On Tuesday 7th June the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby and the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee in the House of Commons. They were asked questions on the migrant crisis, asylum support, the EU and faith community relations.
The full transcript is available below or can be watched here – The Works of the Immigration Directorates (Q1 2016)
Home Affairs Committee
Oral evidence: The Works of the Immigration Directorates (Q1 2016), HC 151
Tuesday 7 June 2016
Members present: Keith Vaz (Chair); James Berry; Mr David Burrowes; Nusrat Ghani; Mr Ranil Jayawardena; Tim Loughton; Stuart C. McDonald; Mr Chuka Umunna; Mr David Winnick
Witness[es]: Paul Butler, the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Durham, and Justin Welby, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, gave evidence.
Q1 Chair: I call the Committee to order and refer all those present to the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, where the interests of Committee members are noted. Are there any other interests to declare?
Archbishop Welby and Bishop Butler, thank you very much for coming to give evidence on the Committee’s inquiry into migration and asylum. I believe that this is the first time that an Archbishop of Canterbury has given evidence to a Select Committee, and we are most grateful to you for coming here to share your thoughts on this very important issue.
May I begin, Archbishop Welby, by putting to you some of the comments that you made to The House magazine? You talked about the “colossal” migration crisis affecting Europe, the European Union and, indeed, the United Kingdom—it is a global crisis. In the article, you said that there is a tendency, when people talk about migration issues, to say that these people are racists, but that is—your quote—“outrageous, absolutely outrageous”. You felt that there was a “genuine fear” as a result of the global migration crisis and that people ought to be allowed to talk about it openly.
Justin Welby: Thank you, Chairman, that is exactly right. This comes out of fairly long experience of working as a priest, as Dean of Liverpool Cathedral and, as it happens, as Bishop of Durham—as Paul’s predecessor—in areas where there were significant flows of immigration, and out of a feeling that we never serve ourselves very well by neglecting to look facts in the face. The reality is that in many communities there is a great deal of nervousness about immigration. There is genuine fear—“Will this mean that we can’t get our children into schools?” and so on—and it is often stirred up by comments more widely. The answer to fear is not to say, “It’s improper to fear”—as a pastoral comment—but to recognise it and to address the causes of the fear. I suppose underlying that is my thinking that—this would apply in my present diocese of Canterbury, where there are some fragile and pressurised communities, such as ex-coalmining communities and areas of significant deprivation on the coast—they have borne a very heavy burden, proportionately much higher than most of the rest of the country, of immigration.
Q2 Chair: Do you accept that there is a burden as a result of migration? Do you accept, as a matter of fact, that there are pressures in places such as Kent, where you have a lot of migrants arriving, some legally, some illegally, and that that pressure means that we need to look again at the whole issue of migration and immigration?
Justin Welby: I fully accept that there is a burden. The answer to the burden is that one has to provide significant extra resource to the communities affected, from central Government, because it is a national not local issue, not only for the direct cost of those who are coming in as immigrants but to strengthen the stability and infrastructure—particularly around education, health and housing—of the communities that are accepting people. There have been some wonderful examples, for instance in Romney Marsh, which is in the diocese where I was in December. In my experience, it liberates people’s natural generosity to welcome people, once the causes or reasons for fear have been dispelled, and they are quite easily dispelled. This is a problem that needs to be addressed. It is not a case for saying, “The answer to that is no immigration”—quite the reverse.
Q3 Chair: Indeed, but you were criticised when you raised those issues because immigration is that kind of subject. Whenever you talk about immigration, whether it is in or out of context, people will accuse somebody of being either a racist or not a racist. Do you think there is a line between those who have genuine concerns about it and those who use the immigration issue for party political purposes as part of a campaign of fear? I am referring in particular to the comments of the leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage, who said over the weekend that our staying in the European Union could lead to sexual attacks like those we saw in Cologne. That is exactly what he said. I would regard those comments as racist, as would a lot of people. What is your take on what he has said?
Justin Welby: I would agree with you. That is an inexcusable pandering to people’s worries and prejudices. That is giving legitimisation to racism, which I have seen in parishes in which I have served and which has led to attacks on people in those parishes. We cannot legitimise that. As I said, fear is a pastoral issue. You deal with it by recognising it, and by standing alongside and providing answers to it. What that is is accentuating fear for political gain, and that is absolutely inexcusable.
Q4 Chair: So you would utterly condemn the comments made by Nigel Farage.
Justin Welby: Without hesitation.
Q5 Chair: Thank you. Can I turn to the separate issue of the causes of the migration crisis? Actually, I should just clarify for the record: are you in favour of us staying in or coming out of the EU?
Justin Welby: As far as I know, Chairman, this hearing is about immigration. If you will permit me, I will resist the urge to be diverted.
Q6 Chair: Okay, but I notice that French culture is listed as one of your big interests. Is that a hint?
Justin Welby: No, it has been an interest since I first experienced good French cooking in the late 1970s.
Q7 Chair: Some people have said that the European Union is a Christian club, so I thought that would be quite an easy answer for you.
Justin Welby: It might well be—an easy answer.
Q8 Chair: Okay, you’re quite good at this.
Justin Welby: I think it’s beginner’s luck.
Paul Butler: I, on the other hand, am quite happy to go on the record as being pro-remain, because that was publicised in the north-east yesterday.
Q9 Chair: Excellent. Thank you, Bishop Butler. I see we now have divisions, not just on this Committee and in Parliament but in the Church.
Justin Welby: We are the Church of England; put two bishops in a room and you get five opinions.
Q10 Chair: Indeed, and we have those two bishops. I wasn’t going to ask you, Bishop Butler, but thank you for that confession right at the start of the evidence session.
Let me deal with the causes of the migration crisis. You said, quite rightly, that it was about not just the consequences but the causes of the crisis. The causes of the crisis are very clear: the conflicts that are occurring in different parts of the world. Of course, we have always had movements of migrants—in my constituency, the Ugandan Asians arrived when they were expelled by Idi Amin—but, as you say, this is on a colossal scale. The crises in Syria and Libya are the two principal examples of mass migration in those two areas. Do you agree that those are the two countries about which we need to be most concerned?
Justin Welby: No, Chairman, I do not. I entirely agree with you that this is unprecedented. The UNHCR says that we are very close to 60 million people on the move around the world. The two countries you have named are the two countries that are, if I may improperly use a word, “fashionable” to talk about at present. Both Paul and I have extensive experience in the Great Lakes region of Africa, around DRC, Rwanda and Burundi. The crisis there is moving vast numbers of people around and that has knock-on effects.
Climate change is having a huge impact in southern Africa particularly, with a prolonged drought. The causes and other conflicts that we forget about are also very, very serious. There are 2.5 million internally displaced people in Nigeria, so to narrow it down to two countries would, I think, be a mistake. To narrow it down to conflict alone would be a mistake. In very brief shorthand, what we have to do—and this is one of the areas where the Government has been immensely effective—is what you might call a forward foreign policy, that addresses problems as much as possible where they originate. Nobody wants to be a refugee. Very few people want to be refugees.
Q11 Chair: Sure, but can I take you back to Syria, because you have a particular line on Syria? You supported the Government’s decision, as I did, to have airstrikes in Syria; others on the Committee took a different view. Do you not think that that kind of foreign intervention has an effect on people leaving countries? The crisis on the Greek-Turkish border is not as a result of climate change, is it?
