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.
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”
On 25th June the Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, received a written answer to a question on child refugees in Greece.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL5618 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the conditions for child refugees in Greece; what humanitarian and medical aid they have provided to those refugees; and what plans they have, if any, to allow them to come to the UK.
On 5th June the Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, received a written answer to two question from Baroness Williams of Trafford on refugee and asylum children.
The Lord Bishop of Durham: HL4110To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have put in place to ensure that children can continue to be transferred to the UK under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Lord Bishop of Durham: HL4111 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the implications for the UK of successful transfers of separated children from Greece to other countries in Europe under the European Commission’s relocation scheme for transfers of unaccompanied children.
On 20th May 2020, Lord Collins of Highbury asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the response of international institutions to the impact of COVID-19 on refugee camps”. The Archbishop of Canterbury asked a follow-up question:
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, the Minister will be aware of the Global Humanitarian Response Plan published by the UN and updated this month, which emphasises “The importance of involving and supporting local organizations … given the key role they are playing in this crisis.” In all areas where the world’s 70 million displaced people gather, faith groups and especially churches are often the only remaining organisations with reach from grass roots to leaders, but they are often ignored by international and relief agencies. In many cases, shortage of money and logistics hamper food distribution. What steps are the Government taking to ensure that faith-based local groups are fully involved by all international agencies in all aspects of relief, reconciliation and moral and spiritual support?
On 18th May 2020 a virtual sitting of the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Sugg, “That the Virtual Proceedings do consider the international response to COVID-19.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, and the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, thankfully, the virus appears to be spreading slowly in most African countries, with Lesotho declaring its first case only last week. However, the World Bank forecasts that Covid-19 could push 49 million people into extreme poverty. The economic impact on some poorer nations could be more detrimental than the health threat. The aid Her Majesty’s Government committed at the international pledging event will be vital for the poorest nations, but our international response must be sustainable, which requires trade, not simply aid. What actions have Her Majesty’s Government taken to ensure that good free trade agreements are made with poorer nations?
On 12th May the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Boswell of Aynho “That the Virtual Proceedings do consider the Report from the European Union Committee Beyond Brexit: How to Win Friends and Influence People”. The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, spoke in the debate, and highlighted concerns about how the Dublin Regulation will impact refugee children after Brexit.
Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, we must consider this report in light of the global pandemic. Decisions about our future relationship with the EU must be informed by Covid-19, recognising our international interdependence rather than being driven by ideology. Our European neighbours remain our friends and allies. This must continue for the sake of all, and especially for vulnerable children. Continue reading “Bishop of Durham raises treatment of refugee and migrant children after Brexit”