On 25th July 2013, Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale asked Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to follow up the report of the United Nations High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: Like other noble Lords, I applaud the Prime Minister’s initiative and leadership in this area and encourage him to press on. In view of the importance that the report attaches to gender equality and empowerment, can the Minister confirm that the Government will look to next year’s UN Commission on the Status of Women, which starts in March, to build consensus among UN member states on this matter, ahead of any final negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda?
Baroness Northover: I can assure the right reverend Prelate that we are already doing that. A great deal of work went into ensuring that this year’s CSW could reach agreement. It required a lot of work but we were delighted that that agreement was reached. We are already working on the next one and are delighted that the second of the 12 goals is on gender equality.
On 25th July 2013, Lord Empey asked Her Majesty’s Government whether they have plans to reduce VAT on the retrofitting of existing buildings to encourage energy saving and job creation. The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, the Minister has twice referred to the Green Deal as the Government’s policy response to the issue. Can he tell the House how the take-up of the Green Deal is progressing in relation to the hopes that were expressed?
Lord Newby: My Lords, the Green Deal is a new project with a 20-year life ahead of it. Up to the end of June, some 44,479 assessments had been made and 3,500 installations had received cashback payments. In addition, 78% of people with a Green Deal advice report said that they had, were getting or would get energy-saving measures installed, which demonstrates a very high level of consumer interest.
On 25th July 2013, the Bishop of Derby received written answers to questions on the topics of food banks and sexual violence in overseas conflicts. The original questions and their answers are reproduced below.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what incentives are provided to supermarkets to donate waste food to food banks at the end of trading.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): The Government does not currently offer incentives to supermarkets to redistribute surplus food. We do however recognise the good work of organisations that redistribute surplus food to provide access to nutritional meals for those who may otherwise struggle. In addition, most major retailers already have partnerships with redistribution charities. In 2012, Defra held a meeting with retailers and food distribution charities to explore the current barriers to redistribution. The Waste and Resources Action Programme is working with Fareshare and FoodCycle to deliver a trial to increase food redistribution from retail stores.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Northover on 9 July (WA35), what consideration has been given to inviting religious leaders from recipient countries to attend the high level event in the autumn designed to mobilise global leadership to prevent sexual violence in conflict.
Baroness Northover: The Call to Action event in the autumn will highlight the actions the international community needs to take for the protection of women and girls in emergencies. The UK’s commitment to addressing sexual violence in conflict and, more broadly, in tackling the many forms of violence against women and girls that manifest themselves in emergencies. Preparations for the event are underway and officials are considering what role religious leaders might play.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Northover on 9 July (WA35), whether the proposed technical training and guidance for field staff and advisers will include advice on how to engage with religious communities when providing humanitarian support to the victims of sexual violence in conflict.
Baroness Northover: The guidance and training for DfID advisers and staff is based on the United Nations Inter-Agency Standing Committee Guidelines for Gender-based Violence Interventions in Humanitarian Settings. These guidelines draw attention to the role that religious leaders and groups can play in the provision of psychological and social support, and in encouraging survivors of violence to seek appropriate care.
“I and my colleagues on these Benches trust that the industry will wholeheartedly embrace a professional standards process, with independent leadership and all the practical things that we will talk about in the next few minutes and days; and that step by step—with any necessary amendments to the Bill and a full adoption in the autumn of the parliamentary commission’s recommendations—we will all take responsibility for achieving a healthy, vigorous, profitable and accessible but virtuous banking system.”
On 24th July 2013, the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, took part in the Second Reading debate of the Government’s Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill. He welcomed the practical themes in the bill and the opportunity it provided to develop structures with a new culture that would enable the common good to develop in society.
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Eatwell, for his kind remarks about members of the banking commission who sit in this House, not least my friend the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, who, sadly, is not in his place today but fully intends to be so many times in the autumn when the commission’s work will be discussed in this House in more detail. Perhaps I can partially stand in his place as we spent many years in different parts of the oil industry before entering another sort of multinational work.
We appreciate the practical themes in the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill and the opportunity that it provides to implement the recommendations of the Vickers report and, more recently, of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards. As the Community Investment Coalition put it, the Bill provides an opportunity,
“for Britain to continue as a leading global financial centre, while at the same time protecting ordinary working people”.
On 24th July 2013, Lord Dubs askedHer Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the causes of homelessness and rough sleeping in the United Kingdom. The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: The Minister will be aware of the good practice of the multi-agency response to homelessness among 16 and 17 year-olds in Birmingham at the St Basils Youth Hub but, with the recent support expressed by the Housing Minister for the End Youth Homelessness Alliance, how will the Government meet the alliance’s challenges for family support, employment and affordable, safe housing for that category of people?
Baroness Hanham: I am aware of what the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Birmingham is talking about. The policies of the Government will support the question that he has asked.
On 24th July 2013, the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, received written answers to questions on Lebanon and Syria.
The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to build the resilience of the Lebanese army to respond to the security situation on its border with Syria.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The UK is providing an additional £10 million of assistance to support the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in their mission to secure Lebanon’s border with Syria. The package of non-lethal assistance includes mobility, communications, protection and observation equipment and associated training. The package was discussed by the then Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, with the LAF commander during his visit to Lebanon on 4-5 July.
On 24th July 2013 the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, received written answers to questions on Egypt and the Gulf States.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the prospects for political reconciliation in Egypt.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi):We are in contact with all sides in Egypt, and have urged all to resolve their differences through dialogue, and avoid violence. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), was in regular contact with former Foreign Minister Amr, most recently on 8 July to discuss the situation in Egypt. We have requested contact with the new interim government and continue to be in contact with the army and Muslim Brotherhood. It is important that Egypt makes an early return to democratic processes, including free and fair elections, and that those processes are inclusive.
On 23rd July 2013, tributes were offered by the House of Lords to Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge, on the birth of her son. The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, led tributes on behalf of the Lords Spiritual.
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, the day’s proceedings in your Lordships’ House begin far too often with the announcement of a death. My friend the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury and my other colleagues on this Bench regret not being present today because they are attending the funeral of the late Bishop of Coventry, Colin Bennetts. None the less, it is a wonderful joy and delight for us to join in the words of colleagues in this House as we pause to celebrate the birth of a new baby. Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge can be assured not simply of the congratulations, prayers and good wishes of those who occupy this Bench but, I am sure, the whole of the Church and faiths in England and the rest of the country.
My friend the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, your Lordships may like to know, did not, as was the custom in times past, actually attend the birth. Instead, he has offered his own prayers and congratulations to their Royal Highnesses, sharing, “in their joy at this special time”, and praying that God would, “bless this family with love, health and happiness”. Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham leads tributes on birth of Prince George”
On 23rd July 2013, Lord Risby asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the current social and economic situation in Lebanon. The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, asked a supplementary question on what is being done to ease tensions between communities affected by the movement of refugees:
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, Lebanese communities have shown incredible generosity in coping with refugees but the flow is reaching breaking point. Will the Minister accept that, in addition to providing support for refugees, more work should be done to alleviate tension between communities and to strengthen the resilience of host families?
Baroness Warsi: I completely agree with the right reverend Prelate that there has been a huge show of generosity and a real welcome from the Lebanese people. Noble Lords may be aware that the population of Lebanon is about 4 million. The number of registered refugees is 600,000 but it is estimated that the real number could be a lot higher—somewhere around 1 million. That is the equivalent of the whole of the Romanian population arriving on British shores over a very short period. A huge amount of pressure has been put on local resources, which has of course caused tensions. It is for that reason that we are supporting not just the refugee communities but the host communities as well.