On 19th November 2014, Lord Lea of Crondall asked Her Majesty’s Government whether they have made any proposal to other European Union member states, either severally or collectively, which would limit (1) the right of United Kingdom citizens to live and work in other European Union member states, or (2) the parallel right of citizens of other European Union member states to live and work in the United Kingdom. The Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd John Inge, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, the Minister mentioned the reputation that this country has for hospitality. Is he aware of an associated issue: the difficulty that members of the Commonwealth face in obtaining a visa even to visit, let alone to work and live in this country, which seriously hampers a lot of very important overseas links with dioceses, including my own—so much so that my friends in Tanzania were unable to be present at my wife’s funeral earlier this year? Is that sort of impediment government policy and, if not, can he assure us that it will be addressed?
Lord Bates: We very much encourage people to come to this country, whether to study or to work. We want to encourage the best and the brightest to come to this country, as well as tourists; there are many people we want to encourage—but there is a difference between that and people who significantly abuse the system in coming here because of benefits.
On 9th April 2014 the Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Rev Christopher Foster, gave his maiden speech in a House of Lords debate to take note of Higher Education in the UK.
Bishop Christopher focused his remarks on his diocese, the important role of Portsmouth University, access for international students and on local economic disadvantage. His speech in full is below: Continue reading “Maiden speech by the Bishop of Portsmouth – Higher Education”
“when we try to get the visa and immigration authorities to tell us what we have to do as a diocese and what the conditions are, we find that letters get lost. My colleague who deals with this is in despair. We write letters but nothing comes back. Time is ticking away and the training curacy of the chap I am talking about is coming to an end.” – Bishop of Chester
Lord Steel of Aikwood tabled a question for short debate: ‘to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the operation and accountability of UK Visas and Immigration. The Bishop of Chester raised some examples of failures in the system.
The Lord Bishop of Chester:
My Lords, I associate myself very closely with all that has been said, although the second half of the contribution from the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, focused a bit too much on mammon for my level of expertise. However, I take him as an authority on that aspect. The introduction the noble Lord, Lord Steel, gave, was powerful and shocking in equal measure, and made the case on its own. I can say to the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Jones, that I am aware of the Hereford situation; indeed, clergy are among those who are able to come under the scheme she mentioned.
On 9th December 2013, the Earl of Clancarty asked Her Majesty’s Government whether they have plans to improve the official information available, including on the United Kingdom Border Agency website, for long- and short-term visitors to the United Kingdom, and in particular artists and entertainers.
The Bishop of Truro asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Truro: My Lords, I do not wish to argue that all clergy are entertainers as that would not be true in my experience. But can the Minister comment on the frustration felt again and again by Christian people—clergy and others, especially from Africa—who are invited by dioceses in this country with expenses guaranteed? They have to travel long distances and are not always able to access websites to apply for a visa and are then faced with delay or refusal based on the assumption that they will not return home to their families and responsibilities.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I am sure the right reverend Prelate will be aware of the responsibility on all Border Agency staff to deal judiciously with these matters. However, they can act only on the information that they have when people present themselves for entry. I hope that the new website will make it much easier for everybody to come here. If anybody is organising an event which involves people coming from overseas, they have an opportunity, in a spirit of partnership, to make sure that everybody is aware of the documentation they require. There is no difficulty getting that documentation provided the application is made.