On 12th May 2021 the Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, gave his valedictory speech in the House of Lords during the first day of debate on the Queen’s Speech. He focused on the economy and poverty.
“My Lords, it is more than seven years since I first spoke in this House. It is a long time since I was a maiden like the noble Baroness, Lady Blake, and the noble Lord, Lord Lebedev, whom I congratulate on their arrival and their speeches.
“Today, my name has ‘Valedictory’ next to it. Three weeks ago, I said an emotional godspeed to the people of the Portsmouth diocese at a cathedral service: scaled-down but intensely moving, for me and my wife Sally, at least, as we thanked so many.
“That service also gave me the opportunity for a bishop’s equivalent of ‘Desert Island Discs’, choosing the music sung wonderfully well by the cathedral choir. This included my favourite hymn among very many, ‘There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy’. It praises God’s gentleness, mercy and justice and how those qualities are rooted in His radical inclusion. It is something I touched on in my valedictory sermon: that the Church is its congregations, but it is far more its communities.
“We must always keep our doors open, especially to those who have no figurative or literal shelter—so I am interested, and not a little intrigued, by the Government’s talk of levelling up. The phrase suggests that those who already have will not have to give up anything and that those who need a hand up will be propelled upwards—but by what? Well, that is the question: how does the rhetoric become the reality? It is a dilemma that the Christian Church understands. We proclaim the kingdom, but find building it challenging.
On 30th December the Bishop of St Albans received written answers to questions on monetary policy, and care finance schemes:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Agnew of Oulton on 3 December (HL10488) and the exchange of letters between the Bank of England and HM Treasury on the Asset Purchase Facility on 29 January 2009, whether the Monetary Policy Committee still requires the consent of HM Treasury to engage in quantitative easing through the Asset Purchase Facility. [HL11242]
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Agnew of Oulton on 3 December (HL10488) and the exchange of letters between the Bank of England and HM Treasury on the Asset Purchase Facility on 29 January 2009, what assessment they have made of the implications of the confirmation in these letters that the financing of the Asset Purchase Facility by central bank money would require HM Treasury consent for the question of whether it is appropriate for the Government to comment on the effectiveness of quantitative easing; and what assessment they have made of the effects of quantitative easing on the increase in house prices compared to increases in wages. [HL11243] Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about monetary policy, car finance schemes”
On 3rd December 2020 the Bishop of St Albans received a written answer to a question on the effect of quantative easing on wages and house prices:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the effects of quantitative easing on the increase in house prices compared to increases in wages. [HL10488]
On 2nd December 2020 the Bishop of St Albans received a written answer to a question on the impact of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of (1) the economic, and (2) the diplomatic, consequences for the UK of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. [HL10490]
On 26th November 2020 the Bishop of St Albans asked a question he had tabled to Government on tabled a question he had asked about the rural economy. The exchange is below, with the further questions asked by other Members:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to their response to the report by the Select Committee on the Rural Economy Time for a strategy for the rural economy (HL Paper 330, Session 2017-19), what progress they have made towards their strategic vision for rural communities.Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about rural economy”
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:
On Tuesday 10th November a Government statement on the economy was repeated in the House of Lords. The Bishop of Portsmouth responded and asked a question:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth [V]: My Lords, I welcome the Government’s desire to protect jobs and livelihoods, but can the Minister confirm that the extension of the furlough scheme until March—a full five months—is based on the assumption and expectation that those jobs, or at least the vast majority of them, will be ready to return to unchanged? That is a bold assumption. If it is not the case, what strategy do the Government have now for addressing the transitional challenges for those whose jobs will disappear? This Statement was made late, in haste. Tackling the jobs issue in March is tackling it too late. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth asks about job losses due to coronavirus”
On 22nd October the Bishop of Oxford asked a question he had tabled to Government on the impact of Covid-19 on the gig economy. The exchanges and further questions from other Members, are below:
Asked by The Lord Bishop of Oxford
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the gig economy.
Baroness Penn (Con): My Lords, the Government have stood by businesses and workers with one of the most comprehensive and generous packages of support globally. We are working intensively with employers and industry groups to understand the long-term effects of Covid-19 and specific challenges to businesses and workers, including in the gig economy. Following announcements of further measures to control the spread of Covid-19, we are continuing to monitor the impact of government support in different sectors.
The Lord Bishop of Oxford [V]: I thank the Minister very much for her Answer. While the job coaches and extra provision made may improve the CVs and present conditions of those forced into the gig economy, they will do nothing to improve the security or the working conditions of those so precariously employed and poorly protected. Therefore, will the employment Bill provide a clearer definition of what counts as an employer-employee relationship? How will it stop platform employers retaining all of the profits while socialising essential costs such as sickness pay or a basic pension in old age? Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford asks Government about impact of covid-19 on the gig economy”
On 28th July Baroness Neville-Rolfe asked Her Majesty’s Government “further to the paper by Professor David Miles, Mike Stead and Dr Adrian Heald Living with COVID-19: balancing costs against benefits in the face of the virus, published on 26 June, what plans they have to ensure that in the future fuller account is taken of the economic costs of any measures adopted to address the COVID-19 pandemic such as lockdowns.” The Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, asked a follow up question, focusing on those affected by the benefit cap and those housed in the private rented sector.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, this is a complex matter, because economic, social and other community matters often go hand in hand. It is clear that many who have in these circumstances been bearing economic burdens are among those who are also the most socially disadvantaged. Bearing in mind the context of the forthcoming spending review, can the Minister give an assurance that the Government will take care to address the needs of such groups, including, for example, those affected by the benefit cap and those housed in the private rented sector, where repossession cases come before the courts again from later in August?