On 2nd December 2013, the Bishop of Worcester received answers to three written questions related to the situation in the West Bank.
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to address impediments to the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the West Bank such as the confiscation of humanitarian aid and the prevention of access to communities in need of emergency assistance.
Baroness Northover: We are concerned at reports that the Israeli military authorities have blocked the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Palestinian communities in Area C of the West Bank. Where humanitarian aid is needed, Israel is obliged under international humanitarian law to facilitate the work of humanitarian relief schemes. Our Embassy in Tel Aviv has raised this issue with the Israeli National Security Adviser and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
On 2nd December 2013, the Bishop of Chester asked a question in the House of Lords on energy bills, following a Governmnet Statement on the subject.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, there is much in the Statement that I welcome, particularly a point that has not been commented on directly. The move in support for the social aspects of the programme from energy bills to general taxation will have some impact on the poorest and on fuel poverty and is entirely to be welcomed. The renewables obligation payments are still going to be collected through energy bills. When will the expected increases in those precepts on bills eat up the £50 which has been announced today?
On 28th November 2013, Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the outcome of the talks held earlier this month regarding the proposed Geneva II peace conference on the conflict in Syria.
The Bishop of Wakefield asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: My Lords, much as I am encouraged by the recent UN announcement that the Geneva talks are to take place on 22 January, I would welcome the Minister’s reassurance that this was born not out of an understandable desperation and frustration, but that there is a real and clear diplomatic plan for progress. Am I right in assuming that the Free Syrian Army, which is one of the largest rebel groups taking part in the war in the moment, will be represented at those talks?
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: Our view is that it is important that the date for Geneva II was set, and I am the sure that the whole House welcomes that it has been determined. Her Majesty’s Government’s view is that the national coalition and the current Syrian national coalition, led by President Ahmad Assi Jarba, will be central to the delegation representing the opposition at the talks.
On 27th November 2013, the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, received an answer to a written question on the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to allocate additional resources to support the implementation of commitments outlined in the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and, if so, what will be the main focus of those resources.
Baroness Northover: The UK is currently considering how best to support the Peace Security and Cooperation Framework (PSCF). DFID is engaging with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s National Oversight Mechanism for the PSCF to ensure those that represent local populations, such as civil society organisations, are consulted during implementation. This will include ensuring that there are on-going opportunities for these organisations to provide feedback from the Congolese people affected.
On 26th of November 2013, the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, asked Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Tanzania regarding allegations of human rights violations at the North Mara Mine.
The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper. In doing so, I declare an interest as the joint leader of the Wakefield-Tanzania Diocesan Link.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con): My Lords, the UK’s high commissioner to Tanzania visited the North Mara mine in March 2013 to raise concerns directly about the alleged human rights violations with African Barrick Gold, the mine owner, and also discussed a range of issues with the local authorities. We are, of course, working closely with the Tanzanian Government on improving respect for human rights and also encouraging them to sign up to the voluntary principles on security and human rights in the extractive sector. Continue reading “Bishop of Wakefield raises concerns about human rights abuses in Tanzanian mine”
On 25th November 2013, the Labour Peer Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to prevent rape and violence against women and girls. The Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, asked a supplementary question.
The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: My Lords, following a debate that I was able to secure on a related issue back in March, more than 60 bishops around the country are today supporting the campaign to end gender-based violence, and are visiting on this day a large number of projects up and down the country to support the cause. I apologise that, in the rush to get here, I have no white ribbon. Could the Minister inform the House what additional action the Government are taking to implement the agreed conclusion from this year’s UN Commission on the Status of Women, which focused on the ending of violence against women?
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I congratulate my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary on his role in ensuring that 135 countries have signed up to the agreement on the use of rape as a weapon of war. This is a significant development, and shows that these arguments are not just confined to this country. Discussions that we are having here have raised awareness throughout the world.