On 21st May 2020, Lord Cormack asked the Government “what steps they are taking to support (1) museums, (2) galleries, and (3) historic buildings open to the public, affected by the restrictions in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic”. The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate:
Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, the Church of England alone has 16,000 church buildings, over 12,000 of which are listed. We are at the bedrock of our communities and thus can be at the heart of recovery. I therefore make three points. First, we are rich in assets, but the pandemic means that income is plummeting, and budgets were already tight. I therefore urge the Government at least to remove VAT on repairs to historic buildings.
Secondly, government often brackets us with the hospitality industry. Are we hospitable? I hope so. Are we historic? Yes. Does such categorisation meet our distinct needs? No.
Thirdly, the Church encompasses buildings and people. Our impact on people will define us, so how we respond pastorally to the pandemic from our buildings will leave the deepest impression.
Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth asks Government about historic buildings”
On 18th May 2020 a virtual sitting of the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Sugg, “That the Virtual Proceedings do consider the international response to COVID-19.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, and the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, thankfully, the virus appears to be spreading slowly in most African countries, with Lesotho declaring its first case only last week. However, the World Bank forecasts that Covid-19 could push 49 million people into extreme poverty. The economic impact on some poorer nations could be more detrimental than the health threat. The aid Her Majesty’s Government committed at the international pledging event will be vital for the poorest nations, but our international response must be sustainable, which requires trade, not simply aid. What actions have Her Majesty’s Government taken to ensure that good free trade agreements are made with poorer nations?
Continue reading “Bishops of Durham and St Albans debate international response to Covid-19”
On 14th May 2020 the virtual House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Bird “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to support people who were previously homeless into permanent housing after the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in the short debate:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I applaud the achievement of accommodation having been offered to 90% of rough sleepers. The community collaboration that achieved this reflects the focus of the housing commission set up by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury of building strong communities alongside homes. What plans do Her Majesty’s Government have to create multiagency partnerships to create an integrated homelessness system? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government to help rough sleepers leaving Covid-19 temporary accommodation”
On 14th May 2020 a virtual sitting of the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Boycott, “That the Virtual Proceedings do consider food supply and security in the United Kingdom in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Boycott, for this debate and I declare my interest as president of the Rural Coalition. It is often said that the primary duty of government is the defence of the realm: equally important is the need to feed the population. When a crisis hits, we can survive for a considerable time without importing computers and machinery, but without food we last only a few weeks. Fortunately, during this pandemic the food chain has held up relatively well, although a number of shortages in the early days of the lockdown acted as a salutary warning. Within days of the lockdown, many of our churches here in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire had set up food banks or parish pantries, not just in poorer areas such as Stevenage or Farley Hill, but in wealthier villages such as Flamstead and Ponsbourne. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans calls for more support for farmers, who provide essential public service”
On 12th May the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Boswell of Aynho “That the Virtual Proceedings do consider the Report from the European Union Committee Beyond Brexit: How to Win Friends and Influence People”. The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, spoke in the debate, and highlighted concerns about how the Dublin Regulation will impact refugee children after Brexit.
Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, we must consider this report in light of the global pandemic. Decisions about our future relationship with the EU must be informed by Covid-19, recognising our international interdependence rather than being driven by ideology. Our European neighbours remain our friends and allies. This must continue for the sake of all, and especially for vulnerable children. Continue reading “Bishop of Durham raises treatment of refugee and migrant children after Brexit”
On 6th May 2020 the House of Lords debated a Government motion to take note of the Windrush Compensation Scheme. The Bishop of London, Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, I thank the Minister for allowing this virtual debate. Almost two years ago, the Windrush scandal astounded this country. The hostile environment policy operated by the Home Office was shown to be discriminatory and damaging. It had neglected a critical principle that is foundational to my Christian faith: human dignity.
Process must support people. This needs to apply not only to our migration policy and departments, as clearly set out in the lessons learned review, but to the way we do what we have committed to do, such as the Windrush compensation scheme. From that standpoint, we need to evaluate how accessible the scheme is to those who are trying to rightfully claim underneath it, and that it is a process that honours their human dignity. Continue reading “Bishop of London highlights failings with Windrush Compensation Scheme”
On 6th May 2020 the Archbishop of York, Most Revd John Sentamu, led a debate in the House of Lords on the motion that the Lords “do consider the case for increasing income equality and sustainability in the light of the recent health emergency.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, also spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I congratulate the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Derby on her moving maiden speech. I am grateful for all she does to champion the voices of children.
I want to thank Archbishop Sentamu for his leadership in consistently speaking up for racial and social justice. He champions work among young people, notably through the Archbishop of York Youth Trust. He inspires others to do the same.
The Covid-19 pandemic is a dividing experience through its unequal financial impact. The lowest-earning 10% are seven times more likely than high earners to work in a sector which has shut down. Archbishop Sentamu champions the real living wage. In-work poverty is compounded by irregular working hours. Such unpredictability means that families cannot easily save to safeguard themselves from unexpected life events. Eighteen per cent of the north-east’s working population experience insecure work. Turn2us found that people on zero-hours contracts expect a £193 drop in monthly income. These workers often provide essential services such as cleaning and delivery, yet face great financial instability. Will Her Majesty’s Government promote Living Hours accreditation? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government about low earners, in work poverty and universal basic income”