Week in Westminster 14th-18th September 2020

Parliament met this week in Westminster and online. Prayers were read at the start of each sitting day in the House of Lords by the Bishops of Southwark, Carlisle, St Albans and Peterborough.

The Bishops of Durham and Southwark supported amendments to the Government’s Immigration Bill, on detention, refugee family reunion, unaccompanied children, and health charges for NHS and social care workers.

The Bishop of St Albans asked questions of Government about the impact of new coronavirus restrictions on Remembrance Sunday events, and about accessible housing for the elderly and those with disabilities.

He also proposed amendments to the Government’s Agriculture Bill, on food security and farm payments. Bishops took part in votes on the Bill.

The Bishop of Southwark asked Government about Chinese policy towards Taiwan.

The Bishop of Carlisle asked a question about tackling health inequalities, and also called on Government to reassure EU and UK citizens about their commitment to the UK’s international treaty obligations.

In the House of Commons MPs the Second Church Estates Commissioner answered written questions from MPs on a wide range of issues: on the church response to COVID-19, Christian persecution, support for cathedrals, wedding guidance, the Sunday congestion charge, ethical investment, St Margaret’s Westminster, South Sudan, church schools, church buildings, lead theft, the Beirut explosion, mental health, and ordinations.

Agriculture Bill: Bishop of St Albans proposes amendments on food security

On 17th September 2020 the House of Lords considered amendments to the Government’s Agriculture Bill at its Report Stage. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, sponsored and spoke in favour of amendments to Government to set targets on food security and report more frequently to Parliament on the issue.

  The amendments were not put to a vote but withdrawn after debate.

Continue reading “Agriculture Bill: Bishop of St Albans proposes amendments on food security”

Bishop of Southwark asks Government about ‘marked aggression’ by Chinese Government on Taiwan

On Thursday 17th September 2020 Baroness D’Souza asked the Government “what assessment they have made of reports of the presence of the Chinese Air Force in Taiwan’s airspace; and what steps they are taking to support the independence of that country.” The Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Southwark:  My Lords, this country has recognised the Government in Beijing as the legitimate authority in China since January 1950, with a very distinctive status, as the Minister has acknowledged, for Taiwan, which should be discussed peacefully between the authorities in Taipei and those on the mainland. I am glad to hear about the Minister’s lobbying in connection with the World Health Organization. Would he care to comment on this pattern of marked aggression by the current Chinese Government, which has sought to limit options for people at home and abroad and is so damaging? Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark asks Government about ‘marked aggression’ by Chinese Government on Taiwan”

Bishop of St Albans asks if Covid ‘rule of six’ will prevent outdoor Remembrance Sunday events

On Wednesday 16th September 2020 Members of the House of Lords asked questions of Government on its response to coronavirus. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, can the Minister clarify one or two issues? Does the rule of six mean that it will no longer be possible to have any public marking of Remembrance Sunday outdoors this year? Will he also clarify whether this effectively means that all public protests and demonstrations are now illegal? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks if Covid ‘rule of six’ will prevent outdoor Remembrance Sunday events”

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about accessible housing for elderly and those with disabilities

On 16th September 2020 Lord Kennedy of Southwark asked the Government “what plans they have to ensure that any changes to the planning system will improve (1) building standards, (2) safety, (3) environmental impacts, and (4) the well-being of residents.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the latest English housing survey reveals that only 9% of our housing stock has key disability accessibility features. Disability in old age is frequent, and with the ONS estimating that one in four people will be aged 65 or over by 2050 it is vital that we cater for what we are going to need.

Although the recently announced government consultation into this issue is welcome, can the Minister confirm that prior to any changes in planning law, the recommendations of this consultation will be fully implemented to ensure that the vulnerable are not left behind? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about accessible housing for elderly and those with disabilities”

Church Commissioners’ written answer: Church response to coronavirus

On 16th September 2020 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered a written question from Jim Shannon MP, on the response to coronavirus:

Jim Shannon: [89698]: To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church of England is taking to meet the needs of parishioners during the covid-19 outbreak. Continue reading “Church Commissioners’ written answer: Church response to coronavirus”

Agriculture Bill: Bishop of St Albans supports amendments on food security, spending, and direct payments

On 15th September 2020 the House of Lords considered amendments to the Government’s Agriculture Bill at its Report Stage. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, sponsored and spoke in favour of amendments to:

  • improve food security and access to food that promotes good health and wellbeing,
  • require Government to set out detailed spending plans,
  • delay the start of the transition away from direct farm payments from 2021 to 2022.

The amendments were not put to a vote but withdrawn after debate.

Continue reading “Agriculture Bill: Bishop of St Albans supports amendments on food security, spending, and direct payments”

Bishop of Carlisle asks Government to reassure EU and UK citizens of their treaty commitments

On 15th September 2020 Lord Lexden asked the Government “what role the Law Officers have in ensuring that the rule of law is maintained in (1) the development of domestic legislation and (2) their policies relating to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from and future relationship with the European Union.” The Bishop of Carlisle, Rt Revd James Newcome, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, can the Minister confirm that the Government recognise that any attempt unilaterally to modify the terms of the withdrawal agreement would adversely affect not only future trade partners but also the confidence that EU citizens resident in this country will place in the commitments that the United Kingdom has made under the agreement? The confidence of British citizens resident in EU countries would also be damaged if they saw that treaty commitments could simply be set aside. Can he offer any reassurance in either regard? Continue reading “Bishop of Carlisle asks Government to reassure EU and UK citizens of their treaty commitments”

Bishop of Carlisle asks Government about tackling health inequalities

On Tuesday 15th September 2020 Lord Hunt of Kings Heath asked the Government “in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, what plans they have for changes to the NHS long-term plan.” The Bishop of Carlisle, Rt Revd James Newcome, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, given that the health protection remit of Public Health England is to be subsumed into the new national institute for health protection, can the Minister tell us what steps Her Majesty’s Government will take to ensure that health inequalities are robustly addressed through programmes of health education and promotion, as envisaged in chapter 2 of the NHS Long Term Plan? Continue reading “Bishop of Carlisle asks Government about tackling health inequalities”