THE UK Government has suffered what is believed to be a record 20 defeats in the House of Lords over its Illegal Migration Bill.

One alteration was spearheaded by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, with a cross-party demand for the Government to draw up a 10-year strategy to work with other countries to tackle the refugee crisis, driving unauthorised migration to the UK, and human trafficking.

Welby made a rare intervention in the Lords in May to condemn the bill as it faced its first test in the upper chamber.

The top Anglican cleric argued it was meant to improve the bill and mitigate some of the concerns raised.

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Outlining his proposal for a long-term strategy on refugees and human trafficking, the Archbishop said: “I hope the Government can see that this amendment is a positive and constructive suggestion whatever I or others may feel about the Bill in general.

“I urge the Government to develop a strategy that is ambitious, collaborative and worthy of our history and up to the scale of the enormous challenges that we face.”

He had earlier found himself in a spat with Tory former cabinet minister Lord Lilley, who said: “He hasn’t come forward with a policy. He’s coming forward with a policy to have a policy.”

Other changes included reinstating the right of appeal against age assessments for migrants claiming to be children, putting a legal duty on ministers to create safe and legal routes to the UK for refugees and bolstering enforcement against people smugglers.

The defeats – which follow 11 inflicted on the Government on Monday – surpass those it endured during the Brexit years.

The National: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby demanded changes to the billArchbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby demanded changes to the bill (Image: PA)

It raises the prospect of a prolonged and fraught stand-off between peers and the Government during so-called parliamentary ping-pong, when legislation is batted between the Lords and Commons.

The bill aims to ensure those who arrive in the UK without Government permission will be detained and promptly removed, either to their home country or a third country.

The plan to send migrants to Rwanda was dealt another blow recently after the Court of Appeal found it was unlawful, although the Government intends to challenge this ruling.

Ministers say action is needed to stop migrants making the dangerous sea crossing but critics argue the draft legislation breaks international law and denies refuge to the most vulnerable.

The Government also faced a rebel amendment from its own backbenches.

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Leading the call to ensure the provision of authorised and secure corridors for refugees, Tory peer Baroness Stroud, a former special adviser to ex-Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, said: “The moral credibility of the entire Bill depends on the existence of the creation of more safe and legal routes.

“The basis on which we are disestablishing illegal and unsafe routes is that we are creating legal and safe routes.

“The lack of a substantial commitment in primary legislation to this end is a serious omission and one which this amendment gives an opportunity to address.”

She added: “I have had commitments to policy positions from the despatch box before that have not been fulfilled, and whilst I have the greatest respect for the minister legislative certainty is what this House needs.”

But the minister pointed out the deadline for the requirement was “sometime next spring”.

Lord Murray said: “I entirely understand her desire to make early progress with establishing new safe and legal routes but it is important to follow proper process.”

The Tory frontbencher added: “I gladly repeat the commitment that we will implement any proposed additional safe and legal routes as soon as practicable and in any event by the end of 2024.

“In order to do something well in an appropriate manner we must have time in which to do so.”