Financial Guidance and Claims Bill: Bishop of Newcastle supports amendment to help families struggling with debt


The Government’s Financial Guidance and Claims Bill was considered in Committee in the House of Lords on 19th July 2017. The Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, supported an amendment to the Bill to enable families in financial difficulty to receive a breathing space for repayment of debts:

The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, I, too, rise to speak in support of Amendment 41. I declare an interest as a vice-president of the Children’s Society.

In the area covered by the Diocese of Newcastle, the Children’s Society data tell me that there are more than 42, 000 children living in poverty and that almost 18,000 children from almost 16,000 families are living with the blight of problem debt. Last year, I read a report in the New York Times on a large, randomised trial involving 21,000 people on the efficacy of various aid mechanisms to bring people out of poverty and debt. What emerged surprised the researchers. It emerged that one key mechanism is more effective than any other, and that mechanism is hope. Families that are stressed and trapped in poverty and debt can feel real hopelessness that becomes entirely self-fulfilling. Give people a reason to hope, and it can make an extraordinary and real difference. Continue reading

Children and Social Work Bill: Bishop of Peterborough supports amendments on relationships and sex education


14.02 PeterboroughOn 4th April 2017 the House of Lords considered amendments made by MPs to the Government’s Children and Social Work Bill. Government Minister Lord Nash proposed that the Lords accept an amendment to provide compulsory relationships education at primary schools. The Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Rev Donald Allister, spoke in favour of the amendment, which was accepted by the House.

The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, I am very happy indeed to support government Amendments 12 and 13 on relationships and sex education and on PSHE. Compulsory provision and statutory guidance are necessary in these areas. The Church of England welcomes this and we very much look forward to the consultation.

We particularly welcome the decision to reverse the name and put “relationships” rather than “sex” at the heart of this policy. This is not about just sex or sex education. It puts sex in its proper context of committed and consensual relationships. But it is also about friendships, resilience, good disagreement and living with difference. It is about tackling bullying, self-image, social media, advertising and so much else. It is about supporting children and preparing them for adult life.

Continue reading

Criminal Finances Bill: Bishop of Peterborough supports amendment on tax transparency


14.02 PeterboroughOn the 3rd April 2017, the House of Lords considered the Government’s Criminal Finances Bill in Committee. Baroness Stern moved an amendment  requiring public registers of beneficial ownership of companies in the Overseas Territories. The Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Rev Donald Allister, spoke in favour of the amendment, which was withdrawn after the debate

The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, I support the amendment. I also support the Bill and I am grateful for it.

I particularly support and follow a point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Stern, about this being a moral issue. I refer to Amendment 167. This time last year, shortly after the publication of the Panama Papers, there was a question in the House about this issue. I asked a supplementary and was assured by the then Minister that this was seen by the Government as a moral issue. It is important that we hold to that. Continue reading

Votes – Technical and Further Education Bill – financial support and careers advice


On 27th May 2017 votes took place on the Government’s Technical and Further Education Bill at its Report Stage in the House of Lords. The Bishop of Winchester took part in two Divisions, relating to financial support for apprenticeships and  provision of careers advice:

Continue reading

Digital Economy Bill: Bishops argue against relaxation of blocking powers on online pornography


On the 20th March 2017, the House of Lords debated a Government amendment to the Digital Economy Bill at its Report Stage, on access to online pornography. Original Government proposals were that the threshold of censorship and prohibition should be as consistent as possible for material distributed online and offline. In a new amendment the Government offered a revised approach, with a higher threshold for prohibiting material online alongside a focus on age verification measures. The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, and the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, spoke against the amendment, arguing to keep the original approach. The amendment was however agreed without a vote. The Bishops’ speeches are below, with an extract of the Minister’s reply. The full text of the debate on the amendments can be read in Hansard, here.

leeds-20117-bLord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, it seems odd in a society such as ours that we are even thinking about how to give access to violent pornography or trying to mitigate it in some way. It seems clear to me is that most of us sitting in this House probably have less idea of how online digital communications work than a five year-old. Children—my grandchildren’s generation—are very adept and almost intuit how to do this stuff. Continue reading