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Peers ‘abused, bullied and intimidated’ by Government over small boats law

NewsPeers ‘abused, bullied and intimidated’ by Government over small boats law

Peers have complained of being “abused, bullied and intimidated” by the Government over the controversial plans to tackle the small boats crisis.

The charge was levelled as the House of Lords again sat into the early hours of this morning debating the Illegal Migration Bill.

With proceedings having started at 2.30pm on Monday, the upper chamber eventually rose at 2am.

It comes after a marathon session last week which saw the proceedings continue until 4.16am on Thursday as peers discussed in detail the flagship legislation, which has encountered fierce opposition in the Lords.

Responding to criticism at the time, the chief whip in the Lords blamed peers for repeating the same arguments “again and again”.

READ MORE: Small boat crisis ramps up as 616 people cross Channel in one single day

The Bill, which has already been through the Commons, aims to ensure those who arrive in the UK without permission will be detained and promptly deported, either to their home country or a third country such as Rwanda.

Critics argue the draft legislation breaks international law and undermines modern slavery protections.

Expressing her frustration as the sitting continued into Tuesday morning, Baroness Ludford said: “This Bill got almost no scrutiny in the other place (the Commons).

“When we do try to do it (our job) we are abused, bullied and intimidated as we were until 4.20am last Thursday.

“It would be perfectly possible to have an agreed more rational timetable for this Bill.

“I do not appreciate the behaviour of the Government over this Bill.”

Labour peer Baroness Lister of Burtersett, who told the chamber she was “shaking with tiredness”, said: “Sometimes there is repetition because there is no evidence the minister listens to.”

She added: “The main repetition I heard this evening was from the Government benches. We could have done without that.”

A short time earlier, Tory peer Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts told the opposition: “We would move forward a great deal faster if we hadn’t had so many repetitious speeches.”

The debate comes after some 616 people were detected crossing the English Channel in small boats on Sunday, according to Home Office figures, passing this year’s previous high of 497 on Saturday April 22.

It means the number of crossings in 2023 now stands at a provisional total of 8,313, compared with around 10,000 at the same point last year.

The number who made the crossing in 2022 reached a record 45,755, prompting Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to make tackling small boat crossings a priority for his Government this year.

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