Thanks to everyone who emailed regarding the Nationality and Borders Bill. This is an incredibly important topic and I thank you for taking the time to inform me of your concerns.
From the outset, I can assure you that the SNP Group in Westminster share a number of your concerns and can confirm we have opposed this piece of legislation every step of the way.
This Bill will target some of the most vulnerable groups in the world, including women fleeing gender-based violence and victims of trafficking. Recent events in Afghanistan, Ukraine and Myanmar have also underlined the fact that in many cases, attempting to use safe and legal routes is simply not realistic and can place people at risk. In the face of the horror engulfing Ukraine, the SNP are clear that the UK Government’s response to the unfolding refugee crisis has fallen short. Words are not enough from UK Ministers who must now step forward and meet the ambition of our European neighbours in responding to the unfolding crisis.
Recently we have seen more tragic deaths of people trying to get to the UK to seek safety – but the fact is that this Bill will likely cause even more people to take dangerous journeys if safe and legal routes such as family reunion are taken away. The SNP is steadfast in the view that criminalising people is not the answer.
The SNP also supported amendments which would have protected victims of modern slavery or trafficking, removed parts of the Bill seeking to criminalise asylum seekers for seeking asylum in the UK and ended the Home Office practice of profiteering from the fees it charges to process citizenship applications.
My SNP colleague Stuart McDonald MP also spoke in favour of the Dubs Amendment when the Bill returned from the Lords and SNP MPs voted to keep this amendment in the Bill. I was also proud to vote against the Government when the Bill was returned to Parliament earlier this month.
The eagerness with which the Conservatives voted in favour of this damaging piece of legislation further highlights our concerns about the UK Government’s plans to overhaul protections for the most marginalised groups in society and across the globe. The Conservative Government in Westminster has shown itself willing to seek to roll back important areas of human rights protections while looking to remove checks and balances on its power – the Borders Bill, Policing Bill, Elections Bill and Judicial Review Bill can all be viewed as parts of this ongoing campaign. That said, I can assure you that SNP MPs will continue to strongly oppose the above legislation as well as any attempt to roll back protections for groups who need our help.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the Tories, including those representing Scotland, who have acquiesced to this cruel and inhumane piece of legislation. Rather than continuing this path, UK Ministers should respect the rule of law and international human rights agreements which the UK is signatory to.
As I say, we will continue to pressure the UK Government on this issue but thank you again to everyone for taking the time to inform me of your concerns. I hope the above makes clear both mine, and the wider SNP Group’s views on the matter.