Justin Welby: No. I came back from Turkey on Sunday. I was there for quite a long visit—not on holiday, but working there—so I am very aware of what the most recent situation is. There is no reason why anyone should pay any attention to anything I say—
Q12 Chair: You are the Archbishop of Canterbury. Of course we are going to listen to what you say.
Justin Welby: That really confirms that there is no reason why anyone should pay any attention. When I spoke in the House of Lords in the debate on the Syrian air strikes, I used the phrase, “necessary but not sufficient”. Air strikes by themselves would be a disaster. I was supporting limited air support, in the context of very heavy engagement in humanitarian work to relieve the pressure, to create safe havens, and to renew the economies in Lebanon and Jordan, which have taken such an incredible number of people, and in the safer areas of Iraq and Syria where possible and in southern Turkey and Iran. The Government has done that very effectively. I know it is not fashionable to praise DFID but I have seen them working all over the world. DFID make mistakes like everyone, but they are remarkably effective and have done extraordinary work there.
Q13 Chair: I have one final question before I open it up to members of the Committee. You made a big and open offer on 20 September to house one or two Syrian families in Lambeth Palace. I understand that there were difficulties in getting approval from Lambeth Council. With the greatest of respect to Lambeth Council and the local MP, Mr Umunna, there seems to be a lot of red tape preventing you. Have they actually arrived at Lambeth Palace?
Justin Welby: No, they haven’t. They have not arrived.
Q14 Chair: What is the reason? Everyone was very impressed. You made the offer. Other politicians also made the offer, but that was September last year. What’s the problem?
Justin Welby: There were two problems. Well, there are probably more, but there are two to headline. One is that putting people into a private place raises all kinds of quite proper issues around safeguarding and the care of the vulnerable. They are particularly vulnerable people and therefore the Home Office, Lambeth Council and UNHCR were looking for families that could benefit most from the security that would be there—so, with particular needs. One family was identified, but then it didn’t work out, for reasons I am not entirely aware of. It was nothing to do with anything in this country. We expect people to come—and for their pastoral sake, I don’t want to say exactly when—within reasonable distance. I have to say that we have found Lambeth Council and the group in the Home Office, who were starting from a standing start and having to learn as they went, hugely co-operative and working really hard.
Q15 Chair: That may well be so, but you have talked about the colossal migration crisis. You have offered to take one family. Nine months later, nobody has taken this up.
Justin Welby: They have been trying very hard to take it up.
Q16 Chair: But isn’t it a worry? Are you a little frustrated?
Justin Welby: There is a hugely steep learning curve for our Government, for the civil service. It is better to go slightly slower and get it right, rather than to mess it up. If I may, Chairman, this is something we are dealing with all over the country. Paul has seen more of it than I have.
Q17 Chair: Bishop Butler, you are taking the lead on this. Specifically, in respect of the great offer that was made by the archbishop, it is nine months. If you can’t clear the archbishop and ensure everything is all right, what hope is there for the rest of us?
Paul Butler: Part of my answer to that is that I don’t think the archbishop should be treated any differently from any other person making an offer, and all the proper safeguards should be checked just the same, partly because it is a community in which quite a lot of other people live and work and so on. There is good reason for it.
Q18 Chair: Bishop Butler, you signed a letter telling the Prime Minister that he should take 50,000 instead of 20,000 refugees. Where is everybody going to go if it takes nine months to clear one family to live in Lambeth Palace?
Paul Butler: The Government made a commitment to do a thousand by Christmas, which they just about succeeded in doing. The 20,000 is over a five-year period. Our working with Richard Harrington, the Minister, and his team has largely been very impressive. They have worked incredibly hard. They have been hugely willing to listen and talk to those of us engaged in those discussions. They have hit one or two issues around the number of local authorities that have stepped forward. I think we need to see greater willingness on the part of the local authorities.
Q19 Chair: So they are being slow. It is the local authorities.
Paul Butler: They have concerns about the funding issues, which seem to have been resolved.
Q20 Chair: But it doesn’t help us. Where do you put the extra 30,000, if you can’t house one family?
Paul Butler: They will house one family, and they are housing families. Families are arriving all the time and they are being dispersed around the country. In my region of the north-east families have arrived in the recent past. They have been welcomed and housed. They are being supported and looked after by the local community, local churches and other faith groups.
The local authorities have worked incredibly well with the voluntary sector. Now that that has happened once, I think there will be greater confidence. One question has been, how do you build confidence that this can happen? Yes, I have been frustrated that it has not gone a bit more quickly. I do believe that in the long run it will be right and proper for us to take more than 20,000.
Q21 Chair: As the Archbishop said, Jesus was a refugee. If his parents had to face the kind of problems that some of the people coming from Syria have to face in getting homes, he might not have been born in the stable.
Paul Butler: It was a very different political climate in the first century.
Q22 Mr Burrowes: I hear the problems in having a Syrian family relocated to Lambeth Palace, but what about all the other refugees who are already here, who arrived through regular routes, the 3,000 unaccompanied children who are already here, and those who after 28 days will have had to find some accommodation or a job and will have no recourse to public funds? What is the Church and Lambeth Palace doing about accommodation? Isn’t it simpler to look around Lambeth, see those who may well be at risk of homelessness who are at the moment refugees, and house them?
Paul Butler: We are here to represent the Church of England but the Committee needs to be clear that we are working with other denominations wherever we possibly can. All the major denominations and lots of the free Churches are involved. We are also working in collaboration with lots of charities, whether national or local. A lot of the really good work being done with refugees from all backgrounds is being done by local support and charitable groups.
We have been doing that work for many, many years. I used to be the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham. The Arimathea Trust was set up several years ago by the diocese and has been housing refugees and asylum seekers for a number of years, and helping them then move on, offering all kinds of local support. That has been repeated time and again around the country. That is not focusing only on Syrians, but on all. Home for Good has had an extraordinary number of people step forward and offer to become a foster carer for unaccompanied children—more than 10,000 volunteers. Home for Good itself would accept and recognise that not all of those 10,000 would be suitable—they have to be vetted, and so on—but they will be in a position to offer that kind of support to all kinds of people from all kinds of nations over the coming years.
Q23 Mr Burrowes: Let me just pick you up on that. In terms of the National Refugee Welcome Board—
Paul Butler: Which I co-chair—
Mr Burrowes: How many have signed up for that?
Paul Butler: There are around 40 of us on the board. There are 90 support groups around the country which are serviced by the National Refugee Welcome Board. You then have to add to that some of the Cities of Sanctuary, because we are trying not to duplicate, and then there are local groups. As it happens, my son got married on Saturday down in Swanage, and during the reception in the evening I was tapped on the shoulder by someone who said, “I gather that you are doing something with refugees. There are 80 of us here in Swanage—doctors, accountants, local people—who want to give support and we are getting slightly frustrated at the slowness of it”. That is being repeated all over.
Q24 Mr Burrowes: The question was how many have signed up.
Paul Butler: To what exactly? We have 10,000 people signed up to—
Mr Burrowes: How many people have signed up to the public register?
Paul Butler: For community sponsorship?
