On 28th October 2019 Lord Bethell repeated a Government Statement about the tragic deaths of 39 migrants in Essex. The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a follow-up question:
Lord Bishop of Durham: While I understand that the Minister does not wish to speculate, it is possible that there are people already in this country who may have been illegally trafficked here and will know the identity of those people when it emerges. In order to fully understand the depths of the depravity that leads to this kind of evil, will consideration be given to offering immunity to those who are here illegally at present who can offer good, solid evidence that will help us to understand and bring people to justice? Will immunity be considered for those who are already here, perhaps illegally?
Lord Bethell (Con): The Secretary of State has spoken in another place of her determination to track down the perpetrators of this crime. When asked a similar question, she communicated her determination to use whatever routes or opportunities she had, including the kind described, in order to achieve that objective.
On the 8th January 2019 Lord Roberts of Llandudno asked a question of the government about migrants crossing the English channel. the Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek asked a follow-up question about the right of family reunion and child migrants.
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, children granted refugee status in the UK have no rights to family reunion. This sets the UK apart from all other European countries. What are the Government doing to ensure legal protection and mental health support for these children? Will they consider granting rights to family reunion?
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 8th November 2016 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Children and Social Work Bill at its Report Stage. Bishops took part in two votes on amendments to the Bill: one from Crossbench Peer Lord Ramsbotham to remove Clause 29 pertaining to the disclosure and publication of information and one from Labour’s Lord Watson of Invergowrie on behalf of Lord Dubs, pertaining to safeguarding unaccompanied refugee children. Lord Watson wished to remove the amendment after the Government pledged to make provision via other means, though some peers opposed the withdrawal, and the House divided. See here also.
On 8th November 2016, the House of Lords considered the Government’s Children and Social Work Bill at its Report Stage. They debated an amendment co-sponsored by the Bishop of Durham and Lord Dubs on the welfare and protection of unaccompanied migrant children. Lord Watson of Invergowrie moved the amendment on behalf of Lord Dubs and the Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke on behalf of the Bishop of Durham. The Bishop welcomed the Government’s commitment to publishing a strategy to implement the substance of the amendment.In her response, Baroness Williams of Trafford, Minister of State for the Home Office, paid tribute to the work of the Church:
The Bishop of Leeds My Lords, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham is unable to be here and sends his apologies, but he wishes to add his voice to those that warmly welcome the Government’s commitment to publish the strategy to ensure the safety and welfare of unaccompanied children coming from Europe and beyond.
On the 17th December 2015 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP, answered four oral questions in the House of Commons about Syrian refugees, fossil fuel investments and the protection of hedgehogs.