefing concentrates on changes made to the bill during its passage through the House of Commons ahead of consideration in the Lords. Recent statistics on asylum and immigration, and links to further background reading and relevant documents, are also provided.

Documents to download

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