On 25th March 2020 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer to a question on nutrition:
On 4th February 2020 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a question he had tabled to Government on food security and scarcity in areas affected by locusts in East Africa:
East Africa: Locusts
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of (1) food security, and (2) food scarcity, in areas affected by locusts in East Africa.
The Minister of State, Department for International Development (Baroness Sugg) (Con): My Lords, we are deeply concerned about the devastating locust outbreak in east Africa. It is destroying crops, livelihoods and essential food supplies. Millions of people already face food insecurity and acute malnutrition caused by humanitarian disasters in the region, and more are displaced by conflict. An outbreak exacerbates these challenges. Anticipatory action is needed to reduce the risks to the upcoming agricultural seasons; UK aid is supporting the UN in controlling the outbreak. We are monitoring the situation closely and stand ready to help further.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I thank the noble Baroness for her reply. It is perhaps appropriate that a Member on these Benches is raising issues about plagues of locusts, but a humanitarian crisis is unravelling in front of us. In some parts of Ethiopia, 90% of the crops have already gone and 20 million people face no food. Last Thursday, the UN said that we need $76 million now to begin to address the problems. What are Her Majesty’s Government doing to ensure immediate food aid if it is required and, in the longer term, that there is seed for next year’s crops so that people have security?
On 28th January 2020 the House of Lords debated a question from Lord Collins of Highbury, asking Government”what consideration they have given to formulating their pledge at the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth 2020 summit, and what they are doing to build commitments from other countries.” The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Steven Croft, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I, too, welcome this timely debate. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Collins, and welcome the opportunity offered by the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit.
It is moving to note, as other noble Lords have mentioned, that the number of people suffering from hunger has been increasing since 2015, albeit slowly. We know that behind the statistics lie terrible and moving stories of human suffering, disease and death, especially across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. It is sobering to ponder on the one hand the challenge of providing a sustainable diet and preventing the lifelong consequences of malnutrition and, on the other, the striking rise in obesity across the world and consequent health problems. Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford asks Government about links between food security, poor nutrition and climate change”
On 27th January the Bishop of St Albans , Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a question he had tabled to Government on food production and self-sufficiency. The exchanges are below, including from Peers asking their own follow-up questions:
Agriculture Bill: Food Production
The Lord Bishop of St Albans
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether food production is included in the definition of “public good” contained in the Agriculture Bill.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Gardiner of Kimble) (Con): My Lords, I declare my farming interests, as set out in the register. The Agriculture Bill includes powers to give financial assistance to farmers based on public money for public goods. These are goods and services not provided by the market. Clause 1(4) states:
“In framing any financial assistance scheme, the Secretary of State must have regard to the need to encourage the production of food by producers in England and its production by them in an environmentally sustainable way.”
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. A prime duty of government is to ensure that there is enough food to feed the population. Yet one has only to think about the impact of things such as coronavirus, and the immediate ban on the movement of live animals, to show how vulnerable we are, not least when this country is only 60% self-sufficient in food. Will the Minister assure the House that the Agriculture Bill will maximise the level of food production and food security for the country’s future? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about food security and self-sufficiency”
On 21st May 2019 Baroness Janke asked the Government “what steps they are taking to address the concerns raised by teachers in, and the findings of, the survey on child poverty published by the National Education Union on 14 April.” The Bishop of Winchester, Rt Revd Tim Dakin, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Winchester: My Lords, in a recent poll of teachers in England, 46% reported that holiday hunger had increased over the last three years. In my diocese, in Southampton alone 37% of children—many of whom are in working families—are living in relative poverty; that is, below the 60% median income line. Despite what she has already said, can the Minister give assurances that the Government will commit to reviewing their policies to reverse the rise in child poverty?
On 28th March 2019 Baroness Ludford asked the Government, “in the light of developments including the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 26 February Œuvre d’assistance aux bêtes d’abattoirs v Ministre de l’Agriculture et de l’Alimentation (C–497/17) that meat prepared according to the rules of religious slaughter cannot be classed as organic, what plans they have to encourage a wider debate about the space for practice in accordance with religious rights that respects human rights and equalities laws”.
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, the noble Baroness’s Question is about much more than meat. It was Lord Acton who wrote that religious freedoms are the foundation of political freedoms. Is it not true that the debate for which the noble Baroness is calling is very relevant, despite the record to which the Minister has drawn attention and of which we can be proud? Religious groups are feeling caught between the views of the majority in all sorts of situations and their own religious observance and conviction.
On 23rd October 2018 the Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, asked a question on behalf of the Bishop of St Albans, on Brexit and food security. A transcript of the follow-up question and those of other Members is below:
Brexit: Food Security
Tabled by The Lord Bishop of St Albans
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of food security following Brexit.
The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: I beg leave to ask the Question in the name of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans, who has been detained on other business.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Gardiner of Kimble) (Con): My Lords, Defra regularly assesses the security of food supply and has well-established relationships with industry on supply chain resilience. The UK has a high degree of food security, as shown by the UK Food Security Assessment. This is built on access to diverse sources of supply, including our domestic production. I declare my farming interests as set out in the register. Consumers will continue to have a wide choice of food after we leave the EU.