Bishop of St Albans raises concerns about the impact of closing rural schools

Lord Storey asked Her Majesty’s Government what support is given to young people living in rural areas to enable them to travel to school or college.

The Bishop of St Albans asked a supplementary question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the Church of England is deeply involved with hundreds of tiny rural schools in sparsely populated areas and is acutely aware of some of the financial difficulties that they face. When such a school has to close, what advice do Her Majesty’s Government give on the educational, financial and environmental issues—to do with sustainability—of transporting these pupils, sometimes very long distances, to the next nearest school?

Baroness Northover: I will write to the right reverend Prelate with details about what happens when these schools are closed. There is a special premium for rural schools of the type that he describes, which have fewer pupils than you might find elsewhere, but I will write with further details.

(via parliament.uk)

Votes – Pensions Bill

House of Lords Division Lobby
House of Lords Division Lobby

On 24th and 26th February 2014, a number of Bishops took part in votes on amendments to the Government’s Pensions Bill, during its Report Stage.

Continue reading “Votes – Pensions Bill”

The Bishop of Peterborough makes his maiden speech in the House of Lords

The Bishop of Peterborough delivered his maiden speech to the House of Lords on 25th February 2014, during the debate tabled by Lord Low of Dalston: ‘To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to Tackling the Advice Deficit, the report of the Low Commission on the future of advice and legal support on social welfare law in England and Wales’.

The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, as I make this m14.02 Peterboroughaiden speech I am delighted to have the opportunity to thank the many Members and staff of your Lordships’ House who have made me so very welcome here. I am also most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Low, for initiating this debate, and for producing with his colleagues this excellent, wide-ranging and challenging report.

I suppose it to be inevitable that cuts in government spending, however necessary they may be, will always hit the poorest most. It is therefore all the more important to give attention to ways of helping the most vulnerable to claim and receive the support to which they are entitled and the professional advice they may need. This report does that: I welcome it most warmly and hope that Her Majesty’s Government can do so too. Continue reading “The Bishop of Peterborough makes his maiden speech in the House of Lords”

Bishop of Wakefield raises concerns about impact of lack of free parking on local businesses

Baroness Williams of Trafford asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of town-centre parking policies and their impact on local businesses.

The Bishop of Wakefield asked a supplementary question:

The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: My Lords, I want to focus particularly on the impact on small towns, which may not necessarily have trains and buses bringing people into them. Where there are not just large-scale out-of-town developments but also small-scale shopping centres, where it is easy to park for nothing, the impact on the high street is significant. In Mirfield, in the diocese from which I come, free parking has had a very good impact. In Berwick-upon-Tweed, another town I know very well, there is no free parking and that is seriously affecting local businesses. Can we be assured that Her Majesty’s Government will encourage local authorities to look at ways of finding more parking spaces in small towns?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: The right reverend Prelate is right to raise the issue of more free parking. In a recent report published by Deloitte, more free parking was the single biggest issue raised by people who responded. In examining some options, we are trying to ensure that local people have a greater say in the parking arrangements of their local areas—and, clearly, access to free parking should be one of those things.

(via parliament.uk)

Floods – Church Commissioners’ Written Answer

On 25th February 2014, Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, answered a written question from Anne McIntosh on floods.

Tony Baldry MPMiss McIntosh: To ask the right hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, what work the Church Commissioners are undertaking to support flooded communities and farmers.

Sir Tony Baldry: Following my comments to the House on 13 February 2014, Official Report, column 1010, the Church Urban Fund have launched a ‘Flood Appeal Fund’. This follows highly successful funds set up in 2000 and the year 2007 where the Church Urban Fund and the Church of England co-ordinated the collection of money to help support flood victims and businesses. Continue reading “Floods – Church Commissioners’ Written Answer”

Bishop of Wakefield speaks about bereavement payments during Pensions Bill debate

The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: My Lords, having been one of the signatories, along with 26 other Anglican bishops, to the letter that went to the Daily Mirror last week, I am loath to speak too much about amendments to government legislation. However, on this particular occasion, because bereavement support is such a notable part of our business and ministry, I am very bothered about the direction in which the legislation is going. Continue reading “Bishop of Wakefield speaks about bereavement payments during Pensions Bill debate”

Bishop of Wakefield calls for close links with civil society to end violence against women

The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Prosser, on securing this debate. I reassure noble Lords that I am not speaking simply to bring a modicum of gender balance to the Chamber.

Many years ago now, when we were living in the East Midlands, my wife was a volunteer at a women’s refuge. She was scrupulous in maintaining confidentiality about those who used the refuge. None the less, on occasion, she would return home shocked and distressed at the violence that women had experienced, even here in our own country. It was a phenomenon that did not relate to just one stratum of society. Continue reading “Bishop of Wakefield calls for close links with civil society to end violence against women”