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Archbishop leads debate on principles of asylum and refugee policy

On 9th December 2022 the Archbishop of Canterbury led a debate in the House of Lords on the motion:

That this House takes note of the principles behind contemporary United Kingdom asylum and refugee policy, and of the response to the challenges of forced migration.

The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I am very grateful to the usual channels for facilitating this debate, to those among the staff of the House who have had to work extra hard to come in today, and to so many noble Lords for being present. I look forward to hearing the maiden speeches of the right reverent Prelate the Bishop of Leicester, the noble Lord, Lord Sahota, and the noble Baroness, Lady Twycross, on this subject.

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Bishop of Durham asks about rethinking the social care system

On 25th January, the Bishop of Durham asked a question on rethinking the social care system, in light of the publication of the archbishops’ report on reimagining care:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, can I take the Minister back to social care? Yesterday, the archbishops’ report on re-imagining care was published. It suggested that we need a major rethink on how the whole care system works, not just with local authorities—though it notes that not enough is being put in. The noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, has welcomed the report and produced a fantastic report on this with her committee. Might this be an opportunity to completely rethink how we do social care in the future?

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Bishop of St Albans asks about Chinese activities in Hong Kong and in the Horn of Africa

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answers on 25th January 2023:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the implications of China’s Belt and Road Initiative on countries in the Horn of Africa.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con): China is an important source of aid, finance and investment for many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including in the Horn of Africa. This includes activity under the Belt and Road Initiative. We are working with partners including the G7 to ensure low and middle income countries have an alternative to strategic dependence on China or any other country. The UK offers wide-ranging partnerships to African countries that support a freer, safer, healthier, greener and more prosperous continent. Through British Investment Partnerships, we are providing honest, reliable investment that creates jobs, boosts economic growth and draws countries closer to major free-market democracies.

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Bishop of St Albans asks about impact of free-trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand on UK farming

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 25th January 2023:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government what plans they have to mitigate any damage caused to the UK farming sector by the free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand.

Lord Johnston of Lainston (Con): Farming is a crucial part of the UK economy, and this Government wants to ensure rural economies can thrive. Our free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand balance opportunities for UK exporters, importers and consumers with protections for the agricultural industry.

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Archbishop of York asks about effects of benefit cap and two child limit

The Archbishop of York asked a question on the effects of the benefit cap and two child limit on vulnerable families on 24th January 2023:

The Lord Archbishop of York: My Lords, it is encouraging to see that the Government are keeping a check on the numbers of people being affected by these policies, but I was not quite sure whether I heard that work is being done to measure the impact of the policies on families. I can say, and it gives me no joy to say it, that from where I serve in the north of England—I am thinking particularly of Middlesbrough and Hull—I see the disturbing impact of an increase in poverty, child poverty and families in very difficult situations, not least with the cost of living crisis on top of all this. My simple, genuine and heartfelt question is: how would you explain this to a mum expecting her third child, or a family with three or four children who have been pushed into benefits over the past couple of years? They do not understand why this is happening but they are suffering as a consequence of it. How do we explain to them the rightness of this policy?

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Bishop of Durham asks about safe routes for people seeking asylum

On 24th January 2023, the Bishop of Durham asked a question on what forecast the government have made on numbers of people seeking asylum in the UK via safe routes in 2023:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask His Majesty’s Government what forecast they have made of the number of people from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iran, and Sudan who will travel to the United Kingdom via a safe route in order to seek asylum in 2023.

Lord Murray of Blidworth (Con): The United Kingdom welcomes vulnerable people in need of protection through our relocation and resettlement schemes. The number of people coming to the UK via safe and legal routes depends on many factors, including local authorities’ capacity to support them and the extent to which community sponsorship continues to thrive. There is no explicit provision within our Immigration Rules for someone to be allowed to travel here to seek asylum or temporary refuge.

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MPs put questions to Church Commissioners on same sex marriage and the Church of England

On 24th January 2023 the Speaker of the House of Commons granted an urgent question to Ben Bradshaw MP, to the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP. A rare event, this was only the second time such an urgent question to the Church Commissioners had been granted in the House of Commons, the first being in November 2012.

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab)
(Urgent Question): To ask the Second Church Estates Commissioner if he will make a statement on the outcome of the meeting of Church of England bishops on equal marriage in the Church of England.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Andrew Selous)
Mr Speaker, as you know, I offered to make a statement to the House yesterday but was advised that a response to an urgent question would be preferable.

Last Friday, the bishops of the Church of England published a pastoral letter and draft resources that will enable same-sex couples to come to a Church of England church to give thanks for their civil marriage or civil partnership, and to have a service in which there would be prayers of dedication, thanksgiving and blessing for the couple. The bishops also apologised for the rejection, exclusion and hostility that LGBTQI+ people have faced in some of our churches. The bishops are united in condemning homophobia, and urged churches to welcome same-sex couples “unreservedly and joyfully”. I am pleased to speak for a Church that has the humility to apologise and admit when it has behaved badly.

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Bishop of St Albans asks about arrest of journalists in South Sudan

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 24th January 2023:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of South Sudan regarding the reported arrest of six journalists in that country.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con): The UK Charge d’Affaires in Juba met with the Chair of the Union of Journalists for South Sudan and has publicly called for due process to be followed in the case of six members of South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation staff being detained. We consistently raise the importance of freedom of expression and of the media, and the need to adhere to fair legal processes, with the Government of South Sudan.

Hansard

Bishop of St Albans asks about support for British pig-farming

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 24th January 2023:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the decline in the UK’s breeding pig population; and what steps they are taking to support British pig farmers.

Lord Benyon (Con): There has been a 15% decrease in the pig breeding herd in 2022, but this should be seen alongside a 10% increase in 2021. The number of fattening pigs has remained fairly constant over the past decade due to productivity improvements in the sector so this has masked the steadily falling number of breeding pigs. A number of factors, including high feed and energy costs, have led some producers to not put breeding pigs back into production. This is a commercial decision for producers.

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Bishop of Southwark asks about preservation of holy sites in Jerusalem

The Bishop of Southwark received the following written answer on 24th January 2023:

The Lord Bishop of Southwark asked His Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to support the historic status quo governing Jerusalem’s holy sites including Al-Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount.

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Bishop of St Albans asks about costs of gambling-driven crime

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 24th January 2023:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government what estimates they have made of the cost to the state of gambling-driven crime.

Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con): The Home Office does not hold the information which you have requested on the estimates for state costs arising from gambling- driven crime.

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