International Holocaust Memorial Day: Bishop of Carlisle speaks in tribute

On 19th January 2023, the Bishop of Carlisle spoke in a debate to mark the lead up to International Holocaust Memorial Day:

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton. Like so many others, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Pickles, for this Motion. It provides an opportunity not only to hear such moving contributions but to express from these Benches our deep appreciation of the history and values that Christians and Jews have in common, as well as the importance we attach to our ongoing dialogue, understanding and attempts to work together for the common good. Our central Christian act of worship, the Eucharist, originated in Christ’s participation in the Jewish ceremony of Passover. We note the huge contribution that Jewish people have made to British society through the centuries, which is a great expression of the significance of faith in public life.

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Bishop of Carlisle asks about changes to the Localism Act for national parks

On 18th January 2023, the Bishop of Carlisle asked a question on changes to the Localism Act 2011 to better enable national parks to engage in conservation:

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, some of our national parks believe that they could better address climate and nature emergencies if they were added to the list of authorities which have a general power of competence under the Localism Act 2011. Can the Minister tell us whether His Majesty’s Government have any plans to bring that about?

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Levelling Up Bill: Bishop of Carlisle speaks on health inqualities

The House of Lords debated the Levelling Up Bill in its second reading on 17th January 2023. The Bishop of Carlisle spoke in the debate, focusing on health inequalities between the North and South of England:

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, in the brief time available, I will address health inequalities between the north of England, where I live, and the south, and their implications for levelling up and regeneration. Health inequalities are defined as avoidable, unfair and systematic differences in health between different groups of people. In 2010, Sir Michael Marmot conducted his celebrated review into such inequalities, in the hope that this might lead to some improvement. Instead, we have seen an increase, rather than a reduction, of such inequalities over the last 12 years. For instance, life expectancy in deprived areas of the north-east is at least five years lower than it is in similar areas here in London. A baby boy born in Blackpool today can expect an additional 17 years of poor health compared with a baby born in Richmond upon Thames. People in all social groups in the north of England, male and female, are consistently less healthy than those in the south, and premature death rates are about 20% higher across all age groups in the north, due not least to lower lifetime chances.

These statistics—there are many more—are a stark reminder that inequalities in health are often closely linked to people’s socioeconomic circumstances. This has been forcefully illustrated by the Covid pandemic, which, in the words of one commentator, exposed “deep fractures of inequality” running across our society. During the first year of the pandemic, the mortality rate was 17% higher in the north than in the south, unemployment was 19% higher and there were significant differences in mental well-being between the north and the south. It is now reckoned that health issues account for about 30% of the gap in productivity between the north and the south.

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Bishop of Carlisle asks about funded childcare schemes

The Bishop of Carlisle asked a question on the benefits of funded childcare schemes on 17th January 2023, during a debate on access to childcare for working families:

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, following the recommendation in a recent report published by the Work and Pensions Committee on universal credit and childcare costs, can the Minister tell us what assessment His Majesty’s Government have made of childcare funding schemes in Scotland and in some Scandinavian countries? Have they investigated whether their costs are offset by other benefits to society, such as increased economic activity, additional tax receipts and personal well-being?

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Bishop of Carlisle asks about PPE purchasing systems

The Bishop of Carlisle asked a question on whether the government have revised their PPE purchasing systems for possible future pandemics on Monday 16th January 2023:

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, can the Minister tell us whether His Majesty’s Government have yet put in place a revised system to purchase PPE during a pandemic?

Lord Markham (Con): PPE is an example of where we all agree that we could have done better, to say the least. At this stage, I should declare an interest in that I set up a Covid testing company—not PPE—which never supplied the Government. I want to be clear about that, so that the House is fully aware of it in terms of my replies, now we are talking about PPE and related areas. Yes, we can learn a lot about PPE. At the same time, we did buy 35 billion items, 97% of which worked very well. It is important that we keep all this in context; we got 97% of things right.

Hansard

Bishop of Carlisle asks about new coal mine in Cumbria

The Bishop of Carlisle asked a question concerning the proposed opening of a new coal mine in Whitehaven, Cumbria, on 8th December 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I declare a slight interest in this topic, since Whitehaven is in my diocese, and like the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, I live in west Cumbria—in a particularly beautiful part of it, I have to say. This debate has now been running for more than two years, and in Cumbria, as in the whole country, it has been highly contentious, with a great deal of passion expressed on both sides. We have already heard some of that passion in the debate this evening. So I am acutely aware of the many arguments about both the potential environmental impact, which has been deplored, and the employment opportunities, which would—as has already been mentioned—be very welcome in this very deprived part of the country.

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Bishop of Carlisle asks about alternatives to prison sentences

The Lord Bishop of Carlilse asked a question on what the government is doing to promote alternatives to prison sentences, during a debate on prison capacity on 6th December 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, my friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Gloucester much regrets that she is not able to be present today. I know she shares my concern over this Statement since we, like others who have spoken, believe that the emergency use of police cells for prisoners is deeply worrying. We greatly welcome the increase in the number of police officers but feel that it is connected to the larger number of people going to prison, and that that should not be the case. Initially I wanted to ask about rehabilitation, but that question has already been addressed. I accept that the question of sentences is for the courts, but can the Minister help us by saying what the Government are doing to promote community and non-custodial sentences, rather than people simply going to prison?

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Bishop of Carlisle asks about medical approval for age assessments of refugees

The Bishop of Carlisle asked a question on whether the government would seek approval from relevant medical bodies for methods of age-assessment used on refugees on 6th December 2022, during a debate on the ethical considerations of such assessments:

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, further to that answer, in determining what constitutes an appropriate scientific method of age assessment, can the Minister assure us that any future methods will be formally approved by the relevant medical body before they come into use?

Lord Murray of Blidworth (Con): Plainly they will be formally approved by the advisory committee to the Home Secretary, and one suggests that the views of relevant professional bodies will be of great weight in making such a decision.

Hansard

Energy Bill: Bishop of Carlisle calls for more community-led energy generation

On 19th July 2022 the House of Lords debated the Government’s Energy Bill at its Second Reading:

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I take many of the cogent and very well-informed points that have already been made in this debate, not least the one made by the noble Lord, Lord Howell, on the need for international co-operation. Even so, I welcome all three pillars of this Bill. Its stated direction could offer at least a step forward towards the goal of net-zero carbon.

I suggest in particular two rather domestic but, I hope, practical areas that could, in my view, do with further development in the Bill; namely, local renewable energy generation, as raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, and carbon capture, which has been addressed by the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, and the noble Baroness, Lady Sheehan.

In both cases, I hope noble Lords will forgive special reference to Cumbria, where I live. It is currently engulfed in a very contentious debate about the Woodhouse Colliery near Whitehaven that is not nearly as straightforward as it might first appear. Cumbria also has the “energy coast”—originally coal, then nuclear and now, increasingly, renewables. It has the Walney Extension offshore wind farm, which has more than 20% of the UK’s wind farm generating capacity. What is more, as a county, we have more than 50% of all the potential small-scale hydropower generation in the north-west.

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Bishop of Carlisle asks about flexible working for carers

The Bishop of Carlisle asked the following question on 19th July 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, we are all aware of the huge contribution to the nation’s health and economy made by unpaid carers, including those who combine caring responsibilities with other paid employment.

This issue is currently being explored by both the Select Committee of your Lordships’ House and an Archbishops’ Commission. Does the Minister agree that, whenever possible, as well as paid or unpaid leave, flexible working arrangements for those with caring responsibilities are in everybody’s best interests?

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