The Bishop of Chelmsford asked about support for prisoners re-entering the community on 10th January 2022, during a debate on prison chaplaincy:
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, on Christmas Day, I was pleased to be able to visit my local prison and young offenders’ institute in Chelmsford, where I was taking a service. I had several conversations with both prisoners and members of staff who expressed concern about ensuring continued support for those who are leaving prison and re-entering the community. As the work of multifaith community chaplaincy and indeed the Welcome Directory continues to be developed to support those leaving prison, can the Minister say what discussions there have been, if any, regarding possible funding support from HMG?
The Bishop of Chelmsford asked a question on reform to debt management for universal credit recipients during a debate on food banks and the rise in poverty on 9th January 2023:
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, given the data published by the Trussell Trust in December which revealed that 57% of people referred to food banks who are in receipt of universal credit face government deductions from their or their partner’s benefits income, could the Minister outline what steps the Government will take to reform the debt management process for universal credit?
The Bishop of Chelmsford asked a question about government action to ensure affordable housing in light of the current cost of living on 15th December 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: To ask His Majesty’s Government, given the increased cost of living, what actions they will take to ensure that housing is affordable in relation to household incomes in (1) the private rented sector, (2) the social housing sector, and (3) for homeowners with mortgages.
Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con): My Lords, the Government recognise the cost of living pressures that people are facing across this country, particularly this winter. Local housing allowance rates have been maintained at their increased level following a boost in investment of nearly £1 billion in April 2020. The Government have also capped social housing rent increases for 2023-24 at 7% to protect social tenants from higher rent increases, and last week we published a mortgage support statement setting out the support available to mortgage holders.
On 13th December 2022, the House of Lords debated amendments to the Public Order Bill in the third day of Committee. The Bishop of Chelmsford spoke in support of two sets of amendments to the bill:
firstly to amendments tabled by Lord Paddick, with the support of the Bishop of St Albans, which would raise the burden of proof required to impose a serious disruption prevention order on protesters.
secondly to amendments tabled by Baroness Chakrabarti and the Bishop of Manchester, which would place a moratorium on extending existing police powers without a parliamentary debate on current recruitment, vetting, and discipline of police officers.
The Bishop of Chelmsford asked a question about the cost of employing agency staff to cover NHS shifts, as compared to the cost of a pay rise for NHS staff, during a debate on the upcoming NHS industrial action on 13th December 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, even prior to the strikes, agency nurses were being brought in to ensure that shifts were safely staffed. I should be grateful if the Minister would set out what assessment the Government have made of the cost to the NHS of employing agency staff, compared with that of a pay rise that would work towards an arguably better and more stable workforce?
The Bishop of Chelmsford asked a question on extending free school meals to all children from families in receipt of universal credit on 13th December 2022, during a debate on free school meals funding and decision making power:
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, building on the question the noble Lord has just asked, research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found that out of 3.9 million children living in relative poverty in the UK, only 2.3 million receive free school meals. Can the Minister say whether the Government intend to extend free school meals to all children from families receiving universal credit?
The Bishop of Chelmsford asked a question about support for Iranians in the UK with loved ones in Iran on 12th December 2022, in light of the recent arrests and executions of protesters in Iran:
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, the news of the executions in Iran is deeply concerning and heart-breaking. I declare an interest as someone who originally comes from Iran and still has friends and loved ones there. There are likely to be many more executions still to come, with a dozen death sentences already issued. I would be grateful if the Minister could outline what support the Government are providing to Iranians in the UK who are seeking to ensure the safety of loved ones in Iran.
The Bishop of Chelmsford asked a question about support for migrant survivors during a debate on housing support for domestic abuse survivors on 12th December 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, in addressing this very important Question, I think we should also consider the experience of migrant survivors who may have insecure status or no recourse to public funds or may be frightened of repercussions for contacting the police. Will the Minister outline what progress the Government have made in the light of the DAC’s recommendation to develop a long-term funding solution that ensures that a clear universal pathway to support is available to domestic abuse survivors regardless of migration status and whether they will be reporting on the results of the pilot project to support migrant survivors?
On 9th December 2022 the Bishop of Chelmsford spoke in a debate led by the Archbishop of Canterbury on the principles behind UK asylum and refugee policy.
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Twycross, for her gracious maiden speech and for mentioning the role of churches in local resilience forums. I look forward to hearing the two maiden speeches to come. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester and I were formerly colleagues when I was Bishop of Loughborough, and I look forward to working with him in this House.
I thank my right reverend friend the Archbishop of Canterbury for securing this timely and important debate. This past year alone, we have seen multiple developments of concern, with an increase in forced migration due to conflict around the globe and over a third of Ukraine’s population displaced by war, with millions seeking refuge beyond their borders. A record 40,000-plus people have made the precarious English Channel crossing. We have also seen deeply troubling conditions faced by people once they are in the UK: overcrowded processing centres, threats of deportation to Rwanda, and a lack of resettlement through the Afghan citizens resettlement scheme.
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