On 26th March 2015 Lord Lloyd of Berwick led a short debate, “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the Report of the Inquiry into the Use of Immigration Detention in the United Kingdom, published on 3 March”. The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, spoke in the debate, which was the last of the 2010-15 Parliament and the final contribution of Lord Lloyd, who was to retire.
The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, from these Benches I too pay tribute to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, and thank him in particular for his service as chairman of the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament. He has chaired the committee for 13 years with a forensic eye for detail. He has taken the time and made the effort, as we know is typical of him, to understand the Church of England—and has maintained a sense of humour. It is remarkable and we are hugely grateful. He has also been a friend to many of us, for which we are also grateful. We wish him very much happiness in his retirement, not least in his lambing next month.
I was shocked and distressed to read this report. I did not take part in the inquiry but some of the facts that are presented here—which were to some extent in the public domain anyway but are now made clear before us—are deeply distressing. Continue reading “Immigration detention – speech by Bishop of Peterborough”
“If we wish to dissuade people from coming to this country without the legal right to be here, it is wrong to try to send a message by treating asylum applicants, even when appeal rights are exhausted, in a way unworthy of our values.”
On 20th November 2014, Lord Roberts of Llandudno led a take-note debate in the House of Lords on the subject of the Azure card, the means of support through which the Government supports people making applications for asylum who are not allowed to work in the UK. The Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd John Inge, spoke in the debate, highlighting a number of concerns about the current system, including the level of support provided and the limited number of places in which the card can be used. He called on the Government to review the current system.
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, for securing this debate on a very important matter. The churches have long held, and maintained in this House, that those who have applied for asylum and who are not allowed to do paid work should be given enough financial help to maintain a decent basic standard of living for themselves and their families. Indeed, the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York has more than once led delegations on this theme. Surely every person who is in this country should be treated in accordance with our values. If we wish to dissuade people from coming to this country without the legal right to be here, it is wrong to try to send a message by treating asylum applicants, even when appeal rights are exhausted, in a way unworthy of our values. Continue reading “Bishop of Worcester supports calls for review of Azure card system for asylum seekers”
On 30th October 2014, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office, Lord Bates, repeated a Government statement concerning search and rescue for migrants and refugees. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, it is clear that we are all deeply worried about this terrible situation. Just last weekend, a family drowned off our own coasts and the horror was felt right across our country. There were serious discussions about whether we needed more people on duty to look after them. There is a deep sense of worry where people put themselves in such danger. I do not think that any of us believe that people are putting their families at risk—sometimes, they are huge, extended families; one was reported earlier this week on television—thinking, “Oh, well, it does not matter if we are likely to drown because we might be saved”. That would seem to me incredible. Surely we need a much more coherent, pan-European strategy underlying the whole question of immigrants and asylum seekers, and we should try to get some agreement on how we can address it. However, I would lament us withdrawing from anything that would help people in such dire circumstances.
Lord Bates: I understand the right reverend Prelate’s point. I should make the point again for the benefit of the House that we are not withdrawing from anything; this was something for which the Italian Government had responsibility, and they have decided to phase it out. The right reverend Prelate is absolutely right that more needs to be done to establish a co-ordinated approach, which was indeed the purpose of the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on this specific issue held on 9 and 10 October. One of the outcomes of that meeting was Operation Triton, which we have pledged resources to, in addition to all the other things that we are trying to do to help in the countries from which these people are fleeing for their lives.
On 22nd September 2014 the Bishop of Coventry, Rt Rev Christopher Cocksworth, received written answers to two questions of Government – about UK resettlement for Iraqis displaced by ISIS and about Syrian refugees. The answers are below. The other questions tabled at the same time by the Bishop on similar issues can be viewed here.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration they have given to resettling in the United Kingdom a proportion of those displaced from ISIS-controlled areas of Iraq.
Continue reading “Refugees from ISIS, Iraq, Syria – Questions From Bishop of Coventry”
On 23rd July 2014, Lord Lexden asked Her Majesty’s Government what action they propose to take over the abuse of the human rights of LGBT people in Uganda as a result of the passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Act there. The Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Coventry:
My Lords, I apologise to the Minister for my enthusiasm. I have not asked a question in this House before so I wanted to get on with it. The Minister will be aware that the most reverend Primates the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York wrote to the President of Uganda in January to reiterate a statement made by all the Primates of the Anglican Communion, in which they said:
“The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us”.
In that spirit, do the Government intend to provide asylum to those who are fleeing the worrying consequences of this law which enshrines such diminishment?
Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry asks Government about asylum for Ugandan LGBT people”
On 11th November 2013, the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, took part in the Committee Stage of the Government’s Children and Families Bill. He spoke in favour of two amendments – one of the duty of schools to promote the academic, spiritual, cultural, mental and physical development of children and the second on the welfare of children who are asylum seekers. Neither amendment was put to a division of the House.
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I also would like to speak briefly in support of Amendment 233, which was so ably and vividly introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones. I have a particular responsibility in the Church of England for education, so I am pleased to be able to bring that authority and support, as it were, on behalf of all the schools that I represent. This is a small but important and crucial piece of work. Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford supports amendments to Children and Families Bill”
On 24th October 2013, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer asked Her Majesty’s Government on what evidence they consider the Democratic Republic of the Congo to be a safe country to which to return asylum seekers.
The Lord Bishop of Ripon and Leeds: Despite my unelected nature, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): My Lords, we observe our obligations under the refugee convention and the European Convention on Human Rights. Every asylum application is considered on its individual merits in the light of country information from a range of sources, including fellow European and asylum-intake countries. Returns are made only if it is safe to do so, and the courts have supported our position.
The Lord Bishop of Ripon and Leeds: I am very grateful to the Minister for that response. Following the Unsafe Return report of November 2011 and continued documented reports of ill treatment of those who return to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the Unsafe Return 2 report of this month, will the Government use the evidence provided to challenge the DRC authorities and to set up a monitoring mechanism for those returned so that there is a minimal safety measure for them in this very dangerous country?
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, the Home Office works very closely with FCO staff here in London and with embassy officials in Kinshasa. The embassy staff participated in the DRC fact-finding mission and stated that they were not aware of substantial evidence of any returnee being ill treated. However, I assure the right reverend Prelate that the Home Offices investigates specific allegations of mistreatment on return.