Mr Burrowes: For the National Refugee Welcome Board.
Paul Butler: The National Refugee Welcome Board has a number of—
Mr Burrowes: Let’s say for the community sponsorship.
Paul Butler: For community sponsorship, I can’t give you the exact number who have signed up, but there are 12 pilots now agreed with Richard Harrington and his team. That includes one Church of England diocese, one Methodist church and a liberal synagogue. On community sponsorship, pilots are going to be run to tease out the issues,which I think is right.
Q25 Mr Burrowes: In terms of the numbers, I am still not quite sure how many people there are, but it would be nice to have a note on this at some point, if possible. However, there seems to be a gap, and I would like to know what would bridge this. I have looked at the website and the call for people to join in, and you mentioned the numbers you saw who came forward to say that they want to get involved. The website talks about the £10,000 to £12,000 which is needed to accommodate a refugee or family for 12 months, and says that people need to be prepared to devote sufficient time and so forth. The archbishop talked about refugees’ particular vulnerability, and it is a complicated task.
Are we being realistic? There is concern about what will happen otherwise. On the front of the website is a sign saying that refugees are welcome. We can put up placards, but how practical and realistic are we? How much support do you need from the Government, or from any Canadian college of skills or something like that? Because we need to ensure that all this good support which is out there—council support and so on—leads to a deliverable result that really helps the long-term situation for refugees being made welcome.
Paul Butler: All the work that has been done over the last few decades in local communities shows that local communities volunteer and welcome people. I go back to Nottingham Arimathea Trust, to the West End Refugee Service in Newcastle, to the work in Bradford, and to stuff that is happening in Manchester and all over the country. That has been happening for years. As Syrians arrive on this particular resettlement programme, there are plenty of people who are willing to step up. The training is there. There are simple things such as the welcome box programme run by the Cinnamon Network, which started in Derby. This creates a welcome box for a newly arrived family, which has simple food and stuff in it but also has lots of information. It gives refugees an individual or a family who will support them and take them along to the local doctor, or take them down to the school if they have children, and so on. That is happening day in, day out across the country.
Q26 Mr Burrowes: Regarding the wider issue of safe and legal routes from areas of conflict and aside from the numbers issue, would you call for more safe and legal routes? For example, would you be looking for more humanitarian visas, which other countries look at, particularly with reference to the vulnerable groups—the Yazidis and the Christians—who are not necessarily registering at camps? Do you think there is a need for the Government to open the door for a new legal channel?
Justin Welby: The short answer is yes. I think we need to craft very carefully the way in which safe and legal routes are created, to avoid pulling those who would not otherwise come but may feel this is the only resort. That’s why I’m so keen on what we are doing in the region, because you want to offer people the hope of being able to remain in your own area. But, yes, we do need safe and legal routes, because we need to undermine completely the people traffickers, because that is the most dangerous and the most extortionate way, and it is really the route for the strong and not the route for the most vulnerable, who tend to get left behind or die tragically en route. Personal experience of dealing with these groups has shown that to me very clearly indeed.
Q27 Mr Winnick: Archbishop, can I ask you one or two questions about community relations? Our next inquiry—in fact, witnesses will be giving evidence next Tuesday—is on anti-Semitism, but it is not anti-Semitism that I want to ask you about. It is the question of Muslims and the prejudice that you may agree with me does exist—
Justin Welby: Oh, yes.
Q28 Mr Winnick: Is there not a danger that as a result, whether because of the referendum on whether we should remain a member of the EU, or, of course, of the terrible crimes committed by some fanatics allegedly in the name of their God, and also the fears that have been expressed by some of the leave campaign over Turkey becoming a member of the EU, however remote that possibility is—how concerned are you about what I would describe as a growing anti-Muslim failing?
Justin Welby: Thank you, sir. I am speaking personally here, but I think a large number of bishops would agree with me, particularly those who have dioceses with significant numbers of Muslims. It is a very, very major concern indeed. I have very close relations with a number of Muslim leaders across the country, and there is greater and suspicion. As we all know, there is a much higher level of hate crime than there used to be. There is a sort of sense that, “Are we are about to become an Islamic country?”, which hovers around. Once you actually start examining that and talking about it—I was talking to someone last night who was raising this question—and once you have asked a couple of questions, you realise it is just fear and that there is no evidence of any kind backs up what they say, but somehow it all feels very threatening and that results in a high level of prejudice against Muslims, particularly observant Muslims.
I think that is something that has to be dealt with by education. We are trying to do a lot more of that through our own church schools, in terms of good education around interfaith relations. Interfaith relations are one of the things that I am spending a great deal of time on, with two particularly skilled colleagues.
Q29 Mr Winnick: Have you concerns about the way in which Turkey has been put forward? As I said in my preface to the other question, we know that it is very remote to say the least—particularly in view of the manner of the present Turkish Government, which is despised by a large number of people of Turkey, as I know from personal experience—but did you find this business of raising the Turkish fear of membership to be part of a sort of campaign of fear in this campaign?
Justin Welby: I think we are going back to Brexit, aren’t we? I don’t want to comment particularly on this. Who am I to know whether it is likely or not, except that the indications are that it is not? From very recent contacts over the course of the last week with a significant number of Christian leaders in Turkey, I think there is growing tension there. They are right on the front line down at the south-east, with ISIS—
Mr Winnick: Inside Turkey.
Justin Welby: Inside Turkey. The Christians are feeling more pressure than they have done for very, very many years. As I said earlier, there is enough fear around without generating more, shall we say? I think we just have to be very careful in our use of language.
Q30 Mr Winnick: Since I have mentioned anti-Turkish prejudice and we are holding an inquiry into anti-Semitism, can I ask you straight off whether you feel that there is increased anti-Semitism? There seems to be evidence that there is such a danger. There is hardly a synagogue in the country of any of the various Jewish faiths that does not have security guards.
Justin Welby: Absolutely.
Q31 Mr Winnick: How concerned are you about that?
Justin Welby: I think that as a nation—I’m very carefully not looking at anyone in particular—we have to recognise that anti-Semitism has been the root and origin of most racist behaviour for the past 1,000 years in this country. It goes right back to the early middle ages. There have been exceptions. In fact, one of our joint predecessors, the Bishop of Durham, was a notable exception in the 18th century—around 1760—when he tried to get Jewish emancipation in this country. The other bishops voted against him. We had a shameful record until very recently, in historical terms. It seems to be something that is latent and under the surface, and it bubbles to the surface very, very easily indeed. I think it is one of those things that, when we see it, tells us that there are strains and stresses in society. It is the canary in the mine.
Q32 Mr Winnick: The last question I would like to ask you very briefly, Archbishop, is this. The Chair quoted what you said—that people who have certain concerns about immigration shouldn’t be dismissed as racist. I think that all of us around the table would agree. I would without the slightest hesitation. Is it not important, if we are to continue the long British tradition of giving refuge to those fleeing persecution, as is indeed the case at the present moment to a large extent, that the Government of the day—whichever Government it is—gives every form of encouragement and financial support to local authorities to provide the structures? Otherwise, people who, in many instances, are facing acute shortages here—financial, accommodation and the rest—will say, “Well, why should the newcomers get preference?” In order to overcome that, shouldn’t the two go together? Yes, asylum, but at the same time Government support.
