On 17th October 2019 Lord Watson of Invergowrie asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they will take further to the recent survey of local authorities in England which found that since 2014 approximately £400 million has been diverted from mainstream education budgets in order to pay for special needs education.” The Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, several heads in Coventry and Warwickshire have told me about the heavy demands on their energies and budgets from, to quote one primary head, children who are not on the SEN register but face horrific circumstances at home and so need extra help; for example, families who are homeless through domestic violence and children whose mental health is so poor—these are nine year-olds—that they threaten suicide. Does the Minister recognise the pressures on schools in mainstream education from children who do not meet the thresholds of special needs but who nevertheless have severe needs and require acute support? Is he confident that there is sufficient funding for them?
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On 22nd July 2019 Baroness Bull asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the impact of weight- and shape-related bullying, criticism and teasing on long-term mental health”. The Bishop of Ely, Rt Revd Stephen Conway, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Ely: My Lords, the Children’s Society has done quite a bit of research into the profile of those involved in bullying. Many have had very unhappy lives. Does the Minister agree that it would be a good idea, in policy formation, if we spent more time talking to the children themselves and getting their case put more fully before us? The Children’s Society advocates that the Government systematically measure children’s well-being and use this to inform policy-making. Does the Minister accept the potential merits of measuring children’s well-being?
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On 4th July 2019 the House of Lords debated a Motion from Lord Bird “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the role of job security and reducing inequality in tackling the prevalence of mental illness.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I too thank the noble Lord, Lord Bird, for bringing forward this debate, for his distinctive introduction of a kind that we always enjoy when he speaks in the House, and for his tireless work in trying to support people who, for all sorts of reasons, find themselves disadvantaged. I pay tribute to him.
Inequality, unemployment and mental ill health are three interconnected, intersecting areas which are important to address if we are to have a flourishing and thriving society in which all can participate. As we know, mental ill health is one of the two main disabilities affecting participation in work. I am glad that the Government have decided that the NHS long-term plan will assist people with mental health issues into work. That plan recognises that mental health problems disproportionately impact on people living in poverty and those who face various forms of discrimination. This is a huge step forward in the visibility and awareness of this issue, and I hope that it really will help us move ahead.
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On 1st July 2019 the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Care repeated a statement made by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on the implementation of the NHS long-term plan. The Bishop of Carlisle, Rt Revd James Newcome, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, as a former member of the Long-Term Sustainability of the NHS Committee, I welcome the long-term plan and the Government’s response to it. I am especially glad that mental health issues will achieve financial parity with physical health issues. Does the Minister agree that research into and attention to the causes of these ever-increasing issues is as important as more spending on their treatment?
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On 25th June 2019 Lord Dubs asked the Government “how many unaccompanied child refugees have entered the United Kingdom since the beginning of 2016 under (1) section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 or (2) the provisions of the Dublin III Regulation”. The Bishop of Chichester, Rt Revd Martin Warner, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Chichester: My Lords, is the Minister aware of the recent report by the Church of England’s Children’s Society entitled DistressSignals, in which the mental health of unaccompanied children entering the UK for asylum was examined? The report notes that these children show a high risk of suicide and self-harm and find it extremely difficult to communicate their needs and fears to professionals. Does she recognise the value of these young people being assured and guaranteed access to a guardian—a respected, stable, safe and trained person—so that they can have the support they need?
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On 24th June 2019 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received written answers from Government, in reply to five questions about problem gambling and gaming machines in the armed forces and on the armed forces estates:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: (i) HL16430 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of gambling-related harm amongst (1) veterans, and (2) those currently serving in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces; and whether the Ministry of Defence has conducted any research into gambling participation rates in those groups.
(ii) HL16429 to ask Her Majesty’s Government how many (1) Fixed-Odd Betting Terminals and (2) Electronic Gaming Machines, are located on Ministry of Defence property in (1) 2015, (2) 2016, (3) 2017, and (4) 2018; and who was the beneficiary of any such money.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what provision is available to problem gamblers who are currently serving in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what estimate they have made, if any, of the number of problem gamblers who are currently serving in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.
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On Wednesday 27th March 2019 Lord Storey asked the Government “what plans they have to ensure that all alternative education providers are providing a quality education.” The Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, I am grateful for the Question from the noble Lord, Lord Storey, and for the Minister’s answers to previous questions. At the Aspire Academy in Hull, an alternative provision academy that forms part of the Sentamu Academy Learning Trust, a unique multi-professional team that includes a clinical psychologist, a psychotherapist, speech and language therapists and educational psychologists is in place to ensure that students’ mental health and special educational needs are met. What steps are the Government taking to ensure that mental health care and special needs provision are part of what it means for alternative provision providers to offer a quality education?
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