Church Commissioner Questions: covid-19, mental health, debt advice, youth work, online worship, overseas aid, racism

On 10th September 2020 MPs asked questions of the Church Commissioners, represented by Andrew Selous MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner. A full transcript is below:

The hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—

Covid-19: Mental Health

James Sunderland (Bracknell) (Con): What steps the Church of England is taking to support mental health during the covid-19 outbreak. [905855]

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Andrew Selous): This is a timely question from my hon. Friend, on World Suicide Prevention Day. The Church’s healthcare chaplains work in both acute and community mental health services. The diocese of Manchester provides mental health wellbeing youth workers, to provide mental health first aid, and the parish of Goudhurst in Kilndown in Kent provides subsidised mental health counselling in 13 schools. Continue reading “Church Commissioner Questions: covid-19, mental health, debt advice, youth work, online worship, overseas aid, racism”

Bishop of Southwark asks Government about delays to Windrush compensation scheme

During the Parliamentary recess the Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, received written answers to questions on the Windrush Compensation Scheme:

The Lord Bishop of Southwark:

(i) To ask Her Majesty’s Government, what assessment they have made of the efficiency of the rate of compensation payments to those affected by the Windrush Scandal; and what targets they have set for compensating the individuals involved.

(ii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government why Anthony Bryan is yet to receive full compensation under the Windrush Compensation Scheme.

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Bishop of St Albans asks Government about data on racial bias in criminal justice system

On 2nd July an answer to an Urgent Question in the Commons on the Lammy Review was given in the House of Lords. The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, asked a follow up question focusing on data analysis.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, one of the important ideas found in the Lammy report is the use of relative rate index analysis, which provides important data on the way decisions at various points of the criminal justice system take place. This is the sort of tool we will need if we are to address this deeply embedded problem. Will the noble and learned Lord tell the House whether this relative rate index analysis has been a repeated and whether the lessons are being implemented?

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Bishop of St Albans asks Government about speed of Windrush Compensation Scheme

On 24th June, the Bishop of St Albans asked a question following a Government statement on the Windrush Compensation Scheme.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, we are all implicated in the conscious and unconscious bias which bedevils our society. It will change only if we all take responsibility to make that change come about. Due to the age of those who came on the “Windrush”, time is of the essence in gaining compensation. Some of them have already died. What specifically is being done to speed up the process? On the more general issue, what is the relationship between the various groups, such as this cross-government working group and the race equality commission, and is the Minister sure that these groups will complement each other and expedite matters rather than confuse them?

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Bishop of St Albans asks Government to implement findings of past reviews on racism and discrimination

On 15th June the Lord Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked Her Majesty’s Government “what is their assessment of ongoing protests led by the Black Lives Matter movement, and the consequent removal of statues and monuments”.

Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office): My Lords, I understand the strength of feeling around the death of George Floyd and peaceful protest remains a vital part of a democratic society. However, coronavirus remains a real and present threat to all of us and mass gatherings for whatever reason risk spreading the disease. I condemn all forms of illegal activity. Changes to the urban architecture should be affected through democratic processes and not by criminal damage.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I thank the Minister for her response. Racism is deeply embedded, and it affects every part of society, including the Church. We all have much to do to confront it. Indeed, it is possible to remove statues from public places without dealing with the fundamental nature of the problem. Will another commission be any more successful in stopping the demolition of statues than the Lammy review, the Angiolini review, the Windrush Lessons Learned Review, and the review from the noble Baroness, Lady McGregor-Smith? Would it not be cheaper and quicker for Her Majesty’s Government to implement the recommendations of those reviews, committing proper resources and leadership to drive through the change we so desperately need?

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Bishop of London highlights failings with Windrush Compensation Scheme

On 6th May 2020 the House of Lords debated a Government motion to take note of the Windrush Compensation Scheme. The Bishop of London, Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, I thank the Minister for allowing this virtual debate. Almost two years ago, the Windrush scandal astounded this country. The hostile environment policy operated by the Home Office was shown to be discriminatory and damaging. It had neglected a critical principle that is foundational to my Christian faith: human dignity.

Process must support people. This needs to apply not only to our migration policy and departments, as clearly set out in the lessons learned review, but to the way we do what we have committed to do, such as the Windrush compensation scheme. From that standpoint, we need to evaluate how accessible the scheme is to those who are trying to rightfully claim underneath it, and that it is a process that honours their human dignity. Continue reading “Bishop of London highlights failings with Windrush Compensation Scheme”

Archbishop of Canterbury responds to Home Office Windrush Lessons Report

On 19th March 2020 the Home Secretary made a statement on the publication of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review. The statement was repeated in the House of Lords and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, responded:

The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, the publication of this Statement is very welcome indeed. The heartfelt nature of the apology was notable.​

I have a couple of questions about the recommendations to put to the noble Baroness. First, one of the historic failures of the Church of England—in many ways as bad as the hostile environment—was the terrible reception that we gave the Windrush generation, the vast majority of whom were Anglicans, when they came here. They were often turned away from Church of England churches, or were given a very weak welcome or no welcome at all. As a result, they went off and formed their own churches, which have flourished much better than ours. We would be so much stronger had we behaved correctly. I have apologised for that, and I continue to do so and see the wickedness of our actions. Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury responds to Home Office Windrush Lessons Report”

Church Commissioners Written Answer: Travellers, plans to tackle racism

On 12th March 2020 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered a written question from Kate Green MP on Gypsy and Traveller sites and plans to tackle racism:

Kate Green (Stretford and Urmston) 27547: To ask the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what progress has been made on (a) making Church land available for Gypsy and Traveller sites and (b) other plans to tackle racism and discrimination as agreed at the General Synod in February 2019.

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Bishop of St Albans asks Government about plans to address low achievement of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children in schools

On 25th February 2020 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Whittaker, “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to implement the recommendations of the report by the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee, Tackling inequalities faced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, published on 5 April 2019.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, Gypsy, Roma and Travelling communities face a great deal of marginalisation, which is why I am so grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker—a redoubtable and feisty campaigner in this area—who keeps bringing this before us. I thank her for that. I am glad that we are raising this issue yet again in your Lordships’ House. She has quoted some of the many stats; I can add a few more and I guess that we will all add a few as we go along.

We know that 90% of Traveller children face racial abuse. The Government’s race audit showed that GRT pupils

“had the lowest attainment of all ethnic groups”.

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Bishop of St Albans asks Government about plans to tackle antisemitic hate crime

On 11th February 2020 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a question he had tabled to Government on plans to tackle antisemitism. The response, his follow-up question and those of other Members is below:

Hate Crime: Anti-Semitism

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken to address antisemitic hate crime.

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