- Sir Matthew Rycroft told MPs officials were in Kigali negotiating ‘as we speak’
Members of the Commons Home Affairs Committee heard Sir Matthew Rycroft – the department’s permanent secretary – say that officials were in the capital Kigali negotiating ‘as we speak’ on a new treaty.
It comes after the Supreme Court ruled earlier this month against the plan to send some asylum seekers to the African nation.
Sir Matthew also said talks were under way internationally about similar treaties, explaining: ‘There are ongoing conversations with other governments around the world about the possibility of reaching an agreement with them.’
He added that other European countries, including Germany, are among those interested in emulating aspects of the Rwanda deal.
Sir Matthew Rycroft told MPs officials from the Home Office were in Rwanda working on a revamped asylum pact. Pictured: Sir Matthew (right) with his second-in-command Simon Ridley (left) at the Commons Home Affairs Committee on Wednesday
MPs were told the cost of the Rwanda scheme has risen beyond £140million, but weren’t informed of the new figure. Pictured: Migrants on a small boat crossing the English Channel in 2020 (File Photo)
Meanwhile, Sir Matthew confirmed that the cost of the Rwanda scheme has risen beyond £140million – but he refused to tell MPs the new figure.
He said: ‘There are additional payments each year and ministers are decided that the way to keep you and other colleagues and Parliament updated is, once a year, to set out the total additional payments to the government of Rwanda.
‘And we’ll do that in the annual report and accounts.
‘We will announce that in the normal way next summer.’
He said he was also unable to confirm any further costs in relation to the new treaty being negotiated with Rwanda in the wake of the legal ruling which declared the scheme unlawful.
Several MPs expressed exasperation at the lack of detail Sir Matthew was able to provide.
Following a series of exchanges where Sir Matthew and his second-in-command Simon Ridley were unable to answer questions, committee chairman Dame Diana Johnson asked: ‘Do we have any figures about anything?’
Committee member Lee Anderson later added: ‘I find this absolutely staggering that the big boss hasn’t got a clue, not just on this question, but nearly every other question we’ve asked today. Why is that?’
Sir Matthew replied: ‘Mr Ridley is looking for the numbers and we will send them to you.’