On 20th September 2017 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, was a signatory to a letter to The Times newspaper about affordable rural housing:
Sir, A thriving countryside needs more good quality, genuinely affordable homes (“Country Unfair”, leading article, Sep 19). Only one in ten homes in rural areas is classed as affordable, compared with one in five in urban areas. The proportion of new affordable homes is shrinking, and rural areas face a significant shortfall over the next five years. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans letter to Times on need for more affordable rural housing”
On 20th July 2017 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Berkeley “that this House takes note of the transport needs of remote island communities in England.” The Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, spoke about the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in Northumberland:
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, islands are special places and I am so grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, for this debate and for learning, in his speech and those which have followed, so much more about the context of the Isles of Scilly. I discovered the Isles of Scilly only a few years ago. They are magical but after the boat trip over there, I understood why you can buy fridge magnets saying “I survived the ‘Scillonian’”.
Today, it is the transport needs of another remote island community I wish to speak about: the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in Northumberland. It is a very special place in my diocese. The island has been designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty. There is a national nature reserve covering 3,500 hectares. It has a rich historical and spiritual heritage including Lindisfarne Castle, owned by the National Trust, and Lindisfarne Priory, managed by English Heritage. The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is of course where St Aidan founded his monastery in the 7th century and based his mission to the people of Northumbria. Continue reading “Bishop of Newcastle speaks about transport links to Holy Island of Lindisfarne”
On the 20th July 2017 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Dame Caroline Spelman MP answered two oral questions to the Church Commissioners in the House of Commons, on food poverty and on growing the rural church. A transcript of the questions and follow-up questions by MPs on other issues, are reproduced below.
The right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked
Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) (Lab): What steps the Church of England is taking to tackle food poverty. 
On 11th July 2017, Rt Rev. Alan Smith, the Bishop of St Albans, asked Her Majesty’s Government “what proportion of the Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund is expected to be available to support the provision of superfast broadband in hard to reach rural areas.” The full exchange is below, along with the follow-up questions asked by other Members:
The Lord Bishop of St Albanso ask Her Majesty’s Government what proportion of the Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund is expected to be available to support the provision of superfast broadband in hard to reach rural areas.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Ashton of Hyde) (Con): My Lords, the digital infrastructure investment fund aims to support industry investment in full fibre networks, which are the next generation of digital infrastructure. The Government are committing £400 million, which will be at least matched by private sector investments on the same terms. It will be up to the selected managers of the fund themselves to make investments.
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about broadband in rural areas”
On 26th June 2017, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Alan Smith contributed to the Queen’s Speech debate on business, economic affairs, energy, transport, environment and agriculture. He focused on the impact of Brexit on agriculture and fishing, and on the environment, calling for legislation on clean air.
Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I will confine myself to a few comments on agriculture and the environment. In doing so, I need to declare my interest as president of the Rural Coalition.
As regards agriculture and food, Brexit poses one of the greatest challenges to future food production. The UK produces some of the highest-standard food in the world and, indeed, some of the finest food. In our negotiations, it will be crucial that we do not sacrifice food quality, animal welfare or environmental protection as part of those multi-sector trade agreements which will form the foundation of future international economic partnerships. Continue reading “Queen’s Speech 2017: Bishop of St Albans on farming, fishing and the environment”
On 4th April 2017, Lord Harries of Pentregarth asked Her Majesty’s Government ‘what steps they are taking to reduce waiting times for patients using hospital patient transport.’ The Archbishop of York, the Most Rev. John Sentamu, asked a follow up question.
The Archbishop of York: My Lords, the Minister speaks with such clear diction that we can hear every word he says. He is not producing a drama, but although I have been listening to him carefully, I do not think that he has answered the Question put to him by the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries. He asked what steps were being taken,
“to reduce waiting times for patients using hospital patient transport”.
I did not hear the answer. All I heard was that the Minister was willing to have a word with him, but it is not just about the noble and right reverend Lord and his wife. A lot of other people are in the same predicament. We want to know what those steps are. That is the nature of the Question and, if I did not hear the response, I apologise. Continue reading “Archbishop of York asks Government about hospital patient transport waiting times”
On Thursday 23rd March 2017 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Teverson “That this House takes note of the Report from the European Union Committee Brexit: environment and climate change (12th Report, HL Paper 109).” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, a number of questions have already been posed, and I pity the Minister for having to go through them in some detail. We heard earlier that we in this Chamber tend to be gloomy, and now we should be cheerful. I am neither; I am just puzzled—which is not a new experience.
From reading the report, which is a model of clarity, as are most of the Brexit reports that come from the various committees, it seems that, as we peel back the layers of the onion, we end up with more layers. I realise that that sounds paradoxical, but it seems to get more and more complex. The other night in the debate on Brexit and Gibraltar I tried to ask some questions about stress testing, to which I got no answer. So I shall try again, focusing very briefly on just one or two questions. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds asks Government about farming and rural policy post-Brexit”