On Monday 16th March 2015, the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received answers to two written questions on (i) food security, and (ii) the future of displaced Syrians.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the recent research from the National Farmers’ Union on the decline in food production in the United Kingdom and its impact on food security.
Lord de Mauley (Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs):This Government is committed to helping UK food producers thrive and expand. We are working with the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and others to support a competitive UK farming industry, including through our £160 million investment in applied research under the agri-tech strategy, as well as the new Rural Development Programme for England, which includes £141 million dedicated to improving agricultural productivity.
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans – food security and Syria (Written Answers)”
On 19th January 2015, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, received an answer to a written question on the subject of milk sustainability.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to strengthen United Kingdom food security through ensuring that the supply of liquid milk produced in the United Kingdom is sufficient to meet United Kingdom consumer demand, in order to reduce reliance on imported milk. [HL3996]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): Milk commodity price increases during 2013 stimulated milk production in the UK (also in the EU and across the world). UK milk production for January to November 2014 was 9% up on the previous year and 7% higher than the average seen over the past 10 years. Liquid milk is expensive to transport and has a short lifespan in its raw state. UK imports are at very low levels: around 1% of total UK production. In 2013, the UK imported 132 million litres of raw milk, predominantly intra-trade between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Domestic production of liquid milk in the same period was 13.2 billion litres.
On 15th January 2015, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked an oral question during question time in the House of Loreds on the long-term sustainability of milk production in the United Kingdom.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure the long-term sustainability of milk production in the United Kingdom.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): My Lords, we share farmers’ concerns over the pressures on milk prices caused by the volatility of the global market and we are working closely with industry. It is important to remember that the long-term prospects are good, with exports at record levels. We are helping the dairy industry take advantage of opportunities such as opening new export markets and pushing for better country of origin labelling for British dairy products. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans raises concerns about sustainability of UK milk production”
“The legitimacy of any legislature is judged by the sure access to justice for all citizens, regardless of age or estate. For that justice to be social it requires the active participation of all communities. I believe that this justice is rooted in the invitation of God to be generous and visible with and for others” – Bishop of Ely, 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 Ely, Rt Rev Stephen Conway, gave his maiden speech in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Ely (Maiden Speech):My Lords, I begin by expressing my gratitude for the welcome I have received since I was introduced into your Lordships’ House. My theological sense of direction is rather more developed than my physical sense, and I have been touched by the noble Lords who have accompanied me around bewildering corridors. Your Lordships may yet see me, like Theseus, unwinding a ball of twine to get me back to the Bishops’ Robing Room. Continue reading “Maiden speech by the Bishop of Ely – Government strategy on social justice”
On 11th August 2014 the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, received an answer to a question on food security in Angola.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the government of Angola regarding food insecurity in that country; and whether they have encouraged that government to undertake an assessment of the situation.
Baroness Northover (LD): Poor seasonal rainfall early in 2014 in parts of Western Angola has affected the harvest and food availability there. However, throughout most of the country production is considered to be good and expected to be higher than normal. This has helped to maintain reasonable food prices for urban populations.
The Government has not had recent bilateral discussions with the Government of Angola regarding the food situation. The Government of Angola is leading the food assistance programme and is best placed to prepare for and lead such a response with the support of UN partners. The Government of Angola has set up an Inter-ministerial Commission to tackle the drought. The Government of Angola is also embarking on infrastructure projects, such as water supply projects, to mitigate drought impact in the future.
In the House of Lords on 20th March 2014 Lord Beecham asked Her Majesty’s Government ‘what assessment they have made of the number and role of food banks in the United Kingdom.’
The Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Rev Michael Perham, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, research by Citizens Advice shows that the main reason people are referred to food banks is delay in the payment of benefits and benefit sanctions; anecdotally, this is also the church’s own experience from its involvement in the many food banks it helps to run across the country. Will the Minister tell us whether the Government are persuaded by this evidence and, if they are not, will he share with us what plans they have to carry out their own research into the reasons leading so many people to seek food aid?
Lord De Mauley: My Lords, I very much acknowledge the right reverend Prelate’s question. While it is right to expect that claimants who are able to look for or prepare for work should do so, a sanction will never be imposed if a claimant has good reason for failing to meet requirements. If claimants demonstrate that they cannot buy essential items, including food, as a result of their sanction, they can claim a hardship payment. No claimant should ever have to go without essentials as a result of a sanction.
The Earl of Shrewsbury asked Her Majesty’s Government what measures they are taking to improve flood defences in agricultural areas.
The Bishop of St Albans asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans:
My Lords, the noble Lord will be only too aware of the huge contribution that British agriculture makes to food security. Could he therefore tell us what assessment Her Majesty’s Government have made concerning the risk to food security due to poorly planned flooding amelioration and prevention schemes, which are allowing considerable areas of high-grade agricultural land to be taken out of production due to flooding?
Lord De Mauley:
I am grateful to the right reverend Prelate for coming to see me the other day to talk about these things. There is currently no evidence that flood events such as those experienced in 2007, 2009 or 2012—or, so far, in recent events—represent a threat to food security in the United Kingdom. According to the UK food security assessment, the UK enjoys a high level of food security as a developed, stable economy. I think it is more likely that disruption to transport links could impact access to food supplies, but we are watching this carefully.