Katie Close

Consultant Parliamentary Officer  Detention Action


On Monday the House of Lords debated the amendment to introduce a time limit at Committee stage of the Bill.

Baroness Hamwee introduced the amendment with her usual eloquence and there followed contributions from Baroness Lister, Baroness Ludford, Baroness Jones, Lord Judd, The Bishop of Durham, Baroness Barker, The Earl of Sandwich, Lord Hylton and Lord Kennedy. The speeches were powerful and referred to humanitarian, medical and practical grounds in support of the amendment. The point was made time and time again that the current system is inefficient, expensive and harmful. Only Lord Green spoke against the amendment and in support of the Government. He saw all who arrived on our shores as ‘illegals’ who were false claimants that would simply spin out their claims then disappear should a time limit be implemented.

The Government Minister yesterday was very weak in her response. She made only four points:

1. That the amendment is not in scope and would, if implemented, be discriminatory in practice.
2. There is no policy of indefinite detention, there must always be a realistic prospect of removal and various safeguards already exist to ensure that detention is used sparingly and for as short a time as possible.
3. A time limit would encourage abuse of the system and reward those who run down the clock.
4. Public safety would be compromised if serious criminals were automatically released after 28 days.

The amendment was withdrawn following the debate in order that it may be re-tabled at Report stage and ultimately voted on in the House of Lords.

Thanks to everyone who reached out to parliamentary contacts. The peers were well informed and spoke with compassion and commitment on this issue. As soon as we hear further about Report Stage we will let you know.