On 6th October 2020 the House of Lords approved the Government’s Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space Moratorium and Mental Health Crisis Moratorium) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020. The Bishop of Rochester spoke in the debate, in support of the aim of the Regulations:
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I welcome the opportunity to speak in this debate, and I broadly and warmly welcome the provisions in these regulations. While the effects of the pandemic certainly give increased importance to these provisions, the issues are, of course, of very much longer standing. I pay tribute to organisations, including the Children’s Society, which have long campaigned on these matters, as well as to the honourable Member for Rochester and Strood, Kelly Tolhurst, my own Member of Parliament, who, before she was made a Minister, proposed a Private Member’s Bill in the other place to address some of these issues. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester welcomes Government plans for breathing space for those with problem debt”
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 13th May, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, received a written answer from Lord Agnew of Oulton on the debt of developing countries.
Bishop of Leeds:HL3475To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure private creditors comply with the agreement reached by G20 leaders on 15 April to suspend debt payments owed by 77 of the world’s poorest countries, in particular those debts that fall under UK jurisdiction.
On 12th May, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, received a written answer from Baroness Sugg on debt incurred because of COVID-19.
The Lord Bishop of Leeds:HL3474 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the letter published in the Financial Times on 14 April, and signed by 18 African and European leaders, which called for an immediate moratorium on all bilateral and multilateral debt payments, both public and private, until the COVID-19 pandemic has passed; and what plans they have, if any, to support that request.
On 12th May, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, received a written answer from Baroness Sugg on the debt of developing countries.
The Lord Bishop of Leeds:HL3476 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with other G20 leaders to extend the agreement reached on 15 April, to suspend debt payments owed by 77 of the world’s poorest countries, to include the (1) the World Bank, and (2) the African Development Bank.
On 19th June 2019 a Government statement on new plans to help people dealing with problem debt was repeated in the House of Lords. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, welcomed the statement and asked a follow-up question:
Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I welcome this Statement, and thank the Minister for repeating it. I also want to note the work that the Church of England and the Children’s Society have done promoting these matters. I am particularly pleased that public and utilities debt is to be included in this, but—taking advice from Donald Tusk, who said “Don’t waste the extension”—can the Minister say who will ensure that plans are put in place for sustainable debt resolution? It was said that debtors will have to seek professional advice. How will that be ensured, so that we do not simply prolong the problem of debt where it will be exacerbated? Secondly—and I am sorry if I missed this in the Statement—when might we expect the new regulations to be published?
On 19th June 2019 the Economic Secretary to the Treasury (John Glen) made a statement on supporting people in problem debt. The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, asked a follow-up question:
Dame Caroline Spelman: I welcome this statement and the Government going beyond their original manifesto commitment. It gives me a chance to thank my citizens advice bureau, which has done fantastic work on debt rescheduling during my 22 years as an MP.
Does the Minister welcome the Church of England’s initiative to teach financial literacy in its primary schools, and would he encourage rolling out such an approach to prevention more widely?
On 1st May 2019 the House of Lords debated a Motion from Lord Stevenson of Balmacara, “That this House takes note of the Financial Guidance and Claims Act 2018 (Naming and Consequential Amendments) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/383).” The Archbishop of York, Most Revd John Sentamu, spoke in the debate:
The Archbishop of York: My Lords, I want to support the main thrust of the speech from the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, about debt. Julia Unwin, who was chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, did a big research project on why people were going to Wonga. They went to Wonga because it asked no questions; people knew they could get their payday loan. Other lenders asked more questions and were far more intrusive and credit was not readily available. Noble Lords know that my archiepiscopal colleague, the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, said that he intended not only to reform Wonga but to do away with it, and we know what has happened to Wonga.