MP Sir Jeremy Wright says some proposed changes to Illegal Migration Bill not welcome - The Leamington Observer

MP Sir Jeremy Wright says some proposed changes to Illegal Migration Bill not welcome

REGULAR readers will know I have written before about the Illegal Migration Bill, which is now reaching the end of its journey through the House of Commons and will then move to the House of Lords. I have set out previously my concerns with this Bill, but in some respects, there has been positive progress. The Bill had proposed to exclude from entering the UK for longer periods, or from gaining citizenship, all those coming to the UK on small boats against the rules, including those who did so as a baby or a very young child, when of course they would have had no say in the matter. It does not seem to me right that anyone should be penalised for the decisions their parents made in these circumstances and so I am pleased to see the Government proposing to remove the imposition of punitive consequences on those whose parents have contravened the rules. There may be further clarification required in the House of Lords but this is a move in the right direction.

I had also been concerned that cracking down on illegal migration needs to go hand in hand with greater access to and clarity on safe and legal routes into the UK for those who should be able to rely on them. It is therefore encouraging to see the Government accept an amendment I support to ensure that provision for such safe and legal routes is made broadly in parallel with the measures in the rest of the Bill.

However, not all the changes to the Bill being proposed by Ministers are in my view welcome. As I have said before, I do not think that if the UK were to leave the European Convention on Human Rights, and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights, human rights in this country would be in peril. Our own courts can and do safeguard rights in a variety of scenarios and can do so by reference to our own statutes and common law. However, I can also see why, at a time when we are seeking to define and establish a new global role post Brexit, and to agree a variety of treaties and agreements with other countries, on trade and other things, where our consistency and commitment to international agreements we have signed will be a consideration for those we negotiate with, we may not want to choose this moment to leave the ECHR. There are decent arguments for either position. I cannot however see decent arguments for having it both ways. It cannot be right to claim we can remain committed to the ECHR and also claim we can reject the jurisdiction of the court which supervises the operation of the convention, the acceptance of which is part of membership. To do so would not be consistent with the rule of law and not sensible in the context of the other important international negotiations I mentioned. I cannot support changes to the Bill that will have that effect.

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