Immigration Bill: Archbishop of York and Bishop of St Albans Debate Amendments in Committee

The Archbishop of York and the Bishop of St Albans both spoke during the first day of the Committee Stage of the Government’s Immigration Bill on 3rd March. The amendments they debated involved policy relating to immigration removals, holding facilities, use of force, effect on families and children, and the appeals process. Their interventions can be found in full below, with links to the corresponding sections of Hansard on the UK parliament website, where the full exchanges involving other members  of the House can be seen. Continue reading “Immigration Bill: Archbishop of York and Bishop of St Albans Debate Amendments in Committee”

UK Government Relations with Sikhs: Bishop of Coventry Asks Written Question

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have received from Sikh organisations in the United Kingdom following the publication of the Cabinet Secretary’s report on the Indian operation at Sri Harmandir Sahib.

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): We continue to take the views of the Sikh community on this matter very seriously, and round-table meetings were hosted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 4th February and by the Department for Communities and Local Government on 25th February. The following organisations took part:

4th February:
Sikh Council UK
Network of Sikh Organisations (UK)
Federation of Sikh Organisations
Sikh Organisation of Prisoner Welfare
Sikh Community and Youth Services
Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar
Akhand Kirtani Jatha
Sikh Youth Project
Kesri Leher/1984 Genocide Coalition
Akali Dal
Sikhs in England
United Sikhs
City Sikhs Network
Sikh Federation UK

25th February:
Sikh Council UK
Federation of Sikh Organisations
Sikh Organisation of Prisoner Welfare
Kesri Leher
Sikh Community and Youth Services
Sikhs in England
City Sikhs Network
Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha
Sikh Federation UK
Indian Workers Association
Young Sikhs UK
Sikh Care Society Heathrow
Sikh Community and Youth Services
Network of Sikh Organisations (UK)

(via Parliament.uk)

Bishop of St Albans On Relations With Sikh Community

The Bishop of St Albans spoke during Lord Singh of Wimbledon’s debate on relations with the Sikh community following the publication of government documents regarding British involvement in planning the attack on the Golden Temple.

He focussed his remarks on the positive role that the Sikh community has played and continues to play in British society. He welcomed the lack of violent or radical response from the community in light of the publication of the documents, but warned of the danger that it could happen. He called for a wider inquiry into the broader relations between the UK and Indian governments at the time.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Singh, has spoken eloquently of the terrible events that took place 30 years ago.

For some seven years in the 1990s, I was privileged to live in Walsall in the West Midlands, in a very multicultural area where I was then working and ministering. I not only counted among my friends a Sikh family living next door to me, but I also paid many visits to the local Guru Nanak temple and received wonderful hospitality there. Even then, some 10 years after the events of Operation Blue Star, Operation Sundown and Operation Woodrose, I was aware of how large these tragedies loomed not just in the imaginations but in the families of my neighbours. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans On Relations With Sikh Community”

Church Commissioner Sir Tony Baldry MP Highlights Archbishop’s Ash Wednesday Eucharist in Parliament

During Business Questions in the House of Commons, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, drew attention to the Ash Wednesday Eucharist taking place the following week in the Parliamentary Chapel, at which the Archbishop of Canterbury would preside. The Leader of the House responded.14.01 CCQ Baldry

Sir Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend ensure that on Tuesday evening, the House finishes its business promptly at 7 o’clock, so that we can all get home, finish our pancakes, and have an early night, as on Wednesday, the first day of Lent, at 7.45 am, the Archbishop of Canterbury is celebrating Holy Communion in the Undercroft chapel? Everyone working in the Palace of Westminster is very welcome to attend.

Mr Lansley: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend, and I am sure that the House appreciates the opportunity to go to the Ash Wednesday service that he advertises. I think that there is nothing on the Order Paper at the moment that would require us to extend our proceedings beyond the moment of interruption at 7 o’clock on Tuesday.

