Parliament met in Westminster and online this week. The Bishop of St Albans was on duty in the House of Lords and read prayers at the start of each sitting day.
The Bishop of Worcester responded to news of the cut in the overseas aid budget, describing it as a broken promise to the poorest.
The Bishop of St Albans asked Government about the rural economy, nuclear weapons, valuing the civil service, diversity on the Equality and Human Rights Commission board, and received written answers to questions on gambling (advertising, rehabilitation, education and football), technology used for detention of Uyghurs in China, and protection of monasteries and churches in Nagorno-Karabakh.
He, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Leeds voted on amendments to the Government’s UK Internal Market Bill.
The Bishop of Durham asked about the resumption of the refugee resettlement scheme.
The Bishop of Portsmouth welcomed the Government’s integrated review of foreign, defence, security and development policy.
In the House of Commons the Second Church Estates Commissioner answered questions from MPs on public worship, tree planting, Christmas services, gender-based violence, Living in Love and Faith, cathedral services, Christian persecution, community support and consistory court appeals.
On 26th November 2020 the Bishop of St Albans asked a question he had tabled to Government on tabled a question he had asked about the rural economy. The exchange is below, with the further questions asked by other Members:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to their response to the report by the Select Committee on the Rural Economy Time for a strategy for the rural economy (HL Paper 330, Session 2017-19), what progress they have made towards their strategic vision for rural communities. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about rural economy”
On 26th November MPs put questions to the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, on public worship, tree planting, Christmas services, gender-based violence, Living in Love and Faith, cathedral services, Christian persecution, community support and consistory court appeals. A transcript is below:
The hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners was asked—
Covid-19 Lockdown: Public Worship
Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): What representations the Church of England has made to the Government on the importance of public worship during periods of covid-19 lockdown.  Continue reading “Church Commissioner Questions: public worship, tree planting, Christmas services, gender-based violence, Living in Love and Faith, cathedral services, Christian persecution, community support, consistory court appeals”
On 25th November Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked the Government “further to the ratification by 50 countries of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, what plans they have to review their policies towards nuclear weapons.” The Bishop of St Albans asked a further question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, recently I and a number of other Bishops issued a public letter welcoming the important ratification of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Can the Minister comment on the moral inconsistency, whereby we have rightly taken a stand on outlawing cluster bombs and landmines but not outlawing nuclear weapons, which, as we know, are far more destructive when they are used? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans calls for nuclear weapon prohibition”
On 25th November 2020 the House of Lords asked questions of Government on its abandonment of the legal commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid. The Bishop of Worcester highlighted the many pledges made to protect this, which had now been broken:
The Lord Bishop of Worcester [V]: My Lords, the 2019 Conservative general election manifesto said:
“We will proudly maintain our commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on development”.
That was before Covid, of course. On 16 June, the Prime Minister said in the other place that spending 0.7% remained the Government’s commitment.
On 18 June, the Leader of the House reassured the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Peterborough of the Government’s continued commitment to the 0.7% target.
In this House on 2 September, the noble Baroness, Lady Sugg, reassured the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bristol, with these words:
“I assure her that we will continue to be guided by our responsibilities under the International Development Act”.—[Official Report, 2/9/20; col. 354.]
In a letter to the Prime Minister last week, I drew attention to Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s words:
“A promise to the poor is particularly sacred.”
Does the Minister agree with him? Continue reading “Bishop of Worcester says Government aid cut is a broken promise to the poorest”
On 25th November the Bishop of Durham received written answers to questions on the resumption of the refugee resettlement scheme:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 28 October (HL9221), what plans they have to ensure that once the refugee resettlement schemes are resumed, the commitment to resettle 20,000 vulnerable refugees through the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme will be fulfilled, in addition to the new Global Resettlement Scheme commitment of 5,000 per year. [HL10217] Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks about plans for restarting refugee resettlement scheme”
On 24th November Lord Tyler asked the Government “whether their Ministers are expected to abide by the standards of conduct in the discharge of their duties as set out in the Ministerial Code.” The Bishop of St Albans asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I am proud to be part of a House that places such emphasis on standards and codes of conduct when working with civil servants and staff, and I take this opportunity to thank those who serve us so brilliantly in every aspect of this House. The Civil Service needs to attract the brightest and best, and at the moment it is in competition with many other organisations which, equally, are trying to attract young people. If it is widely perceived that they will not be valued and respected, will that not, in the long run, affect recruitment to the Civil Service? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans says perception that civil service is not valued will affect recruitment”
On 23rd and 25th November 2020 votes were held at Report Stage on amendments to the Government’s United Kingdom Internal Market Bill in which bishops took part:
Continue reading “Votes: United Kingdom Internal Market Bill”
On 23rd November the House of Lords heard a Government statement on its integrated review of foreign, defence, security and development policy. The Bishop of Portsmouth asked a question:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth [V]: My Lords, I welcome this announcement, with its impact on jobs and industry, including in the diocese I serve. I note the welcome emphasis that the Government appear to give to defence and security. Will the Minister therefore recognise that previous defence reviews set out grand, strategic ambitions but were not backed by the necessary resources? Will she specifically confirm the Government’s commitment to providing those resources to match the ambitions of the review, and will she further recognise that as we wait for spending commitments on development aid and public sector pay, how much the Government propose in additional investment is an accurate barometer of what they consider to be most important? Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth welcomes integrated review of foreign, defence, security and development policy”
On 23rd November 2020 Lord Dholakia asked the Government “what progress has been made in settling claims under the Windrush Compensation Scheme”. The Bishop of St Albans asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the Windrush protests are a wake-up call to all of us and to every institution in this country. Indeed, the Church of England has set up an antiracism taskforce to look at this issue and to achieve change. Is it correct that the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which is investigating this issue with regard to the Home Office, does not have a single black commissioner on the current board? What do Her Majesty’s Government plan to do to make the EHRC more representative so that it can undertake this work? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about diversity on Equality and Human Rights Commission board”