The Government has been defeated twice in the House of Lords tonight, over its Immigration Bill and restrictions to the working rights of asylum seekers.
Peers voted in favour of an amendment proposed by Lord Alton, who warned that asylum seekers were being pushed into “enforced workhouse destitution”.
The amendment allows asylum seekers the right to work if their asylum request hasn’t been processed within six months, BBC News reports.
During the debate, Lord Alton said: “They are frustrated at being forced to remain idle and survive on benefits.
“How many of us could exist on just over £5 a day while an asylum application was being considered?
“This is way below the poverty line. Where is the justice and fairness in that?”
Lord Hylton, who supported the amendment, added: “The scandal of abuse and exploitation has gone on for too long, sometimes in the most affluent parts of London.”
But crossbench Peer Lord Green argued that around 50% of asylum seekers aren’t “genuine”, while Home Office minister Lord Bates said the move “might act as a pull factor”.
Despite the interventions, Peers voted by 280 votes to 195 in support of the amendment.
Peers also voted in favour of a second amendment to the Immigration Bill by 226 votes to 198, to allow foreign domestic workers the right to change employers without the potential risk of being deported.
The Immigration Bill will now pass back to the House of Commons, where MPs will review the two amendments passed in the Lords.
The news comes on the same day as the Government suffered an embarrassing defeated in the House of Commons, over its plans to extend Sunday trading hours for larger stores.
MPs in the House of Commons rejected the proposal by 317 votes to 286 – a majority of 31 – after a small but significant number of Tory MPs rebelled against the Government.