On 19th May 2016 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in the first day of debate on the Queen’s Speech. He focused his response on the Government’s life chances agenda, including poverty, children and welfare reform.
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, the gracious Speech makes several commitments to improving life chances for the most disadvantaged. There is also a renewed commitment,
“to support the development of a Northern Powerhouse”.
It is in welcoming these that I shall make most of my remarks.
Children need the best possible start in life. They need to be loved and cared for above all else. Where this is best found in an adoptive family, seeing this established as well and as quickly as possible is important, so I welcome the proposed measures here and look forward to the details. For some, care ends up as the best loving option. We need to ensure that life chances for those in residential or foster care are as good as for all other children. When the time comes to leave care, it is often traumatic. A move to provide care leavers with a personal adviser until they are 25 is therefore a very welcome proposal. Continue reading “Queen’s Speech 2016: Bishop of Durham responds on welfare, children and life chances”
On 26th November 2015 Lord Beecham asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the provision of food banks at, and the distribution of food to people in need by, NHS hospitals.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Rev & Rt Hon Justin Welby, asked a supplementary question:
The Archbishop of Canterbury: Does the Minister recognise that the comments at the time of the previous Government about there being no link between benefit changes and food banks was significantly challenged at the time and that our experience in Church of England, which is involved in the vast majority of food banks across the country, is that between 35% and 45% of people coming to get support from food banks report that the reason for running out of food is to do with changes to the benefit system and sanctions?
Lord Prior of Brampton:All I can do is repeat what I said before which is that, as Ed Davey said, there is no statistical link, in his view, between the Government’s benefits reforms and the provision of food banks. I think that the issue is much more complex than the most reverend Primate is suggesting.
On the 10th of September 2015 Caroline Spelman MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner, answered five written questions from members of the House of Commons, about metal theft, closed churches and food banks.
The following two were grouped together:
Mr Mark Hendrick (Preston): To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, which Church of England churches in the Diocese of Blackburn were subject to metal theft from rooves in (a) 2012, (b) 2013 and (c) 2014; and which such churches were redundant. 
Mr Mark Hendrick (Preston): To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, which Church of England churches in the Diocese of Blackburn have been subject to metal theft from roofs in each year since 2012; and which such churches were redundant churches. 
On 11th December 2014, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the recommendations of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Food Poverty’s recent report, Feeding Britain. A full transcript of the exchange is reproduced below:
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, this report is a serious contribution to an important and wide-ranging debate, which recognises the multiple factors behind demand for emergency food assistance. As a country, we have enough food to go round. We agree that it is wrong that anyone should go hungry at the same time as surplus food is going to waste. There is a moral argument, as well as a sustainability one, to ensure that we make the best use of our resources.
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans calls on Government to take up recommendations of hunger report”
“When we stigmatise the poor, the unemployed and the vulnerable, we have succumbed to blaming them for their position. However, although some people stigmatise welfare claimants, many others show enormous human and social solidarity by volunteering to help them.”
On 6th November 2014, Labour Peer the Rt Hon. the Lord Whitty led a take-note debate in the House of Lords on the cumulative effects of Government economic, public spending and regulatory policies on low income and vulnerable consumers. The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, spoke in the debate. He focused his remarks on the rise in the use of food banks across his diocese, and the need for a sustained response to help reduce the use of food banks, including investment in nutrition programmes and reducing the number of delays to welfare payments. He praised those who volunteer and support food banks and other charitable responses, and cautioned some of the language used to describe those who use food banks and other forms of support.
The Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, for securing this debate, which I enter in no partisan spirit but hope to contribute some reflections from local experience in Norwich of those on low incomes in our city.
It was more than five years ago that I was first approached to become patron of the Norwich food bank, a relatively early one to be established. Its work informs a good deal of what I want to say. The necessity for it was identified before the previous general election as a result of the recession. Suddenly, people who thought themselves reasonably secure were worried. Those who were already insecure became highly vulnerable. That was all very noticeable within our church communities on the housing estates in Norwich, especially in the areas of greatest social deprivation. Continue reading “Bishop of Norwich calls for stronger response to tackle growth of food bank use”
“I worry enormously that in our society we fall too easily into a tendency to demonise and victimise and fall between us and them… I suggest that there is clear evidence that our society is struggling to understand itself as a society today, and not enough evidence on the value of justice for all members of our society” – Bishop of Truro, 16/10/14
On 16th October 2014, the House of Lords debated a motion in the name of Baroness Tyler of Enfield, “that this House takes note of Her Majesty’s Government’s Social Justice strategy.” The Bishop of Truro gave the following speech:
The Lord Bishop of Truro: My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, for initiating this debate and congratulate her on her very clear and comprehensive introduction to this very important topic. I am also very grateful to be speaking in a debate when my friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ely is going to make his maiden speech. If it were not presumably against the protocols of this House, I would like to congratulate him on doing so before he has done it. However, knowing him as I do, I think that that is probably very dangerous. Continue reading “Lords debates social justice – speech by Bishop of Truro”
On 17th July 2014, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, the Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, answered a number of questions on the floor of the House of Commons, during the monthly Church Commissioner Questions slot. He answered questions on food banks, church and cathedral repairs, human trafficking and women bishops. He also answered a written question on Church Commissioners ICT. A full transcript of the session is reproduced below:
Hugh Bayley (York Central) (Lab): What support the Church of England is giving to food banks.
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): Four in five of the Church of England’s 13,000 parish churches are supporting local food banks. Continue reading “Church Commissioners – Oral and Written Questions”