Reforms will speed up the removal of people with no right to be here and enhance safeguards to protect unaccompanied children.

Today, Friday 21 April, the government has tabled a number of amendments to the Illegal Migration Bill to strengthen it further, ahead of it returning to Parliament next week – helping to deliver our priority of stopping the boats.

The amendments tabled this week will help to speed up the removal of people with no right to be here and enhance safeguards for unaccompanied children who cross the Channel in small boats.

Amendments also include a commitment to consult local authorities within three months of the Bill becoming law to understand their capacity to support people coming to the UK through safe and legal routes, and to publish a report on existing, and any proposed additional safe and legal routes, within six months of the Bill becoming law.

Together these will provide greater clarity and ensure progress on delivering our plans for safe and legal routes with an annual cap, agreed by Parliament, to ensure we are properly supporting people to rebuild their lives in the way communities would expect.

The UK will continue to play a world-leading role in protecting those in need who come to the country illegally. However, to tackle the abuse of the system which detracts from our ability to help those in need, further amendments are being made to ensure the UK can better protect its borders.

To speed up removals, amendments will make clear that the UK’s domestic courts cannot apply any interim measure to stop someone being removed if they bring forward a legal challenge, aside from in the narrow route available under the Bill where they are at risk of serious and irreversible harm.

Instead, challenges would be heard remotely after the person concerned had been removed. This will ensure that someone would only be able to apply for a domestic injunction to prevent their removal if they were to face “serious and irreversible harm” in the country they were due to be removed to.

Amendments will also make clear that ministers may exercise discretion in relation to interim measures issued by the European Court of Human Rights, and set certain principles under which they would make a decision whether to comply or not. Alongside the amendment, the government is having constructive discussions regarding reform to the Rule 39 process in Strasbourg, to support greater timeliness, accountability and representation in such cases.

Further amendments include:

  • giving immigration officers new powers to search for and seize electronic devices like mobile phones from people who come to the UK illegally – to help them assess whether someone has the right to be in the UK
  • increasing protections around the safeguarding risk caused by adults pretending to be children, by bringing in new regulations that will see age-disputed people treated as an adult if they refuse to undergo a scientific age assessment.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said:

The British public are rightly fed up with people coming to the UK through dangerous small boat crossings, and myself and the Prime Minister are absolutely committed to stopping the boats once and for all.

The changes I am announcing today will help secure our borders and make it easier for us to remove people by preventing them from making last minute, bogus claims, while ensuring we strengthen our safe and legal routes.

My focus remains on ensuring this landmark piece of legislation does what it is intended to do, and we now must work to pass it through Parliament as soon as possible so we can stop the boats.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said:

It is not fair that people can pay criminal gangs thousands of pounds and pass through multiple safe countries to come to the UK illegally.

The only way to break the business model of the evil people smugglers and secure our borders is to make sure that if people come to the UK illegally, they won’t be able to stay.

These amendments will make it easier to swiftly remove individuals who come here illegally from safe countries, whilst re-affirming our commitment to help those directly from regions of conflict and instability.

These new powers are part of further amendments tabled by the government today to strengthen the landmark Illegal Migration Bill, which will see people who come to the UK illegally in scope for detention and swift removal.

The amendments relating to safe and legal routes were laid by Tim Loughton MP, and measures to prevent UK courts from interfering to stop a removal were laid by Danny Kruger MP – the government will support these measures when the Bill goes back to the House of Commons for report stage next week. The remaining measures have been tabled by the government.

The amendments will be published later today on the Parliamentary website: Illegal Migration Bill publications – Parliamentary Bills – UK Parliament

Published 21 April 2023