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What happens now the Rwanda bill is back in the Commons following defeats in the Lords?

Rishi Sunak’s flagship Rwanda bill is back in the Commons today, where the government is poised to reject all the amendments tabled by critics in the House of Lords.

Peers have been considering and debating the controversial legislation, which aims to clear the way for asylum seekers who arrive in the UK on small boats to be deported to Rwanda.

The bill seeks to declare Rwanda a safe country to deport asylum seekers to after the Supreme Court ruled the opposite – citing concerns that those sent to the African nation would be at “real risk” of being returned to their country of origin where they could face persecution.

The government’s hope is that by passing the Safety of Rwanda Bill, the concerns of the Supreme Court will be addressed and flights can get off the ground.

However, some members of the House of Lords have sought to soften the bill with the view to making it more compatible with international law and for making it easier to challenge the bill in the courts.

With the bill back in the Commons today after a series of defeats last week, the process of parliamentary “ping-pong” has been started.

Here, Sky News takes a look at the Lords amendments MPs will consider today – and what could happen next.

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What amendments have the Lords tabled to the bill?

In total there are 10 amendments to the Safety of Rwanda Bill which MPs will today vote on.

Amendment one, tabled by Labour peer Lord Coaker, seeks to ensure that the bill is “fully compliant with the rule of law”.

Lords amendments two and three, brought by crossbench peer Lord Hope of Craighead, would omit the phrasing that Rwanda is a “safe country” until the treaty it signed with the country in December is fully implemented.

That treaty aims to address the issues raised by the Supreme Court in November and includes provisions to stop asylum seekers who end up in Rwanda being sent back to their country of origin.

Amendment three, also proposed by Lord Hope, would provide a mechanism by which parliament would be notified on the progress of the treaty.

Lord Anderson of Ipswich, a crossbench peer, has also tabled two amendments. Amendment four would allow the claim that Rwanda is a safe country to be rebutted by courts and tribunals if there is “credible evidence”, while amendment five unpicks the attempt by government to stop courts and tribunals from considering appeals based on Rwanda being unsafe.

Amendment six, tabled by Labour peer Baroness Chakrabarti, seeks to restore the ability of decision makers to consider whether Rwanda is a safe country and jurisdiction of domestic courts and tribunals to grant interim relief.

The Archbishop of Canterbury and Tory grandee Ken Clarke are among those who have previously voted against the government to support amendments that allow the assertion that Rwanda is a safe country to be challenged in the courts.

Justin Welby. Pic: parliament.tv
Image: Justin Welby has previously said the government was leading the country down a ‘damaging path’. Pic: PA

Baroness Lister of Burtersett has proposed amendment seven which states that courts can consider review claims regarding removals of children while amendment eight by Lord Coaker requires the government to set out a timeline for the removal of asylum seekers.

Amendment nine by crossbench peer Baroness Butler-Sloss would stop asylum seekers from being deported until a conclusive decision on their removal had been made as the impact of their removal had also been considered. This amendment also seems to identify and protect victims of modern slavery from being removed to Rwanda without their consent.

Finally, Lord Browne of Ladyton’s amendment 10 would exempt armed forces personnel or their dependants and families from being removed to Rwanda.

What happens next?

Today marks the first round of what is known as parliamentary “ping-pong” – whereby a bill is bounced from one side of the Commons to the Lords to shape the wording of a bill and until both houses come to an agreement.

Ministers are expected to overturn all 10 amendments at this stage, although Labour has said it will back all 10. However, there are signs that the government could be willing to make concessions on the final amendment relating to armed forces personnel – but if it does do this, it is likely to happen at a later date.

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After the amendments are considered, there could be a vote at around 7pm or the legislation could just go through on the nod.

The bill is then due to go back into the Lords on Wednesday, where peers will decide whether they wish to cave in or carrying on fighting over the bill.

If they wish to prolong the legislation – perhaps to ensure that the prime minister does not get flights off to Rwanda by the spring as previously promised – they could keep sending some amendments back to the Commons for consideration.

Sky News Source