Bishop of Portsmouth asks about the UK Shared Prosperity Fund

On 22nd May the Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd  Christopher Foster, received written answers to three questions about the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. 

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they intend to publish the consultation on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth asks about the UK Shared Prosperity Fund”

Bishop of Portsmouth asks about two-child limit and benefit cap

Portsmouth 150318On 30th April Baroness Lister of Buttersett asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the impact of the benefit cap on child and family wellbeing since that cap was lowered in 2016-17.'” The Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Christopher Foster, asked a follow-up question:

The Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, welfare reform was predicated on the principle that work should pay, but that principle is being undermined, not least by the two-child limit. In future, a family with three or more children seeking to avoid the cap by moving into work will find themselves subject to the two-child limit instead. They could end up losing out by going to work. What assessment have the Government made of the impact of this perverse incentive?

Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth asks about two-child limit and benefit cap”

Votes: Changes to Free School Meals Entitlements

On 20th March, a vote took place on a Regret Motion tabled by Labour’s Lord Bassam of Brighton to Regulations changing entitlement to free school meals. The Bishop of Portsmouth took part. His speech in the debate is here. Continue reading “Votes: Changes to Free School Meals Entitlements”

Bishop of Portsmouth warns of cliff-edge consequences for poor families, of changes to free school meal rules

On 20th March 2018 the House of Lords debated the motion ‘that this House regrets Her Majesty’s Government bringing forward changes in entitlement to free school meals through the Free School Lunches and Milk, and School and Early Years Finance (Amendments Relating to Universal Credit) (England) Regulations 2018 which will undermine work incentives in Universal Credit and leave up to a million poor children unable to claim free school meals; and calls on Her Majesty’s Government not to implement the Regulations until a full poverty impact assessment has been completed and considered by both Houses, and not before six months has elapsed (SI 2018/148). The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate: 

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, it normally gives me great pleasure to speak in your Lordships’ house, but this evening I speak with some sorrow. I am hoping that the proposals made by the Government—involving, I am sure, the Treasury, the Department for Education and the Department for Work and Pensions—are perhaps the result of the complexity of those interlocking interests and have inadvertently left what surely cannot be intended. The consequences of this policy run counter to everything that the Government have said about the principle of universal credit, which I and many others have supported. If the consequences are unintended then I shall be delighted and relieved to hear the Minister say so.

Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth warns of cliff-edge consequences for poor families, of changes to free school meal rules”

Bishop of Portsmouth raises plight of those struggling to make ends meet, in debate on economy

On 15th March 2018 the House of Lords debated the economy in light of the Chancellor’s Spring Statement. The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, my first duty today is one of great joy: to welcome on behalf of this Bench, and I am sure the whole House, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Lincoln, and to congratulate him on a fine maiden contribution. Its quality was no surprise to me. He is remembered with great respect in the Diocese of Portsmouth, which I now serve and where my colleague and friend was parish priest and archdeacon. I know that his erstwhile congregation in Petersfield was delighted that he was able to visit them last year.​ Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth raises plight of those struggling to make ends meet, in debate on economy”

Bishop of Portsmouth welcomes Government integration strategy, raises concern about Near Neighbours funding

On 15th March 2018 the Minister for Faith, Lord Bourne, repeated a statement made by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on the new Integrated Communities Green Paper. The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, there is a great deal in this Statement and in the strategy that I welcome. It promises a big and positive difference in what the Government are doing to improve integration. It is good to see in the Green Paper initiatives such as the Near Neighbours Catalyst leadership programme, to which the Minister has recently referred. It is good to see that singled out for praise. However, there is some anxiety that Catalyst and other valuable Near Neighbours activity might have to come to an end as a result of a reduction in overall funding for Near Neighbours and the for the small grants fund. I am sure that that is far from the Government’s intention, and I wonder whether the Minister can give an assurance that he will look at the impact of any funding changes as part of the assessment of this new strategy. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth welcomes Government integration strategy, raises concern about Near Neighbours funding”

Bishop of Portsmouth joins calls for a full defence review

On Thursday 19th January 2018 Lord Sterling of Plaistow led a debate on the Lords on his motion “To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to conduct a full defence review, in the light of the capability of the Armed Forces to meet global defence needs.” The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, I confide in you. Priests— even bishops, perhaps particularly so—are inclined to repeat themselves. I imagine noble Lords might have noticed. I have heard it said that we ​have only one sermon in us and just dress the message up differently each Sunday. I will be repeating my message today, and I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Sterling, for the opportunity to do so. I am just as grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Howe, for listening to my repetition with the grace, care and attention that we all appreciate.

My message is that I applaud the Government’s ambition for defence, which is about British power for good in the world—but as things stand, I doubt that we have the capability, or the defence budget to deliver the capability, to meet that ambition. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth joins calls for a full defence review”