On 24th May 2023, during a debate on the Illegal Migration Bill, the Archbishop of Canterbury intervened during a speech by Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbots, raising a point of clarification on numbers of migrants the Bill was intended to apply to:
The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury: I entirely accept, and everyone who has spoken so far has agreed, that we have to control migration. I do not think there is any argument about that, but does the noble Lord accept that of that 700,000 last year, or whatever the number turns out to be exactly, the Bill will cover only 45,000? The Bill is not about overall immigration.
Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbots (Con): The most reverend Primate is exactly right: we have failed to start the conversation across the country as to what the number we can reasonably absorb is. Once we have had that conversation, the second stage of the conversation is: how does that number divide up between, as the most reverend Primate has just referred to, people who are coming here to fulfil jobs we cannot do and people who are coming here because they have money or ideas or are brilliant academics? That way, the people of this country would have some understanding of what is in store for them. I certainly accept that 40,000 people—but it may be 80,000 people—is only a fraction, a small part, of the problem that we face.