Archbishop of York leads Lords debate on the case for income equality and sustainability

On 6th May 2020 the Archbishop of York, Most Revd John Sentamu, led a debate in the House of Lords on the motion that the Lords “do consider the case for increasing income equality and sustainability in the light of the recent health emergency.” The Archbishop started the debate, and summed up afterwards, referring to many of the speeches made by other Members over the course of nearly three hours. Amongst the other speakers were the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishops of Durham and Derby. The entire debate can be read in Hansard here, and the Archbishop’s opening and closing speeches are reproduced below:

Income Equality and Sustainability: Motion to Consider

Moved by The Archbishop of York, That the Virtual Proceedings do consider the case for increasing income equality and sustainability in the light of the recent health emergency.

The Archbishop of York: My Lords, I am grateful to the Government Chief Whip and the usual channels for granting me this opportunity to move a Motion that is very dear to my heart—thank you. I commend Her Majesty’s Government for their rapid action in the current crisis and, through unprecedented public spending, working to protect jobs and avert millions of redundancies. It is in the light of this recent health emergency that I beseech your Lordships’ House to take note of the case for increasing income equality and sustainability.

Last Thursday, the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett of Manor Castle, opened a Question for Short Debate on Covid-19 and people living in poverty. I believe that what we are doing today has the potential to make a lasting difference. As Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, said:

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”

As long ago as 28 April 1909, Winston Churchill, then president of the Board of Trade, gave a speech in the other place in which he said:

“It is a serious national evil that any class of His Majesty’s subjects should receive less than a living wage in return for their utmost exertions.”—[Official Report, Commons, 28/4/1909; col. 388]

Not much has changed since. That principle remains as strong as ever in our national life. Continue reading “Archbishop of York leads Lords debate on the case for income equality and sustainability”

Bishop of Portsmouth responds to Queen’s Speech – how to build ‘one-nation’

On 9th January 2020, the Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the Queen’s Speech debate, about unifying the nation by building on the expansion of the Living Wage and addressing welfare, child poverty, homelessness and help for the disabled: 

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, it is stating the obvious to say that these are turbulent, uncertain times, perhaps the most turbulent in living memory, even when that memory belongs to Members of your Lordships’ House—a particular, special demographic. It is striking in the face of so much that is uncertain and unknown that the Government’s rhetoric is of clarity, confidence, and even dash. However, while the terrain might be new, much of the rhetoric is from an older school. What is novel is from whom it comes. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth responds to Queen’s Speech – how to build ‘one-nation’”

Archbishop of York speaks against Government proposals on tax credits

Employers who have already adopted a living wage policy have lifted thousands of people out of working poverty. They are not claiming tax credits because they have been lifted out. The Exchequer could gain up to £4.2 billion a year in increased tax revenues and reduced expenditure on tax credits. That is a much neater way of doing it.“- Archbishop of York, 26/10/15

ABYtaxcreditsdebateOn 26th October 2015 the House of Lords debated a motion to approve the Government’s Tax Credits (Income Thresholds and Determination of Rates) (Amendment) Regulations 2015.

Alongside the motion to approve the House also debated four amendments to the motion, from Liberal Democrat, Crossbench and Labour Peers and one from the Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Rev Christopher Foster. Continue reading “Archbishop of York speaks against Government proposals on tax credits”

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about impact of National Living Wage on small businesses

Bishop St Albans June 2015On 19th October 2015 Lord Haskel asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the financial impact on British business of the new minimum wage when it comes into effect in 2016.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, while welcoming the Government’s moves to look at the level of wages as the Minister has mentioned in terms of the minimum living wage, I am aware that the Resolution Foundation is concerned about very small businesses—those that employ fewer than 10 people. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about impact of National Living Wage on small businesses”

Bishop of St Albans asks government about plans for a national living wage

On 3rd August 2015 the Bishop oBishop St Albans June 2015f St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received answers to written questions on the government’s plans for a National Living Wage, and on the income pressures faced by young people:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to bring the National Living Wage in line with the rate recommended by the Living Wage Foundation by incorporating adjustments for cost of living and support received through tax credits. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks government about plans for a national living wage”

Bishop of Peterborough welcomes Budget announcement on National Living Wage

14.02 PeterboroughOn the 21st July 2015 the Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Revd Donald Allister, spoke during the debate on the Budget Statement. The Bishop welcomed the new National Living Wage and asked for greater transitional support for employers and employees, as well as careful attention to phasing in the reduction in tax credits.

