Bishop of St Albans asks Government for sufficient resources for small businesses needing help with Brexit transition

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”

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about a review of business rates

On 9th June Baroness Quin asked Her Majesty’s Government “what discussions they have had with the Local Government Association on how national and local government can work together to promote economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic”. The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, asked a follow up question, focusing on business rates for large online retail companies and small high street shops.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I declare my interest as a vice-president of the Local Government Association. What discussions have taken place about reviewing business rates, so that large online retail companies, which perhaps have no actual shops and many of which pay relatively small amounts of tax, do not have an unfair advantage over our small shops in our high streets which are under threat at the moment?

Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about a review of business rates”

Bishop of St Albans asks about gambling, bankruptcies and sports sponsorship

On 9th March 2020 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received answers to two written questions, about gambling and bankruptcy, and gambling firms sponsoring football shirts

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL1785 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the Insolvency Service’s figures which show gambling to be a feature in 373 bankruptcies last year, an increase from 158 in 2015–16.

Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about gambling, bankruptcies and sports sponsorship”

Bishop of Winchester asks Government about lower-level apprenticeships

18.03.20 Winchester 1On 7th October 2019 the Bishop of Winchester, Rt Revd Tim Dakin, received a written answer from Government regarding the Apprenticeship Levy:

The Lord Bishop of Winchester: HL17943 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy on the (1) provision, and (2) uptake, of lower-level apprenticeship qualifications; and what steps they are taking to address any issues identified with the (a) provision, and (b) uptake, of such qualifications. Continue reading “Bishop of Winchester asks Government about lower-level apprenticeships”

Bishop of St Albans highlights Church investor pressure on companies without female directors

On 5th March 2019 Baroness Nye asked the Government “what steps they are taking to address the gender pay gap.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, this week the Church Investors Group, which has assets of £21 billion, will vote against the chairs of boards of big firms that have poor policies on tax and climate change. From now on, the 67-member group will put pressure on companies that have no women directors. Does the Minister agree with that approach? Does she also agree that it is a welcome step that companies can no longer get away with such dire records of female representation in management positions?

Bishop of Lincoln responds to Government statement on Nissan

lincoln 140119 cOn 5th February 2019 Rt Revd Christopher Lowson, Bishop of Lincoln, responded to a Government Statement about the Nissan Car Factory in Sunderland, on behalf of the Bishop of Durham:

The Lord Bishop of Lincoln: My Lords, I have been asked by my right reverend friend the Bishop of Durham, who is detained in his diocese, to ask the following question. While he recognises the promised protection of existing jobs, does the Minister recognise that Nissan’s X-Trail announcement will inevitably cause real worry for existing staff about the sustainability of their jobs, both at Nissan and in the supply chain?

Will the Minister say how Her Majesty’s Government intend to allay such concerns at local level and what they might do to encourage Nissan to invest more in the development of electric cars and autonomous vehicles?

Continue reading “Bishop of Lincoln responds to Government statement on Nissan”

Bishop of St Albans asks about linking executive pay to carbon emission reduction targets

On 5th December 2018 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a question he had tabled to Government about linking executive pay to carbon emission reduction targets. The reply, his follow-up question and those of other Members is below:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to encourage oil and gas companies to link executive pay to carbon emission reduction targets.

Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about linking executive pay to carbon emission reduction targets”

Bishop of St Albans calls for new social contract to address low pay and poor working conditions

On 11th October 2018 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Haskel, ‘To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of proposals for greater employee shareholding and participation in corporate governance.’ The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I thank the noble Lord, Lord Haskel, for securing this debate. With such limited time, I shall make just a few comments about the purposes of business in general and then to make one or two observations about the very specific themes raised in the debate.​

All too often, business and commerce are viewed as though their main aim was simply to make the most money possible. This rather reductionist view of business fails to take into account wider questions raised in Christian theology, as well as by many others, such as how everyone can contribute to the common good, issues of justice and fairness, and particularly the sort of values we wish to celebrate and promote as a society. The best businesses, I believe, are those that balance the need to make money with a high priority on the flourishing and thriving of their workforce and a concern for human dignity. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans calls for new social contract to address low pay and poor working conditions”

Church Commissioners – Corporate Engagement

On 11th October 2018 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered a written question from Frank Field MP on corporate engagement:

Frank Field (Birkenhead): To ask the Honourable Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, which AGMs the Commissioners have attended in relation to companies in which shares are held by the Commissioners in each of the last three years. Continue reading “Church Commissioners – Corporate Engagement”

Bishop of Peterborough questions effectiveness of Apprenticeship levy

PeterboroughFeb2017bOn 25th June 2018 Lord Fox tabled an oral question ‘to ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of the Apprenticeship Levy.’ The Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Revd Donald Allister, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, is the Minister aware that for small businesses and voluntary organisations the process of drawing up the standards is very complicated and time-consuming, that there is little guidance on this and no financial help for it from government, and that since the levy was introduced the grant for apprenticeships has fallen from £6,000 for an 18-year-old to £2,500, so the YMCA tells me? That makes it unviable for the YMCA to offer apprenticeships. Continue reading “Bishop of Peterborough questions effectiveness of Apprenticeship levy”