Seven bishops signed a letter to the Guardian newspaper, printed on 14th September 2017, voicing concern about cutbacks to local authority welfare assistance schemes. Four of the signatories were Lords Spiritual:
Local welfare assistance schemes are a vital lifeline for people who find themselves in a crisis and without basic essentials, such as food, electricity, or a working oven. It is therefore very worrying that most of these schemes have been cut back considerably in recent years and that 26 local councils have now closed them altogether, including in many areas that we represent (English councils’ local welfare schemes in ‘meltdown’, 12 September). Continue reading “Bishops raise concern about cutbacks to local authority welfare assistance schemes”
On 27th July 2017 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, received a written answer to a question of Government about humanitarian and food aid to Burundi:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the answer by Lord Bates on 19 July (HL Deb, cols 1616–17), whether humanitarian assistance to (1) the 700,000 in need of food aid, and (2) the three million in need of humanitarian aid, in Burundi will continue to be made available through organisations such as Tearfund, Christian Aid and Oxfam. Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks about humanitarian and food aid to Burundi”
On the 19 July 2017 the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler held a short debate on the report of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees, Refugees Welcome? The Experience of New Refugees in the UK. The Bishop asked the Government to appoint a Minister for Refugees and to implement the report’s call for a national refugee integration strategy. Baroness Williams of Trafford, Minister of State at the Home Office responded to the debate for the Government. Her speech and that of the Bishop, are reproduced in full below. All speeches in the debate can be read in full: here
The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to the report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees, Refugees Welcome? The Experience of New Refugees in the UK, published on 25 April.
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I am pleased to be able to introduce this short debate on the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Refugees’ report, Refugees Welcome?. It was a privilege to serve on this group. It was also often disturbing to hear the stories of those who, having experienced years of difficulty as asylum seekers, found the joy of being finally given refugee status taken away by the poor ways in which they were then treated. As a nation, we had agreed that they deserved to be fully welcomed—but our systems often left them bereft and destitute. As the report makes clear, we have work to do as a nation to ensure that those who we have agreed are refugees and whom we believe have much to offer our land are made truly welcome.
Continue reading “Bishop of Durham leads House of Lords debate on Refugee Welcome report”
In the House of Lords on 19th July 2017 Peers responded to a statement by the Immigration Minister about support for child refugees. The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, more than 25,000 unaccompanied children arrived in Italy last year. The cut-off date for Section 67 was 20 March 2016, which means that none of the children who arrived in Italy after that date could be helped. Given that no children have yet been transferred from Greece and Italy under the scheme, will the Government consider resetting the cut-off date? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government about unaccompanied child refugees in Europe”
On 26th June 2017, a Government statement on the Grenfell Tower fire was repeated in the House of Lords by Lord Bourne. The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, responded to the statement by emphasising the importance of learning lessons from the response of faith communities.
Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his comments about the voluntary sector. In the lessons learned exercise, will research be done to understand exactly why the voluntary and faith sector was so good at responding and could organise teams within four hours to distribute things, compared with the local authority response? Will lessons be learned about the why the concerns raised by the residents in the months—indeed, years—beforehand were never listened to, and in the future will tenants be listened to more appropriately? Finally, what can the Government do about the speed of the submission of samples by landlords, which is woefully slow? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham highlights response by faith communities to Grenfell Tower fire”
On 26th June 2017, the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Paul Butler contributed to the Queen’s Speech debate on business, economic affairs, energy, transport, environment and agriculture. He argued for the importance of investment in the North-East of England and including all groups in discussions around Brexit, the Northern Powerhouse and the Industrial Strategy.
Bishop of Durham: My Lords, perhaps I may add my welcome from these Benches to the noble Lord in his role as Minister. I also look forward to hearing the maiden speeches of the noble Lords, Lord Colgrain and Lord Mountevans, which will be made during this debate.
Since arriving in Durham, I have been struck that life feels more precarious for many in the north-east than it does elsewhere. There are lots of reasons for hope, not least the social regeneration in my home town of Bishop Auckland, but the sense of precariousness persists due to deep structural disadvantages that the region has faced for decades, even centuries. It is against this backdrop that some of the changes to welfare in the last Parliament felt particularly acute and remain of very deep concern. It is also against this backdrop that the uncertainty of the Brexit negotiation is felt. Continue reading “Queen’s Speech 2017: Bishop of Durham highlights opportunities and risks facing north east”
On 24th April 2017, the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, received written answers to two questions on Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit:
The Lord Bishop of Durham:
(i) To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many families will be affected by the introduction of the two-child limit on Child Tax Credit and the child element of Universal Credit in (1) 2017–18, (2) 2018–19, and (3) 2019–20. [HL6344]
(ii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what projections they have made of the effect of introducing the two-child limit on Child Tax Credits and the child element of Universal Credit on the number of children in poverty, according to the income-based measures used in the official Households Below Average Income statistics. [HL6345] Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government about number of affected and poverty impact of two-child limit on benefits”