Bishop of St Albans suggests gift aid reform to ease coronavirus burden on charities

In a virtual sitting of the House of Lords on 30th April 2020 a debate was held on a motion from Lord Addington, “that the Virtual Proceedings do consider the fundraising and organisational challenges faced by the charitable and voluntary sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, took part in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, at the very time when we need every charity in the country to be mobilised and deployed, many are teetering on a cliff edge. I have been very struck by the range of charities that have sent me briefing notes: St John Ambulance, Barnardo’s, the MS Society, the Motor Neurone Disease Association, Macmillan Cancer Support, the Scouts, Refugee, Cancer Research UK and the Rainbow Trust, to name but a few. I am sure that other Lords have heard from many others.

Over the years, as the Government have, rightly, raised standards in safeguarding, health and safety, and training, charities have had to employ people to meet those requirements. Now, as income from fundraising activities and charity shops, as well as rental income, has dried up, they are furloughing the very staff who are needed to oversee volunteers. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans suggests gift aid reform to ease coronavirus burden on charities”

Bishop of St Albans raises potential Covid-19 humanitarian crisis in Syria

On 30th April 2020 during a virtual sitting of the House of Lords, the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a question he had tabled about the situation in Idlib, Syria. The response, his follow-up and other questions from Members is reproduced below:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the ongoing conflict in Idlib, Syria.

The Question was considered in a Virtual Proceeding via video call.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con): My Lords, we welcome the ongoing ceasefire in Idlib and call on all sides to abide by their obligations under the Russia-Turkey agreement of 5 March and to heed UN envoy Pedersen’s calls for a permanent, nationwide cessation of hostilities. We also remain deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Idlib, with 846,000 people still displaced and at high risk of Covid-19. We have therefore further increased our humanitarian response.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I am grateful to the Minister for his response but, with 84 hospitals destroyed, some commentators are suggesting that in Idlib alone 100,000 people are at risk of coronavirus. What are Her Majesty’s Government doing to ensure that we have medical equipment, particularly ventilators, in that country to prevent what could be another humanitarian crisis?

Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans raises potential Covid-19 humanitarian crisis in Syria”

Bishop of Durham asks Government about impact of coronavirus on early years childcare providers

On 28th April 2020 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, received a written answer to a question on early years childcare and coronavirus:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: HL3310 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the (1) short-, and (2) long-term, financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on early years childcare providers in receipt of local authority funding who have restricted access to the Job Retention Scheme. [T]

Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government about impact of coronavirus on early years childcare providers”

Bishop of Gloucester raises impact on female offenders and children of coronavirus in prisons

On 23rd April 2020 the House of Lords held a debate in its virtual proceedings, on a question from Lord German, “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on the prison population and offender rehabilitation programmes.” The Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, took part in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I echo what has been said already. I draw attention to my interests in the register, particularly the fact that I am president of the Nelson Trust. I will make just a few points.

The Secretary of State has argued that the public would not accept the early release of certain categories of prisoners. The Government need to be clearer with the public about the risks in a pandemic to prisoners, key workers and their families. The potential risk of low-level, non-violent offenders being released on licence is far outweighed by the risk of inaction and delay. Will the Government commit to put into the public domain as soon as possible substantial and transparent information about how the release programme is working and publish daily statistics about coronavirus in prison, including the impact on staff and those in custody?

Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester raises impact on female offenders and children of coronavirus in prisons”

Covid-19: Bishop of Newcastle praises local efforts to produce PPE and asks Government about devolved production power

On 23rd April 2020 in a virtual sitting of the House of Lords Baroness McIntosh of Pickering asked the Government “how many United Kingdom manufacturers are in place to ensure that an adequate supply of personal protective equipment is made available to (1) the National Health Service, and (2) carers, to all regions of the United Kingdom; and what direct contact they have had with such manufacturers based in the North of England.” The Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, in view of the inability to supply sufficient PPE to where it is needed, despite the very best efforts of central government, will the Minister take note of the achievements of the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, working in partnership with Wingrove Motor Company, Northumbria University, Barbour and many others, to produce and deliver PPE directly to hospitals and hospices in the region? Will the Minister consider devolving more power to the regions and those on the front line?

Continue reading “Covid-19: Bishop of Newcastle praises local efforts to produce PPE and asks Government about devolved production power”

Bishop of Newcastle asks Government about safety of staff running care homes, sheltered accommodation and hospices

In a House of Lords virtual sitting on 22nd April 2020 Baroness Wheeler asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the analysis by Care England which suggests that there have been significantly more deaths caused by Covid-19 in care homes than have been reported.” The Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, it is not just care homes facing these very serious challenges; I have learned that it is also hospices and sheltered accommodation, among other places. Managers responsible for those organisations are under enormous pressure trying to ensure safe staffing levels and the safety of their staff. I hope that sufficient PPE will soon be secured and distributed. Although I recognise the enormous challenge and the efforts that are being made towards that, in the immediate context where we do not have that, can the Minister tell us how the Government aim to advise and support those responsible for running our care homes, sheltered accommodation and hospices, who are having to make such difficult decisions now and many of whom feel abandoned and rather lonely in that responsibility?

Continue reading “Bishop of Newcastle asks Government about safety of staff running care homes, sheltered accommodation and hospices”

Bishop of St Albans asks about encouraging domestic food production as a result of Covid-19

On 6th April 2020 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer to a question on encouraging food production as a result of Covid-19.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL2831 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to encourage domestic food production as a result of COVID-19. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about encouraging domestic food production as a result of Covid-19”

Bishop of London asks Government about Covid-19 support to people in immigration removal centres

On 3rd April 2020 the Bishop of London, Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, received a written answer to a question on Covid-19 support to people in immigration removal centres:

 The Lord Bishop of London: HL2780 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to provide healthcare and support services to people in immigration removal centres during the COVID-19 pandemic. Continue reading “Bishop of London asks Government about Covid-19 support to people in immigration removal centres”

Coronavirus Bill: Bishop of Rochester praises spirit of collaboration in passing law

Continue reading “Coronavirus Bill: Bishop of Rochester praises spirit of collaboration in passing law”

Bishop of Rochester asks Government about discussions with charities on coronavirus response

On 24th March 2020 Lord Dannatt asked the Government “what plans they have to provide additional support to charities working with people who are self-isolating as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic”. The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, asked a follow up question:

Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester asks Government about discussions with charities on coronavirus response”