Dominic Raab’s proposal to stop jailed foreign criminals avoiding deportation on the grounds of a right to family life turns out to be very popular indeed among MPs. It’s got 104 supporters currently, including 91 Conservative MPs, and will be debated as an amendment to the Crime and Courts Bill tomorrow when the legislation reaches its report stage in the House of Commons.
The amendment would mean that foreign criminals can only avoid deportation if they risk being killed or tortured on their return, and is intended as a stop-gap ahead of any Tory plans to repeal the Human Rights Act or exit the European Convention on Human Rights. It changes the UK Borders Act 2007 so that rather than the whole European Convention on Human Rights applying to a criminal’s right to avoid deportation, only article 2 on the right to life and article 3 on the prohibition of torture will be relevant.
The list of those signed up to it includes David Blunkett (who tabled the amendment with Raab), Frank Field, former policing minister Nick Herbert, former justice minister Crispin Blunt, the DUP’s Nigel Dodds, David Davis, Andrew Mitchell, 1922 committee chairman Graham Brady and Liam Fox. There will therefore be considerable pressure on the government to accept the amendment, as it will be extremely difficult to whip such a large group of Tory MPs with so many influential names involved.
Raab says that the government should stop ‘talking a good game on human rights’ and do something practical while the reality of Coalition means the Conservatives can’t go as far as they would like on this issue:
‘This focused amendment would stop serious criminals making spurious family rights claims to trump deportation. We’re talking about nasty people convicted of homicide, rape, serious violence, and other crimes. It can be done without repealing the Human Rights Act, or withdrawal from the European Convention.
‘So let’s stop simply talking a good game on human rights reform, and start delivering. I’d love to see a new Immigration Bill. But, it could be scuppered by the Lib Dems and would take at least a year to become law. In that time, hundreds more criminals will have run rings around the UK Border Agency.’
It may well be that ministers see this backbench intervention as extremely helpful to their cause.Tags: Crime and Courts Bill, Foreign criminals, Human Rights, Justice, UK politics