Will Priti Patel’s new immigration Bill put her in conflict with the Queen?

The Queen: she has given the RNLI a Royal Charter to rescue anybody at all whose life is in danger on the sea near the UK. If Priti Patel wants to criminalise this activity, it seems likely that she will come to grief.

It’s a thought that would make a normal UK minister pause – but Priti Patel is not normal, and I mean that in the most unkind way possible, so This Writer is keen to see how events unfold.

Patel’s draft Nationality and Borders Bill, clause 38, potentially criminalises rescuers of asylum seekers if they are deemed to be “facilitating” their arrival in the UK.

Clause 38 amends the 1971 Immigration Act offence of assisting an asylum seeker, increasing the maximum sentence to life imprisonment, from 14 years, and removing the words “for gain”, which previously limited prosecutions to paid people smugglers.

This is potentially very bad news for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, which has vowed to continue rescuing anybody its crews find to be in danger at sea off the UK’s coast – no matter what their legal status may be.

This is in line with International Maritime Law and with the United Nations’ Safety Of Life At Sea (Solas) convention.

Crews could face imprisonment for life, according to the legislation.

The Home Office has said the Bill is intended to target “ruthless people smugglers” and organisations like the RNLI – and individuals – would be allowed to continue humanitarian rescue work.

But if that is the case, why amend the law to criminalise all rescues rather than merely those carried out “for gain”?

So, as George Peretz QC states, “Mere assertion doesn’t cut it.”

Here’s where it gets really interesting, though: The RNLI is mandated to carry out its rescues by a Royal Charter issued by its patron – The Queen.

That’s why it has the word “Royal” in its title.

The charter means the RNLI is permitted to rescue anybody whose life is in danger on the sea off the UK’s coast – by order of the Queen.

Does legislation by the Commons have authority to override that?

I don’t know. I think Patel needs to re-write her bad law to avoid finding out.

I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes if she tried to force the issue.

Source: RNLI vows to continue sea rescues despite prison fears for picking up migrants | Financial Times

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