On 17th December 2015 Lord Roberts of Llandudno asked Her Majesty’s Government “whether they will follow the example of the government of Canada in welcoming further Syrian refugees”. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I congratulate the Government on the first 1,000 refugees being brought in. I hope that this will continue apace. On the Question of the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, which draws on the experience of Canada, since 1979 the Canada private sponsorship programme has enabled 200,000 refugees to be settled in that country. Privately sponsored refugees are likely to make up around 40% of those coming in over the forthcoming months. It is a good example of big society, whereby churches and community groups are given responsibility for working with resettlement programmes. Have Her Majesty’s Government looked into the experience of Canada, and are they considering developing similar programmes in the UK based on that good experience?
Lord Bates: We have looked at that programme, which is impressive but unlike ours is not focused on those in greatest need. We are having discussions at present: the Home Secretary is meeting with NGOs and we are talking to them and to church groups and faith groups about setting up a similar community sponsorship scheme, but perhaps not for people in urgent need of attention. That might not be appropriate, as it could not give the care they need. However, going forward, as the scheme expands, we would want to follow that up.