On 8th September 2020 in the House of Lords Government Minister Lord True responded to a question from the Opposition frontbench on the prospects for a Brexit trade deal in October, and the upholding of the Northern Ireland protocol in the withdrawal agreement should a deal not be agreed. The Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, given the concerns in the House about any attempt to derogate from an international treaty and the implications for the peace process in Northern Ireland, will the Minister confirm that the Government are aware that any attempt unilaterally to modify the terms of the withdrawal agreement will adversely affect the confidence of EU citizens resident here, and of British citizens resident in EU countries, in the United Kingdom’s commitments under the agreement, if treaty commitments may be set aside?
What can the Minister say to reassure both categories under these circumstances, other than to undertake to honour the treaty in full? Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark says failure of Government to honour international treaty means EU and UK nationals need new reassurances”
On 15th July 2020 a Government statement was repeated in the House of Lords on preparations for the end of the Brexit transition period. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans [V]: My Lords, most larger businesses will have the personnel and resources to advise and steer them through the transition period. However, some SMEs are very worried about how they will navigate complex regulations with little support. One feature of the lockdown is that it has often been impossible to speak to an adviser on a helpline and people have been directed to websites that are difficult to use. Can the Minister assure the House that there will be sufficient resources, including helplines staffed by knowledgeable people who can help SMEs as they go through this process? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government for sufficient resources for small businesses needing help with Brexit transition”
On 14th July Lord Haskel asked Her Majesty’s Government “whether clauses (1) protecting human rights, and (2) maintaining environmental standards, will be inserted in the trade agreements being negotiated as a result of the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union.” The Rt Revd David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham, asked a follow up question focusing on good working conditions.
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, just this week we have heard reports of poor working conditions and pay in factories in Leicester, but the UK is also heavily reliant on international supply chains. Will the Minister specify what steps the Government are taking to ensure that trade agreements insist that all UK imports are produced by workers with good conditions and dignified pay?
Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham asks Government about supply chains for all UK imports”
On 6th July, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham, received a written answer on two questions from Lord Callanan.
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: HL6040 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans are in place to ensure the UK’s continued access to critical minerals on the international market up to, and following, 31 December.
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: HL6041 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the growth of UK-based green industries and the resultant need for high levels of critical mineral supplies.
Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham asks Government about mineral supplies for green industries”
On 12th May the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Boswell of Aynho “That the Virtual Proceedings do consider the Report from the European Union Committee Beyond Brexit: How to Win Friends and Influence People”. The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, spoke in the debate, and highlighted concerns about how the Dublin Regulation will impact refugee children after Brexit.
Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, we must consider this report in light of the global pandemic. Decisions about our future relationship with the EU must be informed by Covid-19, recognising our international interdependence rather than being driven by ideology. Our European neighbours remain our friends and allies. This must continue for the sake of all, and especially for vulnerable children. Continue reading “Bishop of Durham raises treatment of refugee and migrant children after Brexit”
On 12th February 2020 Lord Touhig asked the Government “what progress has been made in reducing the disability employment gap.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, in this important area Britain is proud to be a leader in many ways—in technology, computing and so on—and many of these projects, which are transforming the lives of some people with certain kinds of disabilities, have been run across Europe, so there are worries that some of these projects may not continue. Can the Minister assure the House that priority will be given to helping this world-leading development continue? It is making an impact on people with disabilities not only in our own country but right across the world as the technology is rolled out.
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government for assurances on disability employment and technology”
On 21st January 2020 the House of Lords voted on amendments to the Government’s EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill. Three bishops took part in a vote on an amendment from Lord Dubs, to put in place measures for refugee children family reunion. The Bishop of Durham also acted as a sponsor of the amendment. Continue reading “Votes: EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill – Refugee children family reunion”
On 21st January 2020 the House of Lords debated and voted on an amendment to the Government’s EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill from Lord Dubs, which would restore measures for refugee children family reunion. The Bishop supported the amendment as a co-sponsor and in the subsequent vote it was passed by 300 votes to 220. It returns to the Commons to be voted on by MPs.
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I speak once more from these Benches, recognising that the argument has been made again and again. I am honoured to follow the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, and to concur with all that he said. As my right reverend friend the Bishop of Worcester reminded the House last week—he kindly spoke for me because I could not be present in Committee—this debate resonates with the nativity story, the story of a child fleeing persecution. The voices of these children are too often drowned out by conflict and violence, by traffickers and by political leaders. Let this House speak on their behalf by voting for the amendment. Continue reading “EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill: Bishop of Durham urges support for Dubs amendment on refugee children family reunion”
On 20th January 2020 the House of Lords voted on amendments to the Government’s EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill. The Bishop of Birmingham voted on an amendment from Lord Oates to allow EU citizens covered by the settled status scheme to have the right to a physical form of proof of status. Continue reading “Votes: EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill – Proof of settled status for EU citizens”
On 15th January 2020 the House of Lords considered amendments to the Government’s European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill at its second day in Committee. The Bishop of Worcester, Rt Revd John Inge, spoke in support of an amendment in the name of Lord Dubs and the Bishop of Durham, to ensure the continuation of the refugee children and family reunification provisions of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. The amendment was withdrawn by Lord Dubs at the end of the debate, with a commitment to return to it at a later stage.
Clause 37: Arrangements with EU about unaccompanied children seeking asylum. Debate on whether Clause 37 should stand part of the Bill.
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, I am pleased to support this amendment, to which my friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham has put his name. He is sorry not to be able to be in the Chamber today. A few weeks ago, we celebrated the story of Christmas. In the nativity, the happy events in a Bethlehem stable were followed by the more dramatic flight of the holy family to escape the violent persecution of King Herod. As we discuss this amendment, that story of the child Jesus and his parents fleeing from violence to a foreign land resonates loudly.
Children are among the most vulnerable victims of conflict, persecution and violence around the world. We all know that they do not choose to become refugees separated from their families. We as a nation can choose to reunite some families torn apart by conflict by offering children shelter, hope and a future. That is what I believe the majority of people in this country wish, and I am sure that is what the Government wish. This amendment seeks to ensure it by guaranteeing a safe, legal, effective and managed route for child refugees to join their families in this country. Continue reading “European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill: Bishops support Dubs amendment on refugee children family reunion”