On 26th and 27th November 2013, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon. Justin Welby, the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Michael Perham, and the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, took part in divisions on the Government’s Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill, during its Report Stage.
Labour Peer Lord Eatwell moved amendment 21, before clause 14, to insert the new clause Professional Standards. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Gloucester voted ‘content’. No bishop voted ‘not content’.
There were: Contents: 222 / Not Contents: 217 / Result: Government Defeat
On 26th and 27th November 2013, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, took part in both sittings of the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill’s Report Stage.
On the first day of the Report Stage, he spoke about the need for the new ring-fencing structures to be supported by a ‘second reserve power’ which would give the regulator the power to fully separate all banks in the industry if one or more banks were gaming the new rules. He led a group of amendments on behalf of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, which would institute a rigorous licensing regime for significant bank employees who are not senior management. He also spoke about the need for specific measures to be developed to ensure that banks and their employees complied with anti-money laundering laws.
The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke twice during the second and final day of Report Stage. He spoke in support of Amendment 164, tabled by Lord Phillips of Sudbury, which would require a review to be undertaken into the current exemptions some banks and similar institutions enjoy from the Gaming Acts, on transactions which could be understood as gambling. He suggested that a review should examine what impact he current situation has on the culture in these institutions. He also led the debate on the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards’ amendment on leverage ratios. He highlighted the important role that the leverage ratio plays in the ‘tool-kit’ available to the Bank of England, and warmly welcomed the Government’s announcement that the Bank of England would undertake a review into its powers to set the leverage ratio and make recommendations on what further powers it may need.
On 20th November 2013, the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, took part in the Committee Stage of the Government’s Children and Families Bill. He spoke in favour of amendments to the Bill that would ban smoking in cars when children are present, and also in relation to measures to standardise the packaging of cigarettes.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, I will speak very briefly. Over the years I have been attracted by most vices, but never to smoking, so in the circumstances it is easy to speak against it. I will add that it is not just a domestic issue. The noble Lord says that he has an interest in BAT. What astonishes me is the way in which the growing awareness in this country of the dangers of smoking seems to be so slowly taken up in the developing world. We have a moral need, not only in relation to our own children but to the developing world, to make clear the dangers of smoking. It really is a global issue. It behoves particularly the wealthier countries—not least if the interests of big business are engaged, as undoubtedly they are, or those of the Exchequer—to give a proper lead. I think these amendments do just that.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): …The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester rightly suggested that this is a global issue. I agree. We are, however, considered to be a leader in tobacco control internationally. The World Health Organisation has assessed us to be number one in Europe in this area, and through the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control we share this good practice as much as we can…
On 19th November 2013, the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, took part in the Report Stage of the Government’s Energy Bill. He spoke in support of a Government amendment regarding the power to modify energy supply licences in domestic supply contracts. The amendment was agreed to.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, I welcome this amendment, which began its life, I think, in an interchange between the noble Baroness and me in Grand Committee. She has pretty much supplied everything that I asked for then, and I am very pleased. The only point that I will make now is that the Government rightly want to make it easy for consumers to switch suppliers. That is a good thing and it is very helpful that this information will be made available one way or another on bills. However, it needs to be made available consistently, in the same form, by different suppliers, so that if you are comparing a bill from one supplier with a bill from another, the information is supplied in the same form on each bill. The noble Baroness did not quite make that point in what she said. I hope that she can assure us that these costs will be disclosed—either voluntarily or by the exercise of the power that she is taking—not only transparently but consistently and comparably by different suppliers. Continue reading “Bishop of Chester welcomes Government amendment to Energy Bill”
On 11th November 2013, the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, took part in the Committee Stage of the Government’s Children and Families Bill. He spoke in favour of two amendments – one of the duty of schools to promote the academic, spiritual, cultural, mental and physical development of children and the second on the welfare of children who are asylum seekers. Neither amendment was put to a division of the House.
