On 18th March 2020 the House of Lords debated the Budget Statement made the previous week by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, as many have already observed, this Budget comes in extraordinarily unusual circumstances, and in relation to the issues around Covid-19, subsequent to the Budget announcement, the Chancellor has brought forward a number of measures which have been largely well received, and no doubt others will need to follow. While voluntary action in our communities will form much of the day-to-day response to those who are the most vulnerable and potentially isolated across our nation, the sustaining of public services and of businesses is vital for both our social and economic well-being; other speakers have already begun to address some of those issues.
Following the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury is always a risky business, and other noble Lords have already spoken with considerable knowledge of these matters, so I shall focus my remarks on one or two specific issues and areas which were already matters of concern, and where that concern is perhaps greater because of the circumstances in which we now find ourselves.
On children and young people, I hugely welcome the long-overdue extension of higher-rate housing benefit for care leavers until the age of 25, thus giving stability in their accommodation beyond their 22nd birthday. This is something that the Church of England organisation the Children’s Society and other charities have campaigned for over some time, and it is most welcome. Also welcome is the £2.5 million for research on family hubs. However, what is not in the provisions of the Budget or subsequent provisions is sufficient funding to address the urgent need for every child to achieve a good start in life, and that is becoming more urgent in the light of the current circumstances. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester responds to Chancellor’s Budget Statement”
On 18th March 2020 the House of Lords debated the Budget Statement made the previous week by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, spoke in the debate:
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, a Budget is social morality in numbers. Whatever we say we believe about the dignity of human beings and about the existence or otherwise of society, the reality of our belief is demonstrated by the way we act, and especially by the way we act with money. The crisis through which we are passing will change this nation in deep and unpredictable ways, as the noble Lord, Lord Oates, has just said. Like a nuclear explosion, the initial impact is colossal, but the fallout lasts for years and will shape us in ways we cannot even begin to predict at the moment.
The Budget and the extra package announced yesterday must be both adequate in amount and sufficient in their aims to ensure that this country emerges confident from overcoming the virus—positively better than before it began. We will overcome the virus. The noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, commented that small groups all over the country are showing fresh signs of community spirit and collaboration, and it is from those small groups, through to the large-scale government measures, that things will change.
Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury calls for vision of a ‘we’ society, alongside spending in response to coronavirus budget measures”
On 25th September 2019 the House of Lords took note of the Government’s Spending Round 2019. The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, contributed to the debate:
Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, like others, I welcome the fact that we are able to hold a debate on the spending round 2019. When the political point-scoring is redacted from the Chancellor’s original Statement, as I note it is on the GOV.UK website, there are aspects to welcome in the overall spending increase and some of the specific commitments. I am pleased that the Chancellor recognised in his speech that in the nation there are anxieties and divisions,
“between regions and communities, rich and poor, rural and urban, young and old”,—[Official Report, Commons, 4/9/2019; col. 180.]
and between black and white. The test for me is always around the impact of spending on the most vulnerable in our society. It is this that leads me to ask some questions.
Continue reading “Bishop of Durham responds to spending round with need for focus on society’s most vulnerable”
On 13th November 2018 the House of Lords debated the Chancellor’s Budget Statement. The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, spoke in the debate to highlight concerns about the environment, the two-child limit and fixed odds betting terminals.
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, for many on these Benches there are measures to welcome in this Budget: for instance, the decision to increase the work allowances within universal credit for families with children and people with disabilities, as other noble Lords have mentioned. This goes a substantial way towards reversing the cuts announced in 2015. Likewise, the announcement of measures to aid the transition to universal credit, worth £1 billion over five years, is also welcome, as is the additional and non-repayable run-on support for new claimants to help people manage during the five-week waiting period before their first payment. However, I am disappointed that the run-on support does not cover the child elements of universal credit. Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford – Budget is missed opportunity for environment”
On 4th December 2017 the House of Lords debated the Chancellor’s 2017 Autumn Budget Statement. The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate, focusing on the lack of news on social care and on defence, and calling on Government to take further action on Universal Credit:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, one of the duties in which I take particular pleasure is chairing the governors at Ripon College, Cuddesdon, just outside Oxford, a theological college at which men and women are prepared for ministry. It is known by those associated with it more colloquially as a vicar factory. Notices around the college remind the residents that, after night prayer or Compline, they are expected to abide by what is known as the great silence. It is not, I suspect, adhered to with the same severity as in years past. Indeed, one has a sense that the silence masks all kinds of feverish activity, all of it associated with theology, of course.
Press release from the Church of England website:
Responding today (22nd November 2017) to the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget Statement, the Bishop of Birmingham, Rt. Revd David Urquhart, Convenor of the Lords Spiritual, said:
“The Chancellor’s Budget has gone some way to deal with the immediate problems facing our economy, housing and NHS, but it could have gone much further to help the many at the sharp end struggling to get by.
“Across the country churches support and are in touch with those who experience poverty or financial difficulty as a result of low pay, illness, or debt. The Budget statement provided an opportunity to make a difference to the lives of the most disadvantaged at a time when the cost of living is rising. The country faces substantial financial challenges and the growth forecast downgrades are worrying. But whilst the Chancellor has limited room for manoeuvre, there is more that could have been done to alleviate the situation of those who are struggling to manage. Deficit reduction is important, but should be achieved in ways that promote fairness, generosity, and sustainability. Bishops frequently raise these issues in the House of Lords and in meetings with ministers, and will continue to do so. Continue reading “Autumn Budget 2017 – response from Bishop of Birmingham”
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 “Bishop of Chester welcomes Government policy reversal on National Insurance contributions”
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 “Bishop of Chester speaks about national debt and expenditure pressures in Budget debate”
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 “Budget debate: Bishop of Portsmouth calls on Government to ‘set economic course with a stronger moral compass’”