On 15th June the House of Lords debated the Government’s “Abortion (Northern Ireland) (No. 2) Regulations 2020”. The Rt Revd James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle, spoke in support of an amendment to negative the Regulations, highlighting its effects on abortion on grounds of disability. In two subsequent votes, he and other bishops voted against, but the House of Lords passed the Regulations without amendment by large majorities.
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I support the amendment from the noble Baroness, Lady O’Loan, and will focus on the proposal in Regulation 7 that abortion for disabilities including Down’s syndrome should be available during the first 12 weeks without question or counselling and then potentially through to birth.
Continue reading “Bishop of Carlisle opposes Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations”
On 12th February 2020 Lord Touhig asked the Government “what progress has been made in reducing the disability employment gap.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, in this important area Britain is proud to be a leader in many ways—in technology, computing and so on—and many of these projects, which are transforming the lives of some people with certain kinds of disabilities, have been run across Europe, so there are worries that some of these projects may not continue. Can the Minister assure the House that priority will be given to helping this world-leading development continue? It is making an impact on people with disabilities not only in our own country but right across the world as the technology is rolled out.
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On 9th January 2020, the Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the Queen’s Speech debate, about unifying the nation by building on the expansion of the Living Wage and addressing welfare, child poverty, homelessness and help for the disabled:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, it is stating the obvious to say that these are turbulent, uncertain times, perhaps the most turbulent in living memory, even when that memory belongs to Members of your Lordships’ House—a particular, special demographic. It is striking in the face of so much that is uncertain and unknown that the Government’s rhetoric is of clarity, confidence, and even dash. However, while the terrain might be new, much of the rhetoric is from an older school. What is novel is from whom it comes. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth responds to Queen’s Speech – how to build ‘one-nation’”
On 24th June 2019 Baroness Campbell of Surbiton asked the Government “what crisis prevention measures are in place to address the difficulties of those working-age disabled adults who have lost the support needed to live independently in the community”. The Bishop of London, Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, asked a follow-up question:
Bishop of London: My Lords, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has recently stated that the UK was going backwards in terms of independent living and went on to say that it was a human catastrophe. In the Minister’s view, are we are doing enough to involve disabled people in producing, designing and providing better solutions for independent living?
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On 17th June 2019 Baroness Hussein-Ece asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the adequacy of the support received by people with a disability when they report any form of abuse to appropriate authorities”. The Bishop of Ely, Rt Revd Stephen Conway, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Ely: My Lords, it is important to consider also that there are various ways in which people with disability might be prevented from reporting abuse in the first place. In particular, some people with learning difficulties might not understand or recognise that they are being abused psychologically or financially. Does the Minister agree that information regarding abuse needs to be produced in accessible formats, such as easy read, and should ideally be produced in conjunction with people with disability themselves?
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On the 10th January the Second Church Estates Commissioner, the Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman answered a written question about cathedrals and disability discrimination legislation:
Adam Holloway (Gravesham): To ask the Right Honourable Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what duty does (a) the Church of England and (b) cathedrals and abbeys have to cathedral choristers with long-term medical conditions under disability discrimination legislation; and if she will make a statement. (205855)
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On 28th June 2018 the Bishop of London, Rt Revd & Rt Hon Sarah Mullally, gave her first speech in the House of Lords, during a debate led by Baroness Thomas of Winchester “that this House takes note of the different challenges facing disabled people in the United Kingdom in 2018”. The full transcript is below, along with the words of welcome to the House from other Members:
The Lord Bishop of London (Maiden Speech): My Lords, I thank noble Lords for their warm welcome and am grateful for the practical support I have received from the officers and staff. I am humbled by the knowledge and wisdom represented in your Lordships’ House and I am very conscious that it is a privilege to be a Member. It is a responsibility that I will take seriously. Continue reading “Bishop of London makes first speech in Lords, on the NHS, disability and London”
On 28th February 2018, Baroness Deech asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they have taken to address the criticism in the 2017 report of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of the lack of obligatory and implemented accessibility standards in the United Kingdom, in particular in relation to transport and the physical environment.” The Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: Does the Minister agree with the UN committee’s concern that not enough is being done to apply the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and to involve disabled people themselves in decisions that affect their lives? What have the Government heard from disabled people themselves about the impact of austerity on their access to the physical environment and to housing, transport, information and other services? How will the Minister respond to disabled people’s concerns about the UK’s increasing non-compliance with existing legislation affecting their access to these things—for example, our meeting the obligation to carry out impact assessments and gather statistics about policies likely to have a disproportionately negative impact on disabled people?
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On 27th February 2018,Lord Addington asked Her Majesty’s Government ‘what consideration they have given to removing the need for candidates for higher education with dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities to pay for new assessments for the disabled students’ allowance if they have an existing diagnosis acquired before the age of 16 and a history of support’. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, asked a follow up question about distinguishing learning disabilities from physical and mental disabilities:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, as I understand it, the Equality Act recognises learning disabilities and other forms of mental and physical disabilities in the same way. Yet until now, the Government’s position has been to separate learning disabilities out into a different category. I welcome this review but can the Minister assure us that it will lay out the basis for that different treatment?
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On the 30th March 2017 Baroness Thomas of Winchester asked the Government ‘what steps they are taking to support independent living for disabled people of working age’. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a further question relating to the Motability scheme.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the Motability scheme is a crucial element for getting people back into work, yet about 50,000 people have lost out on it. What is particularly worrying is that the vast majority of appeals are upheld, by which time those concerned have lost the vehicle and then have to get it again. It is costing a lot of time and money. Would Her Majesty’s Government consider having a scheme whereby people do not lose the vehicle until the end of the appeal process? This would make much more sense where the appeal is upheld. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about future of Motability”