UK & World News

  • 30 January 2014, 23:20

Immigration Bill: Human Rights Plan Defeated

MPs have voted against giving the Home Secretary Theresa May power to deport foreign criminals whatever their family circumstances.

An amendment to the Immigration Bill, tabled by Tory MP Dominic Raab, was defeated by 241 votes to 97, giving the Government a majority of 144.

A separate amendment brought by Mrs May, allowing foreign-born terror suspects to have their British passports removed, won through by a margin of 263 votes.

Mr Raab's proposal would have stopped foreign criminals appealing deportation by claiming a right to "family life" in the UK, which is deemed by the courts to be a basic human right.

More than 200 foreign criminals successfully challenge deportation on human rights grounds every year.

Earlier, David Cameron, anticipating a major rebellion by Tory MPs, ordered his ministers to abstain on the vote.

A Downing Street spokesman said that although the Prime Minister had a "very great deal of sympathy" with Mr Raab's intentions, he feared his proposals might not be workable, as they could trigger a large number of appeals.

Mr Raab said foreign criminals were using their right to a private and family life, set out in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as a "joker" to escape deportation.

"Some argue the rights of the partners and children of serious convicted criminals must be given due weight," he said.

"But in reality, and this is the crucial point, Article 8 is being expanded to protect the criminals' rights and not their families.

"Far from safeguarding the vulnerable, it can expose them to undue pressure, if not worse, by dangerous offenders."

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper described the Immigration Bill as a "car crash" and said Mrs May and Mr Cameron had "sat on their hands" because they were "scared" of how Tory backbenchers would react if they voted against Mr Raab's amendment..

She told them: "We know you opposed the amendment, because if you supported it you could have voted for it and it would have gone through.

"But you didn't. You sat on your hands because you were scared. What kind of Home Secretary is that? What kind of Government is this?

"You need to get your act together. This Bill won't sort out Britain's immigration problems."

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