EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill: Bishop of Durham urges support for Dubs amendment on refugee children family reunion

On 21st January 2020 the House of Lords debated and voted on an amendment to the Government’s EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill from Lord Dubs, which would restore  measures for refugee children family reunion. The Bishop supported the amendment as a co-sponsor and in the subsequent vote it was passed by 300 votes to 220. It returns to the Commons to be voted on by MPs.

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I speak once more from these Benches, recognising that the argument has been made again and again. I am honoured to follow the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, and to concur with all that he said. As my right reverend friend the Bishop of Worcester reminded the House last week—he kindly spoke for me because I could not be present in Committee—this debate resonates with the nativity story, the story of a child fleeing persecution. The voices of these children are too often drowned out by conflict and violence, by traffickers and by political leaders. Let this House speak on their behalf by voting for the amendment. Continue reading “EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill: Bishop of Durham urges support for Dubs amendment on refugee children family reunion”

Bishop of Worcester asks about independent guardians and advocates for victims of modern slavery

On 16th January 2020  Baroness Doocey asked Her Majesty’s Government “what is the Home Office’s policy on the processing of an asylum claim when an applicant says they have been the victim of child trafficking?” The Bishop of Worcester, Rt Revd John Inge, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Worcester: Will the Minister update the House on any progress that is being made on the provision of independent guardians and advocates for victims of modern slavery? Continue reading “Bishop of Worcester asks about independent guardians and advocates for victims of modern slavery”

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill: Bishops support Dubs amendment on refugee children family reunion

On 15th January 2020 the House of Lords considered amendments to the Government’s European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill at its second day in Committee. The Bishop of Worcester, Rt Revd John Inge, spoke in support of an amendment in the name of Lord Dubs and the Bishop of Durham, to ensure the continuation of the refugee children and family reunification provisions of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. The amendment was withdrawn by Lord Dubs at the end of the debate, with a commitment to return to it at a later stage.

Clause 37: Arrangements with EU about unaccompanied children seeking asylum. Debate on whether Clause 37 should stand part of the Bill. 

The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, I am pleased to support this amendment, to which my friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham has put his name. He is sorry not to be able to be in the Chamber today. A few weeks ago, we celebrated the story of Christmas. In the nativity, the happy events in a Bethlehem stable were followed by the more dramatic flight of the holy family to escape the violent persecution of King Herod. As we discuss this amendment, that story of the child Jesus and his parents fleeing from violence to a foreign land resonates loudly.

Children are among the most vulnerable victims of conflict, persecution and violence around the world. We all know that they do not choose to become refugees separated from their families. We as a nation can choose to reunite some families torn apart by conflict by offering children shelter, hope and a future. That is what I believe the majority of people in this country wish, and I am sure that is what the Government wish. This amendment seeks to ensure it by guaranteeing a safe, legal, effective and managed route for child refugees to join their families in this country. Continue reading “European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill: Bishops support Dubs amendment on refugee children family reunion”

Bishop of Gloucester responds to Queen’s Speech – the needs of children and vulnerable women

On 9th January 2020 the Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, spoke in the Queen’s Speech debate, about children and vulnerable women:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I begin by congratulating the noble Baroness, Lady Blower, on her excellent maiden speech.

I shall focus on children and vulnerable women; I draw noble Lords’ attention to my entry on the register of interests. My headlines are that we need policy that supports and enables early intervention and effective partnerships. Experiences that we have at an early age shape who we are. The Children’s Society has been measuring children’s well-being for more than a decade, and during much of that time children’s well-being has been in decline. This is not simply about children; it is about how we shape the sort of communities we want to see. Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester responds to Queen’s Speech – the needs of children and vulnerable women”

Bishop of Rochester asks Government about children of prisoners, improving fostering and adoption

17.10 Rochester3On 9th January 2020, Baroness Massey of Darwen asked the Government, “following their ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, what plans they have to promote children’s rights and well-being across government departments in this Parliament”. The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I have two particular groups of children in mind whose well-being is often compromised. The first are those who have a parent or other primary carer on the cusp of going into custody. What plans do Her Majesty’s Government have to ensure that sentencers, including magistrates, are aware of the new guidance from the Sentencing Council on this matter? On looked-after children, what intentions do Her Majesty’s Government have to further promote the vocation—it is a vocation—to become a foster carer or an adopter? Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester asks Government about children of prisoners, improving fostering and adoption”

Bishop of Durham raises global human rights, poverty, development and climate change in Queen’s Speech debate

On the 7th January the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke during the second day of debate on the Queen’s Speech, on the topics of child poverty, climate change sustainable development and immigration:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, initially I want to note how little reference there is in the gracious Speech to the needs of children, except in the realm of education. There is nothing about children’s first 1,000 days, nor any firm commitment to tackle the iniquity of child poverty. How we treat children speaks volumes for where our priorities lie. Could the Minister please comment on this omission?

Continue reading “Bishop of Durham raises global human rights, poverty, development and climate change in Queen’s Speech debate”

Bishop of London highlights role of church and community groups in improving health and social care

London1On 22nd October 2019 Parliament continued to debate the Queen’s Speech, including scrutiny of measures relating to Health and Social Care. The Bishop of London, Rt Revd Sarah Mullally (and formerly Chief Nursing Officer for England), contributed to the debate:

Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, many noble Lords will know that I have a background in health, and I continue to be a great supporter of the National Health Service, so they will not be surprised when I address my comments to health and social care. In doing so, I recognise the contribution of the noble Baroness, Lady Emerton, to nursing and to this House.

I thank the Government for their work to support and strengthen the National Health Service, its workforce and its resources. However, increased investment and reform does not guarantee getting to the root of the problem. Our health and social care issue is what you might call a “village problem”. Our flourishing, mentally, physically and emotionally, occurs best in community. More than that, as Sir Michael Marmot’s research from the Institute of Health Equity indicated, our economic, social and emotional circumstances all play a part in our health and well-being.

Continue reading “Bishop of London highlights role of church and community groups in improving health and social care”