On 25th June 20202 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered questions from MPs in the House of Commons, on: church building reopening, weddings, housing, public worship, music, online services, family life, church finances and the Transition Pathway Initiative. A transcript is below:
On 24th June Lord Farmer asked Her Majesty’s Government “when weddings will be able to take place in venues which enable social distancing and comply with other COVID-19 precautions”. The Rt Revd Christine Hardman, Bishop of Newcastle, asked a follow up question focusing on hymn singing in churches.
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, it is with great delight that we received news yesterday that weddings will once again be permitted. This will be an enormous joy to many couples and families all across England. As the Minister will know, hymns are most often a focal point of a wedding service. Given yesterday’s announcement about live performances, can he give us any more detailed guidance about singing in churches, both choral and congregational?
On 22nd June Lord McNally asked Her Majesty’s Government ” what measures they are taking to ensure that seaside resorts can respond to any increased demand for holidays in the United Kingdom.” The Rt Revd Christine Hardman, Bishop of Newcastle, asked a follow up question focusing on poverty in coastal areas.
Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, my diocese boasts some of the UK’s most beautiful coastline, and I welcome the Minister’s reassurances on the significance of tourism and the measures to be taken to aid it. However, many of the coastal communities in the north-east, in common with coastal towns elsewhere, are among the 10% most-deprived areas in England. What action do the Government propose to ensure that the present crisis will not make the inequality with non-coastal areas even greater?
On 16th June the Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester received written answers to three questions on coronavirus in prisons.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: HL5101 To ask Her Majesty’s Government to what extent each prison in England and Wales has implemented (1) the compartmentalisation strategy, (2) protective isolation units and shielding units, and (3) reverse cohorting units.
Lord Keen of Elie: We continue to implement our compartmentalisation strategy: isolating the symptomatic, quarantining new arrivals and shielding the vulnerable. This strategy has shown early signs of success in reducing transmission in the prison estate.
On 11th June 2020 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Hayman, “that this House takes note of the case for post-COVID-19 recovery strategies that will contribute to a fairer, cleaner, and more sustainable economy.” The Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Libby Lane, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, for securing this vital debate. The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the life of every child in this country. Many of their households face reduced income, irregular working hours, increasing debt, greater risk of online harm, growing concern over mental health and well-being, and increased prevalence of domestic violence. Already vulnerable children have been made all the more at risk. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby says Covid-19 recovery strategy must consider needs of children and families”
On 11th June 2020 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Hayman, “that this House takes note of the case for post-COVID-19 recovery strategies that will contribute to a fairer, cleaner, and more sustainable economy.” The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Steven Croft, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I warmly welcome this debate. The country faces the triple challenge in the next decade of the threat of climate change, the deepest recession for generations and the health challenges of Covid, all of which will exacerbate existing inequalities. I support much of what other noble Lords have said and will focus my remarks on the vital theme of digital inclusion.
On 10th June Baroness Kennedy of Cradley asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the impact of cancelled medical operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic”. The Rt Revd James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle asked a follow up question, focusing on routine GP health checks for those over 75.
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, given the disproportionate effect of Covid-19 on those aged over 75 and the likely knock-on effects of cancelled operations, will the Minister take steps to encourage the reintroduction of routine GP health checks among people in this age group which, understandably, have been largely suspended during the pandemic?
On 11th June the Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd John Inge, asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they are taking to ensure that G20 countries cancel any debt owed to them by the poorest countries”.
Baroness Penn responded to his question: My Lords, the Government are concerned by debt vulnerabilities in developing countries, which Covid-19 has amplified. The Chancellor and his G20 counterparts agreed a historic suspension of debt repayments from the world’s poorest countries. This will see official creditors provide up to $12 billion of cash-flow relief to help countries respond to the health and economic impacts of Covid-19. It also provides time to assess what further assistance these countries may need as the full economic impact becomes clearer.
On 9th June Baroness Quin asked Her Majesty’s Government “what discussions they have had with the Local Government Association on how national and local government can work together to promote economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic”. The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, asked a follow up question, focusing on business rates for large online retail companies and small high street shops.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I declare my interest as a vice-president of the Local Government Association. What discussions have taken place about reviewing business rates, so that large online retail companies, which perhaps have no actual shops and many of which pay relatively small amounts of tax, do not have an unfair advantage over our small shops in our high streets which are under threat at the moment?