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”
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”
On 10th November the House of Lords considered the Government’s Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill. Lord Dubs pressed again an amendment on child refugees and family reunion, his earlier amendment to the Bill having been rejected in a vote in the House of Commons. The Bishop of Southwark spoke in support of the amendment. Lord Dubs did not press it to a vote, accepting some concessions from the Government in its place.
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I speak in favour of the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Dubs. In doing so, I speak not only on my account but also in place of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, who is locked down in the north-east and therefore, because of the procedures for consideration of Commons amendments, is unable to speak on this amendment, although that had been very much his intention.
Family life and kin relationships are vital in many parts of the world to ensure survival. Even in the UK, family means the difference between misery, destitution and poor mental health and a life where, even in the most difficult circumstances, there is practical care, support and love. Thus, I, too, welcome the Government’s steps towards ensuring safe and legal routes, including the commitment in case of a no-deal Brexit, to pursue bilateral negotiations on arrangements for family reunion, which I trust they will seek to ensure are equivalent to the Dublin regulations. I welcome the Minister’s commitments and await with interest her further comments following what the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, just said.
However, a step in the right direction is not the end of the journey. Continue reading “Immigration Bill: Bishop of Southwark supports Dubs amendment on child refugees and family reunion”
On 5th October 2020 the House of Lords considered amendments to the Government’s Immigration and Social Security (EU Withdrawal) Bill 2020 during the second day of its Report stage. The Bishop of Southwark spoke in favour of amendments to the Bill on
- Child refugees and family reunion
- Providing physical, not just digital, proof of settled and pre-settled status in the UK.
- Placing an upper limit of 28 days on the time an EEA or Swiss national may be held in immigration detention.
The texts of his speeches are below. He and ten other bishops voted on these and other amendments to the Bill and the details are recorded here.
On 5th October 2020 Baroness McDonagh asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the impact on primary and secondary school students’ ability to learn for those students (1) who have digital connectivity, and (2) who do not have such connectivity, when learning from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Bishop of Oxford asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford [V]: My Lords, I thank the Minister for her Answer and for what the Government have already done. Before the pandemic, 23% of children in socioeconomic groups D and E lacked home broadband and access to laptops, et cetera. Does the Minister agree that we now need to measure data poverty and its effects more carefully? Will the Government commit to legislating for household digital access to be treated as a utility on an equal footing with the right to access for water and heat—a change supported by the general public? Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford calls for household access to digital connection to be treated equally to other household utilities”
On 1st October 2020 questions in the House of Lords were put to Government on support for professional and amateur sport. The Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, asked a question:
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I was pleased to hear that the Government believes that sports clubs are the beating heart of their communities. As bishops we like to believe that is also true of our church communities, and indeed all communities of faith – and the Church of England is currently investing in pilot projects including my own diocese, focusing on sport and wellbeing underpinned by our Christian faith. Indeed the Bishop of Derby is the lead bishop for sport.
Can the government say what investment will the Government make into local provision for children and young people to engage in sports and physical activity that is shaped by them, given the research of the Children’s Society highlighting the importance not only of chosen physical activity but also of positive time with peers, and the fact that that has all been horribly impacted by Covid-19?
On Wednesday 30th September 2020 the House of Lords considered amendments to the Government’s Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill during its Report Stage. The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in support of two amendments, on:
- Researching and reporting on the impact on the social care workforce.
- Ensuring that children of EEA and Swiss nationals, in care and entitled to care leaving support, do not become undocumented by receiving automatic Indefinite Leave to Remain under the EU Settlement Scheme.
Votes on the amendments were deferred until the following week due to technical problems.
On 14th September 2020 the House of Lords considered amendments to the Government’s Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill, during its third day in Committee.
The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, supported amendments to the Bill, on:
- Limiting the time a specified person can be detained for immigration purposes, and defining those purposes.
- Family reunion for those seeking refugee status, and unaccompanied children
As is usual in Committee, the amendments were not pressed to a vote after debate, though some issues may be returned to again at a later stage. A transcript of the Bishop’s speeches is below, with extracts from the speeches of the Minister responding. The text of amendments 39, 40 and 48 supported by the Bishop are reproduced at the bottom. Continue reading “Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill: Bishop of Durham supports amendments on detention, refugee family reunion and unaccompanied children”
On 10th September 2020 MPs asked questions of the Church Commissioners, represented by Andrew Selous MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner. A full transcript is below:
The hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—
Covid-19: Mental Health
James Sunderland (Bracknell) (Con): What steps the Church of England is taking to support mental health during the covid-19 outbreak. 
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Andrew Selous): This is a timely question from my hon. Friend, on World Suicide Prevention Day. The Church’s healthcare chaplains work in both acute and community mental health services. The diocese of Manchester provides mental health wellbeing youth workers, to provide mental health first aid, and the parish of Goudhurst in Kilndown in Kent provides subsidised mental health counselling in 13 schools. Continue reading “Church Commissioner Questions: covid-19, mental health, debt advice, youth work, online worship, overseas aid, racism”