On 3rd August the Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, received a written answer to a question from Lord Keen of Elie on prosecutions in relation to forced marriages.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL7247 To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many prosecutions were initiated in relation to forced marriage in (1) 2014, (2) 2015, (3) 2016, (4) 2017, (5) 2018, and (5) 2019; and how many such prosecutions were successful in each year.
On 29th July Baroness Gale asked Her Majesty’s Government “what plans they have to ensure that any data collected on domestic abuse includes the abuse of people over the age of 74.” The Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, asked a follow up question, focusing onhow faith communities could become part of a solution to domestic abuse.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I have sad personal experience of a family situation where the perpetrator of the abuse was an older person, and we are all fearful that lockdown may have led to an increase in such instances. In that context, I am pleased that my diocese of Rochester is the first in the Church of England to establish a strategic partnership with the White Ribbon Campaign. In a world where such abuse, especially when it involves older people, often remains hidden, will the Minister commit to meeting with Members of these Benches, and perhaps other faith leaders, to discuss how the Domestic Abuse Bill’s guidance might empower faith communities to be part of the solution?
On 28th July Baroness Smith of Basildon asked Her Majesty’s Government “urther to the letter from Baroness Vere of Norbiton to all Members on travel corridors and Spain, sent on 26 July, what support they will provide to those who have (1) visited, or (2) travelled through, Spain and are subsequently required to self-isolate on their return to the United Kingdom and are unable to fulfil work-related obligations as a result.” The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, asked a follow up question focusing on Luton Airport and travel corridors.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, it is not only holidaymakers and travel firms that are suffering. Luton Borough Council, in my diocese, owns Luton Airport. As a result of the lockdown, it has a significant hole in its finances, affecting every person living in the borough. It is surely in the interest of every country to find a better way to provide travel corridors based on regions rather than simply designating entire countries. What consideration are Her Majesty’s Government giving to the idea of having regional travel corridors?
On 28th July Baroness Neville-Rolfe asked Her Majesty’s Government “further to the paper by Professor David Miles, Mike Stead and Dr Adrian Heald Living with COVID-19: balancing costs against benefits in the face of the virus, published on 26 June, what plans they have to ensure that in the future fuller account is taken of the economic costs of any measures adopted to address the COVID-19 pandemic such as lockdowns.” The Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, asked a follow up question, focusing on those affected by the benefit cap and those housed in the private rented sector.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, this is a complex matter, because economic, social and other community matters often go hand in hand. It is clear that many who have in these circumstances been bearing economic burdens are among those who are also the most socially disadvantaged. Bearing in mind the context of the forthcoming spending review, can the Minister give an assurance that the Government will take care to address the needs of such groups, including, for example, those affected by the benefit cap and those housed in the private rented sector, where repossession cases come before the courts again from later in August?
On 28th July the Rt Revd Vivienne Faull, Bishop of Bristol, received written answers to three questions on overseas domestic workers, and seasonal workers (both areas vulnerable to modern slavery and human trafficking).
The Lord Bishop of Bristol: HL6880 To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they intend to publish further details about any changes to the routes of entry to the UK for overseas domestic workers.
Baroness Williams of Trafford: Our broad approach for January 2021 will be to maintain the existing provisions for overseas domestic workers, expanding this route to include EU citizens.
On 27th July Lord Harries of Pentregarth asked Her Majesty’s Government “how the merger of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development will enhance the United Kingdom’s ability to help (1) the poorest, and (2) the most vulnerable, communities abroad.” The Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, asked a follow up question, focusing on poverty reduction.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, in this context will the Minister give assurances that the Government will continue to adhere to their stated commitment to poverty reduction, observing both the letter and spirit of domestic development legislation, including not only the matter the Minister has already mentioned—the 0.7% GDP target—but matters such as independent evaluation of impact and gender equality, and that any deviation from the present pattern will be debated and agreed both here and in the other House?
On 24th July 2020 Baroness Burt of Solihull asked the Government, “further to the analysis by Refuge that showed that (1) the National Domestic Abuse Helpline received more than 40,000 calls and contacts during the first three months of the COVID-19 lockdown, and (2) calls and contacts increased by 77 per cent in June, published on 23 July, what plans they have to support victims of domestic abuse.” The Bishop of Chichester, Rt Revd Martin Warner, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Chichester: My Lords, can the Minister explain what action the Government are taking to respond specifically to the long-term emotional needs of children who are victims of domestic abuse? Also in that context, can he include work with perpetrators, who are often male and often the father, with whom children might have had a bond that they value?
On 23rd July 2020 Lord Bassam of Brighton asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the presentation of debt by the Student Loans Company on its online student loan repayment system.” The Bishop of Chichester, Rt Revd Martin Warner, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Chichester: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, has made a trenchant point about the presentation of these financial statements. The University of Chichester plans to reopen its school of nursing and to recruit locally—to pick up a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Clark, on an earlier Question. For mature and part-time students whom the university seeks to attract, the level of loan debt is as important as the clarity of the information about their loan repayments—perhaps more so. Will the Minister look again at the impact of student loans on recruitment and retention in key public services in the light of their significance to our recovery from the pandemic? Continue reading “Bishop of Chichester asks about impact of student loans on recruitment and retention in key public services”
On 22nd July a statement was given about China. The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark asked a follow up question.
Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, the Foreign Secretary is correct about the importance and place of China in the world but China’s human rights record, especially as it concerns Uighurs, has been well known for some time. In the light of the recent US Uighurs human rights act, will Her Majesty’s Government consider similar measures and produce a list of Chinese companies involved in the construction and operation of the camps? Given the rising and publicly expressed concern in this country, including by the Board of Deputies, will the Minister now accept that it is high time we took firmer steps to counter Beijing’s harrowing human rights abuses against the Uighurs, and that such abuses should influence negotiations on any future trade deal with China?