Tragically last week the Government persuaded sufficient Conservative MPs to vote for the Nationality and Borders Bill at its third reading and they also prevented any changes being achieved. The eight clauses and one schedule were attempts to reduce the damage that this Bill creates for people seeking asylum and our Nations credibility. Ironically Priti Patel who has taken two years to form the Bill which she promised much earlier has blamed MPs for “delaying tactics” just because some of them used two days last week to try to improve the Bill. The MPs who took part in these debates and voted were from all political groups including the Conservative Party. In the debate prior to the vote for the Bill’s third reading Yvette Cooper for Labour responded to Priti Patel. Her comments included these words which should challenge credible MPs.
Far from cracking down on the criminal gangs and the smugglers, this Bill makes things worse. The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and former top police chief, Sara Thornton, has warned the Government repeatedly that the policies in this Bill will severely limit our ability to convict perpetrators and dismantle organised crime groups. I can tell the Home Secretary that the Labour party will not support letting vile people traffickers and criminal gangs off the hook in the way that she is prepared to do.
Tragically 297 Conservatives voted for the Bill and sadly only two of our Sussex Conservative MPs refused to do so. Although Caroline Ansell and Huw Merriman did not vote for the Bill, they sadly did not support any of the amendments although both of them avoided voting against several of the amendments. Our three Sussex opposition MPs voted against the Bill and Caroline Lucas and Lloyd Russell-Moyle also voted for all of the amendments, while Peter Kyle voted for 7 of the 9 amendments. Sadly only 229 MPs from several political groups voted to prevent the Bill being read for its third time. Although it was voted to go forward, we can be grateful that along with our five Sussex MPs who did not support the Bill that several other Conservatives across the UK also did not do so. These included Simon Hoare, Caroline Nokes and David Davis who had voted in favour of one or more of the amendments last week. It was also fantastic that two Sussex Conservative MPs voted for amendments. Tim Loughton voted for two of them and Henry Smith voted for one, yet both of them endorsed the Bill even though their amendments were prevented. Another four of the Sussex Conservative MPs refused to oppose for at least one of the amendments last week. Another well-known MP who did not vote for the Bill was Theresa May the previous Prime Ministers who spoke in one of the debates for an amendment last Wednesday.
I am concerned that the public order disqualification threshold and the time period on slavery and trafficking information notices will also have that effect. Does she share my concerns about those aspects and hope that the Minister will address them specifically today?
Another previous Party Leader, Iain Duncan Smith voted for one of the amendments although sadly he did vote for the Bill. One of his comments was:
if such amendments are not tabled in the other place (the House of Lords), others will table an amendment and we will bring it back to this House for a vote.
The comments from MPs in the debates last week also included several Sussex MPs, all of whom were Conservatives. Along with comments from Henry Smith and Tim Loughton there was one from Nusrat Ghani. She spoke about a clause that was set out by Damian Green which relates to the protection of young people from Hong Kong. Sadly, it did not get voted for last week and yet despite this Nusrat and Damian have both voted for the Bill. It is clearly vital that the Bill does not get approved until many of the changes are voted for and have been successful. Another Sussex MP who spoke during the discussion was Sally Ann-Hart. She was clearly speaking on behalf of the Bill and this is very sad as we need people to get the Bill changed very significantly before it is finished. Along with Sally there a many other Sussex MPs who voted for the Bill and against all of the changes. Let us hope that they will pay attention to constituents who have a very different perspective on Asylum Seeking. One of the ways of that is through a petition that was formed at the end of November. It already has 90,000 signatures and it is calling to Remove Clause 9 from the Bill, it is clear that many people in our nation are unhappy with this Bill.