The Bishop of Southwark asked a question during a debate on the government’s policy towards asylum seekers and deportations to Rwanda on 14th June 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, following the Minister’s opening words, I presided at a midnight mass to commemorate the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire at All Saints West Dulwich, which went on until the early hours of this morning, so I was grateful for the tribute she paid.
Bearing in mind the force of today’s letter in the Times signed by all the serving Lords spiritual, will the Minister acknowledge, contrary to what some of her colleagues have said, that the Bishops and others have offered alternatives—in particular, safe and legal routes which are unavailable to those who wish to apply from countries such as Iran, Iraq and Eritrea? Secondly, will she inform the House how removals may go ahead if the monitoring committee, set out in the memorandum of understanding to scrutinise processing, reception, accommodation and post-asylum treatment, does not exist? Finally, on the use of language, does the Minister agree that there is no such thing in law as an “illegal asylum seeker”, only an asylum seeker?
Baroness Williams of Trafford: I thank the right reverend Prelate for his points. As I have outlined, our safe and legal routes have been extremely generous to those who most need our protection—those from Afghanistan, now those from Ukraine and previously those from Syria. Our routes have been very generous. Sometimes, in suggesting expansion of safe and legal routes, we are opening up the country to something that might be quite unmanageable. However, we stand by our duty and our wish to provide refuge to those who need it most. I cannot go into any detail on processing because, as I said, a legal process is ongoing, but details of the process are available online.
Extracts from the speeches that followed:
Lord Deben (Con): Would my noble friend be kind enough to tell the House whether the Home Secretary has yet had time to write to the most reverend Primate the Archbishop to apologise for the way she received his moral judgment? Has she been able to write to the Cardinal Archbishop to explain why she disagrees with his moral judgment? Or are we now to believe that moral judgments will be laid down by the Home Office and this Government rather than those who have traditionally being able to uphold them?
Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con): My Lords, I have given my view on morality and I expect that God will be the judge of my morality or otherwise. As to whether my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has written to the most reverend Primate or the Cardinal, I do not know; that is a matter for her.
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