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”
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”
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”
On 4th December 2017 the House of Lords debated the Chancellor’s 2017 Autumn Budget Statement. The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate, focusing on the lack of news on social care and on defence, and calling on Government to take further action on Universal Credit:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, one of the duties in which I take particular pleasure is chairing the governors at Ripon College, Cuddesdon, just outside Oxford, a theological college at which men and women are prepared for ministry. It is known by those associated with it more colloquially as a vicar factory. Notices around the college remind the residents that, after night prayer or Compline, they are expected to abide by what is known as the great silence. It is not, I suspect, adhered to with the same severity as in years past. Indeed, one has a sense that the silence masks all kinds of feverish activity, all of it associated with theology, of course.
Seven bishops signed a letter to the Guardian newspaper, printed on 14th September 2017, voicing concern about cutbacks to local authority welfare assistance schemes. Four of the signatories were Lords Spiritual:
Local welfare assistance schemes are a vital lifeline for people who find themselves in a crisis and without basic essentials, such as food, electricity, or a working oven. It is therefore very worrying that most of these schemes have been cut back considerably in recent years and that 26 local councils have now closed them altogether, including in many areas that we represent (English councils’ local welfare schemes in ‘meltdown’, 12 September). Continue reading “Bishops raise concern about cutbacks to local authority welfare assistance schemes”
On 26th June 2017, the Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Rev Christopher Foster, contributed to the Queen’s Speech debate on business, economic affairs, energy, transport, environment and agriculture. He used his speech to implore the government to use this parliamentary session to do more for those in his diocese and around the country.
Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, the Prime Minister has spoken of the awful events of recent weeks as signs of a society not at ease with itself. Yet amidst the tragedy and the pain, we see hope and the victory of hope. We have seen a remarkable depth of love and shared resolve, especially between faiths. We have been deeply moved by how people have responded to evil with generosity, openness and humility. I was struck by the force and feeling with which the Prime Minister used that last word in the debate in the other place on the gracious Speech. Humility is not a term frequently associated with politicians by the public. True, circumstances have left the Government with little choice but to take the humbler part, but that is no reason for cynicism. Continue reading “Queen’s Speech 2017: Bishop of Portsmouth says Government plans show modesty of ambition”
On 7th April 2017 the Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, received three written answers from Government about levels of child poverty, the two-child limit and benefit support:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of the impact of the recent increase in inflation on the number of children in poverty; and what plans they have for protecting low income families against the rising cost of basic essentials. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth asks Government about child poverty, two-child limit and benefit support”