Vaccines for developing world, poverty in the pandemic, devolution and Ethiopia  

In the House of Lords on 14th January 2021 the Bishop of St Albans received written answers to questions on vaccines for developing countries and the situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia while the Bishop of Durham received answers to questions on the recent updated report by the Child Poverty Action Group and the Church of England on Poverty in the pandemic.
Meanwhile in the Chamber, the Bishop of Birmingham raised the issue of devolution in England with the Government during Lord Young’s Oral question about the formation of a Constitution, Democracy and Human Rights Commission. Text below:

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‘Spycops’ and gambling related harm

In the House of Lords on 13th January 2021 the Bishop of Durham spoke during the debate on the Covert Human Intelligence Bill and the Bishop of St Albans received a written answer to a question on support for those living with gambling-related harm. Details below:

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Bishop of Coventry asks Government about rise in abortions and link to two-child benefit limit

On 30th December the Bishop of Coventry received written answers to three questions on abortion and the two-child benefit limit:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the reported rise in the number of abortions among women with two or more children. [HL11398] Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry asks Government about rise in abortions and link to two-child benefit limit”

Bishop of Oxford asks Government about age ratings for content on streaming platforms

On 8th December the Bishop of Oxford asked a question of Government during exchanges in the House of Lords on age ratings for streaming platforms:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford [V] : My Lords, I thank the Minister for her answer. What will the Government do if other platforms do not follow the Netflix example? According to the BBFC, over 90% of parents said that age-related guidance was helpful, and there is no doubt that voluntary action may be more forthcoming if platforms are very clear that the UK Government expect content consumed here in the UK to be properly signposted with BBFC symbols and content advice. How else do the Government plan to ensure that only age-appropriate content is accessible to young and vulnerable viewers?

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Bishop of Worcester calls for national child poverty strategy

On 7th December 2020 the Bishop of Worcester asked a question of Government on social mobility and the need for a national child poverty strategy:
The Lord Bishop of Worcester [V]: My Lords, I speak today on behalf of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Newcastle, who has been delayed travelling to London. Like her, I am very aware of the relationship between child poverty and a lack of social mobility, but she has a special interest as independent chair of the North of Tyne Inclusive Economy Board. Child poverty is central to the Government’s levelling-up agenda. Since 35% of children in the north-east of England live in relative poverty, would the Minister tell us if Her Majesty’s Government will work with the Social Mobility Commission to develop a national child poverty strategy in response to the Covid-19 pandemic?

Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill: Bishop of Carlisle supports amendment to prevent use of children as covert agents

On 3rd December 2020 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill 2020 at its Committee Stage. The Bishop of Durham had co-sponsored two amendments aimed at restricting or regulating the use of children as covert agents. The Bishop of Carlisle spoke in his place, in support of the amendments. As is usual practice they were withdrawn after debate and may be returned to at a later stage:

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I speak in support of Amendment 43, in the names of my right reverend friend the Bishop of Durham, the noble Lord, Lord Young, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Chakrabarti and Lady Bull, and Amendment 60, in the names of the noble Baronesses, Lady Young and Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark. As we have heard, both concern the treatment of children.

We should not for a moment underestimate some of the evils in our society that the Government and the forces of law and order are tasked with confronting. Some of those evils involve the abuse of children and vulnerable people, including, as we know, the scourge of county lines drug gangs, sexual predators and traffickers. It does not take much imagination to see how, as a result of this, there is a periodic temptation to use children as covert assets. We must clearly guard against that temptation; as we have already been reminded, our first duty must be to the care and well-being of children. This applies all the more to children who find themselves in vulnerable and harmful situations, such as those used and abused by criminal gangs.

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Bishop of Carlisle asks about access to Child Trust Funds

On 3rd December 2020 during questions in the Lords on access to Child Trust Funds, the Bishop of Carlisle asked about provision for those who have learning disabilities but may also have life-limiting conditions:
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, does the Minister agree that some children with learning disabilities who want to access trust funds might have life-limiting conditions? There might not be much time available for legal processes to be gone through. Can she assure the House that, if such situations have not already been considered, they will be given the attention that they deserve?

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about gambling regulation and children

On 30th November the Bishop of St Albans received a written answer to three questions on gambling regulation and children:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Barran on 10 November (HL9946), what representations they have made to the (1) Gambling Commission, and (2) Electronic Money Association, about encouraging the providers of e-wallets to introduce gambling blocks. [HL10374]
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Barran on 10 November (HL9946), what representations they have made to the Gambling Commission to encourage building societies to introduce gambling blocks on personal current accounts and credit cards. [HL10375] https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2020-11-16/hl10375
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the findings of the survey published by the Gambling Commission Young People & Gambling 2020, published in August, what representations they have made to the Advertising Standards Authority on what further measures can be taken to reduce childhood exposure to gambling. [HL10376] https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2020-11-16/hl10376

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Bishop of Durham asks about children’s views of education during the pandemic

On 16th November 2020 Baroness Massey of Darwen asked the Government ” what plans they have to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into legislation.” The Bishop of Durham asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Durham [V]:  Regarding the voice of children and young people, if Article 12 had been in law, what might their input have been on their own situation in schools, universities and the like through the pandemic? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks about children’s views of education during the pandemic”

Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill – Bishop of Durham raises child safety fears

On 11th November the House of Lords debated the Government’s Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill at its Second Reading. The Bishop of Durham spoke in the debate, raising concerns about the risks to the safety of children:

The Lord Bishop of Durham [V]: My Lords, I too would like to welcome the noble and learned Minister to the House and to his new role. Not many find their maiden speech to be that of introducing a Bill to the House, and I congratulate him on the necessarily blended speech.

I welcome the Government’s move to provide a statutory basis for covert human intelligence sources to participate in criminal conduct, where it is necessary and proportionate to do so for a limited set of specified purposes. We recognise the heavy duty placed on ​government to protect its citizens, and this Bill is a necessary step so that those undertaking these activities with a view to protecting the public can be clear in their status and duties.

However, while welcoming the intent behind this Bill, I am concerned that safeguards should be properly scrutinised, in particular when they concern the treatment of children. Continue reading “Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill – Bishop of Durham raises child safety fears”