Parliamentary Speeches, Debates & Questions

JULY 2019

Religious Persecution – Motion to Take Note (11 Jul 2019)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I too thank my noble friend Lord Elton for the timing of this debate, a few days after the review into the persecution of Christians. I appreciate that this debate is about the persecution of all on the basis of their faith or belief, but I will focus on the review. I declare my interests as a practising Anglican and as the co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group. It is most…

Commemoration: Victims of Religious Violence – Question (10 Jul 2019)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to recognise the newly designated United Nations Day for commemorating the victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief on 22 August.

JUNE 2019

Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill [HL] – Second Reading (25 Jun 2019)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I declare my interest as an executive member of CPA UK and thank my noble friend the Minister for his meeting with interested Peers, which was really useful. Although the hosting of the Commonwealth Games by Birmingham in 2022 is undoubtedly great news for the West Midlands region, or what is now called the midlands engine—I am from the East Midlands…

Anti-Semitism – Motion to Take Note (20 Jun 2019)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who are speaking in today’s debate, which is the second on anti-Semitism within a year in your Lordships’ House—perhaps evidence that this is a light sleeper, to borrow a phrase. Of course, I am not Jewish, but I co-chair the APPG for International Freedom of Religion or Belief, and anti-Semitism is a denial of such freedom. I am also a…

Syria: Idlib Attacks – Statement (18 Jun 2019)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, most sadly it has become apparent that a small number of British children are in this region, having been taken out there by their parents. The scant information we have is that we think they are in the north-eastern part of Syria. Can my noble friend please assure us that DfID is doing its best to locate these British children so that they can be kept out of harm’s way while we…

House of Lords: Gender Equality – Question (6 Jun 2019)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, the question of diversity is one commonly asked when we are speaking outside of this House. It is important for the public to know more about the membership of the House. On approaching the Library, it surprised me to learn that there has been no voluntary monitoring form sent out to Members to collate information on other protected characteristics, such as geographical diversity,…

MAY 2019

Nigeria: Fulani – Question (9 May 2019)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, as a fellow officer of the APPG it was a pleasure to respond to the request from the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, for the group to launch an inquiry into this matter. The evidence has been that the violence goes across many states but that it is complex and various factors are at play. One key theme has been that the perception is rising that religion is a motivating factor, due to the…

APRIL 2019

Privileges and Conduct – Motion to Agree (30 Apr 2019)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I wish very briefly to add to this debate. I have sat through the entirety of this debate because I believe, on behalf of this House but also on behalf of the staff, that it is a very important matter. I often have the privilege of addressing young people through the education department, who say to me: “Describe a day in your life in the House of Lords”. Today, my day began…

Written Answers — Home Office: British Nationality (29 Apr 2019)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the “best interests of the children test” pursuant to section 55 of the Borders, Citizens and Immigration Act 2009 was applied in the cases where those having their citizenship revoked had British children in their care.

Immigration: Community Sponsorship – Question (25 Apr 2019)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, it is good to hear that there is now an acceleration in the number of groups applying to be community sponsors, but—as I understand it—community sponsorship is currently available only to refugees who come through the various vulnerable people schemes. At the moment it is not being used as a model for those who apply for asylum in the UK and are successful in being granted…

Written Answers — Department for International Development: Syria: British Nationals Abroad (25 Apr 2019)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what attempts they have made directly, or through, the UN or relief agencies, to assess the conditions in which British children are living in internally displaced persons’ camps in Syria.

Written Answers — Department for International Development: Syria: British Nationals Abroad (25 Apr 2019)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the internally displaced persons’ camps in Syria in which British children reside are under the control of the government of Syria or the Kurdish authorities.

Middle East: British Nationals Abroad (16 Apr 2019)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the humanitarian conditions for British children living in refugee camps in Syria or in territory that was formerly part of the sovereign states of Syria or Iraq.

