Scottish, Welsh ministers condemn “barbaric” proposals on Channel crossings
Ministers for Scotland and Wales jointly condemned the UK government’s Nationality and Borders Bill as “barbaric” measures – and warned that the legislation may require the approval of the Parliaments of Edinburgh and Cardiff.
Scottish Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison and her Welsh counterpart Jane Hutt wrote a joint letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel calling on the UK to reconsider its ‘hostile environment strategy’ and develop ” sufficient safe and legal channels “for asylum seekers.
And they ask Ms. Patel to meet with them before the end of the year, because there has been “no ministerial meeting on these issues.”
The Nationality and Borders Bill – which authorized the Commons on Monday – seeks to curb those crossings and also change the way asylum claims are processed.
The Scottish and Welsh governments have “deep concerns about the impact of the provisions” of the bill, the Home Secretary said.
Ms Robison and Ms Hutt said: ‘This legislation contains measures that will prevent migrants from crossing the Channel in small boats, including barbaric suggestions of’ push-back ‘exercises involving law enforcement officers seeking to push back small boats.
“Rather than aid, these measures will delay rescues and put lives at risk.”
Ms Robison and Ms Hutt say their governments “do not believe that increased sea or beach patrols, hijacking, criminalization, changes in legal status or reduced support for those arriving in the UK” will deter people seeking to enter the UK.
They also told the Home Secretary: ‘Scotland and Wales have always played their part in providing sanctuary for those fleeing conflict and persecution and we are ready to do so again. “
Meanwhile, Welsh ministers have now decided that a memorandum of legislative consent is required from the Senedd in relation to certain clauses of the bill.
As part of the devolution regulation, such consent is required where UK law affects areas for which devolved governments are responsible – although Westminster in the past has pushed forward new laws without such approval,
Scottish ministers “are still demanding urgent clarification from the Home Office on whether similar legislative competence issues need to be addressed in Scotland,” the letter added.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “The Nationality and Borders Bill, which has relaunched its third reading in parliament, will bring the most comprehensive reform in decades to fix the asylum system failing.
“This will make the system fairer and more efficient so that we can better protect and support those in real need of asylum.
“The UK has a proud history of welcoming people in need of protection, and we continue to do everything possible to provide asylum seekers with the safe and secure accommodation they deserve.
“This includes continuing to work together across the UK, and we urge everyone to step up and play their part. “