On 10th June 2014 Lord Alton put a question in the House of Lords “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what actions they have taken to secure the release of Meriam Ibrahim, sentenced to death for apostasy in Sudan, and to promote the terms of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” The Bishop of Norwich, Rt Rev Graham James, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, can the Minister inform the House what conversations Her Majesty’s Government have had with Mr Barroso and Mr Van Rompuy, who are meeting international faith leaders in Brussels tomorrow to press for united action in this case?
Baroness Northover: I will have to write to the right reverend Prelate in this regard to fill him in on that. However, I can tell him that we are keeping this case under close review and working with a number of different people.
In the House of Lords on 9th June 2014 the schools minister Lord Nash repeated the Statement made by the Secretary of State for Education on schools in Birmingham. After the Statement, the Bishop of Norwich, Rt Rev Graham James, asked a question of the minister:
The Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, the Minister may not be aware that earlier this afternoon in his maiden speech, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford said that good religious education is one of the best ways of countering religious extremism. I would be interested to know whether the Minister agrees. Given that none of the schools subject to these inspections in Birmingham were faith schools—although listening to our discussion, you would have thought otherwise—does it not seem that appropriate, well balanced and enriching religious education may have been an area of neglect? Continue reading “Birmingham schools inspections – Bishop of Norwich on impact of religious education”
Baroness Wheeler asked Her Majesty’s Government how they will ensure Clinical Commissioning Groups’ strategies and implementation plans support carers and take account of their needs and aspirations.
The Bishop of Norwich asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, the census revealed a substantial increase in young carers, some of whom may not even recognise the term but are simply doing what is expected in their family. Does the Minister agree that CCGs should consult and connect with schools to ensure that those noble but often vulnerable young adults get the support they deserve?
Earl Howe: I fully agree with the right reverend Prelate. The Government’s carers strategy sends out a strong message that education, health and young carer services should work together with families better to identify and support young carers, to prevent them taking on harmful caring roles. Young carers’ education, development or employment opportunities should not be diminished because of their caring role, and the right reverend Prelate may like to note that one of the initiatives recently put in train has been to recruit school nurses who are reaching out to schools to ensure that young carers’ needs are recognised in schools.
During the questions following an urgent statement in the House of Commons on extremism, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, raised the important role played by the Near Neighbours programme in promoting community integration.
Sir Tony Baldry (Banbury): May I remind my right hon. Friend that, after the general election, practically the first meeting the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government attended was at Lambeth Palace, where all the nation’s faith leaders were present? He committed the Government to fund and support the Near Neighbours programme, which enables faith communities throughout the country to work together to promote integration and tackle extremism. If this “duff up the Home Secretary” urgent question has achieved nothing else this afternoon, it will at least, hopefully, better explain to the Opposition and others where the division of responsibilities lie in government for counter-terrorism on the one hand and community integration on the other.
Mrs May: My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. He is right to draw attention to the excellent work the Department for Communities and Local Government has been doing under the leadership of my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State. Indeed, my right hon. Friend, the noble Baroness Warsi has been doing very important work to bring communities together, particularly faith communities, to share their experiences and increase understanding between them. That is a vital part of the integration work that I would have hoped we all, across the Chamber, accept is necessary. We should support it wherever we see it.
In the House of Lords on 14th May 2014, Baroness Jones of Whitchurch asked Her Majesty’s Government “what early intervention measures they are putting in place to reduce the educational and financial implications of failing free schools.” The Bishop of Oxford, who chairs the Church of England’s Board of Education, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, given that prevention is better than costly cure, can the Minister let us know what is being done to make sure that free schools are established as groups of interdependent schools, rather than independent and autonomous units? Can he let us know how what we have learnt from the academies programme—that we need to get schools grouped together in multi-academy trusts—is being transferred to free schools?
Lord Nash: The right reverend Prelate makes an extremely good point. Although it is true that a number of outstanding schools have been established entirely independently, the way forward is the school-to-school support model, with schools operating in local clusters and secondaries working with their primaries. We are taking this learning, which has been very successful in the academy movement, into the free schools movement.
In the House of Lords on 14th May 2014 Lord Bach asked Her Majesty’s Government “what action they have taken to assist the Government of Nigeria to rescue the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram.” The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Rev John Pritchard, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, would the Minister agree with the comments made by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury last weekend to the effect that, however abhorrent we may feel the organisation to be, it is necessary to engage in some way with Boko Haram and to do that at different levels? If that is the case, would the Minister give some indication of what kind of support or encouragement the Government are giving to that dialogue between Boko Haram and the Government of Nigeria?
Baroness Warsi: The most reverend Primate’s comments about negotiations or discussions with Boko Haram are quite right and, as the right reverend Prelate says, they are certainly something which the Nigerian Government have to take forward. I know that he has a considerable history of dealing with this kind of situation in Nigeria and, indeed, of being involved in mediation processes. However, the message that HMG have been strongly sending out, along with our international partners, is that this is an abhorrent crime, that the girls must be returned unconditionally and that this is not something we need to feel that Boko Haram has negotiating power over. There is a longer-term challenge in relation to tackling Boko Haram but I am not sure that that needs to be done over the lives of these young girls.