‘I joined 25 Bishops in condemning plans to send refugees to Rwanda – here’s why’ – Bishop of Durham


The following article by the Bishop of Durham appeared in the Independent on 15th June 2022

The Bishop of Durham,
Rt Revd Paul Butler

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.

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Bishops’ letter to The Times on the Rwanda asylum removals policy


14/06/2022

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.

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Church Commissioner Questions: parishes, freedom of religion, housing, Channel crossings, marriage, new clergy, arts and culture

On 28th April 2022 MPs asked Andrew Selous MP, representing the Church Commissioners, about parish ministry, freedom of religion & belief, affordable and sustainable housing, illegal migrant crossings in the Channel, families parenting and marriage, candidates entering Holy Orders, and supporting arts and culture. A transcript is below.

Continue reading “Church Commissioner Questions: parishes, freedom of religion, housing, Channel crossings, marriage, new clergy, arts and culture”

‘Rwanda refugees plan flies in the face of Christian teachings’ – Bishop of Durham

This is the text of an article published in The Independent on 26th April 2022.

Bishop of Durham

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.

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Bishop of Coventry – stopping people smugglers and dangerous channel crossings requires more than policy of deterrence

“a policy that does not go beyond deterrence is not sufficient”

On November 25th 2021 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Hoey, “That this House takes note of the number of migrants arriving in the United Kingdom illegally by boat“.

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, I too am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Hoey, for securing this debate, especially at this time. I was helped this morning by the “Thought for the Day” from my colleague, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leeds, in which he said that this is a time to dig deeper into our emotions and face the grief we feel at the loss of humanity. It is that sense of grief, our common commitment to the preservation and dignity of life, as well as to a passion for justice for those suffering the ills and evils of the world, which unites us. The noble Baroness, Lady Hoey, demonstrated that.

Our shared grief is the proof we do not really need of the humanity and vulnerability that unites us. These common concerns, which underpin both our aim to stop migrants making dangerous journeys and our grief today, are the same concerns and moral instincts that require us to sit back and face the reality that a policy that does not go beyond deterrence is not sufficient.

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Church Commissioner Written Answers: Asylum Seekers and Baptism

22nd November 2021

Baptism: Asylum

Chris Loder: [76831] To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, how many services the Church of England has conducted specifically for the purposes of Baptising people seeking asylum in each of the last five years.

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Bishop of Durham asks about safe asylum routes and the outsourcing of asylum interviews

On 10th November the Bishop of Durham received four written answers to questions on safe asylum routes and the outsourcing of asylum interviews:

 The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 21 October (HL Deb, col 1598), when the review into “safe and legal routes to the UK for asylum seekers, refugees and their families” will be completed; and whether that review will be published. [HL9631] Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks about safe asylum routes and the outsourcing of asylum interviews”

Bishop of Durham asks Government about right to work of asylum seekers

On 3rd November 2020 the Bishop of Durham received a written answer to three questions to Government on the right to work of asylum seekers:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 29 September (HL8116), what plans they have to publish the terms of reference for the Home Office review into the right to work of asylum seekers. [HL9359]

The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 29 September (HL8116), what external organisations have been (1) formally, and (2) informally, consulted as part of the Home Office review into the right to work of asylum seekers. [HL9360]

The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the response by Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay on 9 September (HL Deb, col 820), when the review into the right to work of asylum seekers will be laid before the House. [HL9361] Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government about right to work of asylum seekers”

Immigration and Social Security (EU Withdrawal) Bill 2020: Bishop of Southwark backs changes on child refugees, detention, documentation

On 5th October 2020 the House of Lords considered amendments to the Government’s Immigration and Social Security (EU Withdrawal) Bill 2020 during the second day of its Report stage. The Bishop of Southwark spoke in favour of amendments to the Bill on

  • Child refugees and family reunion
  • Providing physical, not just digital, proof of settled and pre-settled status in the UK.
  • Placing an upper limit of 28 days on the time an EEA or Swiss national may be held in immigration detention.

The texts of his speeches are below. He and ten other bishops voted on these and other amendments to the Bill and the details are recorded here.

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Bishop of Coventry asks Government about support for asylum seekers during Covid-19

On 30th June there was a repeat of an Urgent Question in the House of Commons on support and accommodation for Asylum Seekers during Covid-19. The Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry, asked a follow up question focusing on supporting vulnerable people with wrap around care.

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, vulnerability assessments are so important. There are questions about when they happen and the need for them to be ongoing and serious. There is also a question about how. Is the Minister satisfied that the vulnerability assessments are sufficiently tuned to the experiences and needs of asylum seekers in their extremity, and take into consideration the whole person and the impact of the ongoing experience of lockdown?

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