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Dear Members,
 

Catholic Union Head of Public Affairs James Somerville-Meikle writes: The hot weather divides opinion. For some it’s too hot, but for others it’s the perfect weather to enjoy a staycation in the UK. One side effect of the clear skies and calm seas has been a surge in the number of people attempting to cross the English Channel illegally. On Thursday, a total of 235 migrants in 17 vessels were intercepted crossing the Channel according to the Home Office. Among them was a group of 15 people, including children and a heavily pregnant women, who landed on a beach in Kent. Thursday’s figures are the highest ever recorded in a single day. Last month, Bishop Paul McAleenan called on the British and French authorities to collaborate in order to eliminate the underlying reasons that cause migrants to risk their lives in crossing the Channel. There are no easy solutions here, but working towards addressing the fears and concerns of those people who attempt such a perilous journey must surely be an essential part of any solution.

COVID-19
 
Prisoners put at risk of homelessness. Channel4 has released a video about prisoners being released with no safe accommodation to go to.
 
Children still unable to visit parents in prison. Barristers have sent letters before action to the Ministry of Justice, arguing that the bans on prison visits are “failing innocent children”. The Government banned all visits to prisons in March, due to the outbreak of Covid-19. As a result, some children haven’t seen their parents for months. Lawyers argued the ban breaches the European Convention on Human Rights and the UK’s Children Act 2004. In July, the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights urged the Government to allow children to see their mothers in prison.
 
Charities still waiting for emergency funding. The Guardian have found that only about a quarter of a £200m emergency coronavirus fund for small charities in England has been allocated.
 
FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF
 
Pressure builds for rethink on Scottish Hate Crime Bill. Further voices have raised concerns about the Scottish Government’s proposed overhaul of hate crime legislation in Scotland. Catholic Union Head of Public Affairs, James Somerville-Meikle, wrote an article for the Conservative Home website setting out why the proposed changes are so worrying.
 
Call for urgent action in Nigeria. Lord Alton and Baroness Cox have written to the International Criminal Court about persecutions in Nigeria. In July, Rt Rev Abiodun Ogunyemi, the Anglican Bishop of Zaria, described the campaign against Christians in Nigeria as a genocide.
 
EU to reappoint envoy on religious freedom. The European Commission has announced that it will reappoint the Special Envoy for the promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) outside the EU.
 
MIGRATION
 
MPs to look at migration routes. The Home Affairs Select Committee has launched an inquiry into the Channel crossing, and migration and asylum routes. They will also look at the risk to migrants’ lives, and the response of UK authorities, especially for unaccompanied children. Immigration Minister, Chris Philp MP, is due to have a meeting with his French counterpart next week on the increasing numbers of people attempting to cross the channel from France to the UK in boats.
 
Sharp rise in migration. New data has found that 3,700 migrants arrived in the UK in 2020, compared with 1,850 in the whole of 2019. Commenting, Lucy Moreton, Immigration Service Union Officer, said that human smugglers make migrants believe that they have to cross before the end of the implementation period with the EU.
 
PRISONS
 
New Chief Inspector of prisons announced. The Ministry of Justice has announced that Charlie Taylor is their preferred candidate for the position of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons. Taylor has previously Chaired the Youth Justice Board. He has conducted reviews into the use of pain inducing techniques in the Youth Secure Estate, and into the Youth Justice System in England and Wales. The House of Commons Justice Select Committee will organise a hearing before Taylor is appointed.
 
VATICAN APPOINTMENTS
 
British women given top positions on economic council. Ruth Kelly and Leslie Ferrar are amongst seven lay people appointed to the Council for the Economy. A number of Cardinals were also appointed to the Council. Pope Francis created the Council for the Economy in February 2014, with the Apostolic Letter Fidelis dispensator et prudens. The Council’s task is to supervise the economic management of the Curia, as well as the Institutions connected with the Holy See and Vatican City State.
The Catholic Union News is compiled by Lisa Fraser with additional contributions from James Somerville-Meikle and Nigel Parker.

If you’re a Catholic charity, or if you work in parliamentary/public affairs, and you would like us to flag specific items in this newsletter, please send the information to: lisa.ingrid.fraser@gmail.com.
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