On 17th October 2019 the Gambling Act 2005 (Amendment) Bill [HL] received its First