Church Commissioner questions – European Court ruling, marriage, vocations, metal theft, Christians in Africa, debt, domestic violence, Lords reform

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On 20th April 2017 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered questions from MPs on the floor of the House of Commons, on religious symbols in the workplace, marriage, vocations, metal theft and Christians in Africa. She also answered written questions on debt, domestic violence and House of Lords reform:

Sir David Amess (Southend West) (Con): What assessment the Church of England has made of the implications of the European Court of Justice ruling of March 2017 on wearing religious dress and symbols in the workplace. [909693]

​The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Dame Caroline Spelman): The Church of England was very concerned by the judgment of the European Court of Justice that stated that blanket bans on the wearing of political, philosophical or religious signs do not amount to cases of direct discrimination, because that conflicts with the pre-existing rulings of the European Court of Human Rights. By leaving the European Union, we presumably stand some chance of resolving such inconsistencies. Continue reading

Bishop of Durham asks about childcare staffing levels

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On 19th April 2017 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, received a written answer to questions on childcare:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have for increasing the number of childcare staff by September to meet additional demand resulting from the implementation of the 30 hours free childcare a week for three- and four-year-olds. Continue reading

Church Commissioners: St Botolph, Peterborough

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On 18th April 2017 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered a written question from Stewart Jackson MP:

Mr Stewart Jackson: [70163]: To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what discussions she has had with the Diocese of Peterborough on the proposals for alterations to St Botolph’s Church in Longthorpe, Peterborough; and if she will make a statement.

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Week in Westminster, 3rd- 7th April 2017

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

This week in the House of Lords bishops supported amendments on tax transparency to the Government’s Criminal Finances Bill and on PSHE to the Children and Social Work Bill.  Bishops spoke in debates on eradicating diseases such as leprosy. Questions were asked about bereavement payments, rebuilding Syria, relationships support, prison suicides, in-work poverty, child poverty, the effect of gambling on children, Israel/Palestine and on hospital transport. Bishops also took part in votes on amendments to the Health Services Medical Supplies (Costs) Bill and on a regret motion to the Government’s Higher Education Regulations. The report was published of the House of Lords Committee on the Long-term Sustainability of the NHS, on which the Bishop of Carlisle had served. Continue reading

Bishop of Portsmouth asks Government about child poverty, two-child limit and benefit support

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On 7th April 2017 the Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, received three written answers from Government about levels of child poverty, the two-child limit and benefit support:

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of the impact of the recent increase in inflation on the number of children in poverty; and what plans they have for protecting low income families against the rising cost of basic essentials. Continue reading

Bishop of Peterborough raises concerns about changes to bereavement benefits for parents of children

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On 6th April 2017 Baroness Altmann asked Her Majesty’s Government “whether they will reconsider changes to bereavement benefits for parents with dependent children.” The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, asked a follow up question. The Bishop had been amongst the signatories of a letter from all sides of the House calling on the Government to reconsider its proposals.

The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, I too signed the letter to the Secretary of State. I fully accept that the system needed reform, but those of us who spend a lot of time looking after people in bereavement know that a widowed parent may sometimes have to spend several years giving considerable extra time, attention and care to the children. In practice, that may necessitate working only part-time for a number of years while children are still at home. Previously in this House there was an assurance that income-related benefits would be there to support such parents, but under universal credit that is not so simple. Can the Minister reassure us that bereaved parents will not be subject to the in-work conditionality requirements that apply under universal credit? Continue reading

Bishop of Durham asks Government about action to reduce in-work poverty

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On 6th April 2017 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, received a written answer to a question on poverty:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the Households Below Average Income statistics revealing that 3.2 million adults in working families were in relative poverty in 2015–16, what action they will take to reduce in-work poverty. [HL6346] Continue reading