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Chaplaincy in Immigration Detention Centres

Wednesday 15th February 2006

During oral questions in the House of Lords on February 15th 2006 Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government 'whether they have any proposals to introduce further measures to prevent suicide and self-harm at immigration detention centres.'

The Archbishop asked a supplementary question on chaplaincy provision:

The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, is the Minister aware that chaplaincy arrangements in such detention centres are, despite the best efforts of many dedicated individuals, all too often profoundly inadequate, being done under the auspices of the curiously named "managers of religious affairs"? Does the Minister agree that a lack of proper professional and pastoral support for those who are made vulnerable in this situation, coupled with the tendency at times to move detainees between locations at indefensibly short intervals, simply aggravates the problem? Our attention has been drawn this afternoon to the tragic and appalling consequences of the lack of access to dependable long-term pastoral support.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I take seriously what the most reverend Primate says in this instance. Clearly, we need to do more to address the important issue of chaplaincy services. It is an important issue, and I know what comfort they can bring. We will take urgent steps to review the issue that the most reverend Primate has drawn to our attention.

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