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I also would like to speak briefly in support of Amendment 233, which was so ably and vividly introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones. I have a particular responsibility in the Church of England for education, so I am pleased to be able to bring that authority and support, as it were, on behalf of all the schools that I represent. This is a small but important and crucial piece of work. Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford supports amendments to Children and Families Bill”
“No one is an individual—that is a modern myth. Each human being is a person who is who they are because of their relationships with others. Crime is when relationships go wrong or are handled destructively. Human beings are formed through relationships” – Bishop of Derby, 8.11.13
On 8th November 2013, the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, took part in the debate on the Second Reading of Lord Dholakia’s Age of Criminal Responsibility Bill, which sought to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12. The Bishop focused his remarks on the challenges associated with treating children as entirely individual and independent units, and the associated need of providing safe and positive spaces in which children can develop socially – particularly focusing on the need for strong family units. The Bill did not progress any further than its Second Reading.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, for introducing this topic and I heartily endorse all that the noble Earl has said. This is a very complex issue, and we are having this debate in a national context in which public opinion wants justice to be seen to be done. A strong scapegoating mentality exists which indicates that there is also a high level of anxiety in society. The key people to be scapegoated tend to be criminals and immigrants. We have to take that part of the context seriously in having this debate. A second context, as we have heard, is the UN recommendation on the rights of the child, that the age of criminal responsibility should be at least 12. Many countries, as we have heard, go even higher than that. A third context is that there are suggestions, as there is in Ireland, of raising the age to 12, but of allowing some flexibility in dealing with serious crimes. So this is a very complex issue in an anxious society which is nervous about seeming to give positive signals to bad behaviour and social deviancy. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby supports raising age of criminal responsibility”
“We [must] steer a course between tolerating bad behaviour on the one hand, and on the other hand taking an overly punitive and controlling approach to those whose behaviour can just be annoying. I am not here thinking of street preachers or those who sing hymns very loudly—though a balance has to be struck even in those instances—but chiefly of young people and the more vulnerable among adults.”
On 29th October 2013, the Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill, spoke in the Second Reading debate of the Government’s Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill. He welcomed measures in the Bill on strengthening firearm regulations, tackling forced marriage and reforms to the College of Policing’s code of ethics. He raised concerns about the newly proposed definition for ‘anti-social behaviour’, suggesting that young people and vulnerable adults could be at risk from a broad definition.
The Lord Bishop of Lichfield: My Lords, there is much to welcome in this Bill. The strengthening of the laws on firearms and on forced marriage, for example, are obvious steps forward. The measures for prevention of sexual harm, while raising important issues about the need for caution in restricting the freedoms of unconvicted people, will make possible swifter and more effective action to protect potential victims. The College of Policing has made an encouraging start. I am pleased to welcome the draft code of ethics. It sets a strong, ethical and I would say spiritual basis for law and its enforcement, which is a key concern for us all.
The emphasis on communities—people working together for the common good—has run through the long gestation period of these proposals. The principles of restorative justice and restorative practice, especially in local communities, are built into the efforts of churches in every part of this country to serve their local communities and especially those who are most vulnerable. In my part of the world, 80% of young people typically reoffend in the first two years after their sentence. However, with those who are taken on board by church monitoring and mentoring groups, even with the more difficult cases, the rate of reoffending is less than 20%. Continue reading “Bishop of Lichfield urges caution in redefining ‘anti-social behaviour’”
On 28th October 2013, the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd and Rt Hon Richard Chartres, took part in the Report Stage debate of the Government’s Energy Bill. He tabled an amendment to the Bill, which sought to require the Secretary of State to publish a strategy setting out cost-effective policies to achieve a reduction
in demand for electricity, including specific targets for reductions to be made by 2020 and 2030. Following the debate on the Amendment, the Bishop did not move it to a vote.
The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, biblical studies teach me that when you have two amendments that look as much alike as my amendment and that of the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, you must look for an Ur-text. Indeed, there is an Ur-text, as we all know, and the figures in my amendment are simply the latest figures available from the Government. This is intended to be a constructive and supportive amendment, which also reflects the concern mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Roper, about the sole emphasis on the capacity market not really catching the full subject here.
According to the Secretary of State in his own foreword to the response to the consultation, which was published in May of this year, a 9% reduction in overall demand could save electricity equivalent to the output of four power stations in one year. I do not want to pose as an expert, of which there are many in this House, but I have been trying in my own diocese of London to improve energy efficiency. I have taken a keen personal interest in the various efforts and our churches have actually achieved a 22% saving in energy consumption between 2005 and 2011. Continue reading “Bishop of London presses for reduction in demand for electricity during consideration of Energy Bill”