Bishop of St Albans asks about Agriculture Transition Plan

On 8th December the Bishop of St Albans responded to a Government statement on its Agriculture Transition Plan:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans [V]: My Lords, I declare my interest as president of the Rural Coalition and pay tribute to the Minister, who has worked so hard on getting this through.
In the ELMS policy discussion document, Her Majesty’s Government recognised the bureaucratic burden that the CAP had placed on farmers and administrators. We were optimistic that the rollout of rural broadband would help a great deal, although the comprehensive spending review seems to have drawn back, and many people in rural areas are deeply concerned about how these new processes will be worked through.
Can the Minister outline the plans for the ELMS application process and how it is intended to reduce bureaucratic constraints? Can he assure the agricultural community that there will be adequate helplines staffed by those who have been fully trained in these new processes?

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Church Commissioner Questions: public worship, tree planting, Christmas services, gender-based violence, Living in Love and Faith, cathedral services, Christian persecution, community support, consistory court appeals

On 26th November MPs put questions to the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, on public worship, tree planting, Christmas services, gender-based violence, Living in Love and Faith, cathedral services, Christian persecution, community support and consistory court appeals. A transcript is below:

Church Commissioners

The hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners was asked—

Covid-19 Lockdown: Public Worship

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): What representations the Church of England has made to the Government on the importance of public worship during periods of covid-19 lockdown. [909344] Continue reading “Church Commissioner Questions: public worship, tree planting, Christmas services, gender-based violence, Living in Love and Faith, cathedral services, Christian persecution, community support, consistory court appeals”

Bishop of Salisbury asks when trade deal uncertainty will end

On 17th November Lord Wallace of Saltaire asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the comments by the Prime Minister of Canada on 11 November about the United Kingdom’s prospects of a trade deal with Canada.” The Bishop of Salisbury asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: My Lords, early this morning, I had breakfast on Zoom, hosted by my colleague the Bishop of Sherborne, along with people from the Dorset churches and community. A farmer and local businessman said that his greatest fear for the future was uncertainty. How will this uncertainty be ended so that he will not be left just watching this space but will know what opportunities there are? ​How will the House assess these both in relation to the economy and to the environment? Continue reading “Bishop of Salisbury asks when trade deal uncertainty will end”

Agriculture Bill: Bishop of St Albans supports successful amendment on food standards

On 22nd September 2020 the House of Lords considered amendments to the Government’s Agriculture Bill at its Report Stage. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in favour of an amendment he had co-sponsored, to extend the mandate and lifespan of the Trade and Agriculture Commission, to safeguard food and farming standards. The amendment was put to a vote and was passed by the House.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans [V]: My Lords, I too will speak on Amendment 101, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Curry of Kirkharle, to which I have ​added my name. The previous three speakers have more than adequately spelled out why it makes a great deal of sense, so I can limit my comments.

The Government, through the joint letter from the Environment Secretary and the Secretary of State for International Trade, have assured us that standards will not be compromised as part of trade negotiations. Furthermore, I am reassured by the breadth of experience among the agri-food trade advisory group. However, welcome though these developments are, fundamentally they lack the legally binding requirement that properly guarantees that Parliament will have recourse to ensuring that our standards are not diluted. Continue reading “Agriculture Bill: Bishop of St Albans supports successful amendment on food standards”

Agriculture Bill: Bishop of St Albans supports amendments on food security and vulnerable farmers

On 21st July House of Lords debated amendments to the Government’s  Agriculture Bill, during its Committee stage. The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, spoke to amendments on maintaining food security during he movement to the new farm payments scheme.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I will say a few words about the transition period and, in particular, in support of Amendments 150 to 154 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Rock, which have the support of the National Farmers Union and the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, among others.

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Bishop of St Albans supports food security amendments to the Agriculture Bill

On 14th July the House of Lords considered the Government’s Agriculture Bill in Committee. The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, spoke in the debate on amendments focusing on food security.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I support a number of amendments in this group, in particular those that touch on food security, such as Amendments 35 and 60. Food security is crucial, both for our protection and for the flourishing and survival of any nation. History teaches us that food shortages have always occurred. They are often caused by many different factors and occur at an alarming rate. One of the earliest historical examples of this is found in the Hebrew scriptures, in Genesis chapters 41 and 42, where we read of Jacob storing up grain in Egypt ready for the seven years of famine. Not only did his actions save the lives of many, but underlying this narrative is the message that food is also about political power:

“And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.”

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Bishop of Carlisle asks Government about use of antibiotics in beef farming

On 7th July Lord Lilley asked Her Majesty’s Government “what advice they give to British travellers to the United States of America on the risks of eating (1) chicken which has been subject to a pathogen reduction treatment, and (2) hormone-fed beef.” The Rt Revd James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle, asked a follow up question focusing on the use of antibiotics amongst beef farmers in the United States.

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I am grateful for what the Minister just said. Can he tell us whether Her Majesty’s Government have conducted any assessment of antibiotic use among beef farmers in the United States? If so, what might be the potential implications for public health of beef imports following any future trade deal?

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Bishop of St Albans speaks in debate on Second Reading of Agriculture Bill

On 10th June the House of Lords debated the Agriculture Bill. The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, spoke in the Second Reading debate, and highlighting issues around food security and environmental land management.

The Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I am pleased that the long-anticipated Agriculture Bill has finally arrived in your Lordships’ House. There are many good and laudable parts of the Bill, not least the fair trading provisions for farmers and concerns for the environment and wildlife.​

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Bishop of St Albans highlights issues with crop diversification

On 2nd June the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Gardiner of Kimble that the “Virtual Proceedings do consider the Direct Payments to Farmers (Crop Diversification Derogation) (England) Regulations 2020”. The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans spoke in the debate, and highlighted issues with crop diversity.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, British agriculture needs all the help it can get at this moment, so this legislation is most welcome. I congratulate Her Majesty’s Government on their flexibility in responding to this need. As the National Farmers Union said earlier this year, farmers

“have found it virtually impossible to have one crop in the ground, let alone three. Without a derogation they would have been forced down the bureaucratic ‘force majeure’ route that would require case by case assessments.”

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