The House of Lords has voted against government proposals to extend powers to strip people of their citizenship – a move which has been welcomed by Muslim campaigners.
Parliament’s upper chamber voted by 209 votes to 173 last night to remove clause nine from the UK Nationality and Borders Bill.
It also rejected government proposals to divide asylum into two groups based on whether asylum seekers arrive in the UK via sanctioned or unsanctioned routes, and to make it a criminal offence to arrive in the UK without permission.
However, the House of Lords will not have the final say on the bill. MPs in the House of Commons, where the government has a large majority, could yet reject the Lords’ proposed changes.
Tory peer Baroness Warsi said citizenship-stripping powers created a two-tier system in which she and other children of migrants to the UK were “second-class citizens.”
“What this law does is that in the United Kingdom, in our courts, we punish two people convicted of the same crime differently based upon their heritage,” she said. “We may not have taken this moment to put right the wrongs of the past but the least we can do is to stop a bad law becoming worse.”
Human rights group Reprieve welcomed the vote. Reprieve director Maya Foa said: “Peers have heard the outcry against this attempted power grab by the Home Secretary. Now MPs must listen, and strike this discriminatory provision from the Bill.
“Thank you to everyone who has helped campaign against clause 9 and to all of the Peers who voted to remove it, including Baroness D’Souza and Sayeeda Warsi and Baroness Mobarik who made this intervention today.
“MPs must follow suit and strike this discriminatory provision from the Bill. Citizenship stripping disproportionately affects ethnic minority British communities, who are made to feel like second class citizens.”
Five United Nations special rapporteurs have said that the government’s proposed Nationality and Borders Bill increases the risk of discrimination and serious human rights violations and seriously undermines the country’s obligations under international law.
But the government says the bill targets terrorists, war criminals and spies.
Under the bill, if the British government wants to remove someone’s citizenship it will no longer need to tell them.
Home Secretary Priti Patel says the law would be used in “exceptional circumstances” on people who pose the most risk to the UK.