Bishop of St Albans asks about delays in farm payments

On 20th July 2016 the Earl of Shrewsbury asked Her Majesty’s Government “what progress has been made to rectify delays in payments from the Single Farm Payment Scheme.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question:

St Albans 2The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, those of us in touch with the farming community are deeply aware of the 13,000 cases that are being reassessed at the moment, and we are grateful for what is being done to expedite that. The important question is: how will the system be reviewed and resourced so that this does not happen in future years? Can the Minister assure us that something is being done to guarantee that we have a better system? In particular, will he reconsider appointing a specific case worker for each application to try to see them through? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about delays in farm payments”

Bishop of St Albans asks about secure tenancies for young farmers

St Albans 2On 14th July 2016  Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty’s Government “what progress they have made in increasing the number of apprenticeships within the rural economy.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, despite record numbers of graduates from agricultural colleges and some interesting rural apprenticeships, it is proving almost impossible for young farmers to get a tenancy unless it is by inheritance. What plans do Her Majesty’s Government have to offer additional support to young farmers to secure tenancies, such as the young entrants’ schemes in place in Scotland and Wales—or is there something else we could do to address this serious problem as we seek to get a new generation of farmers? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about secure tenancies for young farmers”

Bishop of St Albans highlights challenges to the rural economy outside the EU

“We can create all the life chances we like, but that is futile if families cannot afford to put food on the table” – Bishop of St Albans, 7/7/16

On 7th July 2016 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord De Mauley, “That this House takes note of the current and future roles agriculture and horticulture play in Britain’s rural economy and the role that advances in agricultural science can play in the further development of that sector.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:

StAlbans171115The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I add my thanks to those from other noble Lords to the noble Lord, Lord De Mauley, for securing this important debate at this time of significant uncertainty for the agricultural and horticultural sectors. I also declare my interest in the register as president of the Rural Coalition.

As noble Lords have already stated, the agricultural and horticultural industry is an essential feature not only of the rural economy but of the wider national economy. It is often said in this Chamber that the defence of the people is the first duty of government, but I wonder whether feeding the people should be an equally primary duty. Establishing food security is an essential role of all Governments, never more so than in the current climate of global uncertainty. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans highlights challenges to the rural economy outside the EU”

Bishop of Peterborough questions Government about Basic Farm Payments

On the 19th January 2016 Baroness McIntosh of Pickering asked Her Majesty’s Government “what percentage of the Basic Payment Scheme was paid to farmers by the end of December 2015, and what assessment they have made of the delivery mechanisms of that funding”. The Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Revd Donald Allister, asked for assurances that payments would be made promptly and in full.

14.02 PeterboroughThe Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, I speak as one who, until very recently, has been privileged to serve as a trustee of the Farming Community Network, which supports many farmers with difficulties of this sort. Is the Minister aware, as FCN certainly is, that many of those who have been told they will not receive their payments until after the end of this month—more than two months late—are farming in upland areas, not just common grazing, and are often the poorest farmers in the most need? Is it possible for at least some payment to be made on account? Can the Government assure noble Lords that payments will be made on time, and in full, in the next cycle?

Continue reading “Bishop of Peterborough questions Government about Basic Farm Payments”

Bishop of St Albans – food security and Syria (Written Answers)

On Monday 16th March 2015, the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received answers to two written questions on (i) food security, and (ii) the future of displaced Syrians.

Bishop of St AlbansFood Security

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the recent research from the National Farmers’ Union on the decline in food production in the United Kingdom and its impact on food security.

Lord de Mauley (Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs):This Government is committed to helping UK food producers thrive and expand. We are working with the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and others to support a competitive UK farming industry, including through our £160 million investment in applied research under the agri-tech strategy, as well as the new Rural Development Programme for England, which includes £141 million dedicated to improving agricultural productivity.

Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans – food security and Syria (Written Answers)”

Bishop of St Albans – Milk (Written Answer)

On 19th January 2015, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, received an answer to a written question on the subject of milk sustainability.

Bishop of St AlbansThe Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to strengthen United Kingdom food security through ensuring that the supply of liquid milk produced in the United Kingdom is sufficient to meet United Kingdom consumer demand, in order to reduce reliance on imported milk. [HL3996]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): Milk commodity price increases during 2013 stimulated milk production in the UK (also in the EU and across the world). UK milk production for January to November 2014 was 9% up on the previous year and 7% higher than the average seen over the past 10 years. Liquid milk is expensive to transport and has a short lifespan in its raw state. UK imports are at very low levels: around 1% of total UK production. In 2013, the UK imported 132 million litres of raw milk, predominantly intra-trade between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Domestic production of liquid milk in the same period was 13.2 billion litres.

(via Parliament.uk)

Maiden speech by the Bishop of Ely – Government strategy on social justice

The legitimacy of any legislature is judged by the sure access to justice for all citizens, regardless of age or estate. For that justice to be social it requires the active participation of all communities. I believe that this justice is rooted in the invitation of God to be generous and visible with and for others” – Bishop of Ely, 16/10/14

14.10.16 Bishop of Ely 1On 16th October 2014, the House of Lords debated a motion in the name of Baroness Tyler of Enfield, “that this House takes note of Her Majesty’s Government’s Social Justice strategy.” The Bishop of Ely, Rt Rev Stephen Conway, gave his maiden speech in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Ely (Maiden Speech):My Lords, I begin by expressing my gratitude for the welcome I have received since I was introduced into your Lordships’ House. My theological sense of direction is rather more developed than my physical sense, and I have been touched by the noble Lords who have accompanied me around bewildering corridors. Your Lordships may yet see me, like Theseus, unwinding a ball of twine to get me back to the Bishops’ Robing Room. Continue reading “Maiden speech by the Bishop of Ely – Government strategy on social justice”