Bishops asks aboujt conflict, peace, reconstruction in Nagorno Karabakh

On 2nd and 3rd December 2020 the Bishops of St Albans, Coventry, Southwark and Leeds received written answers to seven questions about armed conflict, peace, reconstruction and religious and cultural sites in Nagorno Karabakh:

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have received from the Armenian diaspora about (1) the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and (2) the ceasefire agreement brokered by the government of Russia. [HL10643]

Continue reading “Bishops asks aboujt conflict, peace, reconstruction in Nagorno Karabakh”

Votes: UK Internal Market Bill

On 9th November 2020 the House of Lords debated and voted on the Government’s UK Internal Market Bill during its Committee stage. A cross-party group of Peers, including the Bishop of Leeds, had tabled motions that all the clauses of Part 5 of the Bill, which covered Northern Ireland, international law, and executive powers,  should not remain in the Bill. These successfully passed by large majorities across two votes. Nine bishops took part in the votes. Continue reading “Votes: UK Internal Market Bill”

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”

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”

Votes: Immigration and Social Security (EU Withdrawal) Bill 2020

On 5th and 6th October 2020 votes took place on amendments that Members of the House of Lords had tabled to the Government’s  Immigration and Social Security (EU Withdrawal) Bill. Eleven bishops took part across eight separate votes, supporting amendments that were passed by majorities of the House, with one exception. A summary is below and the full text of each amendment is beneath. The amendments will now be considered by MPs who will have to decide whether to accept or reject each. Continue reading “Votes: Immigration and Social Security (EU Withdrawal) Bill 2020”

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”

Bishop of Southwark asks Government about ‘marked aggression’ by Chinese Government on Taiwan

On Thursday 17th September 2020 Baroness D’Souza asked the Government “what assessment they have made of reports of the presence of the Chinese Air Force in Taiwan’s airspace; and what steps they are taking to support the independence of that country.” The Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Southwark:  My Lords, this country has recognised the Government in Beijing as the legitimate authority in China since January 1950, with a very distinctive status, as the Minister has acknowledged, for Taiwan, which should be discussed peacefully between the authorities in Taipei and those on the mainland. I am glad to hear about the Minister’s lobbying in connection with the World Health Organization. Would he care to comment on this pattern of marked aggression by the current Chinese Government, which has sought to limit options for people at home and abroad and is so damaging? Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark asks Government about ‘marked aggression’ by Chinese Government on Taiwan”

Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill: Bishop of Southwark supports amendment on exempting health and social care workers from the Immigration Health Charge

On 14th September 2020 the House of Lords considered amendments to the Government’s Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill, during its third day in Committee.

The Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun,  supported amendments to the Bill to make EEA and Swiss nationals coming to the UK to work as a healthcare or social care worker exempt from the Immigration Health Charge

As is usual in Committee, the amendments were not pressed to a vote after debate, though some issues may be returned to again at a later stage. A transcript of the Bishop’s speeches is below. The text of the amendment supported by the Bishop are reproduced underneath. Continue reading “Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill: Bishop of Southwark supports amendment on exempting health and social care workers from the Immigration Health Charge”

Bishop of Southwark says failure of Government to honour international treaty means EU and UK nationals need new reassurances

On 8th September 2020 in the House of Lords Government Minister Lord True responded to a question from the Opposition frontbench on the prospects for a Brexit trade deal in October, and the upholding of the Northern Ireland protocol in the withdrawal agreement should a deal not be agreed. The Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, given the concerns in the House about any attempt to derogate from an international treaty and the implications for the peace process in Northern Ireland, will the Minister confirm that the Government are aware that any attempt unilaterally to modify the terms of the withdrawal agreement will adversely affect the confidence of EU citizens resident here, and of British citizens resident in EU countries, in the United Kingdom’s commitments under the agreement, if treaty commitments may be set aside?

What can the Minister say to reassure both categories under these circumstances, other than to undertake to honour the treaty in full? Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark says failure of Government to honour international treaty means EU and UK nationals need new reassurances”