Bishop of Rochester asks Government about housing affordability and homelessness

On 17th & 18th October 2017 the Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, received answers to two written questions on housing affordability and homelessness:

The Lord Bishop of Rochester:

(i) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what proportion of the private rented sector is affordable to those on Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.

(ii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the freeze on Local Housing Allowance on levels of homelessness in England. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester asks Government about housing affordability and homelessness”

Bishop of Rochester stresses importance of family in helping prisoners reform

On 11th October 2017 the House of Lords held a short debate on a motion from Lord Farmer, “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made in implementing the report from the Farmer Review, The Importance of Prisoners’ Family Ties for Reform: Preventing Reoffending and Reducing Intergenerational Crime”. Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, spoke in the debate in his capacity as lead Bishop for Prisons: 

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I, too, welcome this report and I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Farmer, and his team for producing it and for providing the opportunity for this debate today. The report itself, as noble Lords who have read ​it will know, is comprehensive, cogently argued, full of detailed supporting material and, importantly, highlights a number of innovative responses in various places across the prison estate. In summary, a clear case is made for nurturing healthy relationships for those in prison and the connection between that and rehabilitation and reoffending. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester stresses importance of family in helping prisoners reform”

Bishop of Rochester raises effect of prison overcrowding on mental health

On 7th September 2017 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, “That this House takes note of the level of overcrowding in prisons.” The Bishop of Rochester, who is the Church of England’s lead bishop for prisons, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I too am very grateful to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown, for bringing this debate. I rather wish that the slight slip of the tongue of the noble Lord, Lord McNally, in first referring to the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, as a former Minister for prisons had been true, but there we are.

I recall a visit in my capacity as Bishop to Her Majesty’s Prisons, to one of our prisons and encountering a young man who was visibly distressed and disturbed, sitting against a wall with his hands over his ears, unable to cope with the general noise and hubbub on a prison wing—not least an overcrowded prison wing. I talked to one of the officers on that wing, who was relatively newly recruited and new in post; he was clearly there because of a really positive motivation, wanting to make a difference and with a vocation to work in the Prison Service. However, he was very conscious that because of responsibility to the whole wing, he was unable to give that distressed young prisoner the focused attention that was required. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester raises effect of prison overcrowding on mental health”

Bishop of Rochester supports Homelessness Reduction Bill

On 24th February 2017 the House of Lords considered the Homelessness Reduction Bill, a Private Member’s Bill from Lord Best and Bob Blackman MP. The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, spoke in support:

RochesterThe Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I declare my interest as the chair of the organisation Housing Justice and thank the noble Lord, Lord Best, for his sponsorship of this Bill in your Lordships’ House. I also add my thanks to Bob Blackman, the Member for Harrow East, for his initiative in bringing forward the Bill in the other place. Before turning to the specifics of the Bill, I will echo the final points made by the noble Lord about the connection between the wider issues of housing supply and housing finance and the sharper end of homelessness which we see on our streets and in other manifestations. It would be such a tragedy if some of those wider matters were not tackled and frustrated the good intentions of this Bill. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester supports Homelessness Reduction Bill”

Bishop of Rochester questions Government about staffing levels in prisons after Birmingham riots

RochesterOn 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 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?

Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester questions Government about staffing levels in prisons after Birmingham riots”

Bishop of Rochester calls for more affordable housing

RochesterOn 11th October 2016, Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville asked the government “how they plan to improve the quality and affordability of housing in the United Kingdom”. The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff, contributed to the debate.

Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester calls for more affordable housing”

Bishop of Rochester asks about extremism vetting process for prison chaplains

Bishop of RochesterOn 15th September 2016 the Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, received a written answer to a question on vetting of prison chaplains:
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the publication of the review of Islamist extremism in prisons and the probation and youth justice services, in what ways they plan to change the vetting of prison chaplains and build on existing good practice, including vetting to counter-terrorism level.

Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester asks about extremism vetting process for prison chaplains”