Levelling Up Bill: Bishop of Bristol raises concerns about support for parish churches and housing development

On 17th January 2023, the House of Lords debated the Levelling Up Bill in its second reading. The Bishop of Bristol spoke in the debate, raising concerns about financial support for parish churches and the services they provide, and the importance of housing and development planning:

The Lord Bishop of Bristol: My Lords, it is good to be here considering this much-awaited piece of legislation. I declare my interest as a member of the Church Commissioners board, as set out in the register. I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Anderson, on her powerful maiden speech and on the stories of her female antecedents. I look forward to the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Jackson.

I am also grateful to the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Chartres, for his speech on the role of heritage in levelling up. As the current Church of England lead bishop for church buildings, I want to look at one detail in this Bill, which provides an opportunity for the clarification of the law on local council funding for parish church buildings. Across the country, parish churches are vital to the flourishing of their local communities. Initiatives have brought about much transformation in recent years. Exemplifying this is the current Warm Welcome campaign. Since its launch, thousands of churches and other places of worship across the country have welcomed 2.6 million people, providing space for relationship and community building and practical support as the days, like today, get colder. Add to this the ongoing work done in every region by church-run food banks, debt advice centres, domestic abuse support services and so much more. As your Lordships can imagine, I want to live in a world where such services are not needed, but it is important that action can be taken now to address systemic inequalities.

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Bishop of Bristol asks about conditions in the social care system

The Bishop of Bristol asked a question on concerns about fair wages and working conditions in the care sector on 8th November 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Bristol: My Lords, there are currently more than 160,000 vacancies in the social care sector, and, so often, the work of voluntary carers—relatives—needs the support of the wider social care system. Research from the TUC finds that one in three current care workers is likely to leave in the next few years due to low pay. It is very good to see the Government’s new Made with Care recruitment drive. However, please can the Minister set out what the Government are doing to address the concerns about pay and status in the social care system, particularly given the ongoing cost of living crisis?

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Bishop of Bristol asks about appointment of Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner

The Bishop of Bristol received the following written answer on 31st October 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Bristol asked His Majesty’s Government when they will appoint the next Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

Lord Sharpe of Epsom: The role of the Anti-Slavery Commissioner (IASC), as set out in the 2015 Modern Slavery Act, is to encourage good practice in the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of slavery and human trafficking offences and the identification of victims.

The process to recruit a new IASC follows the principles set out within the Cabinet Office Governance Code on Public Appointments.

A decision on the appointment is under consideration.

Hansard

Schools Bill: Bishop of Bristol speaks on amendments in committee

On 13th June the House of Lords continued to debate the Government’s Schools Bill in committee. The Bishop of Bristol spoke in the debate, on behalf of the Bishop of Durham:

The Lord Bishop of Bristol: My Lords, I speak in place of my colleague, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, who unfortunately cannot be present today. I declare his interest as chair of the National Society.

I rise briefly to welcome Amendment 40 in this group, which offers real clarity on the issue. We welcome the recognition it shows that the religious body must be involved in giving an interim trustee notice to the proprietor of an academy school with a religious character. We are grateful for the Minister’s continued work on this and hope this might provide a little encouragement at this point.

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Votes: Nationality and Borders Bill

On 4th April 2022, the House of Lords debated amendments to the Nationality and Borders Bill. There were votes on amendments to the bill, in which Bishops took part.

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Votes: Health and Care Bill

On 16th March 2022, the House of Lords debated the Health and Care Bill in its report stage. Votes were held on several amendments to the bill, in which Bishops took part.

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Nationality and Borders Bill 2022: Bishop of Bristol speaks in support of amendments on modern slavery and protection of overseas domestic workers

On 8th March 2022, the House of Lords debated the Nationality and Borders Bill in its report stage. The Bishop of Worcester spoke in support of amendments to the bill that would remove certain clauses relating to victims of modern slavery, and moved an amendment intended to protect overseas domestic workers:

The Lord Bishop of Bristol: My Lords, I support the amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, to remove Clauses 57, 58 and 62 from the Bill, to which I have added my name. I too congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, on her appointment and give thanks for all the work she does, even when we do not always entirely agree across these Benches.

As we have heard, Clauses 57 and 58 would make it appreciably more difficult for people to be recognised as victims of modern slavery and receive support. In Committee, the Minister responded to my concerns about these clauses by saying that, far from deterring victims, this will

“encourage genuine victims to come forward”.—[Official Report, 10/2/22; col. 1843.]

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Votes: Nationality and Borders Bill

On 8th March 2022, the House of Lords debated amendments to the Nationality and Borders Bill in its third day of the Report stage. Votes were held on several amendments, in which Bishops took part.

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Queen’s Speech – Bishop of Bristol on climate and environment

On 17th May 2021 the Bishop of Bristol spoke during the third day of debate in the House of Lords on the Queen’s Speech. She focused on the environment and the Government’s Environment Bill.

“My Lords, along with others in this House, I welcome the speeches of the noble Lords, Lord Coaker and Lord Morse. I remember making my own maiden speech in the debate on the Humble Address in 2019, though of course in rather different circumstances. When I gave that speech, we were looking ahead to 2020 as the year of climate action. Instead, the impact of Covid-19 has understandably been the focus of global activity. However, the situation for our planet is becoming more urgent, not less. With another year of action now lost because of Covid-19, we need meaningful global, national and local agreements on the climate and biodiversity issues more than ever before.

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Mental health, Armenia, gambling, Ethiopia

On 18th January 2021 in the House of Lords the Bishop of Bristol asked a question about mental health, the Bishop of Coventry asked about Armenian heritage.

Meanwhile the Bishop of St Albans and the Archbishop of York received written answers to questions on gambling-related harm and Ethiopia.

Full text below.

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