Justin Welby: It is what I was trying to say—you put it rather more clearly than me—in my opening answer to the Chairman. I entirely agree.
Q33 Mr Jayawardena: Archbishop, I respect the role of the Church in public life, but I wonder whether I can quote a poll that was done of the views of some people in December 2015. 73% of people polled said that there should be no increase in Syrian refugee numbers. As has already been referred to, you have previously spoken out about the need to acknowledge the views of those concerned about migration without resorting to accusations of racism but, when it comes to granting asylum, is the Church saying that the democratically elected Government should effectively ignore the will of the British people by resettling more refugees?
Justin Welby: Thank you, sir. I suppose, if you will excuse my saying so, I don’t entirely accept the premise of the question. I think that the role of the Government is both to listen and to lead. They need to listen to the concerns that that poll shows. That is the kind of thing I was thinking of when I commented on the matter in December. It is absolutely irresponsible not to listen to those concerns, but there is also a point where we say that part of the role of Government is to say that certain things have to be done and certain things are right, to enable people’s fears to be allayed.
One of the most fascinating things about people coming in, which I have experienced as a parish priest and Paul will have as well, is that people say, “Oh, no, we can’t have refugees here” and then you say, “Yes, but”—I am thinking of particular people in my parish—“what about Dennis and Jane?” and they say, “Oh, well they’re Dennis and Jane.” In other words, the moment there is a face on it, the fear disappears: “We don’t want refugees—oh, but we like Dr Whoever from Syria, because he’s a really nice man.”
Q34 Mr Jayawardena: We are seeing in other European countries that have accepted tens and even hundreds of thousands of refugees that the situation is not Dennis and Jane but is in fact rather untenable. Sweden, for example, is spending 7% of its annual budget and 60% of all its welfare payments on refugees. In that context, the open borders of Europe are a thing of the past. The EU has been forced to make a deal with the autocratic regime in Turkey in exchange for migrant resettlement. Is it fair to say that the refugee issues across Europe have threatened and perhaps destroyed the core values that existed across this continent?
Justin Welby: That is a fascinating question. I think most people, and most of the people across Europe whom I speak to within the Churches—including the Pope, who said in a speecha few weeks ago, “Europe, what have you become?” That is not a hint as to what I think; I am merely quoting the Pope. I think that this has been a challenge to the European ideal, which in the 1940s, with far fewer resources and a terrible problem, they rose to, and which they have not risen to on this occasion. It is absolutely clear, as you say about Sweden—or Germany, for that matter—that no individual country can bear this burden by itself.
Q35 Mr Jayawardena: Bishop, one of the great difficulties of this debate is this issue of the need to balance head and heart. It seems to me that the patrol ships in the Mediterranean are very much heart; they are trying to look after people who have boarded boats that are not fit to set sail in a paddling pool in this country, let alone to cross the Mediterranean sea. At the same time, the Libyan authorities now recognise that the EU border has reached 12 miles off their coast, which is incentivising people to get on those very boats. Do you not think that this inclusive asylum policy and the attempt to process people more efficiently is actually increasing the problem?
Paul Butler: No, I don’t think it is. I would want pay more tribute to the people who are rescuing those people. HMS Bulwark was on duty last year—it actually has formal links with Durham, so we are very aware of it—and it did outstanding work, which is being repeated again. For me, it partly goes back to understanding why people flee in the first place. People are fleeing because they are being persecuted and because they are in violent situations; in some cases, women are fleeing because they are subject to horrendous sexual violence; people are fleeing hunger; and so on. They are incredibly resourceful people to have fled, frankly. We have to go back to the roots of the issue rather than lay any specific thing on the Libyan Government.
Justin Welby: It is also worth saying—this is not often said—that it has been the law of the sea since time immemorial that you rescue those whose lives are in danger at sea. It is not a moral option.
Q36 Mr Jayawardena: We are actively doing more because we want to look after people who are putting themselves at risk, but I guess the question is whether by doing that we are putting those people ever more at risk.
My final question is this. The human trafficking industry is worth £4 billion—that is one estimate; there are many. This Government has clearly chosen to focus aid spending on camps nearer to these areas, so that we can help more people closer to the homes that they do not want to leave. How would you propose better balancing head and heart other than those actions that we are already taking?
Paul Butler: One of my concerns has always been that it is often presented as an either/or option: either we support in-region or we deal with people here. I think it is both/and I applaud the amount of support from the Government. We are effectively the world leaders in terms of support in-region. We probably need to look at that in terms of not just the Syrian conflict but what in-region support can be put in in other places.
That is not going to stop people fleeing, either, so I would want to see a both/and policy that offered an appropriate welcome to a reasonable number of people in the light of the total that has to be dealt with by not just Europe but countries in the Middle East and African countries that might be able to take some as well. It is a global issue, not just a Europe issue.
Q37 Chair: Archbishop Welby, doesn’t Mr Jayawardena have a point that it may be the law of the sea that we have to rescue people, and it is right that we do, but it is the law of common sense that you work with Governments to stop the boats leaving in the first place, to stop people handing over up to £10,000 to people traffickers, and you support those nations directly rather than have to deal with the crisis after they arrive in mainland Europe? Isn’t that the best way to approach these issues?
Justin Welby: Of course it is, but years of my own personal experience of conflict management in dealing in areas of conflict—as you all know better than I do, from your great experience as Members of Parliament—tells me that that is the theory, but dealing with Governments in those areas is often extraordinarily difficult.
Q38 Chair: Our next witness is Lord Green from Migration Watch, who will tell us that Britain is full. Do you think Britain is full or can we take more people in?
Justin Welby: If I am really honest, no, I do not think Britain is full.
Q39 Chair: So we can take more migration.
Justin Welby: As Paul was saying, we can take more people in, but we have to think very hard about doing it. You can do the right thing in such a wrong way that it becomes the wrong thing—that is the danger.
Q40 Chair: You have said in the past that communities should absorb more migrants and you are telling us now that you do not think Britain is full, so the door is still open provided there are resources given by the Government to local communities.
Justin Welby: And careful preparation and good policy.
Q41 Chair: So is there no limit to migration, in your eyes?
Justin Welby: I am sure there is.
Q42 Chair: So what is it? How large—
Justin Welby: I genuinely don’t know, but—
Q43 Chair: But 66 million is not full—you are saying it can go higher. Lord Green will say it is.
Justin Welby: Well, Lord Green has studied this for many years and you will have to listen to his—
Chair: But what is your personal view? How far can the population of this country go?
Justin Welby: The underlying issue for us here, sitting in my position and Paul’s position, and Christians is the dignity of the human person created by God. That is the essential point of respect. When I go and travel as I was six weeks ago in Burundi in the middle of an incipient civil war and then north just into Rwanda, I found in Rwanda a country with a large population, rapidly growing, and minimal resources. I was in a camp of 60,000 people, beautifully run. It tells me what can be done and we are a country that can do it.
Q44 Chair: But if you are telling this Committee that Britain is not full, what is the capacity left to absorb?
Justin Welby: I do not know the answer to it. I really genuinely do not know the answer and it would be silly—
Chair: But we are not there yet?
Q45 Justin Welby: I don’t think we are there yet.
