It is a deeply regrettable moment for us as a nation that the government is pursuing a policy that intends to transport asylum seekers to another country thousands of miles away, before and without considering their claim to asylum in the UK.
We have a rich history of providing sanctuary to those around the world fleeing war and persecution, and it is intolerable to see us abdicate both our moral responsibility and commitment to international law. This week, all of the 26 bishops of the Church of England who serve in the House of Lords signed a letter voicing our alarm over the government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.
All of the Lords Spiritual signed a letter to The Times voicing alarm about the Government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. They wrote:
Whether or not the first deportation flight leaves Britain today for Rwanda, this policy should shame us as a nation. Rwanda is a brave country recovering from catastrophic genocide. The shame is our own, because our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice, as we have for centuries. Those to be deported to Rwanda have had no chance to appeal, or reunite with family in Britain. They have had no consideration of their asylum claim, recognition of their medical or other needs, or any attempt to understand their predicament.
The government’s plan is troubling because we are discharging our responsibility to welcoming the stranger, writes the Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler.
In the House of Lords over the past few months, I have been contributing to debates on the Nationality and Borders Bill – engaging with the government’s desire to reform the asylum system. My starting point is the Christian commitment to welcoming the stranger, treating them as we would each other.
On 25th May 2021 the former Archbishop of York, Rt Revd John Sentamu was introduced to the House of Lords to sit as an independent Crossbench Peer. He will sit under the title Lord Sentamu of Lindisfarne in the County of Northumberland and of Masooli in the Republic of Uganda.
12.08pm The right reverend and the right honourable John Tucker Mugabi Sentamu, having been created Baron Sentamu, of Lindisfarne in the County of Northumberland and of Masooli in the Republic of Uganda, was introduced and took the oath, supported by Baroness Hale of Richmond and Lord Popat, and signed an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct.
Following the Budget speech, the Bishop of Birmingham, David Urquhart, Convenor of the Bishops in the House of Lords, said:
“This is a time of great uncertainty, and while the Chancellor has rightly focussed on steps to get the economy moving, I’m concerned he has missed the chance to give certainty to those people and families who rely on Universal Credit, by not making the £20 uplift permanent.
“I’ll look at the details of the Budget closely for measures that will help the poorest and most vulnerable, especially access to sustainable jobs. The £19m for Domestic Abuse programmes is welcome as is support for schools to help get children back on the road of educational discovery. The lack of detail on social care is, however, a worry.
“The £300m additional funding for the Culture Recovery Fund is very welcome and will support the many small businesses and independent contractors our churches employ and support. I also note that the Levelling Up Fund prospectus specifically mentions cultural and heritage assets, including churches, and we look forward to churches and cathedrals particularly in areas of high deprivation taking part in this programme.”