On Monday 24th October 2016, Baroness Evans of Bowes Park, the Lord Privy Seal, repeated a statement on the European Council. The Bishop of Bristol, Rt Rev Mike Hill, asked a follow up question.
The Lord Bishop of Bristol: My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Baroness for repeating the Prime Minister’s Statement. She has emphasised something that all noble Lords will recognise: this is a matter of huge complexity. To articulate one anxiety, the noble Baroness said that we are the first country to leave the EU—I do not know whether she regards that as a notable first—but, if it is as complex to leave the EU as your Lordships’ House believes, can she assure us that somewhere there is the expertise necessary to enter into negotiations of complexity in such a way that will really benefit the people of the United Kingdom? Continue reading
On Monday 24th October, Lord Roberts of Llandudno asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they are taking to fulfil the obligation under the Immigration Act 2016 to accept unaccompanied child refugees before the camps at Calais and Dunkirk are demolished on 31 October.” The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Rev Christopher Foster, asked a follow up question.
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: Can the Minister confirm that Her Majesty’s Government will ensure sufficient co-operation with the French Government and sufficient assistance from our own Government for the support of unaccompanied child refugees in France? Can she also confirm that no child will at any time be left in unsafe circumstances? Continue reading
On 24th October 2016 the House of Lords debated the Government’s Bus Services Bill at its Report Stage. The Bishop of Bristol, Rt Revd Mike Hill, took part in a vote on an amendment to the Bill tabled by Labour Peer Lord Kennedy of Southwark to remove Clause 21 , which sought to prohibit local authorities from forming companies to provide local bus services. Continue reading
Welcome to the Church of England’s weekly round-up of activity in Parliament.
This week bishops in the House of Lords asked questions about fixed odds betting terminals, the case of Asia Bibi in Pakistan and health spending on HIV prevention. Bishops spoke in debates on peace and stability following the EU referendum and on the Fit To Work scheme. They also took part in debates and votes on the Government’s Investigatory Powers Bill and Children and Social Work Bill. Bishops also spoke in support of Private Member’s Bills on House of Lords reform and disability equality.
“Not only children but adolescents and adults with Down’s syndrome live valued and valuable lives, contributing greatly to the welfare of those around them. All of this is undermined by the continued existence on our statute book of a law that, in effect, states that Down’s syndrome is a ground for abortion.” – Bishop of Bristol, 21/10/16
On the 21st October 2016 Conservative Peer Lord Shinkwin led a debate on the Second Reading of his Abortion (Disability Equality) Bill. The Bishop of Bristol, Rt Revd Mike Hill, spoke in support of the Bill.
The Lord Bishop of Bristol: My Lords, I too am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Shinkwin, for introducing this Bill. I understand that its focus is the principle of disability equality, not some underhand attempt to limit women’s access to abortion services. Noble Lords will, of course, have a variety of opinions on the ethics of abortion, but that is not, in principle, the focus of the Bill. It needs to be said that, in general, historically and indeed today, churches and other faith groups have always maintained a cautious approach to how the rights of women and the rights of the unborn child can somehow be maintained without, we hope, falling in to those who reside at the extremes of arguments around ethics on both sides of this debate. Continue reading
On the 21st October 2016 Conservative Peer Lord Elton introduced the ‘House of Lords Bill’ – a Private Member’s Bill to reduce the size of the House of Lords. The Bishop of Birmingham, Rt Revd David Urquhart, spoke in support. A number of other Peers made reference to the Lords Spiritual and extracts of their remarks can be found after the Bishop’s speech, below.
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I am resisting the temptation to tear up my notes and respond to the noble Lord’s last quote. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Elton, for again bringing before us this important matter. It is widely agreed in many places that as weseek to be effective as a House, the size of the House is of great concern. Of course, as has already been said by the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, recent changes have attempted to alleviate the size of the House—we have adopted retirement provisions—yet they have not been sufficient to alleviate the flow of new Members. The statistics have already been referred to.
From this Bench, the Lords spiritual have spoken consistently over the past few years in support of reform aimed at addressing the size of the House—and we do so again, keeping in mind the aim of the House to improve the core functions of our scrutiny of legislation and government proposals from the other House, and of offering expertise and independence, which have already been referred to. Continue reading
On 20th October 2016, the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a question in the House of Lords about steps being taken to prevent those at risk of gambling-related harm. His follow up question and those from other members of the House are below:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to protect those at risk of gambling-related harm.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Ashton of Hyde) (Con): My Lords, the Government are committed to ensuring that people are protected from being harmed or exploited by gambling and that those who require treatment receive it. The industry is required to contribute towards research, education and treatment programmes to prevent gambling harm. The majority of provision for treatment is through responsible gambling trusts and the funding of organisations such as GamCare, which provides helpline and counselling services. Local treatment can also be found through GPs and NHS clinics.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I thank the Minister for his Answer. Gambling-related harm is not restricted to people with problem gambling—it affects family, it affects friends, it affects even people who work in gambling shops. I recently put in a freedom of information request to the Metropolitan Police which revealed that since 2010 there has been a 68% rise in violent crime associated with betting shops across the capital. In the light of that, will the Minister tell the House what assessment the Government have made of the link between this rapid rise in violent crime associated with betting shops and the increase in the number of fixed-odds betting terminals in those shops? Continue reading