On 24th July 2013, Lord Dubs askedHer Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the causes of homelessness and rough sleeping in the United Kingdom. The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: The Minister will be aware of the good practice of the multi-agency response to homelessness among 16 and 17 year-olds in Birmingham at the St Basils Youth Hub but, with the recent support expressed by the Housing Minister for the End Youth Homelessness Alliance, how will the Government meet the alliance’s challenges for family support, employment and affordable, safe housing for that category of people?
Baroness Hanham: I am aware of what the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Birmingham is talking about. The policies of the Government will support the question that he has asked.
On 24th July 2013, the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, received written answers to questions on Lebanon and Syria.
The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to build the resilience of the Lebanese army to respond to the security situation on its border with Syria.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The UK is providing an additional £10 million of assistance to support the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in their mission to secure Lebanon’s border with Syria. The package of non-lethal assistance includes mobility, communications, protection and observation equipment and associated training. The package was discussed by the then Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, with the LAF commander during his visit to Lebanon on 4-5 July.
On 24th July 2013 the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, received written answers to questions on Egypt and the Gulf States.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the prospects for political reconciliation in Egypt.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi):We are in contact with all sides in Egypt, and have urged all to resolve their differences through dialogue, and avoid violence. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), was in regular contact with former Foreign Minister Amr, most recently on 8 July to discuss the situation in Egypt. We have requested contact with the new interim government and continue to be in contact with the army and Muslim Brotherhood. It is important that Egypt makes an early return to democratic processes, including free and fair elections, and that those processes are inclusive.
On 23rd July 2013, tributes were offered by the House of Lords to Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge, on the birth of her son. The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, led tributes on behalf of the Lords Spiritual.
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, the day’s proceedings in your Lordships’ House begin far too often with the announcement of a death. My friend the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury and my other colleagues on this Bench regret not being present today because they are attending the funeral of the late Bishop of Coventry, Colin Bennetts. None the less, it is a wonderful joy and delight for us to join in the words of colleagues in this House as we pause to celebrate the birth of a new baby. Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge can be assured not simply of the congratulations, prayers and good wishes of those who occupy this Bench but, I am sure, the whole of the Church and faiths in England and the rest of the country.
My friend the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, your Lordships may like to know, did not, as was the custom in times past, actually attend the birth. Instead, he has offered his own prayers and congratulations to their Royal Highnesses, sharing, “in their joy at this special time”, and praying that God would, “bless this family with love, health and happiness”. Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham leads tributes on birth of Prince George”
On 23rd July 2013, Lord Risby asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the current social and economic situation in Lebanon. The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, asked a supplementary question on what is being done to ease tensions between communities affected by the movement of refugees:
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, Lebanese communities have shown incredible generosity in coping with refugees but the flow is reaching breaking point. Will the Minister accept that, in addition to providing support for refugees, more work should be done to alleviate tension between communities and to strengthen the resilience of host families?
Baroness Warsi: I completely agree with the right reverend Prelate that there has been a huge show of generosity and a real welcome from the Lebanese people. Noble Lords may be aware that the population of Lebanon is about 4 million. The number of registered refugees is 600,000 but it is estimated that the real number could be a lot higher—somewhere around 1 million. That is the equivalent of the whole of the Romanian population arriving on British shores over a very short period. A huge amount of pressure has been put on local resources, which has of course caused tensions. It is for that reason that we are supporting not just the refugee communities but the host communities as well.
On 23rd July 2013, the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, spoke during the Committee Stage of the Government’s Energy Bill. He spoke during a debate on an amendment to develop the interconnectedness of European energy and electricity markets, focussing his remarks on the question of energy security.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, when I am in a really tedious meeting I sometimes flick to my iPhone if I succumb to the temptation. The Energywatch organisation has a splendid app which tells you exactly what electricity generation is going on at any particular moment. I can tell your Lordships that at this moment we are depending upon supplies from overseas of 7%, or 3 gigawatts. Wind is producing at the moment less than one sixth of that. Over time, I am struck by just what a significant proportion of our electricity already comes in that way. Three gigawatts is not nothing; it is a very significant amount.
When the Minister responds, it would be helpful to give some indication as to what security there is. I belong to those who have some anxieties that in three or four years’ time, if economic activity picks up and some outages occur at a couple of big stations that we are not expecting, and if the weather is very cold and the wind is not blowing, we are going to depend upon electricity coming from these interconnectors. We can depend on it only if we know that they will be available. If the weather is also inadvertent in other countries, what security do we have that the electricity will be available from other places? I am entirely with the view that we should have a European electricity market. That is absolutely right but it has to be with certain guarantees for supply in this country, especially when supply gets tight in a few years’ time. Continue reading “Bishop of Chester speaks about energy security during Energy Bill debate”
On 22nd July 2013, Baroness Bakewell asked Her Majesty’s Government whether they have plans to encourage religiously selective schools to adopt more open admission policies. The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: Does the Minister agree with the Secretary of State that Church of England schools are most often found in very challenging areas in our communities and provide excellent education? Would he encourage the expansion of religious schools of that kind in oversubscribed areas?
Lord Nash: Where we have areas of basic need, we are keen to encourage all comers to help us. I entirely agree with the right reverend Prelate about the performance of Church of England schools. Again, in respect of achieving five A* to C grades, including in English and maths, they score 62% versus 58%, and at level 4 of key stage 2 they score 82% as opposed to 78%. We would welcome expansion of these schools as they provide an excellent education.
On 22nd July 2013 the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, received an answer to a written question on the subject of freedom of religion.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the European Union guidelines on promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief, agreed by the Council of Ministers on 24 June.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We worked closely with EU partners to develop guidelines for EU country offices to strengthen their work on the right to freedom of religion or belief across the world. We were gratified that these guidelines took as their original inspiration the UK’s own freedom of religion or belief toolkit. We believe the guidelines are a valuable tool for EU country offices and the embassies of individual EU member states to use, and look forward to strengthened joint working with our EU partners to ensure that the right to freedom of religion or belief is more widely guaranteed and that any violations are tackled in the most effective manner.