On 19th November 2014, Lord Lea of Crondall asked Her Majesty’s Government whether they have made any proposal to other European Union member states, either severally or collectively, which would limit (1) the right of United Kingdom citizens to live and work in other European Union member states, or (2) the parallel right of citizens of other European Union member states to live and work in the United Kingdom. The Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd John Inge, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, the Minister mentioned the reputation that this country has for hospitality. Is he aware of an associated issue: the difficulty that members of the Commonwealth face in obtaining a visa even to visit, let alone to work and live in this country, which seriously hampers a lot of very important overseas links with dioceses, including my own—so much so that my friends in Tanzania were unable to be present at my wife’s funeral earlier this year? Is that sort of impediment government policy and, if not, can he assure us that it will be addressed?
Lord Bates: We very much encourage people to come to this country, whether to study or to work. We want to encourage the best and the brightest to come to this country, as well as tourists; there are many people we want to encourage—but there is a difference between that and people who significantly abuse the system in coming here because of benefits.
On 30th October 2014, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office, Lord Bates, repeated a Government statement concerning search and rescue for migrants and refugees. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, it is clear that we are all deeply worried about this terrible situation. Just last weekend, a family drowned off our own coasts and the horror was felt right across our country. There were serious discussions about whether we needed more people on duty to look after them. There is a deep sense of worry where people put themselves in such danger. I do not think that any of us believe that people are putting their families at risk—sometimes, they are huge, extended families; one was reported earlier this week on television—thinking, “Oh, well, it does not matter if we are likely to drown because we might be saved”. That would seem to me incredible. Surely we need a much more coherent, pan-European strategy underlying the whole question of immigrants and asylum seekers, and we should try to get some agreement on how we can address it. However, I would lament us withdrawing from anything that would help people in such dire circumstances.
Lord Bates: I understand the right reverend Prelate’s point. I should make the point again for the benefit of the House that we are not withdrawing from anything; this was something for which the Italian Government had responsibility, and they have decided to phase it out. The right reverend Prelate is absolutely right that more needs to be done to establish a co-ordinated approach, which was indeed the purpose of the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on this specific issue held on 9 and 10 October. One of the outcomes of that meeting was Operation Triton, which we have pledged resources to, in addition to all the other things that we are trying to do to help in the countries from which these people are fleeing for their lives.
On 15th July, tributes were offered to the out-going Leader of the House of Lords, the Lord Hill of Oareford, following his nomination as the United Kingdom’s candidate to the European Commission. The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd James Newcome, led the tributes on behalf of the Lords Spiritual.
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I associate those of us on these Benches with the generous comments from around the House about the noble Lord, Lord Hill. My colleagues have been grateful for the support, the wisdom and the guidance of the noble Lord and his office for the Lords spiritual to enable our contribution to the work of the House to match the high levels of all other parts of the House. He also did a wonderful job as Education Minister and he has been a good friend to the Church and to the Lords Spiritual. Continue reading “Bishop of Carlisle leads tributes to departing Leader of the House of Lords”
On 17th June 2014, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, received an answer to a written question on climate change.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made in securing a deal on the European Union’s 2030 climate change reduction package, in advance of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): The European Council in March 2014 discussed the 2030 climate and energy framework and agreed to make a final decision on the Framework no later than October this year.
The UK believes that the EU should urgently adopt a domestic emissions reduction target for 2030 of at least 40% on 1990 levels, moving to 50% in the context of an ambitious global climate agreement.
I am determined to continue working closely and intensively with all my colleagues in Europe to ensure that the EU is in a position to play a leading role at the Ban Ki-Moon Climate Summit in September.
On 16th January 2014, Baroness Berridge asked Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to the failure of the transition government and the growing crisis in the Central African Republic.
The Most Revd and Rt Hon John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, asked a supplementary question:
The Archbishop of York: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the scale of the crisis is very large? I am grateful for what the Government are doing in response to this particular crisis, but will they use their offices in the European Union to make sure that all nations take part in dealing with this rather appalling situation? I am not confident that the African Union actually has the capacity to deal with the situation, much as it is on the ground. I hope the Minister can give us some comfort by confirming that the Government are talking to our European allies to ensure that whatever is needed is provided. Otherwise, we will end up with genocide and pictures on our television screens that will make all our stomachs churn day by day.
Continue reading “Archbishop of York urges European co-operation in response to crisis in Central African Republic”
“I would describe myself as a pro-Palestinian Zionist, wholeheartedly committed to the right of Israel to exist securely, and equally committed to the right of the Palestinian people to a viable state in which they can flourish. Reaching that is crucial to a wider Middle East peace settlement.” – The Bishop of Worcester
On 14th January 2014, the Bishop of Worcester took part in a debate on what role the European Union is currently playing in efforts to reach a wider Middle East peace settlement. He focused his comments on new EU guidelines on Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Continue reading “Bishop of Worcester speaks in debate on Middle East Peace Process”
On 14th October 2013, the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, and the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, both received answers to written questions on the European Union’s Justice and Home Affairs Measures.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord McNally on 29 August (WA 318), what guarantees they sought from other member states, prior to their decision of 9 July to opt out of 130 European Union Justice and Home Affairs measures, that the United Kingdom would be able to opt back in to various police and justice measures.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Protocol 36 does not provide for guarantees to be obtained from Member States and no Member State would have been able to have given such a guarantee. We therefore did not seek any such guarantees from Member States. However, the issue has been discussed in meetings with our EU counterparts at both Ministerial and official level.
However, Protocol 36 to the Treaties places an obligation on the UK and the Union institutions to, “…seek to re-establish the widest possible measure of participation of the United Kingdom in the acquis of the Union in the area of freedom, security and justice without seriously affecting practical operability of the various parts thereof, while respecting their coherence”. Given this, we are confident that we will be able to reach agreement on a sensible final package of measures that the UK will formally apply to rejoin.
Final agreement is subject to approval by the Council in the case of Schengen measures and the Commission for all others. Continue reading “Bishops of Derby and Wakefield seek clarification on UK’s position on EU Justice and Home Affairs measures”
On 5th August 2013, the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, received an answer to a written question on European Union Justice and Home Affairs measures.
The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, prior to their decision on 9 July to opt out of 130 European Union Justice and Home Affairs measures as provided for by the Lisbon Treaty, guarantees were provided by the European Commission that the United Kingdom would be able to opt back in to various police and justice provisions.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Protocol 36 to the Treaties places an obligation on the UK and the Union institutions to, “…seek to re-establish the widest possible measure of participation of the United Kingdom in the acquis of the Union in the area of freedom, security and justice without seriously affecting practical operability of the various parts thereof, while respecting their coherence”. We are confident that we will be able to reach agreement on a sensible final package of measures that the UK will formally apply to rejoin.
Of course it is not possible to predict the final outcome of the discussions with EU institutions, but following the Governments announcement on 9 July the Commission made clear in a press release that it “respects the UK Government’s choice to opt out, which is in line with the Treaty, and welcomes the UK intention to also opt back into certain measures”.
“This is a serious problem; it is not a joke. The issue is getting more difficult, more frustrating and more challenging for more communities all the time, and we look to the Minister and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to come forward with practical proposals to ensure that churches and communities can worship and flourish unimpeded by bats.”
On the 25th June 2013 in Westminster Hall, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry, led a debate on the issue of bats in churches and the impact of the EU habitats directive. Sir Tony described the negative impact that bat populations can have upon artefacts within churches and also the health threat that they pose to members of the congregation.
Continue reading “The Second Church Estates Commissioner Leads Debate on Impact of Bats in Churches”