Continue reading “Bishop of Peterborough welcomes Budget announcement on National Living Wage”

Childcare Bill – Speech by Bishop of Durham

“On behalf of the well-being of the children themselves, if we are going to make this increase in provision, which I am sure we will and indeed should, let us try to ensure that all the regulations that follow place the child at the centre, not the adults, whether those adults be the parents, the providers or the politicians.” – Bishop of Durham, 16/6/15

On Tuesday 16th June 2015 the House of Lords debated the Government’s Childcare Bill. Details about the Bill can be seen here. The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in the debate, raising concerns related to funding, capacity, pay and putting the needs of children first. The full text of his speech is below, with extracts from the Minister’s reply, and can also be watched on the Parliament website here

14.06.10 Bishop of Durham 5The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, in welcoming the general intent of this Bill, I wish to raise a number of concerns. It seems to me that there are already several common threads in what is being said. It may well be that they will be addressed—they will need to be—in the secondary legislation, but to be able fully to support the Bill I believe this House needs some assurances regarding these concerns. In raising them, I wish to point out that I have consulted some who are engaged in this work already, and also those for whom it is intended to be a benefit—parents and, indeed, grandparents. Continue reading “Childcare Bill – Speech by Bishop of Durham”

Bishop of Peterborough calls on Government to support adoption of Living Wage

On 11th November 2014, Lord Haske asked Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the report by the Resolution Foundation Low Pay Britain 2014.The Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Revd Donald Allister, asked a supplementary question:

14.02 PeterboroughThe Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, now that the economy is picking up, will the Minister comment on the living wage and on whether the Government believe that the minimum wage really is enough?

Lord Ashton of Hyde: The right reverend Prelate is right to bring this subject up. The minimum wage is a minimum as a catch-all; the Government support people and businesses paying above that, if they can pay the living wage, but only when it is affordable and not at the expense of jobs. In BIS, the department I represent, we have recently increased the pay of the lowest-paid workers in the department so that everyone receives the living wage. We support that as long as it is not at the expense of jobs.


Bishop of St Albans calls for Living Wage to help improve youth employment

On 30th July 2014 Baroness Sherlock asks Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to reduce levels of youth unemployment following the recent closure of the youth employment contract incentive scheme. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question:

Bishop of St AlbansThe Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, a significant part of the problem is that there are some posts suitable for young people, but they are often in parts of the country where accommodation is prohibitively expensive or the cost of commuting simply precludes them from taking those jobs. In the light of that, have Her Majesty’s Government considered embracing the concept of the living wage for all people of working age?

Lord Freud: Obviously we have looked at the living wage. If the figure suggested for the living wage were to be adopted, we would have to consider the impact on unemployment and the particular impact on youngsters, who would be hit worst. The NIESR estimated that adopting the living wage as opposed to the minimum wage would knock 300,000 youngsters out of work.


Archbishop of York: ‘working poor’ “a stain on the conscience of this country”

On 25th June 2014, Labour Peer Baroness Thornton asked Her Majesty’s Government what measures they are taking to address any fall in wages of women in the United Kingdom. The Archbishop of York, the Most Revd and Rt Hon John Sentamu,asked a supplementary question:

Archbishop of YorkThe Archbishop of York: My Lords, the Living Wage Commission published its final report yesterday. It makes it clear that people in the care industry are paid very poorly—and the majority happen to be women. Will the Government take a reality check and recognise that people in the care professions are paid poorly? Will they make sure that, in terms of procurement, local authorities encourage those in the care profession to pay at least the living wage, which we wanted to be voluntary and not compulsory? If that does not happen, concern about women being paid poorly will continue. It is a stain on the conscience of this country that people work hard and are still in poverty.

Baroness Northover: I read the report of the most reverend Primate’s commission with enormous interest. I note that he has just said that he is looking for a voluntary approach rather than regulation, but he challenges responsible employers to pay a fair wage. He is right to identify the difference in pay between men and women.


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