The Nationality and Borders Bill returned to the House of Lords for the second time on Monday 4th April where the Lords stood firm on their previous amendments to the Bill. In total, the Bill suffered 12 defeats, with only one win for the government.

The Lords reaffirmed their commitment to remove the harshest elements of the Bill, including proposals that would provide the Home Secretary the ability to remove citizenship without notice and imposing a two-tier system on asylum-seekers based on how they enter the UK.

The Lords further voted to: allow asylum seekers to work if their case has not been resolved within six months; have a target for the number of refugees Britain should resettle each year; and to allow unaccompanied child asylum seekers in Europe to join a family member legally in the UK. They further supported proposals to ensure that the Bill complied with the 1951 Refugee Convention.

After 12 defeats, the only vote to go in the government’s favour was over whether the best interests of a child must be the “primary consideration” in decisions about under-18s.

So what’s next?

The Bill will now be returned to the House of Commons for further debate on Wednesday 20th April. Until the House of Lords and House of Commons can agree on the final wording of the Bill, it cannot pass into law and will continue to be passed between the Chambers in a process known as ‘ping pong’. 

Due to a lack of time remaining before Parliament is prorogued at the end of this month, the government could be forced to make compromises in order to get the Bill passed in time. The usual convention is that the Lords would allow a Bill to pass if MPs make it clear that they do not support the amendments from the House of Lords. The Nationality and Borders Bill, however, is not a conventional Bill. So far, the Lords have stuck to their demands and we urge them to continue to stand firm. 

There are still various actions that you can take, including writing to your MP before the Bill returns to the House of Commons to tell them that you oppose the Bill in its unamended form. Have a look at our ‘One Last Push’ campaign for how to write to your MP (including a written template) and for ideas about what else you can do next.

By Eliska Holland, Advocacy Volunteer