Bishop of Southwark speaks on the Prime Minister’s response to the bishops’ letter on refugees

On 19th October 2015 the Leader of the House of Lords repeated a statement made to the Commons by the Prime Minister on the European Council. The Bishop of Southwark, Rt Rev. Christopher Chessun, followed up with a short statement about the recent letter to the Prime Minister on refugees from 84 bishops of the Church of England .  

Bp Southwark May 2015The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, we wish to thank the noble Baroness the Leader of the House for her Statement in which she repeated the Prime Minister’s Statement in another place on the European Council. I gather that in response to a point made about the Bishops’ recent letter, he said that he would like to see the Bishops make a very clear statement on the commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on aid. I speak only as the duty Bishop but Bishops always try to make very clear statements whenever they speak. We thank and endorse and congratulate the Government on maintaining this policy of delivering 0.7%; it is something from which many of the poorest countries in the world benefit.

The Bishops’ letter was also clear about two other points. While we wish to thank the Government for the initiative they are taking on refugees, we are asking for a much more generous response. I echo remarks that have been made in your Lordships’ House that a commitment over the remaining years of this Parliament to a number nearer 50,000 refugees would be appropriate. Secondly there are many people in this country, including the churches, who are willing to work in close partnership with the Government in welcoming refugees.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: I am grateful to the right reverend Prelate for his clarity and I certainly endorse his remark that the Bishops in your Lordships’ House are always clear in their contributions. I also thank him for what he has said about Britain’s commitment to the figure of 0.7% for international aid. On what we are doing in support of the refugee crisis, I know that he and his colleagues think that the UK should do more and accept more than we have said we will. However we have made a clear commitment and we are getting on with putting that in place. I am very grateful to him and his colleagues for the support they are giving us in making the necessary arrangements to receive people who need this support and give them the warmest of welcomes. We are grateful to the church for everything that it does and its support for some of the measures that we are able to introduce, such as establishing a register of homes and places offered by individuals who want to make a contribution.