Week in Westminster, 27th-31st July 2020

Parliament met this week from Monday to Wednesday, with the Bishop of Rochester beginning each sitting day in the House of Lords with prayers.

The Bishop welcomed the Government’s plans for targeted human rights sanctions and stressed the need for consistency in approach, including towards China. He also asked about elderly domestic abuse, help for the disadvantaged in the coronavirus response strategy, and the UK’s commitment to poverty reduction when DfID and the Foreign Office merge.

The Bishop of St Albans asked a question about setting up regional travel corridors.

The Bishop of Bristol received written answers to questions on overseas domestic workers, and seasonal workers, and the Bishop of Southwark received written answers to questions on Israel and Palestine.

Parliament rose for its summer recess and will return in early September. Continue reading “Week in Westminster, 27th-31st July 2020”

Bishop of Rochester calls for targeted sanctions to defend freedom of religion or belief, and protection for Uighurs in China

On 29th July the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon “Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020”. The Right Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, spoke in the debate.

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I, too, welcome this new regime of sanctions, but we must of course ensure that targeted sanctions do not become empty gestures. As other noble Lords have indicated, these sanctions will be most effective when they are consistent with other foreign policy priorities and done through co-ordinated, collective action. Without the support of a wider coalition, we risk being isolated diplomatically.

Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester calls for targeted sanctions to defend freedom of religion or belief, and protection for Uighurs in China”

Bishop of Rochester asks Government about hidden problem of domestic abuse amongst elderly

On 29th July Baroness Gale asked Her Majesty’s Government “what plans they have to ensure that any data collected on domestic abuse includes the abuse of people over the age of 74.” The Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, asked a follow up question, focusing on how faith communities could become part of a solution to domestic abuse.

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I have sad personal experience of a family situation where the perpetrator of the abuse was an older person, and we are all fearful that lockdown may have led to an increase in such instances. In that context, I am pleased that my diocese of Rochester is the first in the Church of England to establish a strategic partnership with the White Ribbon Campaign. In a world where such abuse, especially when it involves older people, often remains hidden, will the Minister commit to meeting with Members of these Benches, and perhaps other faith leaders, to discuss how the Domestic Abuse Bill’s guidance might empower faith communities to be part of the solution?

Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester asks Government about hidden problem of domestic abuse amongst elderly”

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about setting up regional travel corridors

On 28th July Baroness Smith of Basildon asked Her Majesty’s Government “urther to the letter from Baroness Vere of Norbiton to all Members on travel corridors and Spain, sent on 26 July, what support they will provide to those who have (1) visited, or (2) travelled through, Spain and are subsequently required to self-isolate on their return to the United Kingdom and are unable to fulfil work-related obligations as a result.” The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, asked a follow up question focusing on Luton Airport and travel corridors.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, it is not only holidaymakers and travel firms that are suffering. Luton Borough Council, in my diocese, owns Luton Airport. As a result of the lockdown, it has a significant hole in its finances, affecting every person living in the borough. It is surely in the interest of every country to find a better way to provide travel corridors based on regions rather than simply designating entire countries. What consideration are Her Majesty’s Government giving to the idea of having regional travel corridors?

Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about setting up regional travel corridors”

Bishop of Rochester asks Government to address needs of most disadvantaged in Coronavirus response strategy

On 28th July Baroness Neville-Rolfe asked Her Majesty’s Government “further to the paper by Professor David Miles, Mike Stead and Dr Adrian Heald Living with COVID-19: balancing costs against benefits in the face of the virus, published on 26 June, what plans they have to ensure that in the future fuller account is taken of the economic costs of any measures adopted to address the COVID-19 pandemic such as lockdowns.” The Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, asked a follow up question, focusing on those affected by the benefit cap and those housed in the private rented sector.

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, this is a complex matter, because economic, social and other community matters often go hand in hand. It is clear that many who have in these circumstances been bearing economic burdens are among those who are also the most socially disadvantaged. Bearing in mind the context of the forthcoming spending review, can the Minister give an assurance that the Government will take care to address the needs of such groups, including, for example, those affected by the benefit cap and those housed in the private rented sector, where repossession cases come before the courts again from later in August?

Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester asks Government to address needs of most disadvantaged in Coronavirus response strategy”

Bishop of Bristol asks Government about visas routes for those vulnerable to trafficking

On 28th July the Rt Revd Vivienne Faull, Bishop of Bristol, received written answers to three questions on overseas domestic workers, and seasonal  workers (both areas vulnerable to  modern slavery and human trafficking).

 

The Lord Bishop of Bristol: HL6880 To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they intend to publish further details about any changes to the routes of entry to the UK for overseas domestic workers.

Baroness Williams of Trafford: Our broad approach for January 2021 will be to maintain the existing provisions for overseas domestic workers, expanding this route to include EU citizens.

Continue reading “Bishop of Bristol asks Government about visas routes for those vulnerable to trafficking”

Bishop of Rochester asks Government about commitment to poverty reduction when DfID and Foreign Office merge

On 27th July Lord Harries of Pentregarth asked Her Majesty’s Government “how the merger of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development will enhance the United Kingdom’s ability to help (1) the poorest, and (2) the most vulnerable, communities abroad.” The Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, asked a follow up question, focusing on poverty reduction.

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, in this context will the Minister give assurances that the Government will continue to adhere to their stated commitment to poverty reduction, observing both the letter and spirit of domestic development legislation, including not only the matter the Minister has already mentioned—the 0.7% GDP target—but matters such as independent evaluation of impact and gender equality, and that any deviation from the present pattern will be debated and agreed both here and in the other House?

Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester asks Government about commitment to poverty reduction when DfID and Foreign Office merge”

Bishop of Southwark asks Government about dialogue and peace prospects in Israel and Palestine

On 27th July the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark, received written answers to three questions on Israel and Palestine.

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: HL6801 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what diplomatic engagement they have had with the Middle East Quartet since 31 January.

Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark asks Government about dialogue and peace prospects in Israel and Palestine”

Bishop of Chichester asks Government about support for child victims of domestic abuse

On 24th July 2020 Baroness Burt of Solihull asked the Government, “further to the analysis by Refuge that showed that (1) the National Domestic Abuse Helpline received more than 40,000 calls and contacts during the first three months of the COVID-19 lockdown, and (2) calls and contacts increased by 77 per cent in June, published on 23 July, what plans they have to support victims of domestic abuse.” The Bishop of Chichester, Rt Revd Martin Warner, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Chichester: My Lords, can the Minister explain what action the Government are taking to respond specifically to the long-term emotional needs of children who are victims of domestic abuse? Also in that context, can he include work with perpetrators, who are often male and often the father, with whom children might have had a bond that they value?

Continue reading “Bishop of Chichester asks Government about support for child victims of domestic abuse”

Week in Westminster, 20th-24th July 2020

Parliament met this week, in Westminster and online, with the Bishops of Chichester and Southwark beginning each sitting day in the House of Lords with prayers.

The Bishops of Southwark and Bristol spoke in a debate on the Government’s Immigration Bill, raising issues of modern slavery, EU citizens, the right to work, visa costs and eligibility.  The Bishop of Southwark also asked Government to take action on reports of human rights abuses in China. The Bishop of Chichester asked a question about the impact of student loans on recruitment and retention in public services, and also about support for children who are victims of domestic abuse.

The Bishop of St Albans asked Government about action against rising levels of knife crime. He also asked a question about guidance on singing and compulsory wearing of face masks in places of worship. The Bishop also spoke to amendments on maintaining food security during debates on the Government’s Agriculture Bill, and voted on two amendments to the Government’s Business and Planning Bill.

The Bishop of Winchester asked Government about student eligibility for free college meal vouchers and the Bishop of Durham asked Government about training and apprenticeship funding for disadvantaged students.

The Bishop of Salisbury received written answers to questions on the Russia Report and the Green Home Grants Scheme. Continue reading “Week in Westminster, 20th-24th July 2020”