Church of England Week in Westminster, 28th July – 1st August 2014

Red BenchesWelcome to the Church of England’s weekly round-up of activity in Parliament.

In the past week, bishops in the House of Lords have spoken in debates on the Government’s Armed Forces Bill, the role of the Leader of the House of Lords, the impact on wellbeing of the built environment and on the trade and human rights situation in Colombia.

They have also put questions to the Government about the living wage, the under-occupancy charge, implementation of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act and South Sudan.

The House of Lords rose for the summer recess on Wednesday 30th July. The Commons will return in September, the Lords in October. Weekly updates will resume after recess.

Monday 28th July

South Sudan Peace Process

Bishop of St AlbansBaroness Hodgson of Abinger asked Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that any future peace settlement in South Sudan is inclusive. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question, which can be read here.

The Built Environment – Debate on the Farrell Review

14.03 Bishop of ChesterThe Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, took part in a short debate in the House of Lords on the Government’s response to the Farrell Review of architecture and the built environment. He supported the relaxing of planning laws, to enable people to have a greater say in the built environment in which they live. The Bishop’s remarks can be read here.

Consitutional Role of Leader of the House of Lords

14.03 Bishop of ChesterBaroness Boothroyd, moved a Motion  in the House of Lords to regret that the Leader of the House of Lords had not been made a full member of the Cabinet in the recent reshuffle. The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, took part in the debate on the motion. The Bishop’s remarks can be read here.

In the subsequent vote on the motion the Bishop of Chester and the Bishop of Sheffield both voted content. The resut can be seen here.

Tuesday 29th July

Armed Forces Bill

14.03.27 Bishop of SheffieldThe 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. The Bishop’s remarks can be read here.

Humanitarian Assistance in South Sudan

Bishop of St AlbansThe Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, received an answer to a written question on humanitarian assistance in South Sudan. The question, and the response from the minister, can be read here.

Wednesday 30th July

Implementation of the Same Sex Couples (Marriage) Act

14.03.27 Bishop of SheffieldLord 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. The Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Rev Steven Croft, set out the Church of England’s position in his own supplementary question which can be read here.

Youth Unemployment

Bishop of St AlbansBaroness Sherlock asked 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 which can be read here.

South Sudan – Human Rights

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, which can be seen here.

Under-Occupancy Charge, Debt and Child Poverty

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, which can be seen here.

Trade and Human Rights in Colombia

14.03.27 Bishop of SheffieldLord 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. His remarks can be read here.