(via Parliament.uk)

Bishop of Lichfield calls for greater support of vulnerable young people in preventing suicide

The Bishop of Lichfield spoke during Lord Eames’ debate on reducing the levels of suicide among young people in the United Kingdom. He focused his remarks on the relationship between low levels of self-worth amongst young people as a factor that contributes to suicidal thoughts. He also raised particular concerns about the risks of bullying or coercion that young people with disabilities face, specifically as debates about assisted suicide become more widespread, and the need to support children who are refugees or asylum seekers and particularly vulnerable due to a lack of adequate mental health care.

The Lord Bishop of Lichfield: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, for initiating this debate.

The Association for Young People’s Health recently published its key data on adolescence. At present, the statistics show that the levels of self-harm are relatively stable, although for such a sensitive topic there is likely to be low reporting. It is clear that girls are at least three times more likely to self-harm than boys; on the other hand, suicide is much more prevalent among young males, particularly those aged between 20 and 24. This coincides with the evidence from ChildLine. Numbers have fallen fractionally in more recent years but the report questions whether this will continue.

How this correlates with child well-being needs careful consideration. We all remember the United Nations report about the unhappiness of children in this country. ChildLine reports that the number of children contacting it about suicidal feelings has risen for the third year running, including a rise of 33% in the last year. Overall, child well-being in the UK, according to the United Nations, has improved from 21st out of 21 to 16th out of 29 countries. Economic reasons have been stated and there is much correlation with the commentary from the Association for Young People’s Health. Continue reading “Bishop of Lichfield calls for greater support of vulnerable young people in preventing suicide”

The Bishop of St Albans takes part in debate on the Charity Commission

During a debate on the effectiveness of the Charity Commission, the Bishop of St Albans welcomed the Government’s decision to extend exempted charity status to churches and similar charities by a further seven years but raised concerns about the capacity to register exempted organisations when they reach the registration threshold. He called on the Government to ensure that funding was maintained to ensure the Charity Commission could provide high-quality advice and support to charities and sought a specific assurance from the Minister that the Transparency of Lobbying Act would not affect a church’s ability to host hustings and similar events.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I will not reiterate what has already been said about the levels of underfunding of the Charity Commission. There is great concern that the vital work that is going on needs proper support if we are going to develop this very important sector in our country. A number of noble Lords have spoken about the need for proper resourcing.

I want to comment briefly on the group of charities that are described by the Charity Commission as excepted charities. These include not just churches and chapels but charities that provide premises for some types of schools and Scout and Guide groups, and charitable service funds of the Armed Forces. It is very significant and helpful that Her Majesty’s Government have decided to extend exception from registration for a further seven years beyond 31 March 2014. It is unclear whether there are any plans afoot for an orderly transition to registration in the lead-up to 2021. Of course, to some extent inflation will reduce the number of excepted organisations and other charities as they reach that £100,000 registration threshold, but unless some queuing system is agreed in advance, at the end of the seven-year extension there is a real possibility of a logjam. Continue reading “The Bishop of St Albans takes part in debate on the Charity Commission”

Bishop of Wakefield welcomes continued Government support for Near Neighbours

Lord Phillips of Sudbury asked Her Majesty’s Government what is being done to mitigate the social and cultural consequences of the weakening of community life in the United Kingdom.

The Bishop of Wakefield asked a supplementary question:

The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: My Lords, will the Minister join me in welcoming this morning’s announcement by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government that the Near Neighbours scheme—a very successful collaboration between faith groups and government—is being extended for a further two years? Does he also agree that the scheme is an excellent example of strengthening social cohesion in ways that are sensitive to local dynamics, and that it could serve as a model for communities up and down the United Kingdom?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The right reverend Prelate is of course right to raise the issue of the Near Neighbours scheme. It is a successful scheme in which the Church of England works with local communities, and it shows how communities and wider faith groups can come together. My noble friend who is sitting to my right famously said, “This Government does do God”. We work with people of all faiths across the country to ensure that communities are vibrant and working well together.