The Archbishop of Canterbury has proposed two amendments to the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill as it enters Committee Stage in the House of Lords tomorrow (Wednesday 24th May).
Bishops are also tabling and supporting amendments to the Bill on other areas, including victims of modern slavery and sexual exploitation, protection for children and pregnant women, and asylum seekers’ right to work.
The Archbishop's amendments call for long-term, multi-lateral solutions to people trafficking and the refugee crisis. They are informed by the debate that the Archbishop held on migration and asylum policy in the House of Lords in December and his ongoing engagement with the Bill – as well as his own experiences in recent visits to South Sudan, Kenya, Ukraine and Moldova.
The first amendment would require the Government to have a ten-year strategy for collaborating internationally to tackle human trafficking. The second amendment requires the Government to have a ten-year strategy for collaborating internationally to tackle refugee crises. These have been tabled with the support of Peers from the Government and Opposition benches.
A spokesperson for the Archbishop of Canterbury said tonight: “Jesus calls on us to welcome the stranger and seek the good of our communities. The Bishops in the Lords will continue to speak out for those who are fleeing violence and persecution and seeking safety – and keep calling for an asylum system that reflects our values, moral responsibilities, and place within the international community. The role of the House of Lords is to improve legislation, not throw it out. The Archbishop’s amendments, which have cross-party support, are intended to encourage and support pragmatic, collaborative and long-term solutions to a refugee crisis that is only set to worsen due to climate change and related conflict over the coming decades.”
Speaking at the Second Reading of the Bill in the House of Lords on 10th May, the Archbishop said: “Of course we cannot take everyone, and nor should we, but this Bill has no sense at all of the long-term and global nature of the challenge the world faces. Long-term, globally co-ordinated solutions must be part of the way forward. This nation should lead internationally, not stand apart. I intend to table amendments in Committee that encourage this longer-term thinking and collaborative focus, including a plan for combating traffickers and working with international partners to look at updating the 1951 Convention.”
The full list of amendments to the Illegal Migration Bill can be viewed here.
The Archbishop’s speech at the Second Reading of the Bill on 10th May can be read here.
The Archbishop’s speech leading his debate on migration on 9th December 2022 can be read here.