What did MPs want to change in Priti Patel’s controversial immigration bill?

The Nationality and Borders Bill has cleared the House of Commons after all amendments were voted down. Here are the key changes cross-party MPs wanted to make

<p>The home secretary has faced criticism from her own backbenchers over some of the changes in the bill </p>

The home secretary has faced criticism from her own backbenchers over some of the changes in the bill

The Nationality and Borders Bill – a series of proposals, spearheaded by home secretary Priti Patel, which the government says will “fix the UK’s broken asylum system” - has cleared the House of Commons this week.

The Home Office has said the tragedy in the Channel last month, in which 27 people drowned while trying to cross to the UK on a small boat, demonstrates why it is important that the new legislation is passed.

However, the bill has faced fierce criticism and more than 80 pages of amendments were tabled to it. Many of these amendments were put forward by MPs – including a number of Conservatives – who are concerned about the impact it will have in its current form.

But the attempts to make changes to the bill failed to pass this week. MPs gave the legislation a third reading by 298 votes to 231, meaning it passed to the House of Lords with a majority of 67.

Campaigners and experts said they were “appalled” that the bill had passed, warning that the proposed policies such as pushbacks in the Channel and offshore processing would have a “disastrous” impact.

Here are some of the amendments that MPs proposed, which outline some of the concerns they have about the bill.

Remove clause allowing asylum seekers to be processed offshore

An amendment tabled by David Davis, and signed by 19 other MPs including prominent Conservatives Andrew Mitchell and Caroline Nokes, sought to scrap the plans in the bill to send people to another country while their asylum claims are processed.

The Home Office has already floated proposals to place asylum seekers offshore in Gibraltar, the Scottish islands and Albania – but all of those governments have swiftly responded with anger and stated that they have no plans to agree to such an arrangement.

Speaking to The Independent about the plan last month, Mr Davis described the offshoring plan as “unworkable” and accused the government of floating “macho-sounding” policies to appeal to voters, when in fact they are “expensive and ineffective”.

New clause to prevent Home Office from charging child British citizenship fees which exceed cost of processing the application

An amendment that gained 85 signatories would have prevented the government from charging children the £1,012 fee which it currently costs to register for British citizenship, and abolished such fees altogether for looked-after children until they reach the age of 21.

The proposed change, tabled by Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy, would have also required the government to produce a report setting out the effect of these fees on children’s human rights.

The cost of processing a child citizenship application is £372 – less than half of the fee charged by the Home Office. A freedom of information request submitted by Citizens UK revealed this week that the department made £102.7m profit from these applications between 2017-2020.

Ms Ribeiro-Addy MP said it was “shameful” that “government profiteering” was “blocking” children who have grown up British from enjoying their citizenship rights.

New clause to allow young Hong Kongers with a British National Overseas (BNO) parent to apply for UK status

An amendment tabled by Tory MP Damian Green, and signed by 42 other MPs – including 24 Conservatives – would have extended the UK’s settlement route for Hong Kong nationals to include swathes of young people who are currently excluded due to their age.

The British National Overseas (BNO) scheme requires that applicants hold a BNO passport - documents that were issued to citizens following the handover of Hong Kong from the UK to China in 1997, meaning anyone born after that date does not hold one.

The amendment sought to allow those born after 1997 to resettle in Britain on the basis of the BNO status of one or both of their parents, rather than having to travel with them.

Speaking to The Independent last month, Mr Green said Britain had a “moral obligation” to the young Hong Kong citizens who are currently excluded from the programme and urged ministers to accept his amendment in order to rectify the “unfair” policy.

New clause to grant a physical document for people granted EU settled status

Thirty-six MPs, including a number of Tories, signed an amendment to require the government to issue a physical certificate when granting status under the EU settlement scheme, allowing all those with such status to provide documentary proof.

The change, tabled by Labour’s Meg Hillier, sought to address concerns about difficulties EU nationals in the UK – who have had to apply for EU settlement in order to remain in the country following Brexit - have faced in proving their immigration status to employers, landlords and others.

In September, the ScottishWelsh and Northern Irish governments wrote a letter to the immigration minister raising alarm about the issue, warning that denying EU nationals a physical document would lead “at best to confusion and at worst to discrimination”.

Amend clause so that use of ‘pushbacks’ in the Channel is banned

An amendment tabled by chair of the human rights committee Harriet Harman sought to prevent the use of maritime enforcement powers ‘in a manner that would endanger lives at sea”.

The government’s pushback proposal, which is set to see Border Force boats physically turning back dinghies heading from France to the UK, is one of a set of hardline measures in Priti Patel’s Nationality and Borders Bill designed to make it tougher for asylum seekers to make their claims in Britain.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) said last week that pushbacks would “create a situation where state actors were actively placing individuals in situations that would increase the risk” of drowning.

Remove clause that would enable the Home Office to deprive UK nationals of citizenship without notice

An amendment tabled by David Davis and co-signed by nine other MPs sought to remove a clause in the bill that would allow the home secretary to strip people in the UK of their British citizenship without prior warning.

The Home Office says it would be used if authorities do not have the subject’s contact details or if it is not “reasonably practical” to do so, or is it is “in the public interest” not to notify those deprived of their citizenship.

But campaigners say these new powers would make it harder for those who are stripped of citizenship to appeal against the Home Office’s decision. The department insists that those deprived of their citizenship would still have the right to appeal.

New clause to extend basic support for trafficking victims to 12 months

An amendment tabled by Sir Iain Duncan Smith would sought to provide a fairer system for individuals who have been identified by the government as being victims of modern slavery.

This would have provided new long-term statutory support to confirmed victims of trafficking in England and Wales for 12 months, and would also have given leave to remain for 12 months to those victims who are receiving this support.

New clause to allow a person in France to claim asylum in the UK in certain circumstances

An amendment tabled by Labour MP Neil Coyle would have allowed migrants to seek “humanitarian visas” in France, allowing them to be transported safely across the Channel to claim asylum.

Currently, people fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries cannot claim asylum in the UK unless they take an unauthorised, and often highly dangerous, journey to British shores. there is currently nothing

Mr Coyle told The Independent last week the proposed change would “save lives, help us meet our international obligations and prevent money going to smugglers", adding that the government’s plans as they stood would cause “more dangerous routes and more risk to people seeking to reach the UK”.

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