On 21st January 2020 the House of Lords voted on amendments to the Government’s EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill. Three bishops took part in a vote on an amendment from Lord Dubs, to put in place measures for refugee children family reunion. The Bishop of Durham also acted as a sponsor of the amendment. Continue reading “Votes: EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill – Refugee children family reunion”
On 21st January 2020 the House of Lords debated and voted on an amendment to the Government’s EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill from Lord Dubs, which would restore measures for refugee children family reunion. The Bishop supported the amendment as a co-sponsor and in the subsequent vote it was passed by 300 votes to 220. It returns to the Commons to be voted on by MPs.
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I speak once more from these Benches, recognising that the argument has been made again and again. I am honoured to follow the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, and to concur with all that he said. As my right reverend friend the Bishop of Worcester reminded the House last week—he kindly spoke for me because I could not be present in Committee—this debate resonates with the nativity story, the story of a child fleeing persecution. The voices of these children are too often drowned out by conflict and violence, by traffickers and by political leaders. Let this House speak on their behalf by voting for the amendment. Continue reading “EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill: Bishop of Durham urges support for Dubs amendment on refugee children family reunion”
On 15th January 2020 the House of Lords considered amendments to the Government’s European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill at its second day in Committee. The Bishop of Worcester, Rt Revd John Inge, spoke in support of an amendment in the name of Lord Dubs and the Bishop of Durham, to ensure the continuation of the refugee children and family reunification provisions of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. The amendment was withdrawn by Lord Dubs at the end of the debate, with a commitment to return to it at a later stage.
Clause 37: Arrangements with EU about unaccompanied children seeking asylum. Debate on whether Clause 37 should stand part of the Bill.
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, I am pleased to support this amendment, to which my friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham has put his name. He is sorry not to be able to be in the Chamber today. A few weeks ago, we celebrated the story of Christmas. In the nativity, the happy events in a Bethlehem stable were followed by the more dramatic flight of the holy family to escape the violent persecution of King Herod. As we discuss this amendment, that story of the child Jesus and his parents fleeing from violence to a foreign land resonates loudly.
Children are among the most vulnerable victims of conflict, persecution and violence around the world. We all know that they do not choose to become refugees separated from their families. We as a nation can choose to reunite some families torn apart by conflict by offering children shelter, hope and a future. That is what I believe the majority of people in this country wish, and I am sure that is what the Government wish. This amendment seeks to ensure it by guaranteeing a safe, legal, effective and managed route for child refugees to join their families in this country. Continue reading “European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill: Bishops support Dubs amendment on refugee children family reunion”
On the 13th January Baroness Lister of Burtersett asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the impact on low-income families of the four-year freeze in working age and children’s benefits”. the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, in the coming years, the main driver in increasing child poverty will be the two-child limit. Low-income families are particularly detrimentally impacted by this. It is predicted that, by 2023-24, this policy will tip 300,000 children into poverty. What plans do Her Majesty’s Government have to stem the rising child poverty levels caused by current policies, primarily the two-child limit?
On the 7th January the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke during the second day of debate on the Queen’s Speech, on the topics of child poverty, climate change sustainable development and immigration:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, initially I want to note how little reference there is in the gracious Speech to the needs of children, except in the realm of education. There is nothing about children’s first 1,000 days, nor any firm commitment to tackle the iniquity of child poverty. How we treat children speaks volumes for where our priorities lie. Could the Minister please comment on this omission?
On the 5th November the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, received a written answer from the Government, in reply to his question about EU-related immigration funding:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: HL92 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what guarantee, if any, has been provided to charities and non-governmental organisations who currently receive funding from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund through the UK responsible authority rather than through direct bids to the European Commission. Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government about pre-Brexit guarantees for Asylum, Migration and Integration funding”
On 31st October 2019 Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth moved a Motion, “that this House takes note of the Phase 1 report of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in the debate, drawing attention to the work of churches and others in supporting the survivors, and the wider issues of neglect within the community.
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I thank the Whips Office for understanding that my friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans cannot speak due to the change of time, and that I have been allowed to speak in his place.
It is important for us to remember that for the bereaved families and survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire, who have now suffered for so long, the past week has been particularly difficult. The report mentions many contributing factors, including issues of fire safety, communication between emergency services, building regulations and the use of materials. In his introduction, the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, spoke eloquently on all those, and many other noble Lords will be able to speak about them from a position of informed authority.