THE Rwanda scheme has been branded a “waste of time and money” after figures from the House of Commons library revealed that almost two full working weeks of parliamentary time had been spent debating the bill.

In late April, the UK Government finally succeeded in passing legislation to force judges to view Rwanda as a safe country, paving the way for deportations after months of back and forth between the House of Commons and the Lords.

Figures obtained by the SNP show that a combined total of 84 hours and 33 minutes of parliamentary time was spent debating the bill. The party noted that this was more than three entire days, or nearly two weeks’ worth of working days (9.3).

In comparison, The Guardian reported in December 2020 that Boris Johnson’s Brexit Deal had been pushed through parliament in just 14 hours.

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The Rwanda scheme is also extremely expensive. Each of the first 300 people deported to the African nation will cost the UK £1.8 million, according to figures released by the National Audit Office.

The University of Oxford’s Migration Observatory reported that £240m had been paid to Rwanda by December 8, 2023, without a single deportation.

More cash is to be handed to the nation every year, regardless of how many asylum seekers are sent over. This is expected to be around £50m in the 2024/2025 financial year and is separate to the processing fees also paid to Rwanda for every migrant deported there.

The SNP’s home affairs spokesperson at Westminster, Alison Thewliss (below), said: “The cruel and unnecessary Rwanda scheme has been a waste of precious parliamentary time and public money from the start, but now we know the true cost and it is staggering.

The National: SNP MP Alison Thewliss speaking in the Commons

“A cost of living crisis created at Westminster has been allowed to savage households across the country with not so much as a peep from the Tory government responsible for it.

“Instead we’ve been forced to give up huge sums of public money, months of public debate, and nearly two weeks of precious parliamentary time on a Tory distraction.

“All of that would have been better used exploring ways this government can help ordinary people struggling across the UK, but true to their fashion, the Tories have avoided responsibility for their failings and sought comfort in the distractions of their culture war.

“That isn’t a policy in line with the values and priorities of the Scottish people, nor are these the actions of a government that can be trusted to uphold those values and priorities.

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“The scheme is proof Scotland’s values and needs throughout a cost of living crisis aren’t being represented by either Starmer or Sunak, showing why Scotland needs a strong team of SNP MPs. That can only happen by voting SNP at the next General Election."

Responding, a source close to the Home Secretary said that the ongoing opposition to the Rwanda scheme was being cheered by the people-smuggling gangs looking to get people across the Channel.

They said: “Having failed repeatedly to defeat the Rwanda Bill in Parliament the SNP continue their campaign against it. Given it is one part of our efforts to stop people making extremely dangerous, sometimes lethal crossings on small boats in the hands of people who don’t care if they die just as long as they pay, the only people who cheer loudest such ongoing opposition to this scheme are the criminal smuggling gangs who profit most from this horrific trade.”