Paul Butler: I think probably 30 years ago many people said we were full and actually we have shown an extraordinary capacity to grow in population, to create more jobs and to care for more people and I don’t think we are full, either.
Q46 Chair: When will we be full? What is the optimum?
Paul Butler: I am saying I don’t know what the ultimate number is. What I think the current situation shows is that we need to think very carefully about how and where we grow population. I am actually very proud of the north-east local authorities for stepping up to say that they will take some more refugees in the current situation, but also being prepared to say that Middlesbrough has had more than its fair share and it is time that we—County Durham, Darlington, Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, Northumbria—did more ourselves. We probably need more careful thought about dispersion and the integration and the support from the Government.
Chair: That is very helpful, because the next person I am calling is Stuart McDonald, whose country wants more and keeps telling us it wants more.
Q47 Stuart C. McDonald: I will come on to that in just a moment. First, Archbishop, you agreed in response to the Chairman that one thing the Government had to do was work to stop the boats leaving in the first place. I suggest that another alternative is expanding safe legal routes, for example by expanding family reunion or humanitarian visas—things that other countries have tried as well.
Justin Welby: Yes, I agree. Uncontrolled movement of people is the most dangerous for the people. It is a lack of respect for their dignity. Finding safe ways for people to move, and—because it is both/and, as Paul was saying—working in the region to minimise the need for it: that is the appropriate way. I would agree with you.
Q48 Stuart C. McDonald: Bishop Butler, in response to one question you were coming close to saying that essentially the problem with the European response is not so much some of the EU proposals to share out responsibility for the burden of coping with this number of refugees; it is more the lack of preparedness on the part of individual member states to take their share of responsibility. Would that be a fair summary?
Paul Butler: Obviously we have seen a mixed response across Europe—very mixed. One of the questions is how we see this as a shared responsibility and how we help nations work together to see it as a shared responsibility—not just across Europe but in-region and so on, as I said earlier.
Q49 Stuart C. McDonald: Do you think the UK has done enough in terms of assisting refugees and asylum seekers who have arrived in Europe already?
Paul Butler: As I have said, we are world leaders in terms of in-region. I am on the public record, as always, as saying that I believe we could be doing more.
Q50 Stuart C. McDonald: As could other countries, of course.
Paul Butler: Yes.
Q51 Stuart C. McDonald: Finally, turning to the point about Britain being full, I do not know whether there is an argument that some parts of Britain are getting close to full, but as you have said, there are clearly parts of Britain that are not remotely full. Perhaps one policy that we need to look at is encouraging people to move, and indeed some additional dispersal to those parts of the United Kingdom that are not remotely full.
Paul Butler: Sorry, this is moving to another subject, but if the northern powerhouse is really going to be a success, it needs more people with skills to move to the north. Lord Heseltine published his report on Tees Valley today. There is huge potential for encouraging more people generally, but there are some very skilled people arriving who are refugees.
Q52 Stuart C. McDonald: We can work together on developing those policies.
Finally, Archbishop Welby, in your opening comments on the fear of migration that has developed essentially what you were saying was that it is not so much migration itself that causes this problem, but a failure in the policy response to that migration that has allowed this problem to develop. For example, we had a migration impact fund, which very closely resembled what you were describing—resources being moved around to areas where there are pressures in public services—but that was scrapped within weeks of the last coalition Government. Is that the sort of policy that you think could address the fears of over-migration that have developed?
Justin Welby: What I am saying very clearly is that you need an holistic response that addresses the needs of the area, so that they are strengthened, as well as the specific needs of those moving into the area as refugees—as asylum seekers. You need to bring both together. It is very easy to stand and specify these things from the sidelines, because I do not have to implement this. It is a hugely complicated thing to implement, but it is about basic investment in infrastructure—schools, hospitals and housing are the three key areas.
Q53 Stuart C. McDonald: Would you say that it is unhelpful for politicians to pretend that migration is like a tap that you can turn on and off and control very easily?
Justin Welby: You are tempting me into a minefield here, aren’t you? The evidence that we see in this country and around the world is that altering levels of migration, particularly in times of global upheaval, is—well, I cannot think of any country that has successfully done it, except with the most stringent and inhumane methods.
Q54 Nusrat Ghani: Archbishop, you mentioned earlier that careful preparation and good policy are the key to managing immigration. Bishop Butler, you said that the negative issues of the current immigration situation are about how and where we take care of migrants when they arrive. Both of those issues are focused on elements of control—being able to control who arrives and on what terms they arrive. Archbishop, you mentioned the fear of immigration in some of the communities that you serve. You mentioned the coalmining community—
Justin Welby: Ex-coalmining.
Q55 Nusrat Ghani: Ex-coalmining—and the fear that they have of the perceived impact of immigration on resources. There are elements of control there; there are people feeling that immigration is out of control. Do you believe if you really want to tackle the perceived notion of the fear of immigration, we have to give people back some sort of control, and we can do that by giving them the authority of engaging with the decision makers that they want—whether they vote in any Government—and that Government saying we can then control the numbers of people that arrive here, and we can control the terms of their arrival. That is going to be impossible if we have uncontrolled migration from the EU. Does that help you come to a decision about how you might vote on 23 June?
Justin Welby: No.
Q56 Nusrat Ghani: That’s unfortunate. So how do we deal with the issue of control if that is what is forcing the fear? How can you prepare, how can you have good policy, how can you stop people fearing that there is absolutely no control? Your father was a migrant, my father was a migrant—we have both dealt with issues of people fearing migrants—
Justin Welby: It was my social grandfather. I have discovered my father wasn’t, as you may have noticed—family history gets a bit complicated at this point.
I take the point you are making. What one sees, particularly in fragile communities—communities where there are high levels of unemployment, where the nature of the economy has changed very significantly—is a sense that life generally is out of control, that the world is treating them unfairly, that the economy is treating them unfairly. What Bishop Paul was saying is really important: we have to look at ways in which it is possible to encourage people to go to stronger communities. Again from experience in the north-east, there is a significant skills shortage. That is something that really is affecting negatively the recovery of some of those communities. I am not going to be lured into talking about free movement of labour within the European Community.
Q57 Nusrat Ghani: Sure, but the element of control is important—that people can feel this is out of control.
Justin Welby: Individual communities at a local level need to feel that they are being listened to, and—I keep coming back to this point—not just that they are being listened to, but that the resources of their community are being augmented and strengthened.
Q58 Nusrat Ghani: It is difficult.
Justin Welby: It is only slightly difficult. When we want to, we have done it in the past.
Q59 Nusrat Ghani: It is difficult if you can’t control.
Justin Welby: I think one can exaggerate the level of lack of control. Having lived outside the south-east for 24 years after having grown up here, coming back to it did feel a bit like moving to a different world in some ways. There is the need for housing—for social housing, for house building. Once people see that, that alleviates fear. You deal with fear by dealing with the origins of the fear, not just the symptoms of the fear. The fear of the other—the other person from a different community—goes back centuries. On my mother’s side, our ancestors were Huguenots. They had a terrible time because they were French.
Q60 Nusrat Ghani: But when migrants arrive in any country they tend to like to settle where their friends and families are, so the assumption that you can then move migrants around to “equalise” them in the country is incredibly naïve.
