On the 19 July 2017 the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler held a short debate on the report of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees, Refugees Welcome? The Experience of New Refugees in the UK. The Bishop asked the Government to appoint a Minister for Refugees and to implement the report’s call for a national refugee integration strategy. Baroness Williams of Trafford, Minister of State at the Home Office responded to the debate for the Government. Her speech and that of the Bishop, are reproduced in full below. All speeches in the debate can be read in full: here
The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to the report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees, Refugees Welcome? The Experience of New Refugees in the UK, published on 25 April.
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I am pleased to be able to introduce this short debate on the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Refugees’ report, Refugees Welcome?. It was a privilege to serve on this group. It was also often disturbing to hear the stories of those who, having experienced years of difficulty as asylum seekers, found the joy of being finally given refugee status taken away by the poor ways in which they were then treated. As a nation, we had agreed that they deserved to be fully welcomed—but our systems often left them bereft and destitute. As the report makes clear, we have work to do as a nation to ensure that those who we have agreed are refugees and whom we believe have much to offer our land are made truly welcome.
On 12th July 2017, Lord Warner led a short debate in the House of Lords on the question: “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment have they made of the risks to NHS sustainability arising from the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union”. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, contributed to the debate.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Warner, for introducing this important topic for us this evening and for his helpful and comprehensive opening remarks.
Ensuring the sustainability of the NHS is undoubtedly a significant challenge, even before the potential consequences of Brexit are considered. The uncertainty surrounding the Brexit negotiations has created significant stress for many working in already pressurised health and social care systems.
On Monday 13th March, the House of Lords considered the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, which had been returned to it by the House of Commons during a parliamentary process known as ‘ping pong’. MPs had rejected an amendment passed by the Lords to make protection of EU/EAA nationals a priority in the Brexit negotiation process. The Liberal Democrats tabled a further amendment to disagree with the Commons in its decision. The Archbishop of York, the Rt Hon and Most Rev Dr John Sentamu, spoke in favour of agreeing with the Commons (so opposing the amendment, which was later defeated during a vote).
The Archbishop of York: My Lords, I have been listening to what people have said and do not want to repeat anything. However, some of us objected to the amendments not because we lacked sympathy, understanding or compassion. We did it simply because we thought there was a confusion of process with substance. Continue reading
On 6th and 7th March 2017 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, received written answers to questions he had asked of Government about resources and capacity available to help unaccompanied child refugees.
The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to ensure that local authorities have sufficient resources to accept unaccompanied child refugees in the financial year 2017–18. Continue reading
On 9th February 2017 Lord Singh of Wimbledon asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they are taking to combat religious extremism and to promote a cohesive society by enhancing religious literacy at all levels of government.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Aolan Smith, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, just three weeks ago I spent half a day in an immigration removal centre and so gained an up-to-date insight into some of the complex and sensitive issues that are being dealt with there. Concerns continue to be raised about the level of religious literacy among some of the asylum caseworkers. Is the Minister content with the level of training that they are getting in religious literacy and, if not, what can be done to improve it? Continue reading
On 17th January 2017, Lord Bridges of Headley repeated a Government statement on Britain’s withdrawal from thew EU. The Archbishop of York, Most Revd and Rt Hon John Sentamu, asked a follow up question.
The Archbishop of York My Lords, there are good things in the Prime Minister’s Statement. I have no intention of turning it into a Christmas tree on which to hang many baubles so that it collapses under the weight of them. Nevertheless, although the Prime Minister referred in her Statement to immigration and to welcoming the brightest and the best, I am surprised that, as a former Home Secretary who worked hard on immigration and the issue of asylum seekers in particular, she made no reference to asylum seekers. Continue reading
On 9th January 2017, the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, received an answer to a written question about the safety of those deported to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 15 December (HL3748), what steps they are taking to assess the safety of those removed from the UK to the Democratic Republic of Congo, once they are in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Continue reading