On 1st July 2014, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Storey asked Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to encourage educational establishments to take part in National Voter Registration Day 2015. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the Question is about encouraging educational establishments to encourage a whole new generation of people to engage in the electoral process. Of course, next year is a hugely significant year, with the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. Can we not only encourage our schools to use this as an opportunity to really inspire people to think about civil participation, citizenship and so on but find some imaginative ways to give people the information in the educational packs that will be used next year?
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, certainly. We trust that the churches will play their own role, and perhaps we will have mentions in sermons of civic duty and what one should render unto Caesar as well as unto God.
“It is disturbing when the Bar Council says that when combined with other recent government measures for changing the law of judicial review, these changes, if enacted in their current form, will immunise government and other public authorities from effective legal challenge” – Bishop of Oxford, 30/6/14
On 30th June 2014, the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, took part in the Second Reading debate on the Government’s Criminal Justice and Courts Bill. During his speech, he focused on two particular areas of concern – the proper care of troubled children and the role of ‘secure colleges’ and the need for a fair and effective system of judicial review and legal aid to be available to all, regardless of their material situation.
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I am not among those who decry the frequency with which criminal justice Bills come along. The world is changing fast and the shapes assumed by criminality change no less quickly. It is important to respond to change and to take care that the unchanging core of justice—a British value if ever there was one, as well as a Biblical value—is honoured both in the detail and in the overall direction of policy on the criminal law and its enforcement. Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford raises concerns about access to justice and care of troubled children during debate on Criminal Justice and Courts Bill”
On 30th June 2014, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, the Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, answered a written question on behalf of the Church Commissioners, on the subject of apprentices.
Robert Halfon: To ask the right hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, how many apprentices the Church Commissioners have employed in the last 12 months.
Sir Tony Baldry: The Church Commissioners currently directly employ one member of staff on an apprenticeship scheme; this role is designed to give experience of supporting the administrative work of the national institutional structures of the Church of England. There is an intention to roll out apprenticeships more widely should this trial proves successful.
Within the Church of England, there are jobs and opportunities for skilled professionals and their students to undertake apprenticeships, training, or conservation work on and within its buildings, stone/carpentry yards and stained glass workshops choir and organ schools.
There are also some more informal apprenticeship and paid internship opportunities within the local and national structures that are organised locally by those concerned.
Welcome to the Church of England’s weekly round-up of activity in Parliament by the Lords Spiritual and the Second Church Estates Commissioner.
In the past week, bishops in the House of Lords have spoken in debate on the accountability of educational institutions, defibrillators in public spaces, the commemoration of the First World War, the role of the voluntary and charitable sector, women in the prison system, human rights in Egypt, the abuse of vulnerable children and adults and challenges faced by vulnerable women.
They have also put questions to the Government on the under-occupancy charge, off-grid energy supply, wage levels of women in the UK, apprenticeships and Iran.
In the House of Commons, the Second Church Estates Commissioner spoke about the teaching of British values.
Continue reading “Church of England Week in Westminster, 23 – 27 June 2014”
“Powerful people have engaged in serious abuse and have worked with each other to create opportunities and share their vices and victims. As a nation we have to face up to the seriousness of institutionally based abuse against the most vulnerable in our society, both children and adults, which has gone on in the past and, sadly, continues today” – Bishop of Durham, 26.6.14
On 26th June 2014, Liberal Democrat Peer Baroness Walmsley led a debate in the House of Lords to take note of the measures being taken by Her Majesty’s Government to prevent and address the abuse of children and vulnerable adults. The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, the Church of England’s lead bishop for safeguarding, took part in the debate. He focused his remarks on needing to listen to the voice of survivors, and put forward a number of measures to reflect this need – including mandatory reporting by professionals, creating safe spaces for victims of abuse, and broadening the law to strengthen preventative measures. He concluded by calling for an independent public inquiry into institutionally-based abuse. Continue reading “Bishop of Durham calls for independent public inquiry into institutionally-based abuse”
“Instances of violence and physical intimidation against Coptic Christians remain disturbingly high. Police investigations are haphazard and prosecutions rare. In addition to the targeted attacks against Christians, we are, sadly, witnessing a predictable return to the subtler, pernicious problems of the Sadat-Mubarak era” – Bishop of Coventry, 26.6.14
On 26th June 2014, the Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, led a short debate to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the human rights situation in Egypt. In his opening speech, the spoke of the need for the Government to assist Egypt to significantly improve its human rights record, and how the current situation in Egypt has left the liberties of its people severely restricted. He cautioned against a focus of diplomatic efforts on political stability to the detriment of issues of human rights and dignity and the freedom of religious expression.
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, the recent presidential election in Egypt and the subsequent inauguration of former Field Marshal Sisi as president make this a very timely debate. This week’s visit of the United States Secretary of State to Cairo, as well as the conviction of the three Al-Jazeera journalists, casts a spotlight on the human rights situation in Egypt. The return of the strongman to Egypt once again brings to centre stage the classic dilemma of how we navigate between interests and values in our foreign policy. Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry leads House of Lords debate on the human rights situation in Egypt”
“It is vital that councils and the NHS maintain a basic level of support, not least because a lot of money going into this area is matched by funding from companies, charities and churches. We cannot solve the problem with just the voluntary sector being expected to pick up these extraordinarily complex problems” – Bishop of St Albans, 26.6.14
On 26th June 2014, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Tyler of Enfield led a short debate to ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have plans to improve how local services respond to women with multiple and complex needs including homelessness, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse and physical and mental health problems. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Alan Smith, spoke in the debate. He focused his speech on three areas – the need for mutli-agency coordination in light of financial constraints, the need for a greater availability of affordable housing and the vital role of key workers to support those with multiple and complex needs. He also highlighted the issue of domestic violence and called for greater efforts to be made in improving rates of prosecution.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, for keeping this vitally important area high on the agenda. I confess that I was slightly reticent in putting my name down to speak today because it is not an area in which I am an expert. However, I find myself regularly bumping into people who are involved in it and come across it as a matter of real concern for us. Certainly we are discussing a complex subject which affects women in many different ways and impacts on a wide range of agencies—police, health professionals, probation services and statutory and voluntary groups which are working in homelessness, substance use and abuse, human trafficking and so on. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans calls for multi-agency co-ordination for effective response to challenges faced by vulnerable women”
“We do not look just to our neighbours but to strangers. We are not just interested in economic viability but in what is morally right. That is where the energy of the charity sector comes from, and why there is that great British tradition we have heard of—not because it is economically efficient but because it is morally right” – Bishop of Derby, 26.6.14
On 26th June 2014, the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, took part in Baroness Scott of Needham Market’s take note debate on the role played by the voluntary and charitable sectors. He spoke of the distinctive nature of the voluntary and charitable sectors, how they can learn from the world of business but must not simply become businesses, and how they must be afforded the freedom and flexibility to deliver their own unique contribution to communities.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness and her party for securing this debate. We talk in a context in which certainly many of the charities and voluntary and faith groups that I am involved with are in crisis, with rising demand and costs and reduced funding. That context is the ending of the welfare state. I remind the House that when the welfare state was conceived, Sidney and Beatrice Webb saw it as having three charity and voluntary work purposes: to meet basic needs, to bring people into association with each other, and to create partnership and participation. Of course, the welfare state became totally focused on meeting basic needs rather than on the richer political ecology of dignifying people, associating with them and bringing them into partnership. Many of us in the charitable and voluntary sector have got drawn into that game of meeting basic needs through projects. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby speaks of unique contribution of the voluntary sector to society”