British Citizenship: Children – Question (10 Apr 2019)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken to review the access to legal redress and humanitarian protection of children whose parents have been deprived of British citizenship.

British Citizenship: Children – Question (10 Apr 2019)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for her Answer. The story begins for all these British children with their parents—such as the parents of nine year-old Sara—taking them out to join IS. My noble friend has not explained why these British children, who cannot make their own way home or access consular services, do not benefit from a decision-making process in the Home Office on…

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Middle East: British Nationals Abroad (10 Apr 2019)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many British children are living in refugee camps in Syria or in territory that was formerly part of the sovereign states of Syria or Iraq.

Written Answers — Home Office: British Nationals Abroad: Middle East (9 Apr 2019)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many British children have been repatriated from Syria or from territory that was formerly part of the sovereign states of Syria or Iraq in the last 12 months.

China: Religious Freedom – Question (4 Apr 2019)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I am grateful to hear from the Minister that we have made bilateral representations and used our seat at the Human Rights Council, but there are other, often more subtle, ways we can exert influence. The UK Government are an employer of many local staff in our embassies; our soft-power institutions, such as the British Council and perhaps the BBC, also employ a lot of local staff….

Windrush Compensation Scheme – Statement (3 Apr 2019)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, while welcoming this compensation scheme, I find it very sad—the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, alluded to this—that the word “Windrush” is now in many people’s minds associated with this system in the Home Office. There is now, of course, a national day, 22 June. Can my noble friend the Minister please outline whether specific money is being allocated so that that day can be…

MARCH 2019

Honours System – Question (26 Mar 2019)

Baroness Berridge: I thank my noble friend the Minister for his Answer, but in 1917 the introduction of a system to recognise service to your country that included the word “Empire” was appropriate—it is not so today. For this reason, many people, often from within the black and minority ethnic community, refuse to accept—or even to apply on behalf of others for—an honour. Can my noble friend the…

Shamima and Jarrah Begum – Statement (11 Mar 2019)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, in relation to this matter, I raised the specific situation of children twice in previous Urgent Questions. Our law has a strong history of not just taking the interests of a child into account: in our family courts the interests of the child are paramount. How can it be that we do not have any legal process for the interests of the child to be considered separately from those of…

International Women’s Day – Motion to Take Note (7 Mar 2019)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, today is the day to celebrate progress while recognising that there is more to do. I thank the researchers in the Library for providing me with a favourite number: 228. I am only the 228th woman to have been appointed under the Life Peerages Act since 1958. I find this sobering when I think of the centuries of history in this Chamber. Many barriers still exist, but like my noble…

FEBRUARY 2019

Islamic Ceremony: Civil Marriage Registration – Question (28 Feb 2019)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, recent High Court decisions show that this is an issue that affects religious ceremonies generally, but such ceremonies are marriages under UK criminal law if they are forced marriages. However, a victim of a forced religious marriage can then be left destitute as there are no remedies that follow to get access to the matrimonial property—unfortunately, Parliament left that gap….

Citizenship Status – Statement (20 Feb 2019)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for the clarification of the legal status of any children of those deprived of their British citizenship. Will she clarify what exactly the duties of the Home Secretary are? If he is reviewing information that may be confidential but not classified, which reveals safeguarding issues in relation to the children of people who have been deprived of their…

Syria: UK Nationals – Statement (18 Feb 2019)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, can I clarify something that my noble friend the Minister outlined? Although she cannot comment on specific cases, where the Home Secretary has to make a decision and the decision involves a parent and a child, how many decisions are actually being made? There is a long-standing principle in our family courts that the interests of the children are often not the same as those of the…

Schools: Racist Incidents – Question (18 Feb 2019)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, my noble friend is correct that the professionals and schools are at the front line of dealing with these issues. In the past, one issue has been the lack of diversity in the workforce in our schools. What progress has been made in ensuring ethnic diversity in the workforce, and particularly in the leadership of our schools?

