On 9th November 2020 the House of Lords debated and voted on the Government’s UK Internal Market Bill during its Committee stage. A cross-party group of Peers, including the Bishop of Leeds, had tabled motions that all the clauses of Part 5 of the Bill, which covered Northern Ireland, international law, and executive powers, should not remain in the Bill. These successfully passed by large majorities across two votes. Nine bishops took part in the votes. Continue reading “Votes: UK Internal Market Bill”
On 6th October 2020 the House of Lords approved the Government’s Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space Moratorium and Mental Health Crisis Moratorium) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020. The Bishop of Rochester spoke in the debate, in support of the aim of the Regulations:
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I welcome the opportunity to speak in this debate, and I broadly and warmly welcome the provisions in these regulations. While the effects of the pandemic certainly give increased importance to these provisions, the issues are, of course, of very much longer standing. I pay tribute to organisations, including the Children’s Society, which have long campaigned on these matters, as well as to the honourable Member for Rochester and Strood, Kelly Tolhurst, my own Member of Parliament, who, before she was made a Minister, proposed a Private Member’s Bill in the other place to address some of these issues. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester welcomes Government plans for breathing space for those with problem debt”
On 6th October the House of Lords approved the Government’s Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2020. A further motion to ‘regret’ the Regulations was put by Lord Lamont of Lerwick on grounds of “the failure of Her Majesty’s Government adequately to consult the public in the preparation of the Regulations and the impracticality of enforcing the measures”. The Bishop of Rochester spoke in the debate on both Motions:
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, like others, I tend to think that carrots are more effective than sticks. It is, therefore, vital, if people are to behave as the Government might wish, that they understand and assent to the reasons for particular restrictions.
My understanding of the rationale for the rule of six is that is about restricting the mixing of households. I understand that, and I seek, in my role and personally, to abide by that principle. But what the Minister has said notwithstanding, the anomalies do not help to gain that consent. If I have understood things correctly, I may, in a given period, be a part of more than one group of six, and thereby, I am multiplying the households with which I have contact. Yet, as many have observed—and there are other examples—a couple with three children cannot meet with two grandparents at the same time, even though that would only be two households in most instances. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester voices concern about effect of covid ‘rule of six’ on family life”
On 6th October 2020 Baroness Boycott asked the Government “what progress they have made towards identifying sponsors for COP 26; and what criteria are used in the appointment of any such sponsors.” The Bishop of Rochester asked a further question:
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, while I understand that the focus of formal sponsorship is on businesses, is the Minister able to confirm that Her Majesty’s Government are also keen to engage in similarly deliberate ways with other bodies, including faith communities? These communities are highly motivated—indeed mandated—to care for God’s creation, locally and globally, and many, including the Church of England’s General Synod, have already committed to challenging targets for carbon reduction. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester asks Government to engage with faith communities on future climate goals”
On 5th and 6th October 2020 votes took place on amendments that Members of the House of Lords had tabled to the Government’s Immigration and Social Security (EU Withdrawal) Bill. Eleven bishops took part across eight separate votes, supporting amendments that were passed by majorities of the House, with one exception. A summary is below and the full text of each amendment is beneath. The amendments will now be considered by MPs who will have to decide whether to accept or reject each. Continue reading “Votes: Immigration and Social Security (EU Withdrawal) Bill 2020”
On 28th September the House of Lords debated a motion “That this House takes note of the temporary provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020 six months after the Act received Royal Assent.” The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I too was pleased to take part in the debate in March and recall noble Lords arguing points that they might not normally argue in that debate. Already in this debate we have heard some interesting contributions. I, too, look forward to the three maiden speeches that we are to hear.
I sense that, with regard to restrictions on people and communities, the next six months may be rather more difficult than the last six months. At the outset there was some sense of shared responsibility, and a deep anxiety about the virulence of the virus led to a high degree of willingness to accept restrictions, even when the messaging about them was, shall we say, less than clear. In my own world, congregations have very largely and willingly sought to order their lives within the various guidelines, and some relished the challenge of going online and got very creative—but there have been costs. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester calls for effective parliamentary scrutiny of coronavirus restrictions”
On 28th September 2020 Members of the House of Lords questioned Government on steps being taken to reform the asylum system. The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, asked a follow question:
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, the Minister will know the importance for those in need of asylum of safe and legal routes to the UK directly, rather than undertaking hazardous journeys on land and sea. The UK’s vulnerable persons resettlement scheme was one such route and has been something of a success story. However, with the scheme still paused, I believe, due to Covid, what discussions have the Government had with local authorities, and perhaps with voluntary sector groups, about their capacity in the light of Covid to restart it and—dare I say it?—extend it? Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester asks Government to restart vulnerable persons resettlement scheme”
On 23rd September 2020 the House of Lords heard the repeat of a Government statement on new COVID-19 restrictions. The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, welcomed the recognition of the importance of keeping places of worship open and asked what the new rules meant for ordinations.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I am looking forward to my invitation to curry supper. More seriously, I think I speak on behalf of all the faith communities in welcoming the Prime Minister’s continued affirmation of the importance of places of worship being open, albeit with restrictions, not just for the private benefit of the adherents of a particular faith but for wider community cohesion and well-being, bearing in mind not least that many of these places host food banks and other community care initiatives. I hope that, if any further measures are needed, that community well-being dimension will be kept in mind alongside others. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester asks Government to clarify effect of new COVID-19 rules on church events”
On 23rd September 2020 the House of Lords debated the Government’s Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 4) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020 and voted on two amendments to the motion to approve them, one to annul instead and the other to pass a motion of regret. Bishops took part in the votes.
On 23rd September 2020 the House of Lords debated the Government’s Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 4) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020.
Two Motions were also debated alongside the Rules. The first to annul them “because they will permit evictions of individuals who have been served a notice of eviction between 23 March and 28 August before Parliament has had an opportunity to debate the impact of the Rules on (1) homelessness, and (2) the spread of COVID-19”.
The second “that the House regrets that they…will not continue to protect tenants from eviction, and calls on the Government to amend the Housing Act 1998 to give courts temporary discretion on evictions, including on evictions arising from rent arrears”.
The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, spoke in the debate and supported the motion to regret. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester speaks against Government rule to resume eviction procedures”