Welcome to the Church of England’s weekly round-up of activity in Parliament.
This week, bishops in the House of Lords took part in debates on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Mitochondrial Donation) Regulations, the Modern Slavery Bill, the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill and a debate on improvements to mental health services.
The Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill received its Committee stage. No amendments were proposed by Peers, and the Bill will now proceed to its Third Reading.
The bishops also asked questions on Syrian refugees, Broadband access for rural schools, victims of violence detained at Yarl’s Wood, freedom of religion in India, Gaza, library closures and security in Russia and Eastern Europe.
Bishops took part in divisions on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Mitochondrial Donation) Regulations, the Modern Slavery Bill and International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill.
On 26th February 2015, bishops took part in three divisions on the Government’s International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill, The Bill proposes to enshrine in Law the commitment to spend 0.7% of UK GDI on International Development.
On 26th February 2015, Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty’s Government what measures they and the host states are planning to prevent Syrian refugees becoming permanent residents in those states. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, asked a supplementary question: The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, given that, as the Minister will be aware, peace agreements in this area have been done to the people, from Sykes-Picot nearly 100 years ago onwards, what contacts are the Government making with those who are in the camps and need to have a voice in the peace settlement, and in particular with women’s groups?
Baroness Northover: The most reverend Primate is right to highlight this. There is constant contact with those in the camps, to try to engage them in moving things forward. With regard to support for women and girls, we are acutely aware of how vulnerable they are, and we have a number of programmes to help support them. As he will probably know, we are very concerned about early marriage and so on, and those who are particularly vulnerable to that. We are trying to ensure that we link up to support those girls so that that does not happen, and seeking out leaders to help protect girls and women more widely.
On 26th February 2015, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, received an answer to a written question on library closures in the UK.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of library closures on educational standards across the United Kingdom.[HL5085]
Baroness Jolly (Government Whip): The DCMS has not made any assessment of the impact of library closures on educational standards across the United Kingdom. Every Library Authority has a duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service.
On 23rd and 25th February 2015, bishops took part in two divisions on the Government’s Modern Slavery Bill, relating to the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and the protection of overseas domestic workers.