On 14th May 2020 a virtual sitting of the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Boycott, “That the Virtual Proceedings do consider food supply and security in the United Kingdom in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Boycott, for this debate and I declare my interest as president of the Rural Coalition. It is often said that the primary duty of government is the defence of the realm: equally important is the need to feed the population. When a crisis hits, we can survive for a considerable time without importing computers and machinery, but without food we last only a few weeks. Fortunately, during this pandemic the food chain has held up relatively well, although a number of shortages in the early days of the lockdown acted as a salutary warning. Within days of the lockdown, many of our churches here in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire had set up food banks or parish pantries, not just in poorer areas such as Stevenage or Farley Hill, but in wealthier villages such as Flamstead and Ponsbourne. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans calls for more support for farmers, who provide essential public service”
On 12th May the House of Lords debated a Private Notice Question from Lord Berkeley on the safety of passengers who have to use public transport to travel to and from work. The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, asked a question about infrequent services in rural areas.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, as well as issues of safety when using public transport, many people in rural areas are worried that the already infrequent services in the countryside are now at further risk. What are Her Majesty’s Government doing to ensure that public transport will be maintained to support communities and the economy in rural areas?
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about rural transport during Covid-19”
On 19th March 2020 the Bishop of St Albans received a written answer to two question to Government on rural connectivity:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL2563 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following the announcement about the delivery of 4G mobile signal to 95 per cent of the country on 25 October 2019, how many full ‘not-spot’ communities in England will benefit from the Government’s investment in the Single Rural Network.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL2564 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following the announcement about the delivery of 4G mobile signal to 95 per cent of the country on 25 October 2019, what assessment they have made of the proportion of the population that live in full ‘not-spot’ communities that will benefit from that delivery. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about rural connectivity”
On 22nd October 2019 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the impact on rural communities of the decision by Barclays Bank to end cash withdrawal services from the Post Office”. The bishop then asked a follow-up question:
Lord Bishop of St Albans: I beg leave to ask the Question in my name on the Order Paper and declare my interest as president of the Rural Coalition.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Northern Ireland Office (Lord Duncan of Springbank): My Lords, the Government are disappointed by the withdrawal of Barclays from the renegotiated banking framework. None the less, the new banking framework will enable customers to access their cash from 27 high street banks. The Government will continue to ensure that communities receive support and have choice about how they manage their finances.
Lord Bishop of St Albans: I thank the Minister for his reply. Rural communities rely on access to finance, but in many rural areas where there is poor broadband or weak mobile signal, online banking is impossible. This is a fundamental issue for our rural areas. What representations have Her Majesty’s Government made to Barclays Bank, and what will we do if other banks decide to follow its lead? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about access to cash withdrawal services in rural areas”
On 8th October 2019 Lord Foster of Bath (LD) moved a motion “that this House takes note of the Report from the Select Committee on the Rural Economy Time for a strategy for the rural economy (HL Paper 330)”. The Bishop of London, Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, contributed to the debate:
The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, you may well ask what the Bishop of London is doing adding her voice to a debate on our strategy for the rural economy. Despite having spent most of my adult life in London, my five years in the West Country and latterly as the Bishop of Crediton in Devon demonstrated to me the challenges of rural life.
Continue reading “Bishop of London on need for improved rural services, and role of churches”
On 23rd July 2019 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer, from Baroness Williams of Trafford, regarding domestic abuse in rural areas:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL17325 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report by the National Rural Crime Network Domestic Abuse in Rural Areas, published on 17 July.
Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con): On 16 July we introduced our landmark Domestic Abuse Bill to parliament, setting out our intention to transform the response to domestic abuse. Our Domestic Abuse Bill and wider action plan will help to ensure that victims have the confidence to come forward and report their experience, safe in the knowledge that the justice system and other agencies will do everything they can both to protect and support them and their children and pursue their abuser.
We will consider the findings of the report. Whether it takes place in our rural communities or cities, we are supporting Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners, so they can deploy resources as they best see fit to tackle crime, including domestic abuse.
The new Domestic Abuse Commissioner will play an important role in monitoring the provision of services for victims of domestic abuse, including those in rural communities.
On 4th June 2019 Baroness Randerson asked the Government “what plans they have to encourage more people to use bus services.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, can the Minister expand on what she said about rural access? There is no point trying to encourage people to use buses where there are none. In parts of my diocese in the north of Yorkshire, to suggest that there may be increased funding or increased conversations does not change the fact that many people are isolated. Buses and transport need to be part of a holistic, integrated rural strategy that sees the various matters interconnected.
Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds asks Government about rural bus services”