Bishop of St Albans asks Government for clarity about Covid-19, singing and face masks in churches

On 22nd July Lord Lexden asked Her Majesty’s Government “further to the Written Answer by Lord Greenhalgh on 26 May (HL4184), what discussions they have had with (1) the Church of England, (2) the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and (3) other Churches, about the reopening of church buildings for private devotional prayer and public worship.

The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, asked a follow up question focusing on singing and compulsory wearing of face masks:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, many of our churches and cathedrals are desperate to enable small groups of singers, perhaps four singers standing five metres apart from each other. Is there any possibility that that will be allowed soon? Secondly, will the Minister tell the House whether there are any plans for the compulsory wearing of face masks in places of worship?

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Bishop of St Albans asks for swords into ploughshares approach to tackle rising knife crime

On 21st July the Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, asked Her Majesty’s Government “further to the statistical bulletin by the Office for National Statistics Crime in England and Wales: year ending March 2020, published on 17 July, which reported that the incidence of knife crime is at a record high, what action they are taking to address the rise of knife crime in England and Wales.” The Minister’s response and the follow-up question from the Bishop, is below:

Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office): My Lords, the Government are taking urgent action to tackle knife crime, which is costing too many lives and leaving too many people afraid. Police funding is increasing by more than £1 billion this year. We are recruiting 20,000 more police officers and making it easier for them to use stop and search, and we are ensuring that more knife crime offenders go to prison for longer.

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Bishop of Winchester asks Government about free college meals

On 21st July Baroness Massey of Darwen asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they are taking to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on social mobility”. The Rt Revd Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester, asked a follow up question focusing on free meals for college students.

The Lord Bishop of Winchester: My Lords, the Association of Colleges’ summer survey, published yesterday, indicates that three out of four colleges require additional resources to provide free college meal vouchers to eligible students over the summer. In my diocese, 52% of students at City College Southampton receive free college meals. We welcome the £96 million of ring-fenced funding announced yesterday for all 16 to 19 providers to supply additional catch-up tutoring. Will the Minister say how the Government will support colleges to ensure that all eligible students receive free college meals over the summer?

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Bishop of Durham asks Government about training and apprenticeship funding for disadvantaged students

On 21st July Lord Aberdare asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they are taking to ensure that the young people due to leave school in the current academic year are prepared for work in a post-COVID-19 environment; and what changes they have made to careers support and guidance provision to achieve this”. The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, asked a follow up question focusing on funding for training and apprenticeships.

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, the Social Mobility Commission recently published an apprenticeships report, which highlighted a 36% reduction in the number of apprenticeship starters who were from disadvantaged backgrounds.

As we prioritise developing the skills of young people, can the Minister confirm how the new £1.6 billion funding for scaling up training and apprenticeships will be distributed across the country to ensure that areas such as the north-east with a high proportion of disadvantaged students have access to quality training?

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Bishop of Salisbury asks Government about publication of Russia report

On 20th July the Rt Revd Nick Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, received a written answer to a question on the Intelligence and Security Committee and publication of its report on Russia. The question was tabled before the reconstitution of the Committee.

 

The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: HL6521 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord True on 29 June (HL6029) and the remarks by the Home Secretary on 22 June that “appointments to the [Intelligence and Security] Committee are taking place and an announcement will be made in due course on when that will be coming forward” (HC Deb, col 1085), when they estimate they will be able to make the announcement about the appointment of the Intelligence and Security Committee; and what steps they are taking to ensure that the Committee is (1) appointed before Parliament adjourns for the summer recess, and (2) able to publish the report Russia, sent to the Prime Minister on 17 October 2019.

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Bishop of Salisbury asks Government about Green Homes Grant eligibility

On 20th July the Rt Revd Nick Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, received a written answer to a question on the green homes grant.

Lord Bishop of Salisbury: HL6798 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the green homes grant on 8 July (HC Deb, col 976), whether (1) clergy housing, and (2) buildings open to the public and run by charities, such as churches, are eligible for that grant.

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Archbishop asks Government about preventing use of digital platforms for incitement to hatred and violence

On 16th July 2020 Lord Holmes of Richmond asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the impact of digital platforms on the functioning of democracy.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, asked a follow-up question:

The Archbishop of Canterbury [V]:  My Lords, I declare an interest in that certain funds across the Church of England and the Anglican Communion hold shares in social media companies, and vast numbers of churches and Anglicans, including me, use platforms for the promotion of the Church’s work. The Minister will be aware that, although social media has immense power for good, some social media platforms are used to incite hatred, stirring up social disruption and even extreme violence in some parts of the world, as I have recently heard from bishops in the DRC. What steps are Her Majesty’s Government looking at to motivate and encourage responsibility to be taken by such platforms to prevent their use in everything from hate speech to genocide? Continue reading “Archbishop asks Government about preventing use of digital platforms for incitement to hatred and violence”

Bishop of Bristol asks about Covid-19, modern slavery and agricultural workers

On 16th July 2020 the Bishop of Bristol, Rt Revd Vivienne Faull, asked a question she had tabled in the House of Lords about modern day slavery, COVID-19 and agricultural workers. The exchange and the follow-up questions of others, is below:

Covid-19: Human Trafficking

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Bristol

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on human trafficking in the United Kingdom.

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Bishop of St Albans asks Government for sufficient resources for small businesses needing help with Brexit transition

On 15th July 2020 a Government statement was repeated in the House of Lords on preparations for the end of the Brexit transition period. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans [V]: My Lords, most larger businesses will have the personnel and resources to advise and steer them through the transition period. However, some SMEs are very worried about how they will navigate complex regulations with little support. One feature of the lockdown is that it has often been impossible to speak to an adviser on a helpline and people have been directed to websites that are difficult to use. Can the Minister assure the House that there will be sufficient resources, including helplines staffed by knowledgeable people who can help SMEs as they go through this process? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government for sufficient resources for small businesses needing help with Brexit transition”

Bishop of Durham asks Government about impact of two-child limit on poverty in working families

On 15th July 2020 Lord McNicol of West Kilbride asked the Government “what steps they are taking to reduce the number of children living in poverty in working households.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Durham [V]: My Lords, in the light of the Minister’s last answer about continual review, in April 2019 59% of families affected by the two-child limit were working, with many struggling to afford essentials. When the new statistics on the policy are released tomorrow, will Her Majesty’s Government finally agree to review and assess the evidence that the two-child limit negatively impacts children in working families and that lifting it is the most effective way to reduce the number of children living in poverty? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government about impact of two-child limit on poverty in working families”