An Act and Three Bills - Refugee Council
November 9, 2007

An Act and Three Bills

New laws on asylum and immigration in the UK are not rare.  We’ve had more bills in the last ten years than you can shake a legislative stick at. And as we say goodbye to the UK Borders Bill—which is now the UK Borders Act—you might think we will have a well-earned rest before the Simplification Bill arrives.

The government is keen to make immigration and asylum laws simpler, and so is currently consulting on how to do that, with a Bill expected in about a year’s time. But no! Not only do we have another bill to worry about now, yet another has popped up in the Queen’s Speech this week!

The first is the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill which is being scrutinised by a committee of MPs at the moment. Only a small part affects immigration and asylum, but it is quite important and will have a devastating impact on the people it will affect.

Admittedly the numbers of people likely to be affected are tiny, but human rights being universal and all, you can’t really forget about them. You can read our briefing—we are already lobbying on this so do let your MPs know and ask them to call for the clauses to be dropped.

And then we have the Queen’s Speech: the one day in the year when the Queen is allowed into Parliament, the MPs have to come up to the House of Lords, and the peers themselves wear ermine (or fake ermine if they are more right-on than right-wing!), and Her Majesty reads out the Government’s legislative agenda for the next year.

One of the few surprises was the inclusion of a draft Citizenship and (…you guessed it…) Immigration Bill which will “take forward any recommendations” from the review of citizenship by former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith.

Immigration has shot back to the top of the political agenda in the last few weeks; in the past, asylum has borne the brunt of the critics of immigration. All the parties are promising that now it will be different, but we wait to see what will transpire.