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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Bishop of St Albans asks if DfID will work with churches on relief effort following Cyclone Idai

On 19th March 2019 Lord Elton asked the Government “what response the UK is making to help address the impact of Cyclone Idai in parts of southern Africa”. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, such is the devastation that reports are only slowly coming in from some of the most damaged areas. We are hearing reports from a number of the Anglican dioceses in different parts of the Communion and from a number of bishops, including Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, who has launched an appeal and is mobilising people on the ground. Will the Minister assure us that DfID will work closely with those networks and organisations on the ground, such as the dioceses and the Christian communities which have the networks in place and know what is going on locally? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks if DfID will work with churches on relief effort following Cyclone Idai”

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:

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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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Archbishop of Canterbury leads debate on reconciliation in British foreign, defence and international development policy

On 14th December 2018 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, led a debate in the House of Lords on the Motion: “that this House takes note of the role of reconciliation in British foreign, defence and international development policy”.  The Archbishop’s opening and closing speeches in the debate are below. The Bishop of Coventry also spoke in the debate and his speech can be seen here.

The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I am grateful to the usual channels for permitting this debate; to the noble Lord, Lord Collins of Highbury, for responding on behalf of the Opposition; to the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice; and to the Minister, the noble Earl, Lord Howe, for their time and contributions today. My noble kinsman Lord Williams of Elvel said when I came into the House some years ago, “The wonderful thing about the House of Lords is that whatever you say, there will be a world expert listening to you”. Looking down the list of those who will contribute today, I am conscious of the expertise in the House, including a Nobel laureate, and I am greatly looking forward to hearing from noble Lords whose combined expertise and experience is sure to provide us with much to reflect on.

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