On 25th February 2015, Lord Holmes of Richmond asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of broadband speeds, capacity and coverage in rural areas of the United Kingdom and in city technology hubs such as the Old Street roundabout. The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd James Newcome, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, many small rural schools, for instance in Cumbria, where I come from, struggle to access a high-quality broadband connection. That results in pupils missing out on educational opportunities through not having a good internet-based information supply. Can the Minister tell us what assessment the Government have made of this situation and how they intend to address it?
Lord Ashton of Hyde: My Lords, the right reverend Prelate makes a very good point. We are obviously concerned that schools have the benefit of superfast broadband, which is important if schools are to take advantage of the opportunities offered by learning technology. However, not every school is the same. Schools have the autonomy to buy a connection that meets their needs. Schools’ connectivity needs will vary depending on the size and type of school. The Government’s £780 million investment programme in broadband infrastructure will increase the broadband options available to schools, including to rural schools.
On 24th February 2015 the House of Lords considered a Motion to Approve the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Mitochondrial Donation) Regulations 2015, alongside a Motion from Lord Deben not to approve the Regulations but to set up a Joint Committee of Parliament to consider the issues in more detail.
The Bishop of Carlisle, Rt Rev James Newcome, spoke during the debate, setting out his own position and that of the Church of England on the question of Mitochondrial Donation (also known as ‘three parent babies’).
Earl Howe concluded the debate on behalf of the government. An extract from his remarks can also be found below.
On 24th February 2015, Baroness Bakewell asked Her Majesty’s Government “what requirements were set in the contract for Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre recently reawarded to Serco regarding the dignity and privacy of women detained there”.
The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd James Newcome, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, in view of the concerns expressed only last Friday by the Joint Committee on Human Rights about women and girls who claim to have been victims of violence and are detained at Yarl’s Wood under the fast-track process, can the Minister tell us whether the Government have any plans for a screening process for people in that position?
On Thursday 5th February, Nicholas Baines, Lord Bishop of Leeds, was introduced and took the oath, supported by the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Carlisle, and signed an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct.
The full procedure for introduction of Lords Spiritual to the House of Lords is set out in the House of Lords Companion to Standing Orders, which can be read here.
On 4th February 2015, a Government Statement on the Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse was repeated in the House of Lords by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office, Lord Bates. The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd James Newcome, responded to the statement from the Bishops’ Benches:
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I am afraid that this is not a question but a brief statement, if I may. On behalf of the Church of England, we welcome—