Bishop of Gloucester responds to Government plans to end early release for terrorist offenders

On 24th February 2020 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill at its Second Reading (and remaining stages). The Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I am grateful to those contributing to this subject today who have far greater knowledge than I do, and I will aim to keep my comments brief.

Certainly, if a society that relies on government to deliver justice has lost confidence in the current system, it is right that we try to address those fears, and we must look at the bigger picture. I share concerns already expressed about the manner in which this legislation has been brought before the House, and particularly the very short time that we have to consider it.

If the justice system is to serve the common good and the flourishing of people and place, there needs to be an emphasis on a radical mutual responsibility, in which we are all truly responsible for one another. Offenders must be expected to take responsibility for their actions. This should be about not only taking the consequences and punishments imposed by a criminal justice system but having the opportunity to take responsibility for past actions, and the possibility of taking responsibility to restore their relationship with society.

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Lords approve Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure

On 30th January 2020 the House of Lords considered the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure, a piece of church legislation that was introduced by the Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek. A short debate also took place on a motion to regret the Measure, tabled by Lord Trefgarne, which was subsequently withdrawn. The Measure was passed.

Moved by The Lord Bishop of Gloucester

That this House do direct that, in accordance with the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919, the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure be presented to Her Majesty for the Royal Assent.

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, although the provisions contained in this Measure are miscellaneous, some of them are nevertheless important. Rather than go through the Measure section by section, it might be helpful if I just mention some of the more significant provisions at this point.

Section 2 implements a recommendation from Dame Moira Gibb’s report following her review of the Church of England’s response to the abuse committed by Peter Ball. One of the report’s recommendations was for the introduction of a national register of clergy with permission to officiate. That recommendation has been further developed and Section 2 will now require there to be a national ministry register. Every clerk in holy orders who has authority to exercise ministry in the Church of England will have to be included in the register. There is also provision for the creation of a register of licensed lay people, and bishops will be required to provide details to the Archbishops’ Council on a regular basis so that the national registers are kept up to date. A form of the register that omits personal contact information will be published by the council and be accessible to the public free of charge.

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Bishop of Gloucester and Archbishop of York ask Government about support for looked after and adopted children

On 28th January 2020 the Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, asked a question she had tabled to Government, on support for looked after and adopted children. She and the Archbishop of York, Most Revd and Rt Hon John Sentamu, asked follow-up questions and the transcript is below:

Looked-after and Adopted Children
Question

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to review support for children looked after by local authorities and those children who are adopted.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education (Lord Agnew of Oulton) (Con): My Lords, we are committed to undertake a review of the care system. We are already implementing substantial reforms to improve outcomes for this most vulnerable group of children and young people. Alongside the reforms, we are providing councils with an additional £1 billion for adult and children’s social care in every year of this ​Parliament. The review will allow us to go further in ensuring that children and young people have the support that they need. Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester and Archbishop of York ask Government about support for looked after and adopted children”

Bishop of Gloucester responds to Queen’s Speech – the needs of children and vulnerable women

On 9th January 2020 the Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, spoke in the Queen’s Speech debate, about children and vulnerable women:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I begin by congratulating the noble Baroness, Lady Blower, on her excellent maiden speech.

I shall focus on children and vulnerable women; I draw noble Lords’ attention to my entry on the register of interests. My headlines are that we need policy that supports and enables early intervention and effective partnerships. Experiences that we have at an early age shape who we are. The Children’s Society has been measuring children’s well-being for more than a decade, and during much of that time children’s well-being has been in decline. This is not simply about children; it is about how we shape the sort of communities we want to see. Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester responds to Queen’s Speech – the needs of children and vulnerable women”

Bishop of Gloucester says more investment and impetus needed in female offender strategy

On 3rd October 2019 the House of Lords debated a motion from Crossbench Peer Lord Ramsbotham, ‘That this House takes note of the case for reforming the management and treatment of offenders in prison and the community.’ The Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Rambsotham, for bring forward this debate and I am glad to be speaking in it.

