Parliament met this week, in Westminster and online.
The Bishop of Durham began each virtual sitting day in the Lords with prayers, and also asked COVID-19 related questions of Ministers on rough sleepers, the job retention scheme in the north-east, the two-child benefit limit, school reopening plans and the rollout in schools of relationships education, and the need to include spiritual social and mental wellbeing in the Government’s response strategy. He also raised the situation of migrant children after Brexit.
Throughout the week Lords Spiritual raised the impact of COVID-19 across a range of policy areas: The Bishop of St Albans called for more help for farmers and for rural transport. The Bishop of Gloucester asked about testing in prisons, and the Bishop of London asked about the effect on immigration detention and removals. The Bishop of Winchester asked about support packages for universities in the UK, and about food insecurity in Africa.
The Bishop of Leeds received answers on suspending debt payments from poorer countries during the pandemic. The Bishop of Worcester received answers on the UK’s contribution to the UN pandemic response plan, the WHO and African Union, and the impact of coronavirus on both press freedoms abroad and UK military operations. The Bishop of Coventry received answers on the impact of COVID-19 on religious minorities overseas including Saudi Arabia, on food aid, and the situation of Baha’i prisoners in Yemen.
The Bishop of Southwark also received answers to written questions on Israel and West Bank settlements.
Monday 11th May
The Bishop of Worcester received a written answer on the potential for transmission of COVID-19 by UK military personnel to civilians overseas.
Tuesday 12th May
The Bishop of Durham asked Government to reconsider the delivery date of RSHE in schools in light of Covid-19, and also raised the treatment of migrant and refugee children after Brexit. He also asked for the Government’s Covid-19 strategy to take into account spiritual, social and mental well-being.
The Bishop of Coventry received written answers to questions on religious minorities in countries affected by COVID-19, deportation of migrant workers by Saudi Arabia, humanitarian food aid, and imprisoned Baha’i in Yemen.
The Bishop of Worcester received a written answer on support for the WHO and African Union during the pandemic,
The Bishop of Leeds received written answers on suspending debt repayments of poorest countries during the pandemic and the discussions that had been held with other nations on this.
The Bishop of St Albans asked a question on rural transport services during the COVID-19 crisis.
Wednesday 13th May
The Bishop of Leeds received a further written answer on suspending debt repayments of poorest countries during the pandemic.
The Bishop of Worcester received a written answer on the UK contribution to the UN Covid-19 response plan, and on the impact of COVID-19 on press freedoms abroad.
The Bishop of St Albans received a written answer on the NHS purchasing of UK dairy products.
The Bishop of Winchester received a written answer on COVID-19 support for universities.
The Bishop of Southwark received written answers to questions on Israel and the West Bank, on the UK’s planned response, prospects for a two-state solution, discussions with EU nations and the USA, and UK representations to Israel.
The Bishop of Durham asked Government about the effect on families dealing with the impact of coronavirus of the two-child benefits limit. He also asked about taking a regional approach to phasing out the job retention scheme.
Thursday 14th May
The Bishop of London received a written answer to a question on the impact of COVID-19 on immigration detention and removal.
The Bishop of Gloucester asked Government about coronavirus testing in prisons.
The Bishop of St Albans spoke in a debate to call for more help for farmers, who were performing an essential public service.
The Bishop of Durham spoke in a debate on homelessness, calling for more support for those who might end up returning to rough sleeping after leaving COVID-19 emergency accommodation. He also asked a question on the Department for Education’s plans to reopen schools as part of the Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy, stressing the widening effect that learning from home was having on the disadvantage gap.
Friday 15th May
Parliament did not sit.