The Bishop of Exeter received the following written answer on 23rd January 2023:
The Lord Bishop of Exeter asked His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the cost effectiveness of Evusheld in the treatment of immuno-compromised persons with complex health needs against the cost of an admission to hospital, given the increase in COVID-19 hospital admissions and the pressure on the NHS.
The Bishop of Exeter spoke in a debate on the effects of long covid on 17th November 2022, focusing on the impact on rural communities:
The Lord Bishop of Exeter: My Lords, I too thank the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, for securing this important and timely debate.
I will focus my remarks on the rural dimension of long Covid, which is having an impact on many people in Devon where I am privileged to serve. I am concerned about rural sustainability and the need to ensure that the Government’s levelling-up agenda is not focused exclusively on urban deprivation. Rural poverty may not show up on government statistics because it is dispersed in pockets, but it is just as real. Research suggests that structural inequalities, including poverty, are important in the development and course of Covid-19 and may form an important context for long Covid.
As far as Devon is concerned, the picture postcard view of my county beloved by holidaymakers is only half the story. The best information we have is that there are currently around 16,000 people living with long Covid in Devon and, as I am sure the noble Baroness, Lady Watkins of Tavistock, will corroborate, it is impacting on the economic life of our county.
The Bishop of London asked a question during a debate on Personal Protective Equipment during the COVID-19 Pandemic on 14th June 2022:
The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, I recognise the considerable pressure that the Government, the NHS and Ministers were put under, but can the Minister tell us what is being done so that we can learn from this situation and not replicate it in the next pandemic?
The Bishop of Gloucester asked a question on government support for disadvantaged students seeking university places following the COVID-19 pandemic, during a debate on the effect of the pandemic on disadvantaged communities on 23rd February 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, due to the effect of the pandemic on university experience, greater numbers of young people have deferred their university places. This particularly affects students leaving school this year, as university capacity is limited. Will the Minister say what is being done so that those from deprived backgrounds seeking university places this year do not become further disadvantaged in their education and future life choices, having often been the most affected by two years of a pandemic?
During a debate on a statement made to the House of Commons on ‘Living with COVID-19’ on 22nd February 2022, the Bishop of Coventry asked a question on promotion of vaccine equity:
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Londesborough, earlier this afternoon your Lordships’ House considered the matter of global vaccine equity, and my sense was that, in many among the House, there was a feeling that more could be done on that front. Would the Leader say whether the Government also feel that more might be done to ensure vaccine equity in the UK itself, as an expression of the noble and laudable commitment to levelling up?
The Bishop of Durham received the following written answer on 21st February 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Durham asked Her Majesty’s Government whether UK donations of COVID-19 vaccinations to other countries ever have conditions attached to the donation; and if so, what conditions have been placed on donations.
On 17th June 2021 MPs put questions to Andrew Selous MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner. Text of the oral and written answers is below.
Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con): Whether the Church of England plans to support online and in-person communal worship as covid-19 restrictions are lifted. (901321)
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Andrew Selous): The Church of England is strongly encouraging churches to support both in-person and online communal worship, and training has been given to thousands of clergy to enable this. It is up to local churches to decide how best to do this.
On 15th June 2021 the House of Lords heard a repeat of a Government statement on covid-19 rules.
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, regardless of matters of hindsight, does the Minister agree that prolonging the restrictions might be justified for certain reasons? I do not demur from that, but the prolonging of inconsistencies is a serious impediment to public adherence to the rules. You do not have to look very far to see where the discipline broke down a long time ago. For example—this is not special pleading; it is just at the forefront of my mind—you can sing in a pub but not in a church. This is what brings the rules into disrepute, and therefore people do not agree with them.
Secondly, can the Minister say something in response to Michael Gove’s reported comments about acceptable death rates? We have learned to live with acceptable death rates from flu and other seasonal diseases. Will the Government do some work on what might be an acceptable death rate from Covid in future and be up-front with the country as to what that might be? I think we can take it.
On 27th May 2021 the Bishop of Blackburn asked a question he had tabled on the link between covid-19 rates and high levels of poverty.
Question Asked by The Lord Bishop of Blackburn: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made as to whether there is a correlation between areas with high COVID-19 infection rates and high levels of poverty; and if there is such a correlation, what steps they intend to take to address this as part of their levelling up agenda.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Care (Lord Bethell) (Con): My Lords, the facts are heartbreaking. Covid, like many diseases, has hit hardest those who are most vulnerable: the poorest, the most disabled and those who work in some of the most difficult jobs. The vaccine rollout and community testing programmes have shown what the country can do, but there is much more to be done. That is why we are publishing a levelling-up White Paper, and health inequalities will be central to that.
The Lord Bishop of Blackburn: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his reply and the work that he and colleagues are doing in a fast-changing scene. We know that it is not easy. Does he agree that care for the poorest, most disadvantaged and most vulnerable in the community is one of the signs of a healthy society? Can he be more specific about how equality of opportunity in the levelling-up agenda will be rolled out?
On Wednesday 26th May the House of Lords questioned Government on the local travel arrangement plans and the lack of consultation that had caused some confusion. The Bishop of Blackburn spoke from the experience of this in his diocese.
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