Bishop of Durham supports Refugee Family Reunion Bill

On 8th July 2022, the House of Lords debated the Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill in its second reading. The Bishop of Durham spoke in the debate on this Private Member’s Bill- his speech and contributions from other peers are below:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I am pleased to speak today in support of this Bill. In doing so, I declare my interests as a member of the Refugee, Asylum and Migration Policy—RAMP—project and as a trustee of Reset.

The Bill proposes sensible provisions to consider the wider notion of family when enabling refugee families to come back together. Family reunification is often a neglected safe and legal route. The simple principle is that those who have been forced apart from family members due to persecution, war and other factors should be able to rebuild their lives with their loved ones when they have been granted protection as a refugee. In recent years, the largest safe route to the UK has been via family reunion, with 90% of those travelling this way being women and children.

It is on children that I would like to focus, namely the right of a child to reunite with their family, particularly their parents, when rebuilding a life here in the UK. Currently, we have the situation where we decide to layer more trauma on a child by expecting them to grow up separated from their parents and be placed in state care. Across Europe, the UK is simply an outlier in this regard.

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Bishop of St Albans asks about Afghan resettlement scheme numbers, housing and employment

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 6th July 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked Her Majesty’s government:

  • how many Afghan citizens have arrived in the UK under the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme in each month since 1 January.
  • how many Afghan citizens who arrived under the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme since 1 January have been permitted to seek employment.
  • how many Afghan citizens who arrived under the Afghans Citizens Resettlement Scheme since 1 January are still in temporary accommodation.
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‘I joined 25 Bishops in condemning plans to send refugees to Rwanda – here’s why’ – Bishop of Durham


The following article by the Bishop of Durham appeared in the Independent on 15th June 2022

The Bishop of Durham,
Rt Revd Paul Butler

It is a deeply regrettable moment for us as a nation that the government is pursuing a policy that intends to transport asylum seekers to another country thousands of miles away, before and without considering their claim to asylum in the UK.

We have a rich history of providing sanctuary to those around the world fleeing war and persecution, and it is intolerable to see us abdicate both our moral responsibility and commitment to international law. This week, all of the 26 bishops of the Church of England who serve in the House of Lords signed a letter voicing our alarm over the government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

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Bishops’ letter to The Times on the Rwanda asylum removals policy


14/06/2022

All of the Lords Spiritual signed a letter to The Times voicing alarm about the Government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. They wrote:

Whether or not the first deportation flight leaves Britain today for Rwanda, this policy should shame us as a nation. Rwanda is a brave country recovering from catastrophic genocide. The shame is our own, because our Christian heritage should inspire us to treat asylum seekers with compassion, fairness and justice, as we have for centuries. Those to be deported to Rwanda have had no chance to appeal, or reunite with family in Britain. They have had no consideration of their asylum claim, recognition of their medical or other needs, or any attempt to understand their predicament.

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Bishop of Chelmsford asks about Ukrainian refugees

The Bishop of Chelmsford asked a question in a debate about refugee displacement on 28th April 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: As we heard the Minister say, the UN estimates that more than 11 million Ukrainians have been displaced from their homes since 24 February, more than 5 million have fled the country and approximately two-thirds of the country’s children are now displaced. We would do well to remember that these are not just numbers; each of them represents a human life. The outpouring of concern from the British public and willingness to host refugees in their homes has been a powerful statement of love amid this extraordinary tragedy. Indeed, many across the diocese of Chelmsford, which I serve, and across the country, have gone to great lengths to welcome refugees with open arms. Can the Minister expand on what is being done to address concerns raised about delays and complications in processing asylum applications through the Homes for Ukraine scheme?

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Bishop of Durham asks about government’s immigration policy

The Bishop of Durham received the following written answer on 28th April 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Durham asked Her Majesty’s Government who will be on the Independent Monitoring Board referred to in the Memorandum of Understanding between the UK Government and the government of Rwanda for the provision of an asylum partnership arrangement; and when will the Board be fully operational.

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Bishop of St Albans asks about accommodation for Ukrainians in the UK

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 27th April 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to provide short-term accommodation for non-vulnerable Ukrainian adults who have been granted leave to remain but have no access to public funds.

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Church Commissioners’ Question Time, 10 March 2022

On 10th March 2022 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered questions from MPs in the House of Commons, freedom of religion or belief overseas, family hubs, supporting Ukrainian refugees, affordable housing, the Queen’s platinum jubilee, and the Commissioners’ Scottish landholdings.

Global Summit: Freedom of Religion or Belief

Caroline Ansell (Eastbourne) (Con): What role the Church of England has in supporting the global summit to promote freedom of religion or belief, to be hosted by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in July 2022. (905957)


The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Andrew Selous): The Church is making every effort to support that important summit to promote freedom of religion or belief. A debate was held on the lack of global religious freedom at last month’s General Synod and I am pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce), in her capacity as the Prime Minister’s special envoy for freedom of religion or belief, was able to brief Synod members on the huge cost of following Jesus in many parts of the world.

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Bishop of Coventry – stopping people smugglers and dangerous channel crossings requires more than policy of deterrence

“a policy that does not go beyond deterrence is not sufficient”

On November 25th 2021 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Hoey, “That this House takes note of the number of migrants arriving in the United Kingdom illegally by boat“.

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, I too am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Hoey, for securing this debate, especially at this time. I was helped this morning by the “Thought for the Day” from my colleague, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leeds, in which he said that this is a time to dig deeper into our emotions and face the grief we feel at the loss of humanity. It is that sense of grief, our common commitment to the preservation and dignity of life, as well as to a passion for justice for those suffering the ills and evils of the world, which unites us. The noble Baroness, Lady Hoey, demonstrated that.

Our shared grief is the proof we do not really need of the humanity and vulnerability that unites us. These common concerns, which underpin both our aim to stop migrants making dangerous journeys and our grief today, are the same concerns and moral instincts that require us to sit back and face the reality that a policy that does not go beyond deterrence is not sufficient.

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Bishop of Southwark raises concerns about legality and effect of immigration rule changes

On 27th May 2021 the House of Lords debated the Government’s Immigration Rules and Statements of Changes to them. A Motion to Regret the Statements was moved by Lord Green of Deddington, though not put to a vote. His Motion read:

That this House regrets that the Statements of changes to the Immigration Rules (HC813, HC1043 and HC1248), published respectively on 22 October 2020, 10 December 2020 and 4 March, do not provide clear and comprehensible descriptions of the changes proposed, nor of their likely effect. Special attention drawn by the Secondary Legislation Committee, 33rd and 40th Reports, Session 2019–21.”

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I too am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, for securing this important debate on his Motion to Regret. Last year, several Members of your Lordships’ House cautioned against the major extension of the Government’s capacity to make law with minimal recourse to Parliament in the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act. Today, at the initiative of the noble Lord, Lord Green of Deddington, and not of Her Majesty’s Government, we have 90 minutes to examine three statutory instruments relating to the Immigration Rules, one of which runs to 507 pages. All three were subject to the negative resolution, which involved little or no scrutiny of such important areas of life. Your Lordships’ House last defeated Her Majesty’s Government by praying against a negative resolution 21 years ago. Is the Minister satisfied with the level of scrutiny that these statutory instruments have received? Would she agree with me that it would have been better to publish them first in draft and to seek the views of both Houses in a debate?

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