On 23rd June, the House of Lords debated the Social Security (Additional Payments) Bill in its first reading. The Bishop of Blackburn asked a question in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Blackburn: I support the provisions in the Bill that strengthen the right to free speech and the freedom to believe, and the expression of that belief.
I have a concern over Clause 20 and the Secretary of State’s ability to make a decision which limits the right to appeal, regardless of the will or good processes of the court. What assurances can the Minister give that interventions will happen only where the will of Parliament can be reasonably understood on a matter? Without such assurances, I fear we will find ourselves hostages of the political will and aspirations of the particular Secretary of State that we have at the time, and cannot be sure that decisions are made for the good of the law over the good of politics.
Lord Bellamy (Con): I thank the right reverend Prelate. Perhaps I may take that question under advisement and place a response in the Library in due course, or whatever is the proper mechanism, to reassure the right reverend Prelate on that point. I take this opportunity to mention that the freedom of practice of religion is also specifically mentioned in the Bill, as he just pointed out.
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