Jeff King: The House of Lords, Constitutional Propriety, and the Safety of Rwanda Bill – UK Constitutional Law Association

‘The Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill will receive its second reading in the House of Lords on 29 January 2024, having cleared the House of Commons unamended. There are a great many problems with the Rwanda Bill, any of which might weigh with the Lords, but this blog post focuses on just one: the likelihood that, if enacted, the Bill may well trigger a constitutional crisis between the courts and Parliament. It would be a crisis that is likely to endure beyond the life of the policy embodied in the Bill. I argue here that one of the roles of the House of Lords is to act as a constitutional safeguard, a steam-valve, and, in exercise of this function under the rare circumstances that attend this Bill, it would be legitimate for the Lords to not only make and insist upon far-reaching changes to the Bill, but even to refuse to pass it altogether. This post is not concerned with the realpolitik of whether peers would in fact vote the Bill down – though I come to the point in the conclusion. It rather seeks to refute the constitutional argument that it would be illegitimate to block or make potent amendments to it.’

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UK Constitutional Law Association, 26th January 2024