On 5th November 2019 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer from the Government, in reply to his question about the Rohingya people:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL531 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the quality of the Rohingya people’s lives in Bangladesh.
Baroness Sugg: A June 2019 study by the Overseas Development Institute found that refugees felt that their lives would first and foremost be improved through education, then better living conditions, then the ability to support themselves. The study also describes the Rohingya people’s immediate concerns affecting their quality of life, including shelter conditions, lack of firewood or stoves, issues with healthcare, water, sanitation and hygiene and protection support, inadequate food and insufficient supplies.
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On 4th November 2019 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received written answers from the Government, in reply to two questions about persecuted people in Myanmar:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: (i) HL530 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of whether the Rohingya people’s civil and human rights are being upheld in Myanmar.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: (ii) HL532 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports of attacks against Chin people in Myanmar.
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On 30th October 2019 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a question about the situation in Yemen, on behalf of the Bishop of St Albans, who was unable to attend:
Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the deal brokered by the government of Saudi Arabia in Yemen and the prospects for lasting peace there.
Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in the name of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans, who apologises for the fact that he cannot be in his place today.
The Earl of Courtown (Con): My Lords, the UK welcomes signs of progress through the Saudi-led talks to bring together the Government of Yemen and the Southern Transitional Council to reach a peaceful settlement following the clashes in Aden in August. This has further demonstrated the need for inclusive political talks through the UN-led peace process. The UK urges all parties to engage constructively with the UN special envoy Martin Griffiths to broker a sustainable peace for all of Yemen.
Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his response and I share his support for any initiative that brings peace to Yemen, but this deal brokered by the KSA brings only limited opportunities for a peaceful future in the region. After four years and seven months, almost 100,000 people have died—84,000 children from starvation, and 2,500 from cholera. What pressure are Her Majesty’s Government putting on Saudi and Emirati opposites to secure an immediate cessation to the wider war in Yemen?
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On 24th October 2019 Baroness Randerson asked the Government “what plans they have to encourage more people to travel by bus”. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith asked a supplementary question about public transport and air pollution:
Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, in welcoming the strategy, I am aware that we have seen numerous stories this week about levels of pollution, particularly along school runs, so we should do everything we can to get children on to buses where appropriate. However, many buses are still very poor in terms of the pollution they create, which might take some years to go through. Is there any way in which the Government can help bus companies move more rapidly to zero emissions?
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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 3rd September 2019 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, led a debate in the House of Lords on a motion to ask Government “what assessment they have made of the implementation of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards and the opportunities for further banking reform”. The Bishop of Birmingham also made a contribution, which can be found here. The Bishop’s speech introducing the debate is below, as is the Government response:
Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I add my welcome to the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, in his new role and I look forward to working with him.
I begin by acknowledging that the banks have an important role in our society today. They do many good things—they employ more than 1 million people and pay more than £60 billion in tax annually—but, despite the many good things they do, we are also aware of the history of recent years. We are now 11 years on from the financial crash and six years on from the publication of the report by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, and it is almost three years to the day since I last secured a debate on this topic.
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