On 30th June 2015 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Tyler of Enfield “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to respond to the recommendations of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Task Force Report Future in Mind.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, for introducing this debate, for the excellent work of the task group and for the commitment that Her Majesty’s Government have already made to this area.
I also pay tribute to the many excellent charities that are working in this area. Just round the corner from where I live in St Albans is a small charity. I do not suppose that any of your Lordships will have heard of it. It is called Youth Talk and it was set up some years ago, in 1997, by a local GP after she realised that there was a need for a safe place where young people could come for counselling and support. Continue reading
On 30th June 2015 the House of Lords considered amendments to the Government’s Psychoactive Substances Bill. The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, spoke in support of amendments designed to strengthen measures to tackle supply of drugs in prison and to children. Further information and the other speech, by the Bishop of St Albans, can be seen here.
The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, I support the aggravated category for prisons and the particularly vulnerable children who are, in one way or another, in care. I am very grateful for what the Minister said about having a meeting on children in care. That is good and I am happy to accept it, but from my fairly regular visiting of prisons in my diocese—I have visited the four that were there but two of them are now closed—I know that the great majority of prisoners are themselves highly vulnerable and need to be treated as such. Continue reading
On 30th June 2015 the House of Lords considered amendments to the Government’s Psychoactive Substances Bill. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in support of an amendment from Lord Kirkwood, co-sponsored by the Bishop of Bristol. The amendment sought to make the supply of psychoactive substances to children under the age of 18, or in the vicinity of premises where vulnerable children reside, an aggravating factor of an offence. The amendment was withdrawn after the debate, with the Minister, Lord Bates, promising to meet with the Bishop to discuss it further.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, my colleague the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bristol is very sorry that he cannot be here, but I have spoken to him and am keen to add a few words of support for these amendments. Continue reading
On 30th June 2015 the Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nick Holtam, received a written answer to a question on the Government’s future climate finance plans.
The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to address the issue of climate finance at the forthcoming United Nations Climate Change conference in Paris; and whether they plan to commit the United Kingdom to budgeting for climate finance arrangements up to 2020. [HL656] Continue reading
On 29th June 2015 the House of Lords heard the Leader of the House repeat a statement by the Prime Minister on the terrorist attacks in Tunisia. In questions to the Leader after the statement, the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, focused on the need to strengthen community relations in the UK.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, we, too, on these Benches send our sympathies to those who have been bereaved and those who are injured. It is deeply concerning that Tunisia, a relatively peaceful haven in a part of the world in which there are many tensions, has now had this attack. Does the Minister agree that it calls for a renewed emphasis on working to strengthen community relations here in this country? The danger is that the events from Tunisia, Kuwait, Kobani and France could inflame ethnic and other violence and inspire copycat attacks here in this country. Continue reading
On 29th June 2015 Lord Touhig asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of the Access to Work fund and what plans they have to help people with disabilities into work.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question about the impact on deaf people of the cap on Access to Work grants.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, perhaps I may press the Minister a little about the very real concerns of many people in the deaf community about the use of British Sign Language, not least because currently four-fifths of the highest-value awards are paying for BSL services. Indeed, the DWP’s own figures show that almost 90% of the users who will be affected by the cap that is to be brought in are deaf. How do the Government plan to continue to support and encourage deaf professionals on a par with the hearing community in the light of this cap? Continue reading