On 15th March 2017, a statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on national insurance contributions was repeated in the House of Lords. The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, responded to the statement.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, I think I can paraphrase the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, by saying:
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often”,
as Churchill said. It is a strength that the Government can change their mind so openly and directly, and I wish that politicians would more often simply and openly accept that they have changed their mind in the light of the evidence. So, in that sense, I welcome this announcement. Continue reading
On 14th March 2017, the Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, moved that this House takes note of the economy in the light of the Budget Statement. The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, spoke in the debate, focusing on national debt and expenditure pressures.
The Lord Bishop of Chester My Lords, it is not only the last spring Budget, it is the last Budget in Lent. If we had any doubts, then the early speeches in this debate brought that Lenten theme home rather well.
I do not want to get into the details of the Budget, which are very political, but to talk about two broader, longer-term issues to which the Chancellor referred in his speech. The first, which has already been alluded to, is our national debt. Its rate of growth is forecast to slow in this decade, but that is stabilisation at a very high level, representing nearly £62,000 for every household in the country. Even at the current very low interest rates, servicing that debt costs £50 billion a year—more than the combined costs of defence and police services in this country. Continue reading
On 23rd March 2016 the House of Lords debated the 2016 Budget statement. The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, in contributing to this debate and responding to the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget Statement last week, to the subsequent events and to the debate in the other place, I welcome some proposals, express some surprise, and register disappointment—indeed, shock—at some of the measures announced. First, it is good to congratulate the Chancellor and Government on the intention to raise the tax free personal allowance to £11,500 this time next year. Lifting about 1.3 million people out of income tax is, of itself, welcome, although there are some potential drawbacks to which I will return a little later. Continue reading
On the 21st July 2015 the Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Revd Donald Allister, spoke during the debate on the Budget Statement. The Bishop welcomed the new National Living Wage and asked for greater transitional support for employers and employees, as well as careful attention to phasing in the reduction in tax credits.
“The test of the success of this and future Budgets for a country living within its means will be the growing number of households that are equipped and completely free to earn the means to live.” Bishop of Birmingham 21/07/15
On the 21st July 2015 the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, responded to the Budget Statement, during a debate in the House of Lords. The Bishop called for an inclusive capitalism and questioned Lord O’Neill the Commercial Secretary for the Treasury about the impact of the changes to working age benefits. The Bishop also spoke about the need to improve productivity via energising the local economy alongside investing in infrastructure, skills, training and apprenticeships.
On 25th March 2015 the Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate in the House of Lords on the Budget Statement for 2015-’16. The Bishop raised encouragement of personal saving, the income tax threshold, and future welfare reform, amongst other issues. The text of his speech is below:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, it is right to acknowledge what is good and encouraging in the economic situation—particularly compared to the background of five years ago—and in much of what the Chancellor announced last week, and I am glad to do so. I warmly welcome the continuing fall in the number of people unemployed and, among the proposals, funding for wi-fi in public libraries, investment in transport infrastructure in the north of England, a boost to charities through the raising of the small donations gift aid limit and the extra allocation for mental health services for children and for new mothers, especially when half of my Bishop’s Lent appeal in Portsmouth diocese is to support local mental health charities. I am pleased, too, to hear of the planned rise in the minimum wage, though longing for the living wage to become the norm. There is much to welcome but, as I have indicated, with some caveats.
During a House of Commons debate on the Budget statement, Rt Hon Canon Sir Tony Baldry MP welcomed the announcement of extra funding for church roof repairs, in his capacity as the Second Church Estates Commissioner:
I should firstly, in my capacity as Second Church Estates Commissioner, and soon to be Chair of the Church Buildings Council, like very sincerely to thank the Chancellor the £40 million announced in the Budget towards the repairs of church roofs. This is in addition to the £15 million for the Church Roof Funds made available by the Chancellor a little while ago and £20 million made available for repairs to our cathedrals. Continue reading