Bishop of St Albans asks about gambling harm, housebuilding and Uighurs in China

On 10th November the Bishop of St Albans received written answers to questions he had tabled on gambling, housebuilding, and equipment used to construct Uighur detention facilities.


The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of NatWest’s announcement of a 48-hour gambling block for debit cards to reduce gambling-related harm; and what action they are taking to encourage other companies in the banking sector to adopt similar policies. [HL9946]

Baroness Barran: The government recognises the important role banks can play in helping their customers monitor and manage their gambling spend. Last year the then Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport convened a roundtable of banks and other stakeholders in the financial sector to encourage them to do more in this regard and ministers have since corresponded with industry leaders on this issue. I am pleased that many banks have acted to offer their customers the option to block gambling transactions from their accounts and welcome NatWest’s introduction of a 48 hour gambling block.

Research published by the University of Bristol in July this year estimated that debit card gambling blocks are available for roughly 63% of UK current accounts but we encourage those banks that have not yet developed these kinds of services to do so. We also encourage banks to follow best practice in the design of their blocks, for instance including a sufficient ‘cooling off’ period.

Housing: Construction

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Greenhalgh on 1 October (HL8296), 6 October (HL8828), and 28 October (HL9442), what assessment they have made of whether diversification will be sufficient to tackle developments which are currently stalled due to ‘land banking’ and ‘intentional delay’. [HL9870]

Lord Greenhalgh: Sir Oliver Letwin’s 2018 Review of Build Out provided a comprehensive assessment of build out of sites and recommended that a greater diversity of housing products on residential developments was a key way to overcome issues associated with low market absorption rates. Our Planning White Paper consulted on proposals to amend national policy to encourage more variety of development types by different builders, and we are now in the process of analysing the responses. We will be publishing our response in due course.

Infrastructure: Technology

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to review the use of Pyronix-Hikvision technology in UK infrastructure in the light of reports of the alleged use of that company’s technology in Uighur detention facilities. [HL9675]

Baroness Barran: We are aware of reports that Hikvision’s technology has been used in Xinjiang. The UK has repeatedly taken a leading international role in holding China to account for the situation in Xinjiang, including by leading statements at the UN Human Rights Council in June and the UN Third Committee in October. We are actively considering the implications for the UK and continue to encourage human rights to be at the centre of all business that takes place in this country.

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