On 2nd July 2014, Conservative Peer Baroness Jenkin of Kennington asked Her Majesty’s Government for their assessment of the alleged sexual violence crimes committed against Syrian civilians in Syria.The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, asked a supplementary question.
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, given that discussion of sexual violence is always a very sensitive subject in any culture, will the Minister give assurance that the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative team that is working in Syria will draw in responsible, enlightened religious leaders to combat the stigma that is so often associated with these awful crimes? This can prevent the kind of recriminations and rejection by communities and families that can result from them.
Baroness Warsi: The right reverend Prelate makes an incredibly important point. Faith as part of the solution to dealing with sexual violence was an important element of the summit, and we hosted two very successful fringe events. One involved a coalition mainly of church leaders, called We Will Speak Out. The other was at ministerial level where we hosted Sheikh Bin Bayyah, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, and discussed the way in which we can get faith communities to be the first point of support in both providing protection and changing the culture that perpetuates the culture of impunity.
“Western culture has developed—or, rather, deteriorated—into an atomised individualism… As we have scattered to our own personal enclaves, as it were, we have left the elderly behind as unproductive, unrewarding problems” – Bishop of Oxford, 14/5/14
On 14th May 2014 the House of Lords debated a question for short debate from Baroness Cumberlege, “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the incidence of elder abuse across the nation.” The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Rev John Pritchardspoke about the need to focus on schools and civil society to counter recent worrying trends.
In the House of Lords on 14th May 2014, Baroness Jones of Whitchurch asked Her Majesty’s Government “what early intervention measures they are putting in place to reduce the educational and financial implications of failing free schools.” The Bishop of Oxford, who chairs the Church of England’s Board of Education, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, given that prevention is better than costly cure, can the Minister let us know what is being done to make sure that free schools are established as groups of interdependent schools, rather than independent and autonomous units? Can he let us know how what we have learnt from the academies programme—that we need to get schools grouped together in multi-academy trusts—is being transferred to free schools?
Lord Nash: The right reverend Prelate makes an extremely good point. Although it is true that a number of outstanding schools have been established entirely independently, the way forward is the school-to-school support model, with schools operating in local clusters and secondaries working with their primaries. We are taking this learning, which has been very successful in the academy movement, into the free schools movement.
In the House of Lords on 14th May 2014 Lord Bach asked Her Majesty’s Government “what action they have taken to assist the Government of Nigeria to rescue the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram.” The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Rev John Pritchard, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, would the Minister agree with the comments made by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury last weekend to the effect that, however abhorrent we may feel the organisation to be, it is necessary to engage in some way with Boko Haram and to do that at different levels? If that is the case, would the Minister give some indication of what kind of support or encouragement the Government are giving to that dialogue between Boko Haram and the Government of Nigeria?
Baroness Warsi: The most reverend Primate’s comments about negotiations or discussions with Boko Haram are quite right and, as the right reverend Prelate says, they are certainly something which the Nigerian Government have to take forward. I know that he has a considerable history of dealing with this kind of situation in Nigeria and, indeed, of being involved in mediation processes. However, the message that HMG have been strongly sending out, along with our international partners, is that this is an abhorrent crime, that the girls must be returned unconditionally and that this is not something we need to feel that Boko Haram has negotiating power over. There is a longer-term challenge in relation to tackling Boko Haram but I am not sure that that needs to be done over the lives of these young girls.
On 13th May 2014 the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure was passed by the House of Lords. A transcript of the short debate, led by the Rt Revd John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford, is below. More information about the measure can be found here.
Lord Newby: My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to acquaint the House that they, having been informed of the purport of the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure, have consented to place their prerogative and interest, so far as they are affected by the Measure, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Measure.
On 12th May 2014, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford, took part in a division on the Government’s Immigration Bill, during the ‘ping pong’ stage of the Bill.
Labour Peer Baroness Smith of Basildon moved Motion B1, as an amendment to Motion B, to leave out from “House” to end and insert “do insist on its Amendment 18.” The amendment sought to refer the question of when and how the citizenship of a naturalised British citizen can be withdrawn to a Joint Select Committee. The amendment had originally been tabled by Lord Pannick and passed during Report Stage in the House of Lords.
The Bishop of Oxford voted ‘content’ with Baroness Smith’s motion. No bishop voted ‘not content.’
There were Contents: 193 / Not Contents: 286. Result: Government Win
On 12th May 2014 Baroness Kennedy of Cradley asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps are being taken to ensure adequate levels of nursing staff in the National Health Service.”
The Bishop of Oxford asked a supplementary question, drawing parallels between staffing obligations and the situation of Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group, which had been warned about disregarding NICE guidelines on another case:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, given the court ruling last week against Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group, saying that it was obliged to follow NICE guidelines unless a special factor could be determined that would justify departure, will Her Majesty’s Government give an assurance that the same test will apply to NHS trusts in regard to the ratio of nurses and patients?
Earl Howe: The guidance issued today by NICE on staffing ratios, to which I think the right reverend Prelate is specifically referring, is in draft, but the deputy chief executive of NICE has stressed that there are no floor or ceiling numbers on the required number of nursing staff that can be applied either across the whole of the NHS or in a particular ward setting. What the profession is seeking, and what NICE is looking to give it, is a reference tool or guideline that will enable it to judge correct staffing levels in accordance with the particular circumstances of a ward and the skill mix of the staff on that ward. It is a guideline rather than a mandatory prescription.