On Monday 16th March 2015, the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received answers to two written questions on (i) food security, and (ii) the future of displaced Syrians.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the recent research from the National Farmers’ Union on the decline in food production in the United Kingdom and its impact on food security.
Lord de Mauley (Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs):This Government is committed to helping UK food producers thrive and expand. We are working with the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and others to support a competitive UK farming industry, including through our £160 million investment in applied research under the agri-tech strategy, as well as the new Rural Development Programme for England, which includes £141 million dedicated to improving agricultural productivity.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to involve those displaced by the conflict in Syria in any future peace process, in particular to ensure that the voices of minority groups are heard.
Baroness Anelay (Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office): It will be a vital part of any successful political settlement that the voices of minority groups in Syria are heard, and that they have reassurance about their future in the country. The Geneva I communique is clear on this point, and this remains the basis for UK efforts on the political track. As we make further progress on the political track, there will need to be a way of including views from displaced Syrians. The UK is supporting non-governmental efforts to promote dialogue between different ethnic and sectarian groups in Syria, with a view to a future political settlement.