Welcome to the Church of England’s weekly round-up of activity in Parliament.
This week bishops in the House of Lords asked questions on troubled families, pensions, the impact of Brexit on farming, vetting of prison chaplains, and aid to Burundi and to Rwanda. Continue reading
On 15th September 2016 Lord Kennedy of Southwark asked Her Majesty’s Government “what action they are taking to reverse the decline in home ownership.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, while the price of land continues to increase so rapidly, landowners have much less incentive for immediate development, particularly if they are negotiating with local authorities over their desire for more affordable housing requirements. Will Her Majesty’s Government take further steps to tackle land-banking, so that we can get more houses up more quickly? Continue reading
On Wednesday 14th September 2016, Lord Taverne asked the Government “whether, in their negotiations to leave the European Union, they will seek to preserve the United Kingdom’s membership of the single market.” The Lord Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question.
Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, many parts of our country are deeply concerned about the negotiations, not least the farming community, as evidenced by the Back British Farming demonstration going on outside. We produce food of the highest quality, by environmental and welfare concerns, of almost anywhere in the world. For the sake of our health, our livestock and the environment, can the noble Lord assure the House that Her Majesty’s Government will be very careful to ensure we will not be flooded with cheap imports of food produced to much lower standards than that which our excellent farming industry produces? Continue reading
On 13th September 2016, Lord Haskell asked the Government whether the Pension Protection Fund will be able to meet its obligations to pensioners. The Lord Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: Perhaps I may push the Minister a little more. I totally accept that the value of pension funds goes up and down according to a number of factors, but recent statistics show that 56 of the FTSE 100 companies had a combined pension deficit of £42.3 billion, which was up from £25 billion in the previous year—so growing fairly steadily. Just last year those FTSE companies were able to pay out dividends of £53 billion—a sign of their success. Does the Minister think that those companies have the balance right between shareholders and employees? If not, will the Government consider doing something about it to ensure that their responsibilities are taken more seriously? Continue reading