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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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”