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?
On 9th June 2020 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered a written question on the reopening of churches, from Dr Luke Evans MP.
Dr Luke Evans (Bosworth): 53638 To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps he is taking to ensure that places of worship can open for (a) private prayer and (b) active worship in compliance with social distancing measures as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted.
Andrew Selous: The Government has announced that from the 15th June Church of England places of worship may be opened for individual prayer, alongside those of other faiths.
On 9th June the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester, received a written answer to a question from Baroness Williams of Trafford on immigrants displaying Covid-19 symptoms.
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: HL4966 To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many residents of immigration removal centres (1) have displayed, or (2) are currently displaying, symptoms of COVID-19; and of those, how many have been tested.
On 9th June the Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester received a written answer to a question from Lord Keen of Elie on the number of prisoners who have had coronavirus and what proportion have been tested.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: HL5097 To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many prisoners (1) have displayed, or (2) are currently displaying, symptoms of COVID-19; and of those, (a) how many, and (b) what proportion, have been tested.
Lord Keen of Elie: As of Friday, 29 May our management information shows that there were 162 prisoners currently showing symptoms of Covid-19. Of those, 85 (52%) had been tested. Our records show that a further 3450 prisoners had previously displayed symptoms of Covid-19 where cases are now closed. Of those, 1447 (or 42%) had been tested.
On 4th June 2020 the virtual House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Eatwell, “to move that the Virtual Proceedings do consider (1) the economic lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, and (2) the measures necessary to repair the United Kingdom economy.” The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, spoke in the debate.
On 4th June 2020 Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale asked the Government “what action they will take to close any educational gaps arising from the school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Bishop of Winchester, Rt Red Tim Dakin, asked a follow-up question on apprenticeships.
The Lord Bishop of Winchester: My Lords, I want to highlight another example of educational institution closures affecting the educational attainment of young people, particularly those aged 16 to 19. I refer to the report published recently by the Sutton Trust highlighting the impact of lockdown, with 36% of apprentices having been furloughed and 61% of apprenticeship providers saying that their apprentices had lost out on work and learning. What assessment have the Government made of the impact on apprentices unable to continue on-the-job training, particularly those from more disadvantaged backgrounds? What additional support will Her Majesty’s Government offer to these individuals? Continue reading “Bishop of Winchester asks about impact of COVID-19 on apprenticeship schemes”
On 2nd June 2020 Baroness Sherlock asked Her Majesty’s Government “What steps they are taking to remove the five week wait for Universal Credit payments”. The Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford, asked a follow up question, focusing on an increase in universal credit.
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, the problems of the five-week wait have already been highlighted by other noble friends, and we should not underestimate their seriousness, but perhaps I may draw attention to some other temporary changes in universal credit. There has been an increase of £20 per week, which Ministers have stressed is a temporary, emergency measure, but the IPPR has calculated that if this had been in place since 2015, the UK would have entered this crisis with a pretty staggering 500,000 fewer people in poverty. Do Her Majesty’s Government plan to make this increase in universal credit a permanent feature, particularly as it would be such a help to children?