Police: Recruitment and Retention – Question (12 Feb 2019)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, in recent years television programmes have taken seriously the issue of role modelling: look at the BBC’s “Luther” and ITV’s DS Sunny Khan in “Unforgotten”. But these role models cannot be just fictional. Will the Minister outline the statistics for those in the senior ranks of our forces from a black and minority-ethnic background?

China: Uighur Muslims – Question (11 Feb 2019)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, there have been consistent reports from within these re-education camps that Uighur Muslims were forced to give DNA tissue and blood, and consistent allegations that Falun Gong followers have been subject to forced organ harvesting. Have we spoken to the Chinese about our worries about those tests and their purpose, and whether they are in any way connected to the recent worrying…

Prosperity Fund: Sustainable Development Goals – Question (7 Feb 2019)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, the website for the fund also states that it has programmes to tackle barriers to prosperity for certain excluded groups, particularly rural women, young people and people with disabilities. Will the Minister please outline how the fund is being used to tackle the barriers to prosperity that exist for many minority religious or belief groups, who face high or very high levels of…

Deportation: Jamaica – Private Notice Question (6 Feb 2019)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, while it is welcome that the new Home Secretary has made this a central plank, there is continuing concern as these cases continue to bubble up. Can the Minister assure us that the Home Secretary is having a series of meetings not just with the high commissioners of these various Caribbean islands, but also with community representatives? May I remind my noble friend that a…

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: China: Genetic Engineering (4 Feb 2019)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations, if any, they have made to the government of China about reports that babies have been born in China with edited genes.

JANUARY 2019

Written Answers — Department of Health and Social Care: China: Genetic Engineering (30 Jan 2019)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the World Health Organisation about the ethical issues and potential long-term risks associated with gene-edited babies born in China.

Open Doors 2019 World Watch List – Question (23 Jan 2019)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I too welcome the inquiry and the acknowledgment of the scale of the persecution. One practical step that the Government took was to create the Syrian vulnerable persons resettlement scheme to enable people to come to this country. However, the recent figures released show that in the second quarter of last year, only 0.08% of the people who came to the UK from Syria were…

OCTOBER 2018

Asylum-seekers and FoRB – Question (15 Oct 2018)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to improve the assessment by the Home Office of asylum applications made on the grounds of religious or belief based persecution.

JULY 2018

Freedom of Religion or Belief – Question (19 Jul 2018)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans, if any, they have to appoint an Ambassador on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

Children: Forced Marriage – Question (10 Jul 2018)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, while the Forced Marriage Unit is a joint initiative of the Foreign Office and the Home Office, there is also much government focus and spending through the Department for International Development. Can my noble friend outline whether those Ministers and officials are also inputting into this unit? There seems to be a correlation, or at least an overlap, between the countries where…

JUNE 2018

Nigeria – Question for Short Debate (28 Jun 2018)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Alton, for securing this, unfortunately timely, debate and declare an interest as project director of the Commonwealth Initiative for Freedom of Religion and Belief. While the focus in Nigeria was, for many years, on violence in the Niger Delta area over oil revenues or on the Boko Haram attacks in the north-east, the escalation of attacks between…

MV “Empire Windrush” – Question (21 Jun 2018)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to introduce an annual celebration of the anniversary of the arrival of the MV Windrush on 22 June 1948.

Civil Liability Bill [HL] – Report (12 Jun 2018)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I have spoken at every stage of the Bill and I first thank the Minister for his time discussing matters with me. For those who have been in your Lordships’ Chamber for the entirety of this debate, it is interesting to note how blame has been passed around like a squash ball. Is the fault that of the Government for not acting quickly enough, the insurance companies, those…

Burma – Question (12 Jun 2018)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, 32% of Burma’s population are from ethnic minorities, so we are seeing the systematic persecution of people spread from one group like the Rohingya to another like those in Rakhine state. Can my noble friend the Minister please outline whether this systematic persecution has had any impact on the ability of the UK Government to employ people from the Burmese ethnic-minority…

University Admissions: Equality – Question (7 Jun 2018)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I too thank the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, for securing such a timely debate, as this week there was welcome coverage on university admissions from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. As a working-class alumni of Emmanuel College, to hear Cambridge University accept that it needs help from parents and schools prompted me to speak. I agree wholeheartedly with the Universities…

MAY 2018

Forced Marriage – Question (24 May 2018)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the Commonwealth Communiqué’s commitment to eradicate forced marriage is realised, and to assess its inter-relationship with forced conversion.

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Nigeria: Violence (16 May 2018)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports of collusion between Boko Haram and armed Fulani Herders in Nigeria.

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Leah Sharibu (16 May 2018)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to support the government of Nigeria to return Leah Sharibu safely from Boko Haram.

Civil Liability Bill [HL] – Committee (1st Day) (Continued) (10 May 2018)

Baroness Berridge: I rise briefly to speak to the amendments I have in this group, which refer to a report by the FCA as well as a report being laid before Parliament. It is important in this context to look back at Second Reading and the Government’s confession that the insurance industry had not done all it could to get on top of the issue of fraud. In some respects, on Second Reading one could have…

Civil Liability Bill [HL] – Committee (1st Day) (Continued) (10 May 2018)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I have added my name to Amendments 27, 47 and 52, to which the noble Lord, Lord Marks, has referred, which relate to some of the most fundamental points in the reforms. They involve the procedure which will exist for genuine claimants through the small claims track and/or the portal. I am saddened but grateful to my noble and learned friend the Minister to learn that it is not an…

Civil Liability Bill [HL] – Committee (1st Day) (Continued) (10 May 2018)

Baroness Berridge: I refer my noble and learned friend to his previous comment which, fairly, recognises that all parties are to blame, which is something that I think he conceded at Second Reading—that the insurance industry shares part of the blame. May I clarify? When he says that all parties are to blame for this, may I clarify that he was not including the genuine claimants, who have become a focus…

Civil Liability Bill [HL] – Committee (1st Day) (10 May 2018)

Baroness Berridge: That is not the point that is being made here. I would be grateful if my noble and learned friend could address the question. We are all, I believe, in your Lordships’ House working on the assumption that the target of the Bill is fraud, not genuine claimants. So the specific question is, where is the evidence that people who are claimants when they drive in the course of their…

Civil Liability Bill [HL] – Committee (1st Day) (10 May 2018)

Baroness Berridge: I hate to interrupt my noble friend, but in principle, what is wrong with a call saying that? If someone is driving in the course of his employment, it is in a different category because the employer will have to give evidence that he was indeed driving in the course of his employment. There is a danger that we are saying all these calls are a bad thing, or that all claims management…

Civil Liability Bill [HL] – Committee (1st Day) (10 May 2018)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I shall speak to Amendments 8, 10 and 49A in this group. I join with the comments made by the noble Baroness, Lady Primarolo, in relation to genuine claimants. As I understand it, even the insurance companies accept that the majority of claimants in this area are genuine. It is a high burden on your Lordships’ House to ensure that the Bill hits the target of fraudulent claims…

Civil Liability Bill [HL] – Committee (1st Day) (10 May 2018)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I have added my name to the amendment in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Sharkey and Lord Marks. I agree with the comments of the chairman of the Delegated Powers Committee, although obviously I cannot comment on the legal qualifications of the person who telephoned him. As I outlined at Second Reading, I have practised in this area and have dealt with these claims, and I know…

APRIL 2018

Commonwealth Summit: Freedom of Religion or Belief – Question (25 Apr 2018)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his Answer and declare my interest in relation to a Commonwealth initiative on freedom of religion or belief. While it is unfortunate that Her Majesty’s Government’s priority of freedom of religion or belief did not find its way into the communiqué, especially bearing in mind that the communiqué makes reference to the Rohingya…

Civil Liability Bill [HL] – Second Reading (24 Apr 2018)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, it is a pleasure to go down memory lane to the nine years I spent as a personal injury and licensing barrister at Kings Chambers in Manchester. During my time as a junior barrister, dealing with road traffic accidents seemed to be compulsory basic training, rather akin to the traffic list in a magistrates’ court for the criminal Bar of this era. I should state that I was a…

Social Mobility Commission – Question (23 Apr 2018)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, in 2016 your Lordships’ House had a one-year Select Committee looking into social mobility, on which I served as a member. We looked at social mobility for those young people who did not go to university. In fact, the majority of young people go into jobs, vocational training such as apprenticeships or into further education. Could the Minister please outline whether there is…

MARCH 2018

Immigration: Asylum Claims – Question (28 Mar 2018)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I thank Her Majesty’s Government for the initial constructive response to the serious concerns—outlined in the report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief, which I co-chair—about people claiming asylum on grounds of persecution for their faith or belief. In particular, there were concerns about religious-based…

Commonwealth Summit: Human Rights – Question (21 Mar 2018)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are their human rights priorities for the communiqué of the Commonwealth Summit in April 2018.

Commonwealth Summit: Human Rights – Question (21 Mar 2018)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, on 28 February of last year the Prime Minister stated: “We must reaffirm our determination to stand up for the freedom of people of all religions to practice their beliefs in peace and safety. And I hope to take further measures as a government to support this”. That commitment, of course, is also outlined in the Commonwealth charter. While I am grateful for the…

FEBRUARY 2018

Commonwealth Summit – Question (20 Feb 2018)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken to promote the forthcoming Commonwealth Summit with schools, universities, non-governmental organisations, and businesses.

JANUARY 2018

Previous Business – Lords: Grand Committee (18 Jan 2018)

Celebrating the 70th anniversary in 2018 of the arrival of MV Empire Windrush – Baroness Berridge. Short debate

Syria: Refugees – Question (16 Jan 2018)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I welcome my noble friend’s acceptance of evidence and cases in relation to the treatment of religious minorities that affect aid. However, as outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Alton, this also affects the resettlement programme. Is it not now time that the UK asked the United Nations to hold an independent investigation into these claims, so that we can know the truth as to…

Commonwealth Summit: Faith Leaders – Question (15 Jan 2018)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they will ensure the engagement of faith leaders in events around the Commonwealth Summit in April.

Iraq: Religious and Ethnic Minorities – Question for Short Debate (11 Jan 2018)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I too am grateful to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Coventry for securing this debate. I declare an interest as co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief. Other noble Lords have eloquently described the plight of different religious minorities in Iraq and the UK aid and military support that has been devoted to restoring…

MV “Empire Windrush” – Question (8 Jan 2018)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I am grateful to hear from the Minister that there will be meetings and consultations, but celebrations cost money. Can he guarantee that, in addition to the Heritage Lottery Fund sum, funds will come from central government to ensure that the celebrations are of a fitting nature?

Written Answers — Home Office: Visas: Burma (8 Jan 2018)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many UK visas have been issued to persons living in Myanmar in each visa category since January 2016; and how many they estimate were to (1) Christians, and (2) Muslims.

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: India: Religious Freedom (8 Jan 2018)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of statistics published by Aid to the Church in Need showing that there were 316 attacks on Christians in the first five months of 2017 compared to 365 incidents in the whole of 2016; what representations they have made to the government of India regarding the rise in violence towards religious minorities; and what assessment they…

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Nigeria: Religious Freedom (8 Jan 2018)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the current levels of violence between religious groups in Nigeria, and of an estimate by the 2017 Global Terrorism Index which states that 60,000 people have been killed in clashes between predominantly Muslim Fulani Herders and predominantly Christian farmers; and what representations have been made to the government of…

DECEMBER 2017

House of Lords: Lord Speaker’s Committee Report – Motion to Take Note (Continued) (19 Dec 2017)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I, too, thank the Lord Speaker, the noble Lord, Lord Burns, and his committee for the report, which makes eminently sensible reading. I wholeheartedly support the proposed changes but there are further significant changes that the introduction of this system of 15-year appointments will require. While scrutiny of legislation is a key role of this House, in our unwritten constitution…

CPS: Disclosure of Evidence – Private Notice Question (18 Dec 2017)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, as I understand it, a recent change in the Crown Prosecution Service is the demise of the disclosure offices, and those duties have been passed back to the police. Barristers are expressing concern about whether the police are adequately resourced or trained to do that. Will my noble and learned friend outline whether that is indeed the case and that there will be a time at which we…

Nepal – Question (5 Dec 2017)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, the 2015 constitution was welcome in every regard, except the provisions relating to freedom of religion or belief which, as my noble friend may be aware, were built upon in October by a law being passed that criminalises blasphemy in similar language to the laws in Pakistan and criminalises attempts to convert somebody. Will the Minister please outline what representations we have…

Social Mobility Commission – Statement (4 Dec 2017)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I was a member of your Lordships’ Select Committee on Social Mobility in 2016. The committee looked at the transition from school to work for the majority of young people. The majority actually do not go to university or end up as NEETs; they go into vocational education, training or apprenticeships. Can the Minister outline whether the Government will ensure that at least one…

NOVEMBER 2017

Grenfell Recovery Taskforce – Statement (6 Nov 2017)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, building on the comment by the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, in relation to the terms of reference of the inquiry, it does not seem that the systemic issue that this raises is actually strictly within those terms of reference. It refers to the arrangements that the local authority and other organisations had in place to respond to complaints made by residents in relation to the fire…

Commonwealth Summit 2018 – Question for Short Debate (2 Nov 2017)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, for securing this debate, and declare an interest as the co-project director of the Commonwealth Initiative for Freedom of Religion or Belief and co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on that subject. Last Wednesday, the all-party group launched a new report, Article 18: From Rhetoric to Reality. At that event my noble friend the…

Calais: Refugees – Question for Short Debate (2 Nov 2017)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I declare my interests as outlined in the register. This debate is tribute to the tenacity of the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, on behalf of refugees. The conditions in Calais are part of a refugee system that is under strain like never before. Those conditions are undermining public confidence in the effectiveness and humanity of the system, but another factor undermining the system in…

OCTOBER 2017

Deaths in Police Custody – Statement (30 Oct 2017)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, the report refers to the disproportionately high numbers of black men in restraint-related deaths, often in contentious circumstances. That is a serious issue because it connects so vividly with the perception many in the BAME community have of the police service. As the report recommends: “Statistics should be published breaking down restraint related deaths by…

Burma: Rohingya – Question for Short Debate (26 Oct 2017)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Helic for securing this debate and outlining the truly staggering scale of this crisis. It is not surprising that Bangladesh has struggled to cope. In 10 days, Bangladesh received more refugees than mainland Europe did from across the Mediterranean in the whole of 2016. Although the UK Government have committed £47 million since the end of…

Sri Lanka (12 Oct 2017)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Naseby for securing this debate—and I declare an interest as project director for the Commonwealth Initiative for Freedom of Religion and Belief. The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka in 2013 helped to focus international attention on the human rights failures of previous Sri Lankan Governments, and the decision of the…

Burma – Rohingya People (11 Oct 2017)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, although the overwhelming majority of people have fled to Bangladesh, about 40,000 Rohingya have in fact fled to India. The Indian Government are now threatening to deport them back to Myanmar. Are we going to speak to our colleagues in India to outline their commitments under international law and the principle of non-refoulement, which means that they should not deport to a place where there is a risk of torture?

Fire Safety – Private Notice Question (9 Oct 2017)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, rightly, the focus has been on housing associations and social housing generally but will my noble friend the Minister assure the House that with regard to high-rise buildings that are either in shared ownership or actually in private ownership, the Secretary of State has written to those developers to check that there are not safety concerns in those blocks? Some of the fires that we have seen in other countries have been in privately owned dwellings.

SEPTEMBER 2017

House of Lords (Hereditary Peers) (Abolition of By-Elections) Bill [HL] – Second Reading (8 Sep 2017)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I, too, begin by applauding the hard work of hereditary Peers in this House, such as my noble friend Lord Howe, which is exemplary. This is the first time I have spoken on this issue, but the current system undermines the credibility of all the hard work which your Lordships undertake on behalf of the British public. In January this year, Her Majesty’s Government outlined…

Myanmar: Rohingya People – Private Notice Question (5 Sep 2017)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, yesterday saw nearly a million people take to the streets in Chechnya, so this crisis has the potential to cause instability beyond the region. In response to a Question back in July, my noble friend mentioned that the UK Government since 2014 have given £8 million to the Bangladeshi Government to help support the Rohingyas who have crossed the border. Could my noble friend…

JULY 2017

Refugees – Question for Short Debate (19 Jul 2017)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I am grateful to the right reverend Prelate for securing this debate. I hope Her Majesty’s Government find the recommendations that he has outlined uncontroversial. While I still have questions for the Government, this is actually a good end-of-term report for the Home Office as far as I am concerned. On 21 March 2016 in your Lordships’ House, my noble friend Lord…

Nigeria – Question (18 Jul 2017)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, some of those affected by the conflict in the north of Nigeria are in fact the friends and relatives of British citizens, with hundreds of thousands of them within the British Nigerian diaspora. As well as meeting with Ministers in Nigeria and working through the high commission, could the Foreign and Commonwealth Office reach out specifically to that diaspora in order to hear their…

Myanmar and Bangladesh: Rohingya – Question (11 Jul 2017)

Baroness Berridge: I thank my noble friend for her Answer, but that now makes a total of more than 400,000 refugees in Bangladesh due solely to the religious persecution in Myanmar. Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees visited Cox’s Bazar this week and said: “These people deserve a better future than the present conditions of extreme poverty, deprivation and isolation”. Can my…

Grenfell Tower: Rehousing Update – Statement (5 Jul 2017)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, in the Prime Minister’s Statement on 22 June, she first outlined that the accommodation will be on the same terms as the original accommodation, and we have seen a definition of that today. Unfortunately, I understood “same terms” to be in the personal injury lawyer sense, which is to put the person back into the position they would have been in had none of this…

Overseas Development Assistance – Question (4 Jul 2017)

My Lords, in a debate this morning in Westminster Hall, a number of MPs highlighted the correlation between the fragile states in which DfID spends much of its money and high levels of persecution of people on the grounds of faith or belief. I would be grateful if the Minister could assemble a meeting of interested MPs and Peers, particularly with his counterpart the right honourable Alistair…

JUNE 2017

Agriculture: Foreign Workers – Question (28 Jun 2017)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, can my noble friend the Minister please confirm that the migration advisory group will consult the Commonwealth Secretariat and Secretary-General in relation to opportunities for workers to come from Commonwealth countries, as there is a great expectation that there will be new opportunities within the Commonwealth?

Grenfell Tower – Statement (22 Jun 2017)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, as my noble friend outlined, 151 homes have been destroyed. However, has an accurate list been compiled of all the residents of the block? My noble friend outlined that homes will be provided to people on the same terms as the ones they had. Has a clear communication been given that for residents who may have resided in the block without a tenancy agreement, or with a tenancy…

APRIL 2017

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Egypt: Christianity (27 Apr 2017)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Egypt regarding the bombings of the Coptic churches in Alexandria and Tanta in April.

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Egypt: Christianity (27 Apr 2017)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions, or meetings, they have had with (1) Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, and (2) the leadership of the Coptic Church in the UK, regarding the bombings of the Coptic churches in Alexandria and Tanta in April.

Race in the Workplace: The McGregor-Smith Review – Question for Short Debate (24 Apr 2017)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, my noble friend’s report states that it is now time to act and after spending more than a decade working with many of Britain’s wonderful black and minority ethnic communities, action and even legislation is now needed. It is young people’s lives that are being affected here. As outlined, the first priority has to be data collection, as effective policy or law…

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting – Question (6 Apr 2017)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, my noble friend the Minister has outlined the design and creation of an appropriate programme. I declare an interest as the leader of a Commonwealth initiative on freedom of religion or belief. Will she consider meeting, as she has done in the past, parliamentarians and representatives from CPA UK, the Youth Parliament and the Commonwealth Youth Parliament so that everyone can play…

MARCH 2017

Debate — Alcohol Abuse (30 Mar 2017)

A national piece of work, looking at the evidence and policies in Yorkshire mill towns, city centres such as Birmingham, Chinatown and boroughs such as Lambeth is well overdue. It would show how much ethnic minorities save the National Health Service ​but also any deficiencies so that people could then access services they need. Perhaps religious leaders could also help bring down the barriers for communities when they need to access other professional services.

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Religious Freedom (30 Mar 2017)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much of the Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy will be allocated in 2017–18 to projects on freedom of religion or belief.

Commonwealth – Motion to Take Note (16 Mar 2017)

Baroness Berridge: I raised a specific point about Commonwealth apprenticeships. It is really important that we have this as government policy. If my noble friend could agree to investigate this and write to me, that would be very helpful.

Commonwealth – Motion to Take Note (16 Mar 2017)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I, too, join with noble friends to thank my noble friend Lady Anelay for this debate. The Commonwealth is a 21st century, ahead of the curve multilateral, as its modus operandi is network. Over the last few years, we have heard of networking lunches, networking the room and of course virtual networks, so I join my noble friends Lord Howell and Lord Goodlad in assessing this as part…

Brexit: Commonwealth, Trade and Migration – Question (13 Mar 2017)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of future trade and migration from and to Commonwealth countries after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.

Brexit: Commonwealth, Trade and Migration – Question (13 Mar 2017)

Baroness Berridge: I thank my noble friend the Minister for his Answer. Within the trade that was outlined, there are many British citizens of Commonwealth heritage who run businesses that trade incredibly effectively with those countries of heritage. Many want to see renewed opportunities for migration between the United Kingdom and those Commonwealth countries as free movement within the EU comes to an end….

Bilateral Trade: Sri Lanka – Question (28 Feb 2017)

Baroness Berridge: My Lords, I am sure that my noble friend the Minister will draw to the attention of fellow Commonwealth Trade Ministers the recent research which revealed that it is about 19% cheaper to trade within Commonwealth countries. But, as the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, outlined, could we please have an assurance that human rights will also be raised at the meeting? If not, we face the same…

Written Answers — Department for Communities and Local Government: Religious Hatred: Christianity (21 Feb 2017)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the case for a Christian hate crimes unit, additional to the Jewish and Muslim hate crimes units in the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Lay Magistrates – Question (20 Feb 2017)

Baroness Berridge: Statistics from the Ministry of Justice show that 10% of magistrates are from a black and minority ethnic background, but can my noble and learned friend the Minister outline whether there is a specific recruitment drive that also addresses the need for young people from those communities? When black and minority ethnic young people come before a youth justice panel, it is very important that…

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Central African Republic: Politics and Government (1 Feb 2017)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the current security situation in the Central African Republic.

Written Answers — Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Central African Republic: Armed Conflict (1 Feb 2017)

Baroness Berridge: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports of a new armed militia group, 3R, operating in Cameroon and the Central African Republic border region; and of the capacity of that group, the weapons they possess, the impact on the distribution of aid in that region, and whether they control any territory in that border region.


A full list of Baroness Berridge’s contributions to debates, motions and questions in the House of Lords is available on They Work for You using this link, where you can subscribe to alerts of future contributions.