“If we do nothing, we will see the gap between London and the regions continue to widen to the detriment of the whole country. I urge the Government and this House to address this problem with imagination, courage and vigour” – Bishop of Sheffield
On 27th March Peers debated the Chancellor’s 2014 Budget statement. The Bishop of Sheffield spoke of the need to rebalance the economy so that the proceeds of renewed economic growth could be shared across the regions. He suggested this could be the task of a cross-party parliamentary commission.
The Lord Bishop of Sheffield: My Lords, the prophet Jeremiah wrote a short but remarkable letter to his contemporaries long ago who had been sent into exile in Babylon. The letter has shaped Jewish and Christian thought on how communities of faith should engage with the wider society down all the generations since. The prophet’s advice is to,
“seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you … for in its welfare you will find your welfare”.
On 27th March Peers debated the Chancellor’s 2014 Budget statement. The Bishop of Chester, Rt Rev Peter Forster, cautioned that if society were to experience renewed growth and prosperity, it should guard against recreating the problems of the past 30 years. He argued for an emphasis on strengthened social institutions, including families, continued commitment to overseas aid, and improved financial education.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, the reason that the Bishops sit on the government side of the Chamber, I am told, is the recognition that the task of government is so difficult that the Government need all the help available to them. Managing the economy in recent years has been an enormously difficult task and we can only express relief and, indeed, gratitude that things seem to be moving on to a more normal plane despite all the challenges ahead, about which the Chancellor himself is fairly candid. Continue reading “Freedom and Responsibility: Budget speech by the Bishop of Chester”
On 27th March 2014, the Bishop of St Albans received an answer to a written question on flooding.
Flooding – Question
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in the light of the recent and ongoing flooding, they plan to reconsider their 2010 decision to remove the duty on local authorities to produce climate adaptation plans. Continue reading “Flooding: Written Question”
Lord Foulkes of Cumnock asked Her Majesty’s Government ‘what action they propose to take over the potential impact on university funding arising from lower than expected repayment of student loans?’ The Bishop of Chester asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, I share the Government’s view that the higher education sector is in remarkably good health given the recession. However, does not setting fees at £9,000, which is far higher than fees in any other European country, imply a loans system that has its own element of generosity, including a repayment starting point of £21,000, rather than the original £16,000?
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The right reverend Prelate raises an important point. I am sure he is aware that the Government have ensured that those universities that have chosen to raise their fees to the £9,000 limit have suitable access agreements so that those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds are given the opportunity to go to university. The Government’s policy remains that access to a university education should be based not on someone’s ability to pay but on their ability.
“when we try to get the visa and immigration authorities to tell us what we have to do as a diocese and what the conditions are, we find that letters get lost. My colleague who deals with this is in despair. We write letters but nothing comes back. Time is ticking away and the training curacy of the chap I am talking about is coming to an end.” – Bishop of Chester
Lord Steel of Aikwood tabled a question for short debate: ‘to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the operation and accountability of UK Visas and Immigration. The Bishop of Chester raised some examples of failures in the system.
The Lord Bishop of Chester:
My Lords, I associate myself very closely with all that has been said, although the second half of the contribution from the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, focused a bit too much on mammon for my level of expertise. However, I take him as an authority on that aspect. The introduction the noble Lord, Lord Steel, gave, was powerful and shocking in equal measure, and made the case on its own. I can say to the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Jones, that I am aware of the Hereford situation; indeed, clergy are among those who are able to come under the scheme she mentioned.