On the 11th January 2016 the Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, spoke during the Second Reading of the Government’s Trade Union Bill. The Bishop called on Government to foster a culture of good practice and partnership rather than introducing fresh measures to increase regulation and control.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, we on these Benches are always wary of involving ourselves in debates that, as we have already seen, are likely to become fairly polarised in political ways. Of course, this is a Second Reading debate, in which we try to focus on matters of intention and principle. Therefore, I dare to step in. Indeed, it is only because my right reverend friend the Bishop of Bristol has conspired to get himself on a plane to Uganda at this precise moment that I am standing in his place at all. I rather wish that he had been here instead of me, but there we are.
We have an interest in these matters, because many of the origins of the trade union movement lie in close partnership with the churches of this land, not least the Methodist Church but others also. From these Benches, we have a continuing concern for the flourishing of those things that are to do with civil society in our nation, and, within civil society, of those things that we think of as intermediate institutions, of which trade unions are a very good example. Therefore, the place of trade unions is of concern to us. Continue reading “Trade Union Bill: Bishop of Rochester calls for focus on better relationships over more regulation”
On the 11th January 2016 Baroness Grender asked the Government “what steps they are taking to reduce the number of people who are sleeping rough”. Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, asked a supplementary question.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, in my capacity as chair of the charity Housing Justice, an interest that I declare, I am very aware of the work of church and community winter night shelters. Indeed, the organisation provides a charter mark for such initiatives. In the winter of 2014-15, these shelters used some 500 church and other buildings, including mosques and synagogues, to provide winter accommodation, along with tens of thousands of volunteers who welcomed several thousand guests. Sadly, this work is expanding, although I wish it were not. Perhaps I may invite the Minister to affirm the Government’s support for initiatives such as winter shelters not simply as places of temporary shelter but, more importantly, as places where homeless people can be assisted to find longer term, permanent solutions to their circumstances. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester raises work of churches with rough sleepers”
On 26th November 2015 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Mobarik: “To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the attacks in Paris on 13 November, what steps they plan to take to foster links between communities, as part of their counterterrorism strategy.” The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I, too, am very grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Mobarik, for initiating the debate and for the opportunity to speak in it. I am grateful, too, to the noble Baroness, Lady Eaton, for saying some of the things about Near Neighbours that I might have said. That will save me having to do it. It is good to have other advocates of these things.
The point has been made already, not least by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, that the important issues raised in the debate, although perhaps prompted by part of the current world situation, have been there for many generations. Many of us have been working away at them for a good many years. None the less, one of the strands in the Government’s counterterrorism strategy, published last month, has been the building and strengthening of community links within and between communities. It is a very important strand that clearly builds on things that many of us have been involved in before. In many ways it is the most difficult strand, because it requires perseverance and hard work over many years. It requires commitment in local communities and all the things that lead to fruitful engagement. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester highlights work of faiths in promoting community cohesion”
On 22nd October 2015 the Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, spoke during a House of Lords debate tabled by Lord Farmer “To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s report Dying Without Dignity, what steps they are taking to ensure that everyone who needs it has access to good palliative care and a level of social care that ensures the end of life is valued.” The Bishop, the Church’s lead bishop for prisons, spoke about the need to improve end of life care for those in prison.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Suri, is not able to be present for this discussion, but I promise not to extend my contribution by the minutes thereby freed. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Farmer, for initiating this debate, and I apologise that I am not going to touch on matters that are directly to do with spirituality. I shall leave that to those who have done so—my right reverend friend and others—because I want to focus on one particular aspect of end-of-life care: what goes on in Her Majesty’s prisons, for which I am bishop. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester calls for better end of life care services in prison”
On 11th June 2015 the Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, spoke during the House of Lords debate on the Bishops’ Pastoral Letter for the 2015 General Election. The text is below and the speeches of others in the debate can be read here.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to my friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans for initiating this debate, and the opportunity to reflect on the House of Bishops’ pastoral letter, which, although issued in the context of an election, was written in the hope that it would provide an ongoing stimulus to thinking and reflecting on the shape of our society and the kind of society that we wish to be. Not least, it will provide something of a challenge to the churches, to which it is primarily addressed, but to others also, to discover afresh something that is a treasure and very much part of our story. Reference has been made to Magna Carta, and as Bishop of Rochester I would be remiss not to remind noble Lords of the existence of the Textus Roffensis, which predates the Magna Carta, although it is not quite so long, and which also merits celebration. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester on the role of churches, voluntary and community groups in building the common good”
On 9th June 2015 Baroness Gardner of Parkes asked the Government “what plans they have to consult Housing Associations, local authorities and the general public before finalising the proposal to extend the right to buy to Housing Association properties”. The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for confirming that intention to consult the sector. Is she able to offer any indication of how Her Majesty’s Government propose to implement this right to buy in relation to housing-association properties in small and rural communities, where such housing is often built on rural exception sites defined in the National Planning Policy Framework as intended,
“for affordable housing in perpetuity”?
