Queen’s Speech 2017: Bishop of St Albans on farming, fishing and the environment


stalbans190117On 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

Archbishop of York asks Government about hospital patient transport waiting times


york-170117-cOn 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

Bishop of Leeds asks Government about farming and rural policy post-Brexit


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 St Albans asks Government to improve enforcement action against fly tipping


stalbans190117On 8th March, the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith asked Her Majesty’s Government ‘what further action they are taking to deal with the recent rises in fly-tipping.’ The exchange between the Bishop and the Minister is below, with the follow up questions from other Members.

The Lords Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper. In so doing, I express my regret that I could not find a suitable topical for International Women’s Day.

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Bishop of St Albans raises need for affordable housing in rural areas


On 2nd March 2017 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Hollick “That this House takes note of the Report from the Economic Affairs Committee, Building More Homes (1st Report, HL Paper 20).” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:

stalbans190117-bThe Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, my thanks go to the noble Lord, Lord Hollick, for tabling this Motion and giving us the opportunity to discuss the Building More Homes report. I am grateful also for the contributions from a number of members of the Economic Affairs Committee, which have been both helpful and enlightening. Continue reading

Bishop of St Albans welcomes Government White Paper on housing; asks about rural homes


stalbans190117On 7th February 2017, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth made a statement to the House of Lords on the publication of the Government’s new White Paper on housing. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, responded, welcoming the report and asking about the Government’s plans to develop rural housing.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans My Lords, on these Benches we are acutely aware of the huge crisis in housing. We hear stories about this from all around the country and we share some of the concerns that have been raised from the Benches opposite. There are a number of things which we welcome hugely. Examples are the new powers for local authorities to prevent land banking, measures to encourage local authorities to work together over larger areas, and new requirements for local authorities to undertake a more thorough assessment of housing needs. Continue reading

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about support for rural affordable housing


St AlbansOn 15th December 2016 Lord Kennedy of Southwark asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the impact of the availability of affordable housing on the ability of both private and public sector organisations to recruit and retain staff.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the lack of affordable housing in recruiting local workers is also felt acutely in many rural areas. Rural exemption sites have proved a good way of providing affordable housing, but with the uncertainty over the recent extension of right to buy, some landowners are reluctant to bring forward land. In light of this, will Her Majesty’s Government publish clear guidelines on the potential for restrictive covenants on rural exemption sites to provide affordable housing in perpetuity for local workers? Continue reading