On 15th January 2016 the Second Church Estates Commissioner answered a written question from Tim Loughton MP on contingency plans in the event of a vote to leave the EU:
Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham): To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what contingency arrangements the Church Commissioners have made for the eventuality of a majority leave vote in the upcoming EU referendum.
Mrs Caroline Spelman: The Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board manage their investment portfolios using high quality well diversified and long term strategies. The Church Commissioners and Pensions Board believe that they are well positioned for any market re-pricing or uncertainty that may prevail prior to or after the referendum.
On the 15th January 2016 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP, answered a written question on uptake of the church roof repair fund in Devon and Cornwall.
Mr Geoffrey Cox (Torridge and West Devon): To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what grants the Church Commissioners have given to churches in (a) Devon and (b) Cornwall from the Roof Repair Fund in each of the last five years.
Mrs Caroline Spelman
: The Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund grants are distributed by the National Heritage Memorial Fund, on behalf of the Government. There has been one round of grants to date, announced in March 2015,
(a) 22 churches in Devon were offered grants totalling £1,199,700
(b) 7 churches in Cornwall were offered grants totalling £492,700.
A second round to distribute a further £25 million allocated by the Treasury is currently open, with applications closing on Friday, 26 February.
On 14th January 2016 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Andrews “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their plan for ratifying the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict”. The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, I add my thanks to the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, for this debate and for the very important Question that she asks of the Government Front Bench. In June 2015, the Ministry of Defence answered a Written Question, as we have heard, on the timetable for ratifying the Hague convention. A Minister stated:
“The Government believes that protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict is a priority and remains committed to that task”.
She confirmed the,
“plan to introduce legislation to ratify the Convention”,
as we know,
“as soon as Parliamentary time allows”.
The Answer continued with a reassurance:
“Respect for cultural property is already upheld across the Armed Forces and they currently act within the spirit of the 1954 Convention. This respect is incorporated into military law”.
I wholeheartedly welcome that commitment and ask the Minister if she can recognise both the embarrassment of the present and lengthy delay in ratification, which successive Governments since 2008 have pledged to end, and the compelling practical, cultural and humanitarian reasons for speedy rectification of this inordinate delay. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth calls on UK Government to ratify Hague Convention for Protection of Cultural Property in Armed Conflict”
On 14th January 2016 the Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, led a short debate in the House of Lords on flood management. His speech and the Government response is below. The full text of the debate, including a speech by the Bishop of St Albans, can be read here.
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they intend to review their long term strategy for flood management, particularly in rural areas that do not qualify for large-scale flood defences.
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to put to the Government the Question before us. If there was a sound track to this debate it would probably include Phil Collins’s “In Too Deep”.
It is important to note the destructiveness of the recent flooding, given that the news agenda moves on very quickly and communities which found themselves at the heart of a sympathetic nation quickly feel themselves to be forgotten. For some of the communities in my diocese, the recent floods come in the wake—almost literally—of other occurrences in recent years. For them the need for longer-term and more joined-up measures is obvious.
I pay tribute to civic leaders, emergency services, public service workers, members of the Armed Forces, the Environment Agency and local volunteers, many of whom sacrificed holidays and family time over Christmas to support victims of this appallingly destructive flooding. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds leads debate on national response to flooding”
On 14th January 2016 the Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, led a short debate in the House of Lords on flood management. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, also spoke in the debate.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I thank my right reverend colleague for today’s debate. Due to the shortage of time, straightaway I shall focus a little more on whole-catchment flood management. A renewed focus on this approach has been one of the notable outcomes of the current flood crisis, helped of course by the exemplary work of the Pickering slow-the-flow scheme, which the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, described so eloquently.
