Bishop of Peterborough welcomes Government continuing commitments to UK aid

On 18th June 2020 a Government statement on the proposed merger of the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office, was repeated in the House of Lords. The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, responded:

The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, I thank the Leader of the House for answering questions on this matter. On these Benches, we affirm the Government’s right to organise themselves as they think best for the common good. We look forward to greater integration between foreign and development policy and values, and we warmly commend the continued 0.7% commitment. I am grateful to have heard the noble Baroness’s assurance that the Government will remain committed to the OECD DAC rules—it would be lovely to have that repeated. Can we have another assurance that the Government will preserve the primary focus of UK aid as poverty reduction? Continue reading “Bishop of Peterborough welcomes Government continuing commitments to UK aid”

Bishops of Durham and St Albans debate international response to Covid-19

On 18th May 2020 a virtual sitting of the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Sugg, “That the Virtual Proceedings do consider the international response to COVID-19.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, and the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:

20.04.30 Durham 2The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, thankfully, the virus appears to be spreading slowly in most African countries, with Lesotho declaring its first case only last week. However, the World Bank forecasts that Covid-19 could push 49 million people into extreme poverty. The economic impact on some poorer nations could be more detrimental than the health threat. The aid Her Majesty’s Government committed at the international pledging event will be vital for the poorest nations, but our international response must be sustainable, which requires trade, not simply aid. What actions have Her Majesty’s Government taken to ensure that good free trade agreements are made with poorer nations?

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Bishop of Leeds asks Government about suspension of debt payments from the world’s poorest countries

Bishop Nick BainesOn 13th May, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, received a written answer from Lord Agnew of Oulton on the debt of developing countries.

Bishop of Leeds: HL3475 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure private creditors comply with the agreement reached by G20 leaders on 15 April to suspend debt payments owed by 77 of the world’s poorest countries, in particular those debts that fall under UK jurisdiction.

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Bishop of Leeds asks Government about suspending debt of developing countries during pandemic

Bishop Nick BainesOn 12th May, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, received a written answer from Baroness Sugg on the debt of developing countries.

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: HL3476 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with other G20 leaders to extend the agreement reached on 15 April, to suspend debt payments owed by 77 of the world’s poorest countries, to include the (1) the World Bank, and (2) the African Development Bank.

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Bishop of Southwark asks about freedom of religion and belief policy in international development

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Bishop of St Albans raises food security and scarcity in areas affected by locusts in East Africa

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?

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Bishop of Durham responds to spending round with need for focus on society’s most vulnerable

19.01.07 durham bOn 25th September 2019 the House of Lords took note of the Government’s Spending Round 2019. The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, contributed to the debate:

Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, like others, I welcome the fact that we are able to hold a debate on the spending round 2019. When the political point-scoring is redacted from the Chancellor’s original Statement, as I note it is on the GOV.UK website, there are aspects to welcome in the overall spending increase and some of the specific commitments. I am pleased that the Chancellor recognised in his speech that in the nation there are anxieties and divisions,

“between regions and communities, rich and poor, rural and urban, young and old”,—[Official Report, Commons, 4/9/2019; col. 180.]

and between black and white. The test for me is always around the impact of spending on the most vulnerable in our society. It is this that leads me to ask some questions.

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Bishop of St Albans asks Government about working with local faith communities to help Ebola victims

St Albans 2On 25th July 2019 the Bishop of St Albans asked the Government “what steps they are taking to help those areas affected by the latest outbreak of Ebola which has been declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization”. He then asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her Answer and, indeed, for the money that has been made available. One of the most effective ways of rolling out preventative health education is to use local indigenous leadership. In 2015, Christian Aid and other charities recommended that NGOs should engage with local faith leaders for this purpose. Are Her Majesty’s Government following this advice? Secondly, with daily flights between DRC and Europe, given the highly infectious nature of this disease, will she explain to the House the steps that are being taken for our own domestic preparedness?

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Bishop of Peterborough – need to consider impact on smaller aid and development charities of necessary anti-corruption measures

On 2nd April 2019 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord McInnes of Kilwinning “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they take to ensure that anti-corruption measures are supported as part of (1) aid to developing countries, and countries recovering from natural disasters, and (2) the reconstruction of former conflict areas.” The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord McInnes, for raising this important Question. I draw attention to my non-financial interest as a vice-president of the Leprosy Mission. I hasten to add that, to the best of my knowledge, that excellent organisation has not been infected by the scourge of corruption.

However, all of us involved in third sector aid must be vigilant and realistic about the temptations even for those whose careers and lives are essentially altruistic. The diocese I serve used to have what the Anglican Communion calls a companion link with a diocese in a very poor area of a very poor African country, where corruption is rife at all levels. We found it extremely difficult to support church work, rural clinics, schools and so on without significant amounts of money going astray—despite our best efforts as required by the Finance Act 2010 and by our own ethical standards.

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Bishop of St Albans asks about Yemen: humanitarian aid, weapons, and peace

On 25th and 28th March 2019 the Bishop of St Albans received answers to four written questions on Yemen: humanitarian aid, weapons, and peace:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans

(i) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of access to humanitarian aid (1) entering, and (2) being distributed in Yemen. HL14603

(ii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have received any information from third parties about use of weapons supplied by British companies in the Yemen conflict. HL14604

(iii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much they spent funding (1) local peace actors, (2) aid partners, and (3) others involved in promoting a path to peace in the Yemen conflict. HL14602

(iv) To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following the visit to Aden by the Foreign Secretary, whether they have had any further discussion with the UN’s Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen and other local powers about finding a sustainable peace in that country; and if so, what agreements have been reached between the UK and others. HL14605

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