On 14th December 2017 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer to a question on credit:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they will monitor the voluntary agreement by lenders not to give automatic credit limit increases to consumers. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about automatic credit increases by lenders”
On 16th November 2017 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, led a debate in the House of Lords on the benefit freeze. His opening speech and that of the Minister responding are below. The whole debate can be read here.
“The Lord Bishop of St Albans to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the impact of rising inflation on families affected by the freeze of working age benefits.”
Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, we are at risk of failing a substantial number of children and some of the most needy people of this country. If a society is to be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable, then unless we are prepared to put aside party difference and make common purpose in addressing inequalities in our system of social security, we will surely be found wanting. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans calls for end to freeze on working age benefits, to help children and families”
On Monday 13th November the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, led a debate in the House of Lords on the levels of household debt in the UK. His opening speech is below, along with the responding speech of the Government Minister (all the speeches in the debate can be read here).
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the risks posed by current levels of household debt in the United Kingdom.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I am deeply concerned—as I know are many other Members of this Chamber—about rising levels of household debt in this country. Households in the UK are taking on far more debt than they used to and overall are taking on more debt than they bring home in income. While the ratio of household debt to income has not yet eclipsed the 160% peak hit in early 2008, it currently hovers around 140%, a dramatic shift from the ratio of 95% in 1997.
Of course there are good reasons why families in this country choose to take on debt—perhaps to buy a house or another form of secured debt—but, nevertheless, we know that for some people the prospect of saving for a house is inconceivable and that those who are lucky enough to purchase a house take on an extremely high level of mortgage debt. This burden, especially for young people, should be recognised. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans leads debate on risks of rising household debt”
On 26th October 2017 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Smith of Newnham asking “That the House takes note of the case for intergenerational fairness to form a core part of government policy across all departments.” The Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, spoke in the debate, highlighting the amount of debt being carried by young people and the environmental legacy this generation was bequeathing to future generations.
Continue reading “Bishop of Salisbury discusses Intergenerational Fairness – Debt, Refugees & Our Environmental Legacy”
On 23rd October 2017 Lord Haskel asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they are taking to deal with the concerns of the Money Advice Service and the Financial Conduct Authority about the level of consumer and personal debt in the United Kingdom.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, a poll commissioned by Citizens Advice in June found that 18% of people with credit cards who had debt problems had had their credit limits increased automatically without them even asking for it, thereby enabling them to take on even greater debt when they were already facing problems. I understand that the FCA is looking into this, but will the Minister ensure that it is asked to bring in much stronger guidelines on this situation to prevent it getting worse? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government to act on credit card limits”
On 18th September 2017 Lord Bates answered two written questions from the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, on credit card debt and the need for a statutory ‘breathing space’ scheme.
Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to introduce measures to prevent the automatic increase of credit card limits. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about help for those in debt”
The Government’s Financial Guidance and Claims Bill was considered in Committee in the House of Lords on 19th July 2017. The Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, supported an amendment to the Bill to enable families in financial difficulty to receive a breathing space for repayment of debts:
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, I, too, rise to speak in support of Amendment 41. I declare an interest as a vice-president of the Children’s Society.
In the area covered by the Diocese of Newcastle, the Children’s Society data tell me that there are more than 42, 000 children living in poverty and that almost 18,000 children from almost 16,000 families are living with the blight of problem debt. Last year, I read a report in the New York Times on a large, randomised trial involving 21,000 people on the efficacy of various aid mechanisms to bring people out of poverty and debt. What emerged surprised the researchers. It emerged that one key mechanism is more effective than any other, and that mechanism is hope. Families that are stressed and trapped in poverty and debt can feel real hopelessness that becomes entirely self-fulfilling. Give people a reason to hope, and it can make an extraordinary and real difference. Continue reading “Financial Guidance and Claims Bill: Bishop of Newcastle supports amendment to help families struggling with debt”
On 20th April 2017 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered questions from MPs on the floor of the House of Commons, on religious symbols in the workplace, marriage, vocations, metal theft and Christians in Africa. She also answered written questions on debt, domestic violence and House of Lords reform:
Sir David Amess (Southend West) (Con): What assessment the Church of England has made of the implications of the European Court of Justice ruling of March 2017 on wearing religious dress and symbols in the workplace. 
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Dame Caroline Spelman): The Church of England was very concerned by the judgment of the European Court of Justice that stated that blanket bans on the wearing of political, philosophical or religious signs do not amount to cases of direct discrimination, because that conflicts with the pre-existing rulings of the European Court of Human Rights. By leaving the European Union, we presumably stand some chance of resolving such inconsistencies. Continue reading “Church Commissioner questions – European Court ruling, marriage, vocations, metal theft, Christians in Africa, debt, domestic violence, Lords reform”
On 14th March 2017, the Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, moved that this House takes note of the economy in the light of the Budget Statement. The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, spoke in the debate, focusing on national debt and expenditure pressures.
The Lord Bishop of Chester My Lords, it is not only the last spring Budget, it is the last Budget in Lent. If we had any doubts, then the early speeches in this debate brought that Lenten theme home rather well.
I do not want to get into the details of the Budget, which are very political, but to talk about two broader, longer-term issues to which the Chancellor referred in his speech. The first, which has already been alluded to, is our national debt. Its rate of growth is forecast to slow in this decade, but that is stabilisation at a very high level, representing nearly £62,000 for every household in the country. Even at the current very low interest rates, servicing that debt costs £50 billion a year—more than the combined costs of defence and police services in this country. Continue reading “Bishop of Chester speaks about national debt and expenditure pressures in Budget debate”
On 19th January 2017 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered a written question from Andrew Rosindell MP on measures to tackle indebtedness:
Andrew Rosindell (Romford): To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what work the Church of England is undertaking to tackle indebtedness. Continue reading “Church Commissioners’ written answer: measures to tackle indebtedness”