The potential of whole-catchment approaches—for example, using meandering rivers, planting trees and building permeable dams to slow water in upland areas and reduce peak flow further downstream—is enormous. In the long term, it provides a cheaper, more environmentally friendly method of flood management, which works, as a number of people have already said, with natural processes rather than constantly trying to hold back the tide. Such approaches also have the benefit of being effective across a catchment, rather than simply focusing on one or two high-value areas, and so can help to lower the flood risk in rural hamlets and villages that might otherwise not qualify for flood protection. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans suggests new approaches to flood management”
On 14th January 2016 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Turnberg “that this House takes note of the ability of the National Health Service to meet present and future demands.” The Bishop of St Albans spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I am glad to congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Watkins, on her maiden speech. Due to the pressure on time, I want to focus on one very small area, which has been alluded to by various noble Lords but which I want to develop a little. It is the pressing and vital need to reboot the concept of a social contract, which lay at the heart of the national health system as envisaged by Beveridge and which balanced rights and responsibilities, not least against the background of living in a time when people have increasingly emphasised rights and perhaps downplayed the sense of duty and responsibility. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans calls for more personal responsibility and new social contract between citizens and the NHS”
On 14th January 2016 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Turnberg “that this House takes note of the ability of the National Health Service to meet present and future demands.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate.
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I am very grateful for the opportunity to speak in this debate. Much of what I was going to say has been said and I do not intend to repeat it. I have surveyed some of the National Health Service foundation trusts in my diocese and there are common threads, both of opportunity and concern: financial, operational and clinical. Yet it ought to be said that some of the administrations of these health services are doing heroic work at a time of enormous complexity and constraint. Again, as has been said about the need to raise morale among staff, we should at least thank and congratulate those who are making the system work despite the challenges. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds praises “heroic” work of NHS staff in Lords health debate”
On 13th January 2016, the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff, spoke in a debate on Lord Strathclyde’s motion “that this House takes note of Command Paper Cm 9177, Secondary legislation and the primacy of the House of Commons.” This related to the Strathclyde Review, which assessed the House of Lord’s powers regarding Statutory Instruments.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I, like other Members of your Lordships House, am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, for the work that he has undertaken and for giving rise to what is clearly an important debate about the role of this House, which probably goes much wider than some of the specifics in front of us today. By way of introduction, I will add a little correction to the text of the noble Lord’s report.
Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester contributes to debate on Lords powers”
On Wednesday 13th January 2016 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, the Rt Hon Caroline Spelman, answered two written questions about support from churches in the Blackburn Diocese to flood victims and the damage to churches in the diocese caused by floods.
Mr Mark Hendrick: To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, which Anglican churches within the Diocese of Blackburn were damaged by flooding in December 2015; and what the extent of damage to each such church was.
Mrs Caroline Spelman: Within the Diocese of Blackburn seven churches and churchyards, the diocesan retreat house at Whalley Abbey and three Church of England primary schools were damaged by floodwater. Many have also found that the boilers and heating systems have been damaged beyond repair and extensive programmes of works will need to be undertaken to both dry the buildings out and restore or replace furniture, carpets and school materials.
Reports of damage are still being registered across the Dioceses of Blackburn, Carlisle, Manchester, West Yorkshire and the Dales and York. To date 129 church properties have registered substantial damage from the December storms with our insurers, though I expect that figure to rise. The Cathedral and Church Buildings Council of the Church of England will be working with the dioceses to develop robust disaster management and recovery plans and flood adaptation measures for churches and other buildings. Continue reading “Church Commissioner question on flooding in Blackburn”
On 12th January 2016 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill in its fifth and final day of Committee.
The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, co-sponsored an amendment to clause 22 of the Bill, concerned with exceptions. The amendment, which was withdrawn after the debate, sought to exclude supported housing from the proposed 12% cuts in social housing rents.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, when I added my name to the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Best, I did so in the naive belief that we might be pushing at an open door. I still maintain that belief because I hope that the Minister will reassure us on some of these matters. I, too, cannot believe it was intentional that we would be threatening to undermine the housing provision for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. The two noble Lords who have just spoken have made many of the points which I would have made, and others have been made earlier this evening. Continue reading “Welfare Reform Bill: Bishop of Rochester backs amendment on supported housing”
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