On 27th June 2017 the House of Lords debated the measures in the Queen’s Speech for justice and home affairs. The Bishop of Bristol, Rt Revd Mike Hill, spoke in the debate, on mental health, domestic violence and prisons.
The Lord Bishop of Bristol: My Lords, I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this important debate on the gracious Speech. I thank the noble Lords who have spoken thus far in what has been an interesting debate today.
I would like to draw attention to two or three things. The first is the fairly well hidden-away commitment in the gracious Speech to reform mental health legislation in order that mental health services might be prioritised in the NHS. Like much in the speech, the detail is particularly lacking at this point but I hope that noble Lords will join me in saying that that is an important and welcome development.Continue reading
On 27th June 2017, the Bishop of Southwark, Rt Rev. Christopher Chessun, contributed to the ongoing debate on the Queen’s Speech. The Bishop’s speech addressed the strong response from volunteers and emergency services to recent events, and called for a re-examination of current resources. Government Minister Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth responded to the Bishop of Southwark’s speech at the end of the debate.
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I too wish to contribute to your Lordships’ debate on the humble Address. Last Thursday, the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury observed in this House that the gracious Speech spoke of taking British values around the world, but for that to happen we need to know what we mean by British values. That applies equally to the measures under discussion today. Traditionally, these values have expressed themselves in a respect for the rule of law, local and national institutions, our liberties and freedoms, and parliamentary democracy. They were born of a society in which people participate, not a consumer society. From them spring mutual obligations, not merely contractual ones. Mutuality issues from civic virtue of the sort we have seen on our streets in response to calamity and terror in recent months in London and Manchester.
On 3rd April 2017 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer to a question on prison suicides.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the increasing annual number of self-inflicted deaths in prisons since 2012, what steps they are taking to reduce the number of such deaths. [HL6247]Continue reading
On 20th February 2017, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood asked the Government “what is their response to the recommendation of Michael Gove, the former Secretary of State for Justice, in his November 2016 Longford Lecture that the approximately 500 Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) prisoners “who have been in jail for far longer than the tariff for their offence” should be released.” The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, asked a supplementary question.Continue reading
On 19th January 2017 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered questions in the House of Commons from MPs on Israel/Palestine, human trafficking, prisons, social media, low carbon economy, tourism and lead theft. The transcript is below:
On the 21st December 2016 the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff tabled and asked a question to Government on the floor of the House: “following the disturbance at HM Prison Birmingham, what measures they will take to address immediate and short-term issues of safety and security in prisons.” The full series of exchanges, including follow-up questions from other Members, is reproduced below:
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper and I draw the House’s attention to my interest as the Bishop to Her Majesty’s Prisons.
The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Keen of Elie): My Lords, while we implement our White Paper reforms, which will reduce violence and reoffending, we are continually working to ensure stability across the prison estate. The Prisons Minister chairs daily meetings with senior members of the Prison Service to monitor potential unrest. Where necessary, we are providing governors with immediate targeted support, such as rapid facilities repairs, and we are in the process of recruiting 2,500 additional officers across the estate.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: I am grateful to the Minister for his response. I am also grateful for the debate and discussion in your Lordships’ House on Monday following the Ministerial Statement. In that debate, a number of noble Lords drew attention to the importance of purposeful activity for prisoners, including education, training, work and a range of other rehabilitative programmes. Such activities aid reform, encourage positive behaviour and thus enhance safety and security—but they can also be seriously compromised, not least by staffing issues. Can the Minister assure the House that such programmes will be sustained and ideally increased in the short term as well as the long term?