15 May 2024
Rwanda Scheme

I welcome that the Government is making significant progress in stopping the arrival of small boats, with crossings down by 36 per cent in 2023. In 2023, the Government prevented 26,000 crossing attempts, saw the small boats deal with Albania lead to a 90 per cent fall in crossings, and cleared the asylum legacy backlog. Being able to remove asylum seekers to Rwanda is an essential deterrent and part of our full toolbox to stop the boats. 

I understand that the Supreme Court upheld the judgment of the Court of Appeal which meant the Government could not yet remove people to Rwanda. I can assure you that the Government respects the Supreme Court but its judgment does not weaken the resolve to deter people from making these illegal, dangerous and unnecessary journeys.

As such I welcome that the Home Secretary signed a treaty with Rwanda to strengthen the UK and Rwanda's Migration and Economic Partnership. The landmark treaty is binding in international law and ensures that people relocated to Rwanda under the partnership are not at risk of being returned to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened – an act known as refoulement.   

This treaty comes alongside new legislation - the Safety of Rwanda Act - which has been passed to confirm that Rwanda is a safe country.

I am pleased that the Home Office has begun detaining those identified for the first flight. Claims and legal cases will be dealt with at pace and an airfield and commercial charter planes are on standby. I look forward to the first flight departing in 9-11 weeks so that people will know that if they come here illegally, they will not be permitted to stay.

Funds Paid to the Rwandan Government -

I understand that the details of the funding agreement between the UK and the Rwandan Government are confidential in order to maintain commercial sensitivity and preserve a safe space to negotiate bilateral agreements.

In terms of payments to Rwanda, as previously published the Government has provided Rwanda with an initial investment of £240 million into its economic and growth as part of the Economic Transformation and Integration Fund (ETIF). Investment has been focused in areas such as education, healthcare, agriculture, infrastructure, and job creation.

In advance of flights taking place, a separate £20 million was also paid last year to support initial set up costs for the relocation of individuals.

I am assured that the Government will continue to report the costs in the annual report and accounts.

Convicted Criminals being sent back to UK  -

I understand that as part of the Treaty signed between Rwanda and the UK, people who have committed a crime and sentenced to more than five years in prison could be sent back to the UK. I am aware that were this to be the case, the Government would then look at whether the offender could be returned safely to their country of origin. This is the normal process for anyone who is not conducive to the public good under the 1971 Immigration Act. 

Transparency of Costings -

I understand that the Government has said that the total costs of the Rwanda scheme will be provided in the usual manner, and will of course be dependent upon the number and the circumstances of individuals who will be relocated. The Government has committed to publishing these costs in due course and the transparency will come as part of the annual report and accounts. 

Rwandans Granted Asylum in UK -

I understand that a number of Rwandan refugees have been granted asylum in the UK. I am aware that people from many different nationalities apply for asylum in the UK. This includes nationals from some of the UK's closest European neighbours and other safe countries around the world.

Legal Fees -

I understand that legal challenges to the Rwanda Scheme have been brought by individuals at risk of removal and charities. I am aware that the charities Care4Calais, Freedom from Torture and Asylum Aid have sought public donations to cover legal fees for both their own cases and to support individual claimants.


The Home Secretary has made clear that the Safety of Rwanda Act does not change the UK's relationship with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

However, the Bill does ensure that it is for the Government to decide whether to comply with ECHR measures against removing individuals to Rwanda. I am pleased that my ministerial colleagues have said they will not let foreign courts prevent the UK from managing our own borders.

Refoulement -

I am aware that to further bolster assurances that relocated individuals will not be returned, under the treaty, Rwanda’s asylum system will be strengthened through a new appeal body. The appeal body will consist of a Rwandan and other Commonwealth national co-president, as well as judges of a mixture of nationalities with asylum and humanitarian protection expertise (appointed by the co-presidents) to hear individual appeals.