On 24th June, the Bishop of St Albans asked a question following a Government statement on the Windrush Compensation Scheme.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, we are all implicated in the conscious and unconscious bias which bedevils our society. It will change only if we all take responsibility to make that change come about. Due to the age of those who came on the “Windrush”, time is of the essence in gaining compensation. Some of them have already died. What specifically is being done to speed up the process? On the more general issue, what is the relationship between the various groups, such as this cross-government working group and the race equality commission, and is the Minister sure that these groups will complement each other and expedite matters rather than confuse them?
On 23rd October 2018 Baroness Lister of Burtersett asked Her Majesty’s Government ‘what assessment they have made of the impact on children of the £1,012 fee to apply to register their entitlement to British citizenship.’ The Bishop of Ely, Rt Revd Stephen Conway asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Ely: My Lords, has the Minister been in contact with the many school leaders who say that there are issues not only around identity, but around the economic harm done to children through food insecurity and their basic needs not being met? I wonder whether, even ahead of the review, an undertaking might be given to waive fees for the poorest children, particularly those who are looked after. Continue reading “Bishop of Ely asks Government about impact of citizenship fees on children’s welfare”
On 12th June 2018 the House of Lords debated the motion ‘That this House regrets that the Immigration and Nationality (Fees) Regulations 2018 include a £39 increase in the fee for registering children entitled to British citizenship, given that only £372 of the proposed £1,012 fee is attributable to administrative costs; and calls on Her Majesty’s Government to withdraw the fee increase until they have (1) published a children’s best interests impact assessment of the fee level, and (2) established an independent review of fees for registering children as British citizens, in the light of the report of the Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement (HL Paper 118) (SI 2018/330)’. The Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I support the Motion of the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, and associate myself with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Alton. I will not go into the mathematics—which are very simple, in a way—but I invite the Minister to help us understand the Government’s role in dealing with citizenship. This is about citizenship, not immigration, although sometimes they are linked. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby on the meaning and cost of citizenship”
On 25th October 2016, the Government’s National Citizen Service Bill was debated at Second Reading in the House of Lords. The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, supported the Bill, and talked about the desirability of widening access to the National Citizen Service.
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth My Lords, I too welcome and support this Bill, not only because of the impact, actual and potential, on building the confidence and contribution of participants but also for its intention to both formalise and improve the accountability and functioning of the NCS. It may seem obvious for us to support a scheme with such clear aims to encourage young people to engage with their communities and take responsibility for their transformation, and one that claims some positive impact on community cohesion. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth supports National Citizen Service Bill”
On 14th January 2015, Lord Phillips of Sudbury asked Her Majesty’s Government how they propose to enhance the amount and quality of citizenship education in order to increase the democratic participation and engagement of young citizens. The Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Lichfield: My Lords, will the Minister join me in congratulating the young people highlighted by the I Will campaign, who have so ably demonstrated the impact that young people can have in transforming their own communities?
Lord Nash: I entirely agree with the right reverend Prelate. Active citizenship is an essential part of the citizenship national curriculum and all students should have the opportunity of participating in volunteering.
On 1st July 2014, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Storey asked Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to encourage educational establishments to take part in National Voter Registration Day 2015. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the Question is about encouraging educational establishments to encourage a whole new generation of people to engage in the electoral process. Of course, next year is a hugely significant year, with the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. Can we not only encourage our schools to use this as an opportunity to really inspire people to think about civil participation, citizenship and so on but find some imaginative ways to give people the information in the educational packs that will be used next year?
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, certainly. We trust that the churches will play their own role, and perhaps we will have mentions in sermons of civic duty and what one should render unto Caesar as well as unto God.
On 12th May 2014, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford, took part in a division on the Government’s Immigration Bill, during the ‘ping pong’ stage of the Bill.
Labour Peer Baroness Smith of Basildon moved Motion B1, as an amendment to Motion B, to leave out from “House” to end and insert “do insist on its Amendment 18.” The amendment sought to refer the question of when and how the citizenship of a naturalised British citizen can be withdrawn to a Joint Select Committee. The amendment had originally been tabled by Lord Pannick and passed during Report Stage in the House of Lords.
The Bishop of Oxford voted ‘content’ with Baroness Smith’s motion. No bishop voted ‘not content.’
There were Contents: 193 / Not Contents: 286. Result: Government Win
During a debate on the effectiveness of the Charity Commission, the Bishop of St Albans welcomed the Government’s decision to extend exempted charity status to churches and similar charities by a further seven years but raised concerns about the capacity to register exempted organisations when they reach the registration threshold. He called on the Government to ensure that funding was maintained to ensure the Charity Commission could provide high-quality advice and support to charities and sought a specific assurance from the Minister that the Transparency of Lobbying Act would not affect a church’s ability to host hustings and similar events.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I will not reiterate what has already been said about the levels of underfunding of the Charity Commission. There is great concern that the vital work that is going on needs proper support if we are going to develop this very important sector in our country. A number of noble Lords have spoken about the need for proper resourcing.
I want to comment briefly on the group of charities that are described by the Charity Commission as excepted charities. These include not just churches and chapels but charities that provide premises for some types of schools and Scout and Guide groups, and charitable service funds of the Armed Forces. It is very significant and helpful that Her Majesty’s Government have decided to extend exception from registration for a further seven years beyond 31 March 2014. It is unclear whether there are any plans afoot for an orderly transition to registration in the lead-up to 2021. Of course, to some extent inflation will reduce the number of excepted organisations and other charities as they reach that £100,000 registration threshold, but unless some queuing system is agreed in advance, at the end of the seven-year extension there is a real possibility of a logjam. Continue reading “The Bishop of St Albans takes part in debate on the Charity Commission”