The Bishop of St Albans calls for greater support for businesses taking on apprentices

Baroness Stedman-Scott asked Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to equip young people with the skills necessary to enter the job market.

The Bishop of St Albans asked a supplementary question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, there are four times as many 18 to 24 year-olds looking for work at the moment as there are in the 16 to 17 age group. Yet the Government’s policy on apprenticeships for 19 to 24 year-olds is to ask employers to pay half the costs of the learning framework. Many businesses, especially SMEs, will pause before taking on an apprentice because of this. Does the Minister agree that if this requirement were to be removed, it would hugely encourage many more young people to get into apprenticeships as well as giving them much more of a chance to succeed?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The right reverend Prelate makes an important point, but I am sure many noble Lords are aware that the Government do support local businesses. Indeed, they have made additional funding available to small businesses that are looking to take on both trainees and apprentices.

On the age group that the right reverend Prelate mentioned, particularly 19 to 24 year-olds, in October 2013 the Government announced funding of an additional £20 million to support the expansion of traineeships, which are helping even more young people to get the skills and experience they need to get into full-time work.

(via parliament.uk)

Bishop of Wakefield speaks in debate on secondary legislation for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act

The Bishop of Wakefield spoke during the debate on the statutory instruments relating to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act. He drew the attention of Peers to the recently published statement by the Church of England’s House of Bishops, which set out the Church’s position on this subject. He noted the wide range of views on the subject, both in the Church of England, and in the wider Anglican Communion, and noted the on-going discussions taking place between the Anglican Church in different parts of the world on the subject of human sexuality. He also highlighted the Church of England’s commitment to tackling homophobia.

The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: It would seem odd to me if I were to just sit here silently after people, particularly the noble Baroness, have said what they have. First, I am sure that no one in the House of Bishops would have approached with anything other than irony the fact that the statement was issued on 14 February. Secondly, I entirely associate myself with the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Alli, about Uganda and other countries where such repressive measures have been taken. I am fairly certain that no one in the House of Bishops would want to say anything different.

The next thing to say is that, without any sense of disloyalty to the college to which I belong, there was a variety of opinion on how we approach the problem. It is a problem because we are dealing with a very long tradition, set out in the Book of Common Prayer. For a church that has a tradition that now goes back 450 years in what it has been saying about marriage, to move in a significantly different direction is a significant shift. There will be a variety of opinions, but that is an issue. Continue reading “Bishop of Wakefield speaks in debate on secondary legislation for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act”

The Bishop of Wakefield speaks in debate on situation in Syria and the Middle East

The Bishop of Wakefield spoke during the debate on Syria and the Middle East, highlighting the increasing complexity of the conflict in Syria, the difficulties facing outside countries such as the UK in responding appropriately and effectively, the huge displacement of the Syrian population, and the need to invest significant resources in the region to facilitate a peaceful solution to the conflict. He asked the Government to support efforts to bring about reconciliation between two key actors in the conflict – Iran and Saudi Arabia, and called for support of civil society within the refugee populations, particularly in Lebanon and Jordan.

The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: My Lords, I thank the Minister for her characteristically clear introduction to this debate and for setting the context so succinctly.
In December 2002, I was called to 10 Downing Street for a clandestine meeting with the Prime Minister’s appointments secretary to talk about the possibility of my going to the See of Wakefield. When I arrived, I was terrified that my cover might be blown, since television cameras surrounded us and, indeed, I followed Andrew Marr through the security gate. The cameras were, of course, not for us but for President Assad, who was paying an official visit to the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Indeed, there was even talk at the time of persuading the Queen to confer a knighthood on the Syrian leader. Continue reading “The Bishop of Wakefield speaks in debate on situation in Syria and the Middle East”

Bishop of St Albans raises concerns about the impact of closing rural schools

Lord Storey asked Her Majesty’s Government what support is given to young people living in rural areas to enable them to travel to school or college.

The Bishop of St Albans asked a supplementary question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the Church of England is deeply involved with hundreds of tiny rural schools in sparsely populated areas and is acutely aware of some of the financial difficulties that they face. When such a school has to close, what advice do Her Majesty’s Government give on the educational, financial and environmental issues—to do with sustainability—of transporting these pupils, sometimes very long distances, to the next nearest school?

Baroness Northover: I will write to the right reverend Prelate with details about what happens when these schools are closed. There is a special premium for rural schools of the type that he describes, which have fewer pupils than you might find elsewhere, but I will write with further details.

(via parliament.uk)

Votes – Pensions Bill

House of Lords Division Lobby
House of Lords Division Lobby

On 24th and 26th February 2014, a number of Bishops took part in votes on amendments to the Government’s Pensions Bill, during its Report Stage.

Continue reading “Votes – Pensions Bill”

The Bishop of Peterborough makes his maiden speech in the House of Lords

The Bishop of Peterborough delivered his maiden speech to the House of Lords on 25th February 2014, during the debate tabled by Lord Low of Dalston: ‘To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to Tackling the Advice Deficit, the report of the Low Commission on the future of advice and legal support on social welfare law in England and Wales’.

The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, as I make this m14.02 Peterboroughaiden speech I am delighted to have the opportunity to thank the many Members and staff of your Lordships’ House who have made me so very welcome here. I am also most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Low, for initiating this debate, and for producing with his colleagues this excellent, wide-ranging and challenging report.

I suppose it to be inevitable that cuts in government spending, however necessary they may be, will always hit the poorest most. It is therefore all the more important to give attention to ways of helping the most vulnerable to claim and receive the support to which they are entitled and the professional advice they may need. This report does that: I welcome it most warmly and hope that Her Majesty’s Government can do so too. Continue reading “The Bishop of Peterborough makes his maiden speech in the House of Lords”

Bishop of Wakefield raises concerns about impact of lack of free parking on local businesses

Baroness Williams of Trafford asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of town-centre parking policies and their impact on local businesses.

The Bishop of Wakefield asked a supplementary question:

The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: My Lords, I want to focus particularly on the impact on small towns, which may not necessarily have trains and buses bringing people into them. Where there are not just large-scale out-of-town developments but also small-scale shopping centres, where it is easy to park for nothing, the impact on the high street is significant. In Mirfield, in the diocese from which I come, free parking has had a very good impact. In Berwick-upon-Tweed, another town I know very well, there is no free parking and that is seriously affecting local businesses. Can we be assured that Her Majesty’s Government will encourage local authorities to look at ways of finding more parking spaces in small towns?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: The right reverend Prelate is right to raise the issue of more free parking. In a recent report published by Deloitte, more free parking was the single biggest issue raised by people who responded. In examining some options, we are trying to ensure that local people have a greater say in the parking arrangements of their local areas—and, clearly, access to free parking should be one of those things.

(via parliament.uk)