Bishop of Southwark calls on Government to resume refugee resettlement programme

On 5th October 2020 Lord Foulkes of Cumnock asked the Government “whether they are planning (1) to establish asylum processing centres in British Overseas Territories, and (2) to house those who are seeking asylum on disused ferries; and, if so, how any such plans would comply with international obligations.” The Bishop of Southwark asked a further question:

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, talk of Her Majesty’s Government possibly acquiring timeshares in property on the isle of Elba or anywhere else aside, it is worth noting that the Home Secretary yesterday stressed the importance of “safe and legal routes” to asylum in the United Kingdom. I was grateful to hear that. Since the Government have now determined that it is safe and appropriate to resume deportation flights from the UK, will the Minister confirm that they have decided to resume immediately the refugee settlement programme they suspended in March? If not, will she inform the House of the difference in criteria for holiday and deportation flights and for those seeking sanctuary in this country?

Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con): As the right reverend Prelate said, my right honourable friend talked specifically about safe and legal routes. Deportation flights, and indeed the processing of asylum claims and removals, are still very difficult. Some deportations have taken place, and some arrivals have taken place over the last few days. However, both sides of the system are incredibly slow at the moment, for obvious reasons. I can absolutely assure the right reverend Prelate that, when things become more normal, resettlement will resume in the way that we would want it to.

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