Baroness Williams of Trafford: The right reverend Prelate is absolutely correct when he says that rural communities are different. The development of that particular policy is ongoing, and details will be set out in due course.
On 3rd June 2015, during the debate on the Queen’s Speech, the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd James Langstaff, spoke on improvements needed to the housing market and the far-reaching impacts that these would have. The text of his speech is below and can be watched online here:
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I welcome the opportunity to speak in this debate on the gracious Speech. I am delighted to follow the noble Earl because he has paved the way for me in reminding us of some of the contributions which were made in yesterday’s debate on matters to do with housing and the proposed housing Bill. He has illustrated the points rather more graphically and personally than I might be able to do. I make that connection between yesterday and today because I think it is very clear that issues to do with housing have a real relevance to the matters which are our main focus in today’s debate in your Lordships’ House. For example, research over decades has underlined the point which has just been so graphically made—that there is a clear connection between the quality and conditions of housing on the one hand, and people’s mental and physical health and well-being on the other. There can be very little debate about that; I do not need to labour the point. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester call for improvements to housing”
On 18th March 2015 the Bishop of Rochester, Rt Rev James Langstaff, asked a question in the House of Lords on the Government’s response to a report on access to justice. He followed it with a supplementary question to the Minister. Those exchanges, along with a transcript of all subsequent questions on the same by Peers, are below.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they plan to take in response to the recommendations of the recently published Theos report Speaking Up.
Lord Faulks (Minister of State, Ministry of Justice): My Lords, the Government have noted the Theos report. We carefully considered the matters raised in it, including access to justice, when developing our policy on legal aid reform. The Government have already committed to a review of the impact of the LASPO Act three to five years after implementation. Even after reform, our legal aid system will remain one of the most expensive in the world at £1.5 billion per year. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester presses government to work for acess to justice for all”
On 12th February 2015, Lord Dubs to ask Her Majesty’s Government what further steps they are taking to reduce the number of residential properties left vacant by their owners. The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, the contributions already made have underlined the importance of this and the potential for tackling some of the issues in the housing market and the lack of housing. While this may be a relatively small part of that, is the Minister aware of schemes such as the Houses into Homes initiative in Wales, which uses recyclable loans mainly to private individuals and has managed to return some 2,000 empty homes to use since 2012? Do the Government have further plans to encourage such initiatives, particularly those that are at a local level and involve private individuals and the voluntary sector? Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester commends ‘Houses into Homes’ initiative to reduce levels of empty housing”
On 12th January 2015, Lord Roberts of Llandudno asked Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to safeguard village life. The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, reference has been made at various points to housing. The Minister will be well aware of the importance for the sustainability and vitality of rural communities of a good mix of housing, housing tenure and so forth. Does he agree that community land trusts are a valuable and perhaps essential way of ensuring a continuing and permanent supply of affordable housing in rural communities? If so, what commitment have the Government made to increasing the number of such trusts? Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester calls for action on affordable housing in rural communities”