Bishop of St Albans asks Government about religious literacy of asylum caseworkers

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stalbans190117-bOn 9th February 2017 Lord Singh of Wimbledon asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they are taking to combat religious extremism and to promote a cohesive society by enhancing religious literacy at all levels of government.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Aolan Smith, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, just three weeks ago I spent half a day in an immigration removal centre and so gained an up-to-date insight into some of the complex and sensitive issues that are being dealt with there. Concerns continue to be raised about the level of religious literacy among some of the asylum caseworkers. Is the Minister content with the level of training that they are getting in religious literacy and, if not, what can be done to improve it? Continue reading

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about workplace access to mental health services

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St Albans 2On the 8th February 2017,  Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty’s Government “what measures they are taking to improve productivity in the United Kingdom economy.” The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, one factor that influences productivity is issues of health, particularly mental health. Something like nearly three out of 10 employees are reporting some sort of mental health problem each year, which analysts believe is costing employers something like £30 billion a year. Will the Minister tell the House what the Government are doing to support employers in encouraging high levels of well-being and what is being done to lessen the stigma of mental ill health—in particular, encouraging employees to access mental health services that are already available to them? Continue reading

Church Commissioners’ answers: pay, employment, security

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On the 3rd, 6th, 7th and 8th February 2017 the Second Church Estates Commisisoner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered a number of written questions from Labour MP Jon Trickett, about pay, employment and office facilities for the Church Commissioners and National Church Institutions: Continue reading

Bishop of Chester asks Government about social effects of fall in house prices

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ChesterOn 7th February 2017, Lord Bourne gave a statement to the House on the publication of the Government’s new White Paper on housing. The Bishop of Chester, Rt Revd Peter Forster, asked a question about falling house prices.

The Lord Bishop of Chester My Lords, I want to ask about the politics of all this. I speak as a fool in relation to that, but let us take the hypothesis that this policy is a great success, that we have lots more houses and that the price of houses starts to fall. Indeed, let us imagine that land prices start to fall in the way that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, rightly pointed out. All the people who have bought houses in the past 20 years will find that those houses are worth less than they used to be. It seems to me that this is tinkering with a major problem. Do the Government seriously wish to get the average value of a house back down to 3.5 times average earnings? If so, what are the consequences going to be? Continue reading

Bishop of St Albans welcomes Government White Paper on housing; asks about rural homes

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stalbans190117On 7th February 2017, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth made a statement to the House of Lords on the publication of the Government’s new White Paper on housing. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, responded, welcoming the report and asking about the Government’s plans to develop rural housing.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans My Lords, on these Benches we are acutely aware of the huge crisis in housing. We hear stories about this from all around the country and we share some of the concerns that have been raised from the Benches opposite. There are a number of things which we welcome hugely. Examples are the new powers for local authorities to prevent land banking, measures to encourage local authorities to work together over larger areas, and new requirements for local authorities to undertake a more thorough assessment of housing needs. Continue reading

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about nursing and caring staffing

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stalbans190117On the 6th February 2017, Baroness McIntosh of Pickering asked the Government “what estimate they have made of the number of residential care home beds that were available in (1) 2005, and (2) 2015.” The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question. Continue reading

Bishop of St Albans asks for reassurances on food standards post-Brexit

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On Thursday 2nd February Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty’s Government “what measures they will put in place following Brexit to safeguard environmental standards and biodiversity.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:

stalbans190117-bThe Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, we are all reassured that EU environmental legislation is going to be enshrined within UK law, but we will probably be coming out of the single market and entering into a series of trade negotiations with, for example, the United States. Trade negotiations are just that: we will have to make compromises. Will the Minister assure the House that we will not be producing our food to lower standards or consuming food that has been produced more cheaply by undercutting our industry—for example, chicken washed in chlorine and beef reared on growth hormones? Continue reading