“One particular danger of the reduced provision, which will be exacerbated by its abolition, is the need for people to rely on high-interest lenders or loan sharks” – The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds
On 9th January 2014, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds took part in Lord Smith of Leigh’s debate on the Local Government Finance Settlement. He focused his remarks on local welfare provision, and the risks associated with the removal of funding for local welfare provision from April 2015.
On 8th January 2014, Baroness Perry of Southwark asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the remarks about “lucky children” made by the Chief Executive of Ofsted during the launch of that organisation’s Annual Report 2012–13.
The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds asked a supplementary question:
On January 7th 2014, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds spoke in favour of an amendment to the Government’s Children and Families Bill, during its Report Stage. The amendment, moved by Crossbench Peer Lord Rix, sought to place the duty of social care provision with the responsible local authority. Following assurances from the Minister, Lord Rix withdrew the amendment. The Government amendments on this topic, tabled at Third Reading, were warmly welcomed by Lord Rix and subsequently accepted as part of the Bill.
“The College of Policing would do well to get on to the front foot in its ethical work so that our police see it as their duty not simply to avoid wrongdoing but to pursue values that will make them still more a force for the common good” – Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, 28/11/13
On 28th November 2013, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, took part in Lord Paddick’s take-note debate on public trust in the police, its role in effective policing, and the system for investigating complaints into police conduct. In his speech, the Bishop spoke of the importance of trust in fostering positive relationships between police and communities, and welcomed the College of Policing’s draft code of ethics, whilst calling for it to be bolder in its promotion of a positive role for the police in promoting the common good.
The Lord Bishop of Ripon and Leeds: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, both for leading this debate and for his powerful and serious introduction to it. I also look forward to the first of many contributions to the work of this House from the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb.
“I am not yet convinced that a change in Iran’s human rights agenda will come with the Rouhani presidency, because critical decisions continue to be made by the Supreme National Security Council. This remains populated by a cohort of people who spent much of their careers in the military and security services.”
On 24th October 2013, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, took part in a short debate led by Baroness Afshar to ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the recent elections in Iran, what steps they are taking to facilitate closer commercial and educational ties with that country. The Bishop asked what the Government considered a normalisation of relations between Iran and the UK to look like. He also raised concerns about human rights abuses in Iran and the importance of the respect of religious freedom and noted the need for strengthening of relations between UK and Iranian Churches.
The Lord Bishop of Ripon and Leeds: My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Afshar, for initiating this debate and for introducing it so comprehensively. I am aware, through contacts, of Iranian students in Leeds and of some of the difficulties of which noble Lords have been speaking in terms of their education and the way that that has developed, and of the struggle to keep them at Leeds University.
Like others, I have been heartened by the change of political rhetoric following the elections in Iran, and share the high expectations that a more pragmatic stance from Tehran will see progress made on a range of issues, not least the nuclear issues. In view of the speed of recent diplomatic developments and the ambitious timetable set at this month’s talks in Geneva—the six to nine months to which a number of noble Lords have already referred—it would be helpful to have some idea from the Minister as to what she understands to be the end game. What would a normalisation of relations look like? What might be the trade-offs that each party might be required to make? That seems to be at the heart of the question that the noble Baroness has put before us today. Continue reading “Bishop of Ripon and Leeds speaks during debate on UK-Iran relations”
On 24th October 2013, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer asked Her Majesty’s Government on what evidence they consider the Democratic Republic of the Congo to be a safe country to which to return asylum seekers.
The Lord Bishop of Ripon and Leeds: Despite my unelected nature, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): My Lords, we observe our obligations under the refugee convention and the European Convention on Human Rights. Every asylum application is considered on its individual merits in the light of country information from a range of sources, including fellow European and asylum-intake countries. Returns are made only if it is safe to do so, and the courts have supported our position.
The Lord Bishop of Ripon and Leeds: I am very grateful to the Minister for that response. Following the Unsafe Return report of November 2011 and continued documented reports of ill treatment of those who return to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the Unsafe Return 2 report of this month, will the Government use the evidence provided to challenge the DRC authorities and to set up a monitoring mechanism for those returned so that there is a minimal safety measure for them in this very dangerous country?
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, the Home Office works very closely with FCO staff here in London and with embassy officials in Kinshasa. The embassy staff participated in the DRC fact-finding mission and stated that they were not aware of substantial evidence of any returnee being ill treated. However, I assure the right reverend Prelate that the Home Offices investigates specific allegations of mistreatment on return.
On 23rd October 2013, Baroness Jenkin of Kennington led a short debate in the House of Lords to ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the United Nations High-level Panel report into the successor agenda to the Millennium Development Goals. The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, spoke during the debate, calling on the Government to support a post-2015 agenda focused on tackling inequality as well as extreme poverty.
The Lord Bishop of Ripon and Leeds: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Jenkin, and I share the welcome for the high-level panel report. I believe it could be strengthened in two areas. The first area is environmental sustainability. The millennium goals are weak on climate change and the high-level panel report does not make it sufficiently clear that global warming already damages the economies, and therefore the poor, in poorer countries such as Bangladesh. The panel has the laudable aim of eliminating $1.25 a day poverty but that needs to be inextricably linked with a new climate equilibrium, which we are far from attaining. Do Her Majesty’s Government agree that there needs to be a legally binding global climate deal in 2015 in line with the scientific consensus? Continue reading “Bishop of Ripon and Leeds calls for post-2015 agenda to focus on tackling inequality”
On 23rd October 2013, Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty’s Government what proposals they have to reduce the level of economic inequality. The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Ripon and Leeds: My Lords, bearing in mind the way in which wealthy pensioners, such as many in this House, are protected against the austerity cuts that other welfare recipients face, will the Government consider how to enable us to begin to bear our share of the burden, whether by taxing or means-testing the winter fuel allowance or otherwise?
Lord Newby: My Lords, one of the commission’s recommendations was that intergenerational equity could be improved if pensioners paid a higher share. That has not been the view that the Government have taken. Particularly given the very high levels of pensioner poverty, against which many noble Lords have campaigned over many years, we have taken the view that the real value of pensions should be protected during this period of fiscal consolidation. However, we accept that there may be more to be done. Indeed, for people who receive payments such as the winter fuel allowance, there are now a number of voluntary schemes under which they can make that payment available via charities so that it can be used for people on low incomes.
On Wednesday 23rd October 2013, James William Scobie, Lord Bishop of Carlisle, was introduced and took the oath, supported by the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds and the Bishop of Birmingham, and signed an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct.