This week in the House of Lords bishops spoke on the Chancellor’s Spring Budget Statement, and refugee family reunion rules post-Brexit. They asked questions about relief efforts after Cyclone Idai, gambling, air pollution, environmental standards for new houses, refugees, the declining bee population, the early years education workforce, and inheritance tax for cohabiting family members. Bishops voted on an amendment to the Offensive Weapons Bill Continue reading “Week in Westminster 18th-22nd March 2019”
On 21st March 2019 Lord Lexden asked the Government “what plans they have to extend fiscal and legal protection to close family members, particularly siblings, who live together long-term in jointly owned property.” The Bishop of Chester, Rt Revd Peter Forster, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, over the years, speakers from these Benches have completely supported the thrust behind the Question from the noble Lord, Lord Lexden. It is not only a matter for the Treasury and tax, but a matter of justice. If another party gets into power, perhaps the inheritance tax thresholds might even come down in due course—who knows? This does not seem a strong argument for denying an obvious need for justice in these cases.
On 20th March 2019, the House of Lords debated the Government’s Spring Budget Statement. The Bishop of Chester, Rt Revd Peter Forster, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, it is a privilege and a challenge to follow such a brilliant speech from someone who knows his way around the subject. If you want to find good things to tax, I always say that you should start with sin: find a new sin and tax it. I rather agree that HS2 is a sin, not for adding capacity, which I am all in favour of, but in doing so in such an unnecessarily expensive way. For me, trains go quite fast enough already and it could have been done far more cheaply without factoring in the speeds in a small country. As I follow the noble Lord’s speech, I think of St Paul, who once began by saying, “I speak as a fool”. I do so too, a little, after that wonderful description of the financial landscape.
On 20th March 2019 Baroness Lister of Burtersett asked the Government “what steps they are taking to prevent destitution among newly recognised refugees in the light of the British Red Cross Report Still an ordeal, published in December 2018.” The Bishop of Chester, Rt Revd Peter Forster, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, is it not the 28 days that people have to make arrangements, when they change from being asylum seekers to being refugees, that is the difficulty? It takes me more than 28 days to open a bank account if I am on good form, and there are lots of other things that they have to think about. Could the period not be extended beyond 28 days? Universal credit often does not kick in for at least 35 days. The 28-day period is just too tight for people in these circumstances.
On 20th March 2019 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, received a written answer to a question on the early years education workforce:
The Lord Bishop of Durham:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Education Policy Institute The early years workforce in England, published on 17 January; and what steps they intend to take in response to that report in particular the need to ensure increased (1) skills, (2) diversity, and (3) pay levels in the early education workforce. Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government about skills, diversity and pay in early years education”
On 20th March 2019 the Bishop of St Albans Rt Revd Alan Smith, received written answers to three questions on gambling, students and young people:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans:
(i) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the findings of the National Union of Students’ gambling survey, published on 25 February, that (1) three in five students have gambled in some way over the past 12 months, (2) almost one in ten have used all or some of their student loan to gamble, and (3) four per cent of respondents owed over £20,000 as a result of gambling.
(ii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the findings of the National Union of Students’ gambling survey, published on 25 February, that 29 per cent of respondents were under the age of 16 when they had first gambled.
On 19th March 2019 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Offensive Weapons Bill. A vote took place on an amendment to the Bill, in which two bishops took part: Continue reading “Votes – Offensive Weapons Bill”