On 9th March 2016 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Immigration Bill at Report Stage. The House considered an amendment from Lord Alton of Liverpool that sought to give the right to seek work to those asylum seekers whose claims had not been processed within six months. The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in support of the amendment, which passed by a vote of 280 to 195.
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I support the amendment and endorse everything that has been said already, and reinforce the point that the General Synod had a major debate on this and overwhelmingly supported such a move.
Some of the saddest conversations I have ever had have been with asylum seekers who came to this country and thought they would be welcomed, but have felt unwelcome; who want to be able to uphold their human dignity and feel that the best way of doing that is to become contributors to this society. I would like to draw attention to proposed new subsection (2) and the phrase “voluntary work”. There should be paid work, absolutely, but I have talked to many asylum seekers who say, “I’m not even allowed to go and voluntarily help somebody else”. This is appalling. This amendment needs to be accepted.