On 18th June 2020 a Government statement on the proposed merger of the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office, was repeated in the House of Lords. The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, responded:
The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, I thank the Leader of the House for answering questions on this matter. On these Benches, we affirm the Government’s right to organise themselves as they think best for the common good. We look forward to greater integration between foreign and development policy and values, and we warmly commend the continued 0.7% commitment. I am grateful to have heard the noble Baroness’s assurance that the Government will remain committed to the OECD DAC rules—it would be lovely to have that repeated. Can we have another assurance that the Government will preserve the primary focus of UK aid as poverty reduction? Continue reading “Bishop of Peterborough welcomes Government continuing commitments to UK aid”
On 25th February 2020 Baroness Crawley asked the Government, “further to the announcement by the then Prime Minister on 8 November 2014, what plans they have to reinstate the war widows’ pension for those widows who were required to surrender that pension due to marriage or cohabitation.” The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, does the noble Baroness agree that the scandal of this situation is that it applies only in cases where the incident that caused death occurred between April 1973 and April 2005? Those widowed because of an incident before 1973 or after 2005 do not lose their benefit if they remarry. That is complete nonsense and shameful. Should it not be put right? Furthermore, the noble Baroness has described this payment as a benefit. Can we not describe it instead as compensation? Should not war widows’ pensions be called war widows’ compensation so that widows are not subject to this sort of withdrawal?
On 5th November 2019 the House of Lords paid tribute to Keith Phipps, Principal Doorkeeper and one of its longest-serving members of staff, on his retirement after 25 years of service. The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, added his own words of appreciation:
Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, on behalf on these Benches I join in the tributes that others have paid. Each of us coming into the House has been greeted and welcomed. We have been guided, led in right directions and stopped from going in wrong ones, always with firmness and kindness. It is that kindness for which I thank Mr Phipps as I, like others, wish him a long, happy, healthy retirement.
On 4th November 2019 Baroness Jenkin of Kennington moved a motion that the House take note of the Government’s “international development work to promote the sustainable use of natural resources and prevent biodiversity loss”. The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, contributed to the debate:
Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, I too welcome this debate and the Prime Minister’s commitment to increased spending in this area. I also take note of, and agree with, the slight fear and concern of the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, that some of the money for this important work will be taken out of what ought to be spent on the relief of poverty and direct aid.
Three weeks ago I was in Israel, leading a pilgrimage looking at many of the sites mentioned in the Bible. One thing I came across that I had not seen there before but which was pointed out to me by various people was the fallow field—fields kept idle for a year to let the earth rest. I learned in geography lessons in my state county primary school around 1960 or 1961 that it was an important principle not only to rotate crops but to let the earth rest—in other words, not to squeeze everything out of it. I later discovered that this is part of the biblical teaching about the sabbath: not just that people and animals are to rest but that the earth also needs rest and recreation. That is why some farmers in Israel still practise that principle.
On 3rd April 2019 the Minister for Equalities, Baroness Williams of Trafford, repeated a statement made in the House of Commons by the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, about the Windrush Compensation Scheme. The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, responded with a follow up question about religious literacy in determining asylum applications:
Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, while grateful for the Statement and the compensation scheme, I have a particular concern to raise with the Minister. We have recently seen publicity about very poor decisions on immigration made in the Home Office, suggesting that decisions are being made by staff who are perhaps too junior or not adequately trained. Can we be assured that there will be enough staff working on this scheme who are of sufficient seniority and adequately trained?
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.
On 1st April 2019 Lord Roberts of Llandudno asked Government “whether they will take immediate steps to tackle the issue of rough sleeping.” The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, I thank the Minister for the answers he has given so far and for the Government’s investment. In the city of Peterborough we have seen, as in many other places, a large increase in rough sleeping. The third sector groups, including the churches, have been doing a great deal to support rough sleepers, but one of the problems we are very conscious of is how tight money is for local government. Does he agree that local government financial settlements could be part of the solution, with targeted money to local government specifically to help rough sleepers?