Vaccines for developing world, poverty in the pandemic, devolution and Ethiopia  

In the House of Lords on 14th January 2021 the Bishop of St Albans received written answers to questions on vaccines for developing countries and the situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia while the Bishop of Durham received answers to questions on the recent updated report by the Child Poverty Action Group and the Church of England on Poverty in the pandemic.
Meanwhile in the Chamber, the Bishop of Birmingham raised the issue of devolution in England with the Government during Lord Young’s Oral question about the formation of a Constitution, Democracy and Human Rights Commission. Text below:

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Bishop of Worcester asks Government about plans to consult on, assess impact, and set time limit for reduction in overseas aid

On 30th December the Bishop of Worcester received written answers to five questions on Government plans to reduce the overseas aid budget:

The Lord Bishop of Worcester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to consult with (1) civil society, (2) faith groups, and (3) other humanitarian actors, before drafting any legislation to amend the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Act 2015. [HL11257] Continue reading “Bishop of Worcester asks Government about plans to consult on, assess impact, and set time limit for reduction in overseas aid”

Bishop of Portsmouth urges Government to keep uplift in universal credit for those ‘on cliff edge’

On 3rd December the House of Lords debated the Chancellor’s November Spending Review statement. The Bishop of Portsmouth took part in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth [V]: My Lords, I was delighted to hear the Chancellor stress that the Government would continue to support the most vulnerable, but the proof of that assertion will be in how much money the Government are prepared to provide. That will be the barometer of what and who they consider most important. I therefore join my voice to those profoundly deprecating the proposed cut in development aid. I urge the Government to think again. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth urges Government to keep uplift in universal credit for those ‘on cliff edge’”

Bishop of St Albans asks Government to time limit in law its announced cut in development aid

On 2nd December 2020 in the House of Lords the Bishop of St Albans responded to a Ministerial statement about the cut in overseas aid:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans [V]: My Lords, I ask the Minister to answer the question from the noble Lord, Lord Collins: will Her Majesty’s Government include a sunset clause in any legislation amending the International Development Act?

Secondly, do the Government intend to produce and publish any impact assessment of the reduction in spending on official development assistance?

Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government to time limit in law its announced cut in development aid”

Bishop of Carlisle asks about access to affordable cancer treatments in developing countries

On 30th November 2020 questions were put in the House of Lords on vaccine distribution. The Bishop of Carlisle asked a question:

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, for obvious reasons we have focused largely on equal access to vaccines but, given the broader significance and implications of this Oral Question on affordable drugs and the fact that Global Cancer Week took place earlier this month, are any negotiations currently taking place on access to affordable cancer treatments, especially in developing countries? Continue reading “Bishop of Carlisle asks about access to affordable cancer treatments in developing countries”

Bishop of Worcester says Government aid cut is a broken promise to the poorest

On 25th November 2020 the House of Lords asked questions of Government on its abandonment of the legal commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid. The Bishop of Worcester highlighted the many pledges made to protect this, which had now been broken:

The Lord Bishop of Worcester [V]: My Lords, the 2019 Conservative general election manifesto said:

“We will proudly maintain our commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on development”.

That was before Covid, of course. On 16 June, the Prime Minister said in the other place that spending 0.7% remained the Government’s commitment.

On 18 June, the Leader of the House reassured the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Peterborough of the Government’s continued commitment to the 0.7% target.

In this House on 2 September, the noble Baroness, Lady Sugg, reassured the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bristol, with these words:

“I assure her that we will continue to be guided by our responsibilities under the International Development Act”.—[Official Report, 2/9/20; col. 354.]

In a letter to the Prime Minister last week, I drew attention to Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s words:

“A promise to the poor is particularly sacred.”

Does the Minister agree with him? Continue reading “Bishop of Worcester says Government aid cut is a broken promise to the poorest”

Bishop of Bristol asks Government for assurances that 0.7% aid commitment will stay

On 2nd September 2020 the Bishop of Bristol, Rt Revd Vivienne Faull, asked a question to Government on its commitment to the 0.7% GNI development aid target. The Minister had given a commitment to the fulfilling the Government’s obligations under law to the target in earlier exchanges:

The Lord Bishop of Bristol: My Lords, I have personally seen through the Anglican Communion’s worldwide partnerships the positive impact that the UK’s overseas aid has made to alleviating poverty. I share the concerns of other Peers about the reports of the Government’s intent to overturn the legal commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on aid. At the risk of tedium, I hope that the Minister will continue to give ​this House assurances that the Government have no such plans, which would reduce the UK’s impact under the UN sustainable development goals. Continue reading “Bishop of Bristol asks Government for assurances that 0.7% aid commitment will stay”

Bishop of Rochester asks Government about commitment to poverty reduction when DfID and Foreign Office merge

On 27th July Lord Harries of Pentregarth asked Her Majesty’s Government “how the merger of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development will enhance the United Kingdom’s ability to help (1) the poorest, and (2) the most vulnerable, communities abroad.” The Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, asked a follow up question, focusing on poverty reduction.

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, in this context will the Minister give assurances that the Government will continue to adhere to their stated commitment to poverty reduction, observing both the letter and spirit of domestic development legislation, including not only the matter the Minister has already mentioned—the 0.7% GDP target—but matters such as independent evaluation of impact and gender equality, and that any deviation from the present pattern will be debated and agreed both here and in the other House?

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Archbishop asks Government about involvement of faith-based organisations in refugee camp support

On 20th May 2020, Lord Collins of Highbury asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the response of international institutions to the impact of COVID-19 on refugee camps”. The Archbishop of Canterbury asked a follow-up question:

The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, the Minister will be aware of the Global Humanitarian Response Plan published by the UN and updated this month, which emphasises “The importance of involving and supporting local organizations … given the key role they are playing in this crisis.” In all areas where the world’s 70 million displaced people gather, faith groups and especially churches are often the only remaining organisations with reach from grass roots to leaders, but they are often ignored by international and relief agencies. In many cases, shortage of money and logistics hamper food distribution. What steps are the Government taking to ensure that faith-based local groups are fully involved by all international agencies in all aspects of relief, reconciliation and moral and spiritual support?

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Bishop of Durham raises global human rights, poverty, development and climate change in Queen’s Speech debate

On the 7th January the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke during the second day of debate on the Queen’s Speech, on the topics of child poverty, climate change sustainable development and immigration:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, initially I want to note how little reference there is in the gracious Speech to the needs of children, except in the realm of education. There is nothing about children’s first 1,000 days, nor any firm commitment to tackle the iniquity of child poverty. How we treat children speaks volumes for where our priorities lie. Could the Minister please comment on this omission?

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