The Bishop of Southwark this week raised concerns about the legality of immigration rule changes and questioned whether the government were “engaging in blarney”.
Bishop Christopher Chessun backed a motion opposing the Immigration rules, pointing out that peers had only 90 minutes to examine three statutory instruments relating to the Immigration Rules, one of which runs to 507 pages.
He said that all three were subject to “little or no scrutiny,” saying the Government should have published the changes first in draft and invited the views of both Houses in a debate.
Among his criticisms of the measures, Bishop Chessun questioned whether the new rules meet the Home Secretary’s aspirations for her department’s handling of cases post Windrush. He asked how an automatic presumption of refusal to the UK asylum system is compatible with the Home Secretary’s response to the Windrush Lessons Learned Review, “to see the ‘face behind the case’.”
The Bishop questioned whether the Government were “engaging in blarney”.He pointed out that recently published statistics from the Home Office for the first quarter since the rules came into effect, found that 1,053 people were issued with notices of intent, meaning that the department is looking at the possibility of return for these people.
“It records that none has been returned on inadmissibility grounds. Will the Minister explain the mechanism for returning such individuals in conformity with the rules but in the absence of any agreement to do so? Will she concede that the rules on inadmissibility are unworkable?,” he asked.
“I understand the Government’s animus against people smuggling—that is terribly important. Lastly, it is reasonable to suppose that most people seeking safety find refuge in the first safe country they reach, and they do. However, there are always reasons why some do not. What the Home Office might consider safe is not universally experienced as such.”