The Bishop of Durham received the following written answers on 17th April 2023:
The Lord Bishop of Durham asked His Majesty’s Government how many individuals have been granted temporary protection since the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 came into force; and what proportion of such individuals were under the age of 18.
Lord Murray of Blidworth (Con): The Home Office publishes data on asylum in the ‘Immigration System Statistics Quarterly Release’ on GOV.uk. Data on initial decisions on asylum applications, by age, can be found in table Asy_D02 of the ‘asylum and resettlement detailed datasets’ on GOV.uk. Information on how to use the datasets can be found in the ‘Notes’ page of the workbooks. The latest data relate to the year ending December 2022. Data for the year ending March 2023 will be published on 25 May 2023.
On 6th February 2023, the Bishop of Durham spoke in a debate on the Government’s use of a Memorandum of Understanding rather than a treaty as the vehicle for the agreement with Rwanda on the transfer of asylum seekers, highlighting the stance of the House of Bishops against the policy and the government’s responsibility towards children and the vulnerable:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: I declare my interest in RAMP as laid out in the register. The Lords Spiritual as a whole chose to speak out against the transfer of asylum seekers to Rwanda. We did not do this lightly, knowing the privileged role we hold in the life of our nation, but the memorandum of understanding brings into question fundamental issues about individual rights, our commitment to international law and our moral standing as a nation. It is because of these deep and important questions that I believe the use of an MoU was highly inappropriate.
The Bishop of Durham received the following written answer on 24th January 2023:
The Lord Bishop of Durham asked His Majesty’s Government, following the President of the Republic of Rwanda’s annual end-of-year address, broadcast on 31 December 2022, what assessment they have made of (1) relations between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and (2) the ongoing conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo; and what steps they intend to take in response to that speech.
The Lord Archbishop of York asked a question during a debate on the government’s Rwanda Asylum Partnership on 19th October 2022:
The Lord Archbishop of York: My Lords, the UK’s population, about 67 million, is five times that of Rwanda at about 13 million. Yet Rwanda, which is a country far poorer than us, as has already been pointed out, hosts one refugee for every 90 people whereas the figure here is one refugee for every 500 people. I do not think I can put my hand on my heart and say that the UK is doing its bit in a global crisis. I wonder whether the Minister would like to say what we are going to do to play our part in taking refugees here.
The Bishop of Southwark asked a question in a debate on the government’s immigration policy and deportations to Rwanda on 15th June 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, in response to the Home Office Oral Statement, we on these Benches ask if it is not immoral that those who are to be deported to Rwanda have had no chance to appeal or to reunite with family in Britain. Is it not immoral that they have had no consideration of their asylum claims, recognition of their medical or other needs, or attempts to understand their predicament, given that many are desperate people fleeing unspeakable horrors?
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.
The Bishop of Southwark asked a question during a debate on the government’s policy towards asylum seekers and deportations to Rwanda on 14th June 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, following the Minister’s opening words, I presided at a midnight mass to commemorate the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire at All Saints West Dulwich, which went on until the early hours of this morning, so I was grateful for the tribute she paid.
Bearing in mind the force of today’s letter in the Times signed by all the serving Lords spiritual, will the Minister acknowledge, contrary to what some of her colleagues have said, that the Bishops and others have offered alternatives—in particular, safe and legal routes which are unavailable to those who wish to apply from countries such as Iran, Iraq and Eritrea? Secondly, will she inform the House how removals may go ahead if the monitoring committee, set out in the memorandum of understanding to scrutinise processing, reception, accommodation and post-asylum treatment, does not exist? Finally, on the use of language, does the Minister agree that there is no such thing in law as an “illegal asylum seeker”, only an asylum seeker?
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.
The Bishop of Durham received the following written answer on 9th June 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Durham asked Her Majesty’s Government:
when they will publish the terms of reference for the Monitoring Committee, which was referred to in the Memorandum of Understanding with the government of the Republic of Rwanda for the provision of an asylum partnership arrangement; and when the Monitoring Committee will be operational.
whether individuals have been appointed to the Monitoring Committee that was set out in the Memorandum of Understanding with the government of the Republic of Rwanda for the provision of an asylum partnership arrangement.
whether co-chairs have been appointed to the Joint Committee that was to be established “without delay” after the asylum partnership arrangement with the government of the Republic of Rwanda came into effect.
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