On 9th December 2015 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill in its second day of Committee.
The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in support of a group of amendments to clause 4 of the Bill, concerned with Government reporting on the life chances of children. The amendments sought to require the Government to report on the situation of children in low-income households, not only workless households and educational attainment. The amendments were withdrawn after the debate.
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I will speak in support of Amendments 24, 25 and 26. I know that everyone in this House, and indeed in the other place, is committed to protecting those children in our society who are vulnerable to suffering the worst effects of poverty. Indeed, I know that there is a broad recognition across the House that some form of statutory reporting on the issues of child poverty and children’s life chances is an important tool in driving initiatives that will combat that poverty. The questions about what should be included in Clause 4 are questions of best practice, rather than questions of best intention. Continue reading “Welfare Reform Bill – Bishop of Durham supports amendments on child poverty”
On 17th November 2015 the House of Lords debated at Second Reading the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill. The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, raised concerns about the impact on child poverty of proposed changes, including the two-child limit. The Bishop of St Albans also spoke in the debate.
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I support many of the principles underlying this Bill: the importance of personal, as well as collective, responsibility; the value of decent work, not just financially, but for human dignity; the role of the welfare system in encouraging positive behaviours; the recognition that poverty is not simply about lack of income; and the desire for fairness for those who receive from and contribute to the system, including the vast majority of us who do both at different points in our lives. None of these is completely new, but the Government’s approach to welfare reform has certainly reinvigorated the debate about poverty, helping to challenge implicit assumptions and some very tired thinking. Governments naturally want to distinguish themselves, but in seeking to introduce a fresh perspective on old problems, there is always a danger of going too far or of throwing out the good with the bad. That is my concern about some of the measures being discussed today.
Continue reading “Welfare Reform Bill – Bishop of Durham raises child poverty concerns”
On 20th October 2015 a Government statement was repeated in the House of Lords on the steel industry. The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked about the effect of closures and job losses on those young people who are in apprentice schemes.
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, in the north-east there is also particular concern around young people who are in apprenticeships at Redcar, Hartlepool and elsewhere, and their deep concern that after three or three and a half years they will now have to go back to the beginning. Can the Minister give us an assurance that some of the £80 million will go to assist them to complete their apprenticeships without having to return to the beginning? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government about effect of steel plant closures in north east on those in apprenticeships”
On 25th June 2015 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, followed a Ministerial statement on child poverty by asking a question of Government about children going hungry during school holidays.
The Lord Bishop of Durham: Will the Minister recognise that across the country, churches and other organisations reckon that they will be providing more help for holiday hunger this summer than ever before because of children going hungry during school holidays? Will she also recognise that there is a serious problem regionally and that we need to tackle this in the north more significantly than in the south? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham tells Peers churches will be dealing with more children going hungry during school holidays”
“On behalf of the well-being of the children themselves, if we are going to make this increase in provision, which I am sure we will and indeed should, let us try to ensure that all the regulations that follow place the child at the centre, not the adults, whether those adults be the parents, the providers or the politicians.” – Bishop of Durham, 16/6/15
On Tuesday 16th June 2015 the House of Lords debated the Government’s Childcare Bill. Details about the Bill can be seen here. The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in the debate, raising concerns related to funding, capacity, pay and putting the needs of children first. The full text of his speech is below, with extracts from the Minister’s reply, and can also be watched on the Parliament website here.
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, in welcoming the general intent of this Bill, I wish to raise a number of concerns. It seems to me that there are already several common threads in what is being said. It may well be that they will be addressed—they will need to be—in the secondary legislation, but to be able fully to support the Bill I believe this House needs some assurances regarding these concerns. In raising them, I wish to point out that I have consulted some who are engaged in this work already, and also those for whom it is intended to be a benefit—parents and, indeed, grandparents. Continue reading “Childcare Bill – Speech by Bishop of Durham”
On 3rd June 2015, during the debate on the Queen’s Speech, the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke on the need to provide good quality childcare, alleviate child poverty, and fully address the complex needs of families, in order to enable equality of opportunity at the start of life. The text of his speech is below and can be watched here:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, the stated intention of the Education and Adoption Bill is to,
“give all children the best possible start in life”.
Of course we all want this, so we must scrutinise carefully whether the proposals on adoption will produce it for children for whom adoption is the best route. Given that some of the most successful adoption agencies are small, localised ones, care will need to be taken in any move to regional agencies—which certainly has its strengths—so that the smaller agencies’ special skills and experience are not lost, particularly as they are often the most effective at placing and maintaining adoptions of the most hard-to-place children. Durham Family Welfare in my own area is a fine example. Continue reading “Bishop of Durham speaks on reducing child poverty and improving childcare”
On 3rd June 2015, Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty’s Government what action they intend to take to encourage the use of brownfield sites in the North of England for public and private housing developments. The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, the low levels of value in the north of England—the north-east as much as the north-west—have already been noted. Does the Minister recognise that one incentive is the possible creation of jobs and apprenticeships in things like bricklaying, plumbing and so forth, which we are desperately in need of in our region and in the nation as a whole?
Baroness Williams of Trafford: The right reverend Prelate makes an excellent point. Because of the speed and the size of housing development—indeed of construction in general—we now find ourselves needing to upskill those people who we need to do those jobs through apprenticeships, as he says, and through other initiatives. This is what lies behind the idea of the northern powerhouse—that the north will play its part in economic growth, as well as the south of England.