On March 9th, the House of Lords voted in favour of making two amendments to the Immigration Bill currently going through parliament. The first amendment, supported by Labour, Lib Dem and crossbenchers was voted on by the Lords with 280 to 195 votes. It would allow asylum seekers to work if their claims have not been processed within six months. Currently, asylum seekers, who do not have a decision on their case, must wait a year before they can apply for permission to work. Those who opposed the amendment argued that a shorter waiting period would create a “pull factor” that would cause more and more migrants to come to the UK. However, the majority that voted in favour of the clause stated that at present asylum seekers are forced to live below the poverty line and Lord Lord Alton insisted "all the available evidence shows that permission to work does not act as a pull factor for asylum seekers, or migrants."
The second amendment to the Immigration Bill, in which 226 voted in favour of, with 198 against, would allow overseas domestic workers to change their employers once they get into the UK and would allow them to stay in the country for up to two years after they do. Those in favour of the amendment stated that at present workers are more likely to stay in an abusive and exploitative job because they fear deportation if they leave their employer. The new amendment would allow workers to escape these situations without the negative consequence of deportation. Those against argued the amendment could be open to manipulation.
The report stage of the Immigration Bill will continue in the House of Lords on March 15th.