Today MPs debated whether the Home Secretary should be able to remove people’s citizenship even if this makes them stateless, as the Immigration Bill’s most controversial clause returned to the House of Commons.
The proposals expand on existing citizenship-revoking powers by removing a ban on making people stateless, if the Home Secretary believes they have done something ‘seriously prejudicial’ to the UK’s interests.
The clause was first introduced the night before the Bill’s last reading in the Commons. Members of the Lords, as well as the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights expressed deep concerns that there was not enough time for proper scrutiny of the proposals. Peers and legal experts also questioned whether the clause could breach international laws, and whether it could harm international relations.
Leading barrister Lord Pannick QC tabled an amendment calling for a committee comprising both peers and MPs to scrutinise the laws before they entered into force. This was voted through 242-181.
This morning the government introduced new amendments in an attempt to head off this Lords rebellion. These comprised a reviewer to examine the laws every three years, and a commitment that the Home Secretary will only make individuals stateless if there are ‘reasonable grounds for believing’ the individual will be able to get a new citizenship of another country. These amendments were voted through 305-239 and will now return to the Lords.
Bureau reporters Patrick Galey and Alice Ross live-tweeted the debate – the key tweets from them and others using the #CitizenshipRevoked hashtag are in the Storify presentation below.
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