The following article by the Most Rev Justin Welby, appeared in The Times newspaper on May 24 2023.
We must control our borders. We must stop the boats. We must have limits to those coming because we cannot take everyone. I said all this in the opening sentences of my speech in the House of Lords the week before last.
As the Illegal Migration Bill enters committee stage in the Lords, everyone agrees the status quo position on asylum fails. Those that arrive use dangerous means and face chaotic, ineffective treatment at tremendous cost, which creates discontent among those in the UK who feel their generosity is being exploited. We need a new approach that loves mercy and does justice, to use words from scripture.
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:
On 24th May 2023, the Archbishop of Canterbury asked a question he had tabled on what the government are doing to assist the government of South Sudan to support refugees from the current conflict in Sudan:
The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury: To ask His Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to assist the government of South Sudan to support refugees from the conflict in Sudan.
On 10th May 2023 the House of Lords debated the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill at its Second Reading.
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, we need a Bill to reform migration. We need a Bill to stop the boats. We need a Bill to destroy the evil tribe of traffickers. The tragedy is that, without much change, this is not that Bill.
On 30th March 2023 the House of Lords held a short debate on a Motion from Lord Naseby: To ask His Majesty’s Government what plans they have to introduce new economic policies to address the challenges of climate change in developing countries, particularly those that are members of the Commonwealth.
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, for tabling this Question. In his travelogue, he mentioned, to my alarm, the areas for which I am directly responsible—I suppose because they could not go anywhere else—notably, the Falkland Islands, Antarctica, Sri Lanka and Bermuda; I do not know what is going to happen to Kent.
The OECD’s most recent States of Fragility report found that, in 2022, 23% of the world’s population were living in fragile contexts, often linked to climate change, but 73% of the world’s extreme poor were. This figure is projected to rise to 86% of the world’s poor on the lowest incomes by 2030. For the Anglican Communion, within 165 countries over 150 of them are affected by such changes.
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, for securing this important debate, for her Select Committee’s outstanding report on adult social care and for including the recent report of the Archbishops’ Commission on Reimagining Care in the debate title. I am also very grateful to my noble friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Carlisle, who co-chaired the commission. He will be addressing some of its specific recommendations later. I would like to speak about the motivation for its commissioning by the most reverend Prelate the Archbishop of York and myself.
On 21st March 2023, the House of Lords debated the Financial Services and Markets Bill in committee. The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke in support of amendments tabled by Baroness Kramer which stressed the importance of the lessons learned from the 2008 financial crash:
The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I have added my name to Amendments 241C and 241D tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, and wish to speak briefly in support of them here. I am particularly grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, who made some very helpful and powerful points.
As the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, said, this marks 10 years since the publication of the Changing Banking for Good report from the parliamentary commission, on which I sat with her. The two amendments to which I have added my name are probing amendments to stress the importance of not forgetting the lessons of 2008-09, because people and sectors entirely can have very short memories.
As the noble Baroness has explained, the amendments seek to prevent alteration to two elements of the banking reform Act 2013 by statutory instrument without proper debate in Parliament, and to prevent changes which go against the recommendations of the parliamentary commission. Our memories have certainly been refreshed this week. If the debate on this group had been held when it was first scheduled two or three weeks ago, I think we would have had a very different reception. If one is grateful for anything in the present crisis, it is that we have been so warmly reminded of why we need a clear memory.
On 30th January 2023, the House of Lords debated amendments to the Public Order Bill (2022) in the first day of the report stage. Votes were held on amendments to the bill, in which Bishops took part:
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Manchester and the Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham took part in a vote on an amendment to the bill tabled by Lord Coaker: “to insert a new clause: Meaning of ‘serious disruption.’”
On 10th January 2023, the House of Lords debated the Financial Services and Markets Bill in it’s second reading. The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke in the debate, highlighting the need for good practice and quality of service in the finance industry:
The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, this year marks the 10th anniversary of the final report of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, Changing Banking for Good. I declare my interest having served on that commission, and I welcome the presence in this debate of the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, who also served, as did the current Lord Speaker. I also welcome the maiden speeches of three noble Lords today: the noble Lords, Lord Ashcombe and Lord Remnant, and the noble Baroness, Lady Lawlor.
We need to remember that the extraordinary crisis in 2008—which led to the various commissions, reports and changes in regulations, including the financial services Act 2013, in which the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards played a part—caused huge and ongoing crises. While welcoming the Bill very strongly, I join some of the hesitations mentioned by the noble Lords, Lord Hunt, Lord Sharkey and Lord Vaux. It has been estimated that the financial services industry, and particularly the major banks, have an effective subsidy as a result of the implicit government guarantee that they receive, which is worth approximately £30 billion a year. If there is £30 billion a year going spare, many other industries and not a few churches would welcome that very warmly. However, that subsidy, which is at the risk of the taxpayer, as we saw in 2008 and 2009, is what gives the result of the banks having heavy social obligations; we must look carefully at that when the Bill reaches Committee, as has already been said. The issues of inclusion, stability and access at all levels, especially for micro-businesses, are very important, not least for levelling up.
On 9th December 2022 the Archbishop of Canterbury led a debate in the House of Lords on the motion:
That this House takes note of the principles behind contemporary United Kingdom asylum and refugee policy, and of the response to the challenges of forced migration.
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I am very grateful to the usual channels for facilitating this debate, to those among the staff of the House who have had to work extra hard to come in today, and to so many noble Lords for being present. I look forward to hearing the maiden speeches of the right reverent Prelate the Bishop of Leicester, the noble Lord, Lord Sahota, and the noble Baroness, Lady Twycross, on this subject.
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