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World News

Bishop of Durham says Priti Patel's asylum bill will make system 'less fair'

by Sophie Drew

The Bishop of Durham has expressed concern that that changes to the asylum system will make it harder for people.

Rt Rev Paul Butler spoke in the House of Lords, stating concerns that a new bill would make the asylum system less fair, instead of more so. 

The Nationality and Borders Bill has been proposed by Home Secretary Priti Patel, with the aim of making provisions for those seeking asylum. 

However, the bill also aims to further deter illegal entry and “remove those from the UK who have no right to be here”.  

If Patel is successful, those attempting to enter the country illegally could face four years in prison, instead of six months. 

If people are stopped in the English Channel, they will be returned to France. 

The bill has already passed through the House of Commons and is currently in the ‘committee stage’ in the House of Lords. 

If the bill passes through the chamber, amendments will be considered before it’s given the Royal Assent. 

Bishop Paul Butler spoke out against the bill, telling the House of Lords: "We do not want to see any more people losing their lives so tragically in the Channel, as we saw last year. However, in its current form, the bill is unlikely to achieve either of these goals."

"It will make the asylum system more complicated and cumbersome, be less fair, provide fewer safe routes and be more expensive." 

He went on to say that there was “no evidence” to suggest that fewer people would attempt to enter the UK if the bill is successful. 

"We have an asylum system which is set up to establish the veracity of an asylum claim. Let us rely on that, not on the method of entry." 

He then called for further detail regarding the “safe routes” proposed for those seeking asylum, and the protections being offered for children.

He said: “Children are rarely talked about in the bill. If the aim is to make the immigration system fairer, it needs to begin by putting in place protections for those who need it most, especially children," he said. 

"The bill should be an opportunity to create a fair, compassionate and effective asylum system that works for the taxpayer, communities and those seeking asylum. Sadly, on many counts I fear that it does not work." 

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