Justin Welby: I do not think that is true with everyone, and there are new communities coming. If you look at much of the EU migration, the pattern has been widely spread. It has not only been in certain places. I am thinking back to Coventry where there were significant groups, but they shifted every two or three years. They would come to where their friends were, and then they would move on to somewhere where they saw a good opportunity—perhaps working in hospitals, schools, whatever it happens to be—and contributing to the economy. As we know, the figures show that a relatively low proportion of EU immigration results in costs to the economy.
Nusrat Ghani: But this goes back to whether it is a legitimate or illegitimate fear of migration, and maybe people’s fears could be allayed if they were aware that the people that they elect had some sort of control. Bishop Butler, you mentioned that we are world leaders in supporting refugees.
Paul Butler: Sorry, it was world leaders in the in-region work.
Q61 Nusrat Ghani: But we are doing a huge amount of work there, and sometimes you have to make some tough decisions about how you place those resources: whether those resources are supporting people in the region that is disrupted, or whether you support people arriving into this country. I want to know how you square the fact that you are calling for even more refugees to be supported in this country, because for every child that we take care of, between 10 and 20 of them then cannot be supported in a camp back in a disrupted area. How do you square that?
Paul Butler: I go back to this both/and point. Huge numbers do not wish to leave the region.
Q62 Nusrat Ghani: Exactly. So why are you calling for more to arrive?
Paul Butler: Many of them do not wish to leave the region because—talking specifically about Syria—their longing is for peace in Syria, and they want to go back and rebuild their nation. I have talked to some of the Syrians who are here, and that would be their attitude as well: they hope for peace, and they might look to return. But there are those who are so damaged, and whose lives have been so disrupted and so harmed, that it is almost impossible for them to imagine ever being able to live peacefully back in their homeland for a variety of reasons. They need to be given proper refuge in other places, and this country is one of those. We are very good at doing it.
Nusrat Ghani: We are very good at doing it. But resources are limited and always will be. I want to know how you square—
Paul Butler: We are still the sixth largest economy in the world.
Q63 Nusrat Ghani: As you said we are world leaders in supporting those families and those children in the region. I just want to know how you square this: for every one new child you want to arrive in this country, there are ten or twenty children that then won’t have the opportunity to be in a camp, because then the resources won’t be available.
Justin Welby: You square it by recognising that just because you can’t do everything it doesn’t mean you should do nothing at all.
Nusrat Ghani: But a huge amount is being done.
Justin Welby: Absolutely. But the fact that we can’t solve all of the world’s problems doesn’t mean that we should turn our back on it and say that we’re not going to try to solve any of it.
Nusrat Ghani: But that’s not what is happening.
Justin Welby: That is how you square it.
Q64 Nusrat Ghani: So you are prepared to accept more children in this country, and support fewer children in the region?
Justin Welby: No, I think that is both/and. It’s not either/or.
Q65 Nusrat Ghani: But it is if there are limited resources.
Justin Welby: Our resources are not that limited.
Q66 Nusrat Ghani: So would you drop the number from 50,000 if more children in the region could be supported?
Paul Butler: The 50,000 is not just children, it is refugees of all ages.
Q67 Nusrat Ghani: Mr Winnick talked about the anti-Semitism inquiry that will be taking place in the future. There are huge concerns that there is a rise in anti-Semitism and possibly political racism based around anti-Semitism. I wondered what you thought about that, Archbishop, especially if it is institutionalised?
Justin Welby: I have commented on that already in an answer to Mr Winnick, and I think that anti-Semitism goes very deeply into our history and is something to be resisted. The record of Europe on it has for centuries been unspeakable, and we need to earn our way back on that one.
Q68 Nusrat Ghani: Do you think it has become institutionalised in some areas?
Justin Welby: It became institutionalised in some areas in the 10th century, not just recently. I think we have got better in institutional terms, but it is so deeply in our culture that we constantly need to be aware of not slipping back.
Q69 Nusrat Ghani: Final question: we are also going to be holding an inquiry into sharia law. With regard to what your views were, especially as Archbishop Rowan Williams said in 2014 that he supported the extension of sharia law, do you back him up or not?
Justin Welby: I am not going to talk about what Archbishop Rowan said, which was widely misreported at the time and was supported by the Lord Chief Justice in a speech a few weeks later as to what he really said and it wasn’t as simple as you suggested.
Q70 Nusrat Ghani: What did he really say?
Justin Welby: It would take me a very long time to answer it and I’m not going to do it because it is very, very complicated. What I would say is that we have certain basic philosophical jurisprudential values in this country and no law that we introduce should conflict with those basic jurisprudential values.
Q71 Mr Umunna: Archbishop, you are a global faith leader and this issue of migration has attracted a huge amount of interest, not only in this country, but in others. You mentioned Pope Francis and, with the global nature of the debate in mind, do you agree with Pope Francis when he said: “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not a Christian”?
Justin Welby: Yes, I do agree with Pope Francis.
Q72 Mr Umunna: Do you believe that treating a whole faith group as suspect and banning them from entry to your country is a Christian thing to do?
Justin Welby: It is certainly not a Christian thing to do, nor is it a rational thing to do.
Q73 Mr Umunna: Turning to our domestic debate, I think the Chair got the tip of the iceberg, but thinking about the tone of our debate here, do you believe that stopping immigrants with life-threatening illnesses, including HIV, from entering this country on those grounds alone is a Christian thing to do?
Justin Welby: It does not respect the dignity of the human person.
Q74 Mr Umunna: Do you think it is helpful when the level of debate around immigration in this country sinks so low that a political leader in our country gets stuck in a traffic jam and then blames it on immigrants?
Justin Welby: Words fail me.
Q75 Mr Umunna: They failed me, too, when I heard about this.
Justin Welby: I wasn’t aware that anyone—I don’t know who you are talking about, I hadn’t heard that particular comment, but it may be that—
Q76 Mr Umunna: It was Nigel Farage.
Justin Welby: Really? I’m shocked, truly shocked.
Q77 Mr Umunna: You look very shocked. Just getting more serious again: with regard to the tone of the debate around immigration, I certainly share your view that there are very legitimate concerns, which I also share, around the challenges that immigration poses. Would you agree with me that, too often, this issue is used to divide us? You talked about the “othering” of people that has gone on for so long. Do you agree that that is still going on now?
Justin Welby: Yes. The way people move around the world and the way we get information about the world has changed so rapidly over the last 10 or 15 years that both our governmental structures and our social structures, our structures of understanding of what is happening around us—the Church, the way the Church does it, we are not exempt from this, we have failed in as many ways, the Church of England included—are not keeping up with the speed of change. We are in a world where information comes to you far faster, but not relationship. And it is relationship that enables these issues to be dealt with, rather than merely information.
Q78 Mr Umunna: On that point, do you agree that part of the reason the debate has become so toxic is that, while we—I am a Lambeth MP as the Chair remarked—are very proud of our diversity, we have a very, very long way to go in terms of ensuring that we are properly integrated as a society? Integration and the trust that it builds enable us to get over the fears and anxieties that you refer to.
Justin Welby: That is a fascinating question, sir. The challenge of integration is one that no Government—I am not picking this one, or any previous Government that I am aware of—has really addressed as seriously as it could have done, I think partly because the challenge has come upon us so quickly. I lived in France for a number of years, in the late ’70s, early ’80s, when I was working in business there, and the French have a particular approach to integration that I think the evidence shows has not been successful—sufficiently successful. We sort of assumed that it would happen, and I think there needs to be a really serious examination of what the key elements that lead to good immigration are, and how we make sure they happen, because, exactly as you say, that moves the issue of migration from information to relationships. That is really, really important.
Q79 Mr Umunna: A final couple of questions. We are meeting on around the 15th anniversary of the race riots—for want of a better description—in Oldham, Bradford and Burnley, in 2001. With integration in mind, do you think that we have gone backwards or forwards since 2001? If I contextualise that, Ted Cantle, who was the author of the 2001 report, gave evidence to the all-party parliamentary group on social integration recently. He said that, in some respects, he thought we had gone backwards since 2001. Would you agree?
Justin Welby: I do not claim to be an expert on this, so I am quite cautious, but there is someone in the room, the Bishop of Birmingham, who probably knows a lot more about this than I do. My instinct is I think the evidence is that it is patchy. There are areas where people have seen integration as a really significant issue for their community and have worked on it, and we have gone forwards. Integration does not happen naturally—I have changed my mind on this, and I think I am learning that it does not happen naturally—but is something you really have to focus on, and where we have, we can go forward quite quickly; where we haven’t, we have slipped back.
Q80 Mr Umunna: I agree that it does not just happen, but clearly we need more institutions, beyond our schools, to promote integration. I am wondering what you as a Church are doing? I know you have the Church Urban Fund, but what are you doing to promote integration? Look at the large number of black Churches in my own constituency and their history, and some would say, historically, that part of the reason that they came about was that when people came from Africa and the Caribbean they were not welcomed in the first instance.
Justin Welby: A significant proportion of those congregations is ex-Anglican, and they mark—I think Paul would agree—the single biggest failure of the Church of England over the last 40 or 50 years in terms of how we have dealt with integration. Appalling, and a great cause of shame to us.
Briefly, in terms of what the Church is doing, the Near Neighbours programme has been extraordinarily effective—it started in three pilots and is now up to 10 or 12 places across the country, or something like that. It is funded by the DCLG, and is very cheap, if I may say so—very low cost and high return. Also, all the bishops in the Church of England, ourselves at Lambeth Palace and the Archbishop of York work very extensively with other community leaders, particularly faith leaders.
Q81 Chair: We remember fondly “Faith in the City” and the immense amount of work done locally. I remember the work of Tony Robinson, who is now the Bishop of Pontefract.
Paul Butler: With the Near Neighbours programme and the Together Network—the Church Urban Fund and 15 dioceses, at the moment, have Together networks—that is all work on community integration and community service.
Q82 Tim Loughton: I should mention my entry about a fostering agency in the register of Members’ interests. Also, my father is a retired Anglican vicar who takes a Church of England pension, in case that is relevant.
Archbishop, in a question to a Minister in the Lords, you asked if he agreed “that issues of compassion should easily trump those of administrative efficiency and tidiness, and narrow definitions of family links, and that we should, therefore, take more children very quickly”. You have also referred to the UK’s “very slim response” to offer to resettle 20,000 refugees, in comparison with Germany’s “extraordinary efforts” as you put it. What regard did that have to the need to ensure that, if we are taking unaccompanied child refugees in particular, you can’t just plonk them here? They need to be looked after with the very special needs that you have already alluded to. As it stands at the moment, we have a shortage of 10,000 foster carers for children who find themselves in care in this country.
Justin Welby: That is true. My question was in the particular context of Questions to Ministers in the House of Lords, having consulted with Bishop Paul.
Paul Butler: We happened to be in the House together.
Justin Welby: We happened to be in the House together on that question. The issue was about how narrowly family links are defined, and whether they are defined purely on a nuclear family basis, which is not always applicable in the cultural context of the people coming. Yes, that exactly illustrates the point I have been making. Thus we need a lot more foster families, and that needs significant work. I couldn’t agree more.
Equally, even in fairly rural areas, which I mentioned earlier, such as Romney Marsh, at one school I visited in December, I found I think it was 45 unaccompanied children fostered in that really rural area. They could not praise us or their local community enough. It was deeply moving to meet them and see the level of care and generosity of the people of that area. It shows we can do it.
Q83 Tim Loughton: Of course, Kent has disproportionately taken children in care in this country. You have promoted greatly—and Bishop Paul is the Church of England lead—safeguarding and child protection issues, where the record of the Church of England was not good beforehand.
Justin Welby: We would put it more strongly than that.
Q84 Tim Loughton: Indeed. So your knowledge of the plight of children who need to come into the care system and be given a place of safety is greater than perhaps many other people within the Church. When we hear from Bishop Paul that the Home for Good programme has been hugely successful and has elicited 10,000 offers of foster homes for children from overseas, why did you not do that for children in the UK beforehand?
Don’t you acknowledge, good though that is, that it gives a perception to some people who have problems with accepting refugees over here, that the Church of England and other Churches are rather quicker to look after people from overseas than people who need their care in this country? That is not a view I share but that is a perception that could have led from that. Why have you not recruited 10,000 foster carers, which would conveniently have closed the gap that we have had for some time?
Paul Butler: There is a slight accident of history going on here, because Home for Good was set up a few years ago for the very purpose of raising foster carers for this country, for the exact reason you noted. Huge numbers were needed and Home for Good was established to encourage Church families to step forward to foster children in care from this country. Then the Syrian crisis occurred and Home for Good stepped forward.
There are two things that I know Home for Good are more than happy to consider. One is that they want all of those who are suitable from that 10,000, where it is appropriate for them to take an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child to do so. But they will equally be working extremely hard with those 10,000 to say, “Why don’t you take a child from a local authority?” So ome
Home for Good will be working on both at the same time.
Q85 Tim Loughton: That’s good to hear. When the Syrian refugee crisis has subsided, hopefully soon but goodness knows when, that project will apply itself to those children.
Paul Butler: Yes. As I say, Home for Good was set up as a response to the needs in this country first.
Q86 Tim Loughton: The trouble is that the numbers just did not come forward at that stage, whereas now this crisis has brought them forward.
Paul Butler: It might be one of those occasional odd things that happen in history, where a crisis propels something different.
Q87 Tim Loughton: There has been some frustration for this Committee when we have had the Minister, Richard Harrington, here. He has done an exceptional job, as the archbishop acknowledged, from a standing start. All our constituents have emailed us to say that they have a spare room here and there. There are all sorts of problems with that and the archbishop explained why you can’t just plonk people here, that you need communities and support mechanisms. However, Church groups in particular have support mechanisms to share that responsibility. It may be giving accommodation on a rota system; it may be support with language and support for children at school, and so on. And yet, this has not really been taken up. There seems to be a bit of reluctance that we need to rely on the experts, and yet, the numbers we are dealing with—Church groups and other faith groups and voluntary organisations have a lot of offer here. Have you been as frustrated as many other people have been?
Paul Butler: That is where we have the National Refugee Welcome Board local committees, Cities of Sanctuary and so on. Volunteers from churches and other faith communities and the general public are stepping forward. Where there can be a degree of frustration is where you step forward to volunteer—as I mentioned earlier in Swanage—but there is no one arriving in Swanage at the moment, but there are people arriving elsewhere.
One of the challenges, if this is a five-year programme, is how do you keep those volunteers warm in the first year or two before someone arrives in their area, so they are ready to go when they do. That is one of the things that we are trying to work on as well. What we do not want is for all that goodwill and willingness to volunteer to slide away, because there is nowhere to exercise it. Telling the stories of what is going well in some parts of the country is important for other places in the future.
Q88 Tim Loughton: May I come on to a slightly different subject, Archbishop Justin? What is your view on whether the UK Government should have taken a more proactive role and what that role should be in dealing with the Calais Jungle, for example?
Justin Welby: My own diocese, Canterbury, has just recruited someone to work both in Dover and in the Calais Jungle. The Bishop of Dover has been across there 30 or 40 times by now working with local French churches there. If I may say so, there are obvious jurisdictional problems about the British Government getting involved in something in France in the same way as I suspect one or two people might question if the French Government decided they were going to work in Dover. I do not quite know how the legalities of that work.
Again, people have been caught by surprise. You are the experts on this. Government is not as simple as it looks, I suspect, from having met a number of people involved in it. Getting up to speed on these things takes time. Yes, we would like to see more response, but it has taken us as the Churches a year or a bit more than a year. We started with volunteers rushing across in a disorganised way. Then we got the volunteers organised and they are going across steadily from all over the south-east. Now we have employed people co-ordinating that to be able to help with it. It has taken us a year. We aren’t that quick. It is difficult to set this up.
Q89 Tim Loughton: May I sum up your response that, as far as you are concerned, the United Kingdom and its response to the high-profile problems in the Calais Jungle, the Government have acquitted itself well and fulfilled their moral obligations?
Justin Welby: I’m trying to say “not proven”.
Q90 Tim Loughton: So you think it could have done something different?
Justin Welby: I don’t have the evidence one way or another. I do not know what could legally have been done. But, yes, there is no doubt that that was a problem that needed international work. I do not know whether it was this Government or another Government that made it difficult so it would be unfair to judge without the information.
Q91 Tim Loughton: Do you think the French Government could have done better?
Justin Welby: As I say, it would be unfair to judge without the information.
Paul Butler: One of the things about Richard Harrington’s team—they have been great to work with—is that they have come from a range of Departments. One of the things that I have learned in working with them is that the culture of different Government Departments is such that it has taken them time to learn how on earth do you work together, whether you are from the Foreign Office, DFID, or the Home Office, because they work in different cultures. To build a common corporate culture in response has taken a bit of time.
Q92 Chair: Indeed, Bishop Butler, you are obviously a very forgiving person about the problems of government, as one would expect coming from a bishop. A very quick answer please, there are an estimated 157 refugee children in the Calais camp who are related to people in the United Kingdom. Yes, or no, do you think they should be allowed to come here?
Paul Butler: They should already have arrived.
Q93 Chair: Just to clarify about sharia law, Archbishop Welby—we don’t need a comment from Rowan Williams and the Lord Chief Justice, just your views—do you think it should be allowed to operate in the United Kingdom? We have ecclesiastical law and the law of the country, but sharia law?
Justin Welby: There are laws in this country that are drawn from international sources—civil law, Roman law—as you know. We have both studied law at various times.
Chair: Indeed: I should have thought that you were more distinguished than I.
Justin Welby: No—far from it. I changed from law and I have to say that the law department was as keen for me to change from law as I was.
Chair: But at the moment you are giving me a politician’s answer, aren’t you, archbishop? I don’t mind a “Don’t know”.
Justin Welby: No. If I was allowed not to interrupt myself, which I was doing deliberately, I will allow myself to say that whatever sources you draw law from—and a rich legal tradition draws from numerous sources—the basic philosophy of English jurisprudence must always prevail under all circumstances.
Chair: So you will allow sharia law in this country but, at the end of the day, British law—
Justin Welby: I am not going to comment on sharia law because it would just get me down into all kinds of things, but I think that English jurisprudence prevails always.
Chair: Okay. It is just that Ms Ghani was not absolutely satisfied with your answer.
Justin Welby: I have no doubt.
Chair: Let us just leave it as a draw at the moment and I will write to you. Perhaps you can put your thoughts in a note to the Committee for the inquiry into sharia law that we are conducting. That will give you a bit of time to make your mind up.
Justin Welby: I’m sure I will be absolutely delighted.
Chair: Excellent. Thank you very much. Our final questioner is James Berry—apologies for keeping you waiting for so long.
Q94 James Berry: Having grown up in the archbishop’s current area of Canterbury I am pleased to have the chance to ask a question, even with a wait. My sense is that in this country we do want to give refuge to people who are in desperate need, but people want an immigration system that’s fair and that they think, as Ms Ghani said, the Government are in control of. The Government set a figure of 20,000. Some said that was too much, some said it was too little and Bishop Butler thinks it should be more like 50,000, but whatever the threshold is, when we get to 20,001 or 50,001 and that one is an unaccompanied child, or one boat of desperate people trying to get over the Channel, how do we say no and at the same time be a compassionate country that gives refuge to people, but also one that maintains integrity in a system we have set with a limit that we have set?
Justin Welby: I really don’t know a good answer to that question. It is a very fair question but the answer, in a sense, is the old dictum of Napoleon that a division is a statistic but an individual is a tragedy. When you see the one, it is not so simple, is it? We need to get on with the 20,000 as fast as possible, to learn the lessons we can and then reassess and move on. The Church’s view is that 20,000 is too thin. When you get to 50,001 and you get the one, you then have to ask, are there really good reasons why the overwhelming claims of our historic culture of Christian compassion, which is deeply embedded for believers and non-believers and goes back centuries, and has received refugees for centuries, should be overruled? Is this at the point where it is breaking? You can only tell that at the time.
It is a question of resources and, yes, resources are not infinite, but they are considerable, for the sixth biggest economy in the world. We can talk ourselves into believing that we have no resources but that is not true. The development of resources is itself a boost to the economy, apart from anything else, so you grow the thing you are trying to support. You have put your finger on a hugely difficult area and this is why the exact number is a very difficult thing to deal with. Germany found the opposite problem, as we well know, and is struggling to know how to cope with that. There is not a quick, simple fix to this. You have to look at the circumstances at the time and whether you are reducing supply through the both/and of your local work—which I absolutely think that we can do and have been doing in the region—and also at what the long term outlook is. I just don’t think that there is a simple answer, like most things in politics.
Q95 Chair: Thank you very much. Archbishop Welby and Bishop Butler, thank you very much for coming in here to answer our questions in a very open and transparent way. Final questions: do you think that this crisis is going to be with us for a long time to come? Do you think that both the Church and Parliament are going to have to deal with this in the long term? Do you see an important role for the Church of England in helping to find a solution to this agonisingly difficult problem of mass migration?
Justin Welby: The answer to the former question is yes. I suspect that our children will be looking at this problem in due course in this room. The answer to the second question is that I see a very significant role for faith communities and the Church more generally, as Bishop Paul said. It is by no means though only the Church of England. Almost everything we are doing on this that I know of is done on an ecumenical basis, with Churches working together and utterly indifferent to the differences between them.
Chair: Archbishop, Bishop, thank you very much for coming in. We are most grateful.