I have a particular interest in women’s interaction with the justice system as the lead Bishop on women’s prisons, and I have been carefully following the progress of the female offender strategy. The strategy was published in June 2018, and it prioritised earlier intervention, community-based solutions, and effective, decent custody for women who have to be there. There has been widespread consensus in this House and beyond that community-based provision for most women offenders offers both cheaper and more effective rehabilitation than prison. Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester says more investment and impetus needed in female offender strategy”

Bishop of Gloucester asks Government what consultation takes place with religious communities to inform asylum decision making

On 9th April 2019 the Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, received written answers to two questions about asylum decisions and consultation with religious communities:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester:

(i) (HL14943) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what processes they operate for monitoring and reviewing decisions on asylum claims.

(ii) (HL14942 ) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consultation they have undertaken with religious communities to inform decision-making processes for asylum claims.

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Bishop of Gloucester asks Government about progress on female offenders strategy

On 31st January 2019 the Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, asked a question she had tabled to Government on its female offender strategy:

Female Offender Strategy

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made in implementing the female offenders’ strategy.

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Keen of Elie) (Con): My Lords, the Female Offender Strategy, published in June 2018, outlines the Government’s long-term vision for improving outcomes for female offenders in custody and in the community. The strategy sets out a programme of work that contains a number of commitments that will take some years to implement. A new women’s policy framework was published last December, and my noble friend Lord Farmer’s review of family ties for female offenders is expected to report in the coming weeks.

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I welcome that information from the Minister, which follows many positive commitments to the female offender strategy. However, we are still awaiting news of residential pilots, action to strengthen links between probation services and women’s centres, the report from the noble Lord, Lord Farmer, and a national concordat. Given that many of the strategy’s commitments have no clear timescales—indeed, in some cases the suggested deadline has already passed—how does the Minister plan to effectively monitor progress and stay on track?

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Bishop of Gloucester asks about impact of benefit reforms and two-child limit on families with children

On 10th January 2019 the Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, asked a question she had tabled to Government on benefit reforms and the impact on children. She specifically raised the issue of the two-child limit. A Government announcement on that was made the following day. The response to the question and to the Bishop’s subsequent question and those of other Members, can be seen in full below:

Benefit Reforms

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of benefit reforms on families with children.

​The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Buscombe) (Con): My Lords, this Government support families. Our welfare system supports those who are vulnerable and helps people into work. These reforms are working, with 3.3 million more people in work and 300,000 fewer children in absolute poverty than in 2010, a record low. Once fully rolled out, universal credit will result in an extra 200,000 people moving into work and will empower people to work an extra 113 million hours a year to support their families.

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: I thank the Minister for her Answer and I am grateful for recent engagement with faith and other groups on this issue, but the Government’s own statistics show that child poverty is rising among families with more than two children, even when those families have an adult in work. One of the principal drivers of this increase is the Government’s two-child limit, which makes it harder for parents of more than two children to work their way out of poverty, contrary to the aims of universal credit. In light of this evidence, will the Government reconsider that two-child policy? Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester asks about impact of benefit reforms and two-child limit on families with children”

Bishop of Gloucester urges Government to support girls in conflict-zones and ratify Istanbul Convention

On the 8th January 2019 Baroness Hodgson of Abinger hosted a debate about adolescent girls in conflict-affected countries. The Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek spoke in the debate to highlight the need to ratify the Istanbul Convention and to increase the support given to education of children:

Gloucester071117 b

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester:  My Lords, I too thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hodgson, for securing this debate. It is a great honour to be taking part and to listen to the contributions of so many amazing supporters of women and girls. I should also like to draw attention to my interests as set out in the register.

 

Following previous speakers, I too should like to reinforce what has been said about violence and access to education. As has been said, before, during and after conflict girls face both physical and sexual violence. It is important to note that trauma follows adolescent girls when they flee from conflict, whether they become refugees or are internally displaced. There is a high risk of sexual abuse in overcrowded, unsanitary and unsafe refugee areas. Girls face not only prostitution and the risk of early marriage; they also face isolation and a lack of access to healthcare and psychological support. I would like to ask the Minister: what specific action are the Government currently taking to support girls in these vulnerable places, and how will rebuilding peace after conflict specifically involve support for these girls?

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Bishop of Gloucester asks Government about child refugees and rights to family reunion

Gloucester 150318On the 8th January 2019 Lord Roberts of Llandudno asked a question of the government about migrants crossing the English channel. the Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek asked a follow-up question about the right of family reunion and child migrants.

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, children granted refugee status in the UK have no rights to family reunion. This sets the UK apart from all other European countries. What are the Government doing to ensure legal protection and mental health support for these children? Will they consider granting rights to family reunion?

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