Immigration Bill: Bishop of Southwark supports Dubs amendment on child refugees and family reunion

On 10th November the House of Lords considered the Government’s Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill.  Lord Dubs pressed again an amendment on child refugees and family reunion, his earlier amendment to the Bill having been rejected in a vote in the House of Commons. The Bishop of Southwark spoke in support of the amendment. Lord Dubs did not press it to a vote, accepting some concessions from the Government in its place.

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I speak in favour of the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Dubs. In doing so, I speak not only on my account but also in place of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, who is locked down in the north-east and therefore, because of the procedures for consideration of Commons amendments, is unable to speak on this amendment, although that had been very much his intention.

Family life and kin relationships are vital in many parts of the world to ensure survival. Even in the UK, family means the difference between misery, destitution and poor mental health and a life where, even in the most difficult circumstances, there is practical care, support and love. Thus, I, too, welcome the Government’s steps towards ensuring safe and legal routes, including the commitment in case of a no-deal Brexit, to pursue bilateral negotiations on arrangements for family reunion, which I trust they will seek to ensure are equivalent to the Dublin regulations. I welcome the Minister’s commitments and await with interest her further comments following what the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, just said.

However, a step in the right direction is not the end of the journey. Continue reading “Immigration Bill: Bishop of Southwark supports Dubs amendment on child refugees and family reunion”

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”

Bishop of Durham asks Government about its commitment to refugee resettlement scheme

On 28th October the Bishop of Durham received a written answer to four questions on refugee resettlement:

The Lord Bishop of Durham:

(i) To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 5 October (HL Deb, col 407), whether they have revised their aim of resettling 5,000 refugees in 2020/21 under the UK’s new resettlement scheme as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic; and, if so, what is the revised aim for resettlement this year. [HL9220]

(ii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 14 September (HL7752), what discussions they have held with local authorities about their capacity to restart refugee resettlement as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic; and whether any local authorities have confirmed that they are ready to restart resettlement. [HL9221]

(iii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the final 232 refugees within the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme will be resettled in the UK when it is safe to do so. [HL9222]

(iv) To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they will announce their long term refugee resettlement commitment beyond 2021. [HL9223] Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government about its commitment to refugee resettlement scheme”

Votes: Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

On 21st October 2020 three votes were held on the Government’s Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill. Members of the Lords were asked to agree with the decisions of the Commons to reject amendments they had passed to the Bill, or to propose further amendments in lieu of them. Several bishops took part:
Continue reading “Votes: Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill”

Bishop of London asks Government about high cost of registering children as British citizens

On 19th October 2020 Lord Alton of Liverpool asked the Government “what estimate they have made of the costs of their decision to appeal the decision of the High Court on 19 December 2019 in Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens versus Home Office.” The Bishop of London asked a further question:

The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, the judgment in December 2019 highlighted that the Home Office application fee to register a British citizen was £1,012 for children, even though the Home Office estimated the cost of processing applications for registration as £372. Putting a financial barrier on being able to access one’s rights is a clear barrier to one’s access to justice. What assessment have Her Majesty’s Government made of the number of people whose rights are limited by the level of the fee that has been set? Continue reading “Bishop of London asks Government about high cost of registering children as British citizens”

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.

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

Bishop of Southwark calls on Government to resume refugee resettlement programme

On 5th October 2020 Lord Foulkes of Cumnock asked the Government “whether they are planning (1) to establish asylum processing centres in British Overseas Territories, and (2) to house those who are seeking asylum on disused ferries; and, if so, how any such plans would comply with international obligations.” The Bishop of Southwark asked a further question:

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, talk of Her Majesty’s Government possibly acquiring timeshares in property on the isle of Elba or anywhere else aside, it is worth noting that the Home Secretary yesterday stressed the importance of “safe and legal routes” to asylum in the United Kingdom. I was grateful to hear that. Since the Government have now determined that it is safe and appropriate to resume deportation flights from the UK, will the Minister confirm that they have decided to resume immediately the refugee settlement programme they suspended in March? If not, will she inform the House of the difference in criteria for holiday and deportation flights and for those seeking sanctuary in this country? Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark calls on Government to resume refugee resettlement programme”

Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill: Bishop of Durham supports amendments on social care workforce and children in care

On Wednesday 30th September 2020 the House of Lords considered amendments to the Government’s Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill during its Report Stage. The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in support of two amendments, on:

  • Researching and reporting on the impact on the social care workforce.
  • Ensuring that children of EEA and Swiss nationals, in care and entitled to care leaving support, do not become undocumented by receiving automatic Indefinite Leave to Remain under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Votes on the amendments were deferred until the following week due to technical problems.

Continue reading “Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill: Bishop of Durham supports amendments on social care workforce and children in care”

Vote: Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

On 30th September 2020 a vote was held on an amendment to the Government’s Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill. The Bishop of Durham took part:
Continue reading “Vote: Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill”

Bishop of Rochester asks Government to restart vulnerable persons resettlement scheme

On 28th September 2020 Members of the House of Lords questioned Government on steps being taken to reform the asylum system. The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, asked a follow question:

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, the Minister will know the importance for those in need of asylum of safe and legal routes to the UK directly, rather than undertaking hazardous journeys on land and sea. The UK’s vulnerable persons resettlement scheme was one such route and has been something of a success story. However, with the scheme still paused, I believe, due to Covid, what discussions have the Government had ​with local authorities, and perhaps with voluntary sector groups, about their capacity in the light of Covid to restart it and—dare I say it?—extend it? Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester asks Government to restart vulnerable persons resettlement scheme”