*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

New asylum Bill ‘mean-minded’ says Bishop Butler

04 February 2022

‘It would place an unsustainable burden on a small number of nations’

ALAMY

Campaigners gather in George Square, Glasgow, on Saturday to protest against the Nationality and Borders Bill

Campaigners gather in George Square, Glasgow, on Saturday to protest against the Nationality and Borders Bill

THE Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, has challenged the Government’s proposal that refugees should be allowed to claim asylum in their first country of arrival only. He said that such a move made Britain appear “little” and “mean-minded”.

Speaking in a debate on the Nationality and Borders Bill in the House of Lords on Tuesday, he said that this was “inimical to the whole basis on which the refugee convention is built” and contravened UNHCR guidance.

“The idea that asylum must be claimed in the first country of arrival has no basis in international law; this is the view of the UNHCR and of the legal community,” he said. “If imposed, it would place an unsustainable burden on a small number of nations, most of which are already under immense strain.”

The whole purpose of an internationally agreed convention was to recognise that the responsibility for the care and support of refugees needed to be carried by the whole global community, he said.

“We recognise this as a nation by setting up and running resettlement schemes, working with the international community. So to try and declare this for those who claim asylum on arrival here, even if they have passed through other nations, does not logically fit with our recognition of the need for global collaboration and a global sharing of the demands.”

Under the proposals, the likelihood of anyone’s being able to claim asylum in Britain as their first nation of arrival was almost impossible, because Britain was an island nation. Clause 11 — which divides arrivals into groups one and two — would effectively consign the vast majority of refugees to group two and make them unable to claim asylum.

“Can the Minister set out the evidence that shows how reducing the rights and entitlements of refugees will have the effect of actually deterring dangerous journeys?” Bishop Butler asked. “Is there any evidence?”

The purpose of an internationally agreed system was to ensure that all asylum-seekers found themselves treated on the basis of an equal opportunity for their case to be heard, he said.

“As framed, these proposals present a nation that wants to be not a global, generous Britain, but a little, mean-minded Britain, determined to play less and less of a role in the world. This will not do.”

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Awards Ceremony: 6 September 2024

Read more details about the awards

 

Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available

 

SAVE THE DATE

Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website

 

ViSIt our Events page for upcoming and past events 

Welcome to the Church Times

 

To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)