On 18th May 2020 a virtual sitting of the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Sugg, “That the Virtual Proceedings do consider the international response to COVID-19.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, and the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, thankfully, the virus appears to be spreading slowly in most African countries, with Lesotho declaring its first case only last week. However, the World Bank forecasts that Covid-19 could push 49 million people into extreme poverty. The economic impact on some poorer nations could be more detrimental than the health threat. The aid Her Majesty’s Government committed at the international pledging event will be vital for the poorest nations, but our international response must be sustainable, which requires trade, not simply aid. What actions have Her Majesty’s Government taken to ensure that good free trade agreements are made with poorer nations?
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On 13th May, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, received a written answer from Lord Bethell on the procurement of dairy products for the NHS.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL3809 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what estimate they have made of the percentage of dairy bought by the NHS in England in each of the last 12 months that was produced by UK dairy farmers.
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On 28th April 2020 during the online sitting of the House of Lords, the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a question he had tabled to Government on dairy prices. The response, and the follow-up questions from other Members are below. The session was interrupted by technological problems, which prevented the Minister from joining to give the initial reply.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of changing dairy prices on farmers.
The Question was considered in a Virtual Proceeding via video call.
The Lord Speaker (Lord Fowler): The Minister, Lord Gardiner of Kimble. Lord Gardiner? We have no Minister. Is the Whip able to answer this Question?
Lord Foulkes of Cumnock (Lab Co-op): Perhaps the Whip can explain why there is no Minister.
Lord Ashton of Hyde (Con): I will come in, as the Chief Whip. I am very sorry, but the answer is that I have no idea why my noble friend Lord Gardiner is unavailable. I apologise to the House. Something technical has obviously gone wrong, and I can only ask your Lordships’ forgiveness on this occasion. There will be a thorough inquiry into this, and I apologise to the House.
The Lord Speaker: Thank you, Chief Whip. Can you stay on the line and at least field the questions that will come? The right reverend Prelate needs to ask his supplementary.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: Thank you very much. I cannot thank the Minister for his Answer because he has not given me one, but he will be aware that some dairy producers are unable to change contracts and are finding it extraordinarily difficult to access business support grants. What changes have Her Majesty’s Government made in the past month to cut red tape and save some of our dairy farmers who are going bankrupt?
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On 6th April 2020 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer to a question on encouraging food production as a result of Covid-19.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL2831 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to encourage domestic food production as a result of COVID-19. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about encouraging domestic food production as a result of Covid-19”
On 28th January 2020 the House of Lords debated a question from Lord Collins of Highbury, asking Government”what consideration they have given to formulating their pledge at the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth 2020 summit, and what they are doing to build commitments from other countries.” The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Steven Croft, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I, too, welcome this timely debate. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Collins, and welcome the opportunity offered by the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit.
It is moving to note, as other noble Lords have mentioned, that the number of people suffering from hunger has been increasing since 2015, albeit slowly. We know that behind the statistics lie terrible and moving stories of human suffering, disease and death, especially across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. It is sobering to ponder on the one hand the challenge of providing a sustainable diet and preventing the lifelong consequences of malnutrition and, on the other, the striking rise in obesity across the world and consequent health problems. Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford asks Government about links between food security, poor nutrition and climate change”
On 27th January the Bishop of St Albans , Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a question he had tabled to Government on food production and self-sufficiency. The exchanges are below, including from Peers asking their own follow-up questions:
Agriculture Bill: Food Production
The Lord Bishop of St Albans
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether food production is included in the definition of “public good” contained in the Agriculture Bill.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Gardiner of Kimble) (Con): My Lords, I declare my farming interests, as set out in the register. The Agriculture Bill includes powers to give financial assistance to farmers based on public money for public goods. These are goods and services not provided by the market. Clause 1(4) states:
“In framing any financial assistance scheme, the Secretary of State must have regard to the need to encourage the production of food by producers in England and its production by them in an environmentally sustainable way.”
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. A prime duty of government is to ensure that there is enough food to feed the population. Yet one has only to think about the impact of things such as coronavirus, and the immediate ban on the movement of live animals, to show how vulnerable we are, not least when this country is only 60% self-sufficient in food. Will the Minister assure the House that the Agriculture Bill will maximise the level of food production and food security for the country’s future? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about food security and self-sufficiency”
On the 7th January the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke during the second day of debate on the Queen’s Speech, on the topics of child poverty, climate change sustainable development and immigration:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, initially I want to note how little reference there is in the gracious Speech to the needs of children, except in the realm of education. There is nothing about children’s first 1,000 days, nor any firm commitment to tackle the iniquity of child poverty. How we treat children speaks volumes for where our priorities lie. Could the Minister please comment on this omission?
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