Bishop of Sheffield on UK trade with Colombia and human rights

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On 30th July 2014, Lord Stevenson of Balmacara led a debate in the House of Lords on the motion ‘that the Grand Committee takes note of the Bilateral Agreement for the Promotion and Protection of Investments between the United Kingdom and Colombia’.

The Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Revd Steven Croft, spoke during the debate, raising the issues of land ownership rights, protection of the human rights of indigenous Colombian people and the need for a monitoring system.

14.03.27 Bishop of SheffieldThe Lord Bishop of Sheffield: My Lords, I shall speak briefly to support and echo the excellent remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, and the points made by other noble Lords on the dangers posed by this treaty, in three specific areas. Continue reading

Bishop of St Albans raises human rights abuses in South Sudan

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On 30th July 2014 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Rev Alan Smith, received a written reply from Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi to a question about human rights in South Sudan.

Bishop of St AlbansThe Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they are having to ensure that allegations raised in the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan human rights report of 8 May are being addressed.[HL1307] Continue reading

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about impact of the under-occupancy charge on household debt and child poverty

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On 30th July 2014, the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Rev Alan Smith, received answers to two written questions on the impact of the under-occupancy charge, on household debt and child poverty.

The questions and answers are reproduced in full below:

Bishop of St Albans

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to mitigate the impact of the under-occupancy charge on household debt.[HL1588]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): The removal of the spare room subsidy was a necessary change in order to get the housing benefit bill under control, return fairness to the system and make better use of social housing stock. Continue reading

Bishop of St Albans calls for Living Wage to help improve youth employment

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On 30th July 2014 Baroness Sherlock asks Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to reduce levels of youth unemployment following the recent closure of the youth employment contract incentive scheme. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question:

Bishop of St AlbansThe Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, a significant part of the problem is that there are some posts suitable for young people, but they are often in parts of the country where accommodation is prohibitively expensive or the cost of commuting simply precludes them from taking those jobs. In the light of that, have Her Majesty’s Government considered embracing the concept of the living wage for all people of working age?

Lord Freud: Obviously we have looked at the living wage. If the figure suggested for the living wage were to be adopted, we would have to consider the impact on unemployment and the particular impact on youngsters, who would be hit worst. The NIESR estimated that adopting the living wage as opposed to the minimum wage would knock 300,000 youngsters out of work.

(via Parliament.uk)

Church and the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act – Lords questions

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Red BenchesOn 30th July 2014, Conservative Peer Lord Fowler asked Her Majesty’s Government “whether they are satisfied with the enactment and operation of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.”

In his follow up question, Lord Fowler raised the situation of clergy who are married to someone of the same sex. A number of other Peers also asked questions relating to the situation in the Church of England.

The Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Rev Steven Croft, set out the Church of England’s position in his own supplementary question and the full transcript of all the exchanges is reproduced below: Continue reading

Bishop of St Albans Receives Answers to Questions on Social Housing

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On 30th July 2014, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, received answers to two written questions on the social impacts of the under-occupancy charge from the Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Freud.

Bishop of St AlbansThe Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to mitigate the impact of the under-occupancy charge on household debt.[HL1588] 

Lord Freud: The removal of the spare room subsidy was a necessary change in order to get the housing benefit bill under control, return fairness to the system and make better use of social housing stock.

For those that are vulnerable and who may require more time to make the transition to change, the Discretionary Housing Payment scheme administered by local authorities is available. Money management and budgeting and debt advice is also provided by many local authorities and social sector landlords. Continue reading

Bishop of Sheffield calls for development of Armed Forces credit union

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On 29th July 2014, the Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Revd Steven Croft, co-sponsored and spoke in support of an amendment to the Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Bill. The amendment, tabled by Lord Kennedy of Southwark, sought to establish a credit union specifically for members of the armed forces and their families. He noted the Church’s own work in setting up the Churches’ Mutual Credit Union, and highlighted the well-developed system of credit unions for service personnel in the United States. He called on the Minister to give an update on the progress made towards the creation of such an institution. Following the debate, Lord Kennedy withdrew his amendment, but indicated that he may bring it back at the Third Reading of the Bill.

14.03.27 Bishop of SheffieldThe Lord Bishop of Sheffield: My Lords, from these Benches I welcome the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, and give it our full support. The amendment gives strong support to the setting up of a credit union for the Armed Forces and their families in a similar way in which the church is setting up its own credit union—the Churches’ Mutual Credit Union. The Armed Forces, like the clergy and other groups, need a source of affordable credit for short and long-term needs. As a society we have duty of support and care to our Armed Forces. Recent research in a number of strands shows clearly that the ability to obtain credit at reasonable rates of interest is a vital element in building resilience to poverty and debt across our whole society. The inability to obtain such credit in times of need raises the possibility of falling further into debt, of food and fuel poverty and of a downward spiral. Continue reading