Bishop of London asks about funding for social care

The Bishop of London asked a question about sources of funding for care on 24th November 2022, during a debate on adult social care:

The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, the Archbishops’ commission on social care, which will be publishing its report next year, is also concerned about the inequitable funding when funding is raised through council tax. Can the Minister indicate how central money will reduce this inequality to accessing care and whether the Government are doing any evaluation of that?

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Public Order Bill: Bishop of Manchester supports amendments related to access to abortion clinics and to curtailing excessive police powers

On 22nd November 2022, the House of Lords debated the Public Order Bill in the second day of the committee stage. The Bishop of Manchester spoke regarding two sets of amendments: firstly, in support of amendments to Clause 9, pertaining to access issues around abortion providers, and secondly in opposition to clauses remaining in the bill which would grant excessive police powers, particularly regarding the right to protest.

The Lord Bishop of Manchester: I rise to address Amendments 85 to 88, 90 and 92, to which my right reverend friend the Bishop of St Albans has added his name. He regrets that he is unable to be in his place today. I also have sympathy with a number of other amendments in this group.

It is a heated and emotive debate on this clause, and it was heated and emotive when it was added in the other place. The danger is that we get dragged into debates about whether abortion is morally right or wrong. Indeed, I have had plenty of emails over the past few days, as I am sure other noble Lords have, tending in that direction. As it happens, I take the view that the present law on abortion strikes a reasonable balance; in particular, it respects the consciences of women faced, sometimes with very little support, with making deeply difficult decisions.

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Bishop of London asks about preventing homelessness for at-risk renters

The Lord Bishop of London asked a question about government support for renters at risk of homelessness during a debate on the Renters Reform Bill on 22nd November 2022:

The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, rents in London are up to double the level of rents elsewhere in the UK. Crisis has warned that the number of people sleeping rough in London has risen by a quarter in just one year, and more than half of those spotted on the streets are sleeping rough for the first time. What are the Government doing to prevent those who are struggling to pay their increasing rents from falling into homelessness?

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Bishop of Southwark asks about debts owed by Zambia

The Bishop of Southwark received the following written answer on 22nd November 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: To ask His Majesty’s Government, further to the recent loan provided by the International Monetary Fund to the country of Zambia, what discussions, if any, they have had with (1) the government of China, and (2) private western lenders, about cancelling debt owed by the government of Zambia.

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Bishop of London asks about living wage for social care workers

The Bishop of London asked a question about establishing a living wage for social care workers on 21st November 2022:

The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, Enabled Living in Newham has become the first London-based social care provider to pay its workers the real living wage—the first such employer to do so. We have heard that social care workers are among the lowest paid, with one in five residential care workers living in poverty before the cost of living crisis, according to the Health Foundation. What assessment have the Government made of the real living wage and the impact that it could have on retaining valuable social care workers?

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Church Commissioners Written Answers: Investment, Clergy Vacancies, Provincial Episcopal Visitors, and Use of Church Monies

Andrew Selous MP, representing the Church Commissioners, gave the following written answerto questions from MPs on 21st November 2022:

Jim Shannon MP (DUP): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church is taking to promote environmental, social and governance leadership in its investments.

Andrew Selous MP (Con): The Church Commissioners Responsible Investment Team regularly engages with the companies in which they invest on environmental and social issues, and good governance. The Church Commissioners’ Stewardship report 2021 contains examples of work on impact investment, respect for the planet and respect for people: https://www.frc.org.uk/getattachment/8e8fdb87-6c32-4bf3-b549-e8209db00976/The-Church-Commissioners-for-England_Stewardship-report-2020.pdf(opens in a new tab) The Commissioners are signatory members of the Financial Reporting Council, which has approved the report.

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Bishop of St Albans asks about Gambling Act white paper

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 21st November 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government when the Gambling Act white paper will be published.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Con): The Gambling Act Review is an extensive, evidence-led review, which aims to ensure gambling regulation is fit for the digital age. We will publish a White Paper setting out our conclusions and next steps in the coming weeks.

Hansard

House of Lords (Peerage Nominations) Bill: Bishop of St Albans speaks in support of bill

On 18th November 2022, the House of Lords debated the House of Lords (Peerage Nominations) Bill in its second reading. The Bishop of St Albans spoke in support of the bill:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, there have been a number of occasions in recent years when this House has debated its make-up, its processes of nomination and its role. The test of any Bill to reform aspects of the House of Lords is surely whether it will enhance the core functions of this House; namely, to revise, to scrutinise and to ensure that the membership retains significant independence and expertise. A further useful test is whether the proposed changes are simply a response to some current problems or whether they have the potential to enhance the work of the Lords in the long term. It seems to me that, unless we are going to go for something very radical and different, this Bill meets these tests. It is modest in its proposals but I believe it is worthy of support none the less. It comes in a long line of incremental but sensible and pragmatic changes to Lords procedure and practice. I suggest that the history of Lords reform shows that incremental change tends to be the most successful.

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Bishop of St Albans asks about NHS gambling clinics

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 18th November 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government how many more NHS gambling clinics are being planned; and where those clinics will be situated.

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Bishop of St Albans leads debate on human rights abuses in China

The Bishop of St Albans tabled a question for short debate in Grand Committee on 17th November 2022, concerning reports of human rights abuses in China:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of allegations of human rights abuses in China.

My Lords, I approach this debate with a great deal of reticence and, indeed, almost reluctance. I have long admired China and the Chinese people, although one should of course acknowledge that the population of China is made up of 56 different ethnic groups. I have long admired their ancient civilisation. Not only is China a country of great natural beauty; it is the nation that invented the compass, gunpowder, paper, moveable-type printing, kites, fireworks, silk, tea and porcelain, to name a few. I will perhaps omit noodles from my list of admirable inventions. My Chinese friends are among some of the most educated, industrious and cultured people I know. China is the fourth-largest country by land mass and has the largest population of any country in the world. Over many decades, we have developed extensive trade links with China, and it is in its interests and ours for us to share in commerce and seek to find common cause for the good of the world.

Yet I feel I cannot remain silent in the face of such a wide range of human rights abuses. Lying behind our profound differences is a vast cultural gulf that was laid bare most recently for me when I read President Xi’s speech at the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party last month. He said:

“We will … continue to take the correct and distinctively Chinese approach to handling ethnic affairs … We will remain committed to the principle that religions in China must be Chinese in orientation and provide active guidance to religions so that they can adapt to socialist society.”

He also said:

“We have effectively contained ethnic separatists, religious extremists, and violent terrorists”.

To those here who are familiar with China’s history of human rights abuses, these are worrying words.

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