Bishop of Gloucester asks about extended funding for holiday activity and food programme for children

The Bishop of Gloucester asked about funding for extending the holiday activity and food programme for children during a debate on links between poor health and economic inactivity on 18th May 2023:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, we know that food insecurity is associated with poor health outcomes. Professor Greta Defeyter found that, for every £1 invested in the holiday activity and food programme, there is a wider economic benefit of £11. Can the Minister confirm whether funding is available to extend that programme beyond next year?

Lord Evans of Rainow (Con): I apologise to the right reverend Prelate, but I am afraid I do not have that information to hand, so I will write to her with an answer.

Hansard

Bishop of Gloucester asks about threat of homelessness for those leaving prison

The Bishop of Gloucester asked a question on ensuring homes for those released from prison during a debate on the repeal of the 1824 Vagrancy Act on 17th May 2023:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I thank the Minister for those statistics and for his assurance of an eventual commitment to no one being criminalised simply for having nowhere to live. Is he aware of the Ministry of Justice data which shows that people released from prison to homelessness are over 50% more likely to offend within a year? What more is being done to ensure that prison leavers have a home on release?

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Online Safety Bill: Bishop of Gloucester stresses importance of tackling violence against women and girls online and offline

On 16th May 2023, the House of Lords debated the Online Safety Bill in committee. The Bishop of Gloucester spoke in support of amendments that would target violence against women and girls by requiring OFCOM to issue a code of practice relating to this:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I have added my name to Amendments 97 and 304, and I wholeheartedly agree with all that the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan, said by means of her excellent introduction. I look forward to hearing what the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, has to say as she continues to bring her wisdom to the Bill.

Let me say from the outset, if it has not been said strongly enough already, that violence against women and girls is an abomination. If we allow a culture of intimidation and misogyny to exist online, it will spill over to offline experiences. According to research by Refuge, almost one in five domestic abuse survivors who experienced abuse or harassment from their partner or former partner via social media said they felt afraid of being attacked or being subjected to physical violence as a result. Some 15% felt that their physical safety was more at risk, and 5% felt more at risk of so-called honour-based violence. Shockingly, according to Amnesty International, 41% of women who experienced online abuse or harassment said that these experiences made them feel that their physical safety was threatened.

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Bishop of Gloucester asks about support for young carers

The Bishop of Gloucester asked a question on resources for young carers, during a debate on carers’ financial support on 16th May 2023: 

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, in addition to the issue of financial support for unpaid adult carers, we must not forget the contribution of young carers, who provide invaluable support to their families. What are the Government doing to ensure financial support for respite support, as well as access to a young carer’s lead in their school or college, as is currently available in Gloucestershire?

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Illegal Migration Bill: Bishop of Gloucester voices concerns for victims of modern slavery and domestic violence

On 10th May 2023, during a debate on the Illegal Migration Bill, the Bishop of Gloucester made a speech expressing concerns regarding the bill, with particular reference to the risks it would pose to women who are victims of domestic violence, sexual exploitation, and human trafficking:

My Lords, it is a privilege to add my voice to this debate. I echo much of what has already been said, including by my friends the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham. I will focus my remarks on the impact of this Bill on women, including victims and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence—all of it set, as you might expect, within my belief that every person is created in the image of God. We are talking here about people with names, not faceless numbers.

I hear the Minister’s concerns about the statistics around modern slavery but this issue needs much more careful analysis, as the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, said. Other noble Lords have highlighted many of the issues around modern slavery. Surely it cannot be right that no one who arrives here by irregular means will be eligible to receive modern slavery support. As we have heard, this Bill proposes that victims of modern slavery will instead be subject to detention and removal. This seems wrong on so many levels, not least morally, but it will also be a substantial law enforcement issue. Why would anyone come forward as a victim of modern slavery and risk being sent to Rwanda? My right reverend friends the Bishops of London and Bristol will be following these issues with interest and concern.

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Online Safety Bill: Bishop of Gloucester backs amendments to increase safety duties to children

On 2nd May 2023, the House of Lords debated the Online Safety Bill in the fourth day of committee. The Bishop of Gloucester spoke in support of amendments to the bill that would “amend the safety duties to children to consider all harms, not just harmful content”, including amendment 261 in the name of the Bishop of Oxford:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I support the amendments in this group that, with regard to safety by design, will address functionality and harms—whatever exactly we mean by that—as well as child safety duties and codes of practice. The noble Lord, Lord Russell, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Harding and Lady Kidron, have laid things out very clearly, and I wish the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, a happy birthday.

I also support Amendment 261 in the name of my right reverend friend the Bishop of Oxford and supported by the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, and the noble Viscount, Lord Colville. This amendment would allow the Secretary of State to consider safety by design, and not just content, when reviewing the regime.

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Bishop of Gloucester questions rhetoric surrounding criminal justice

The Bishop of Gloucester asked a question on the rhetoric used emphasising arrest and imprisonment, rather than rehabilitation, during a debate on the promised uplift in numbers of police on 2nd May 2023:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, it is very good to hear the Minister speak about police uplift. I am certainly not asking for more and more but I am asking for more join-up. I am really concerned about the “we are coming for you” rhetoric being part of the solution, and the sense that if we simply arrest more people and send more people to prison, we will reduce reoffending. There was nothing in the data about the high rate of reoffending. Unless we look at what is going on in our prisons, at how we rehabilitate people and address some of the systemic issues relating to why people offend in the first place, we will not be doing that join-up across the criminal justice system. I am really concerned about the rhetoric whereby, if you arrest more people and lock them up for longer, our streets will be safer; the data simply does not reflect that. Will the Minister say more about the join-up across the whole of the criminal justice system?

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Bishop of Gloucester asks about conditions for those under Imprisonment for Public Protection

The Bishop of Gloucester received the following written answers on 17th March 2023:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester asked His Majesty’s Government:

  • what emotional support and spiritual provision is available to prisoners under Imprisonment for Public Protection.
  • what assessment they have made of the increase in the numbers of prisoners under Imprisonment for Public Protection serving ten or more years beyond their original tariff.
  • what steps they are taking to reduce the number of women serving sentences under Imprisonment for Public Protection.
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Bishop of Gloucester asks about report on domestic abuse

The Bishop of Gloucester received the following written answer on 17th April 2023:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester asked His Majesty’s Government:

  • when they plan to publish their response to the Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s report Safety before status: the solutions, which was due in February.
  • what assessment has been made of the recommendations in the Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s second report into migrant survivors, Safety before status: the solutions, published on 13 December 2022.

Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con): Tackling violence against women and girls is a government priority. We are committed to supporting victims of abuse, regardless of their immigration status.

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Bishop of Gloucester asks about female prisoners categorised as a serious risk to the public

The Bishop of Gloucester received the following written answer on 6th March 2023:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester asked His Majesty’s Government how many restricted status prisoners were held in the female estate in each of the last 10 years.

Lord Bellamy (Con): A Restricted Status (RS) prisoner is any female, young person or young adult prisoner, convicted or on remand, whose escape would present a serious risk to the public and who is required to be held in designated secure accommodation.

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