The Bishop of Exeter received the following written answer on 14th November 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Exeter asked His Majesty’s Government how they are working with supermarkets to ensure that affordable staple foods are available on the shelves this winter given the increasing food cost for (1) consumers, and (2) retailers.
Lord Benyon (Con): Defra has well established ways of working with industry. This includes extensive, regular and ongoing engagement with supermarkets and producers in order to tackle the cost-of-living challenge. Through this engagement, Defra will continue to explore the range of measures food retailers can take to ensure the availability of affordable food. For example, by maintaining value ranges, price matching and price freezing measures.
On 8th September 2022, the House of Lords debated the effects of climate change on biodiversity and food security. The Bishop of Manchester spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Manchester: My Lords, I begin by adding my own compliments to the noble Baroness, Lady Willis, on what was a most excellent maiden speech. I am very much looking forward now to her deep scientific learning informing many future contributions. We need good science in this House. I also echo the sentiments of my right reverend friend the Bishop of Durham in the previous debate, assuring your Lordships that Her Majesty is very much in the prayers of the Lords Spiritual at this time.
I am deeply grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Boycott, for securing time for us to discuss the important matters in this debate. I draw attention to my interest as set out in the register as a Church Commissioner; we are one of the largest owners of agricultural land in England.
This year we have seen unprecedented consequences of climate change, both at home in the UK and abroad: record temperatures, shifting weather patterns, rising sea levels and biodiversity loss. Climate change is alive and kicking, and we need to work together at all levels, locally, nationally and internationally, to address the crisis.
On 21st July 2022 the House of Lords debated the impact of the blockade of Ukrainian ports on food insecurity in developing countries. The Bishop of St Albans spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Alton, for his brilliant introduction to this debate. I also welcome my colleague, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, and congratulate him on his maiden speech. I know he has huge experience to offer to this House and will be drawing not least on the huge successes and, indeed, some of the challenges of the east Midlands, where he is based. We look forward to hearing much more from him.
Next Tuesday we will start the next Lambeth Conference. Hundreds of bishops are gathering from all round the world. They are flying into this country as we speak, including many bishops from the whole of Africa and parts of Asia, and we are going to be meeting many of these people who, in their dioceses, are facing the famine that is now ahead of us. We hope that will be an opportunity to get first-hand reports of what the challenges are and how we might be able to try to respond, to alleviate some of the terrible suffering facing our world and particularly the Horn of Africa.
On 21st July 2022 the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, Rt Revd Paul Williams, delivered his maiden speech in the House of Lords during Lord Alton’s debate, “that this House takes note of (1) the impact of the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports on food insecurity in developing countries, and (2) its contribution to the danger of famine in (a) the Horn of Africa, and (b) East Africa.”
The Lord Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham (Maiden Speech): My Lords, I begin by thanking fellow Members for their gracious welcome and expressing my gratitude to the parliamentary staff and officers who have so kindly supported my introduction to the House.
It is an honour to make this maiden speech in such an important debate, which focuses so clearly on the needs of the most vulnerable: those affected by the sudden steep rise in global food prices resulting from Russia’s terrible war and blockade in Ukraine. I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Alton, both for bringing this debate to the House and for his long record of campaigning advocacy on behalf of those whose suffering is too often overlooked.
On 19th May 2022, the Bishop of St Albans asked a question concerning a ban placed on cereal exports by India:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the decision by the government of India to ban the export of cereals from that country on inflation and the cost of living in the United Kingdom.
The Bishop of Gloucester received the following written answer on 5th April 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the merits of an Affordable Food Innovation Fund being included in the White Paper to be published in response to the National Food Strategy.
On 17th September 2020 the House of Lords considered amendments to the Government’s Agriculture Bill at its Report Stage. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, sponsored and spoke in favour of amendments to Government to set targets on food security and report more frequently to Parliament on the issue.
The amendments were not put to a vote but withdrawn after debate.
On 15th September 2020 the House of Lords considered amendments to the Government’s Agriculture Bill at its Report Stage. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, sponsored and spoke in favour of amendments to:
improve food security and access to food that promotes good health and wellbeing,
require Government to set out detailed spending plans,
delay the start of the transition away from direct farm payments from 2021 to 2022.
The amendments were not put to a vote but withdrawn after debate.
On 21st July House of Lords debated amendments to the Government’s Agriculture Bill, during its Committee stage. The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, spoke to amendments on maintaining food security during he movement to the new farm payments scheme.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I will say a few words about the transition period and, in particular, in support of Amendments 150 to 154 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Rock, which have the support of the National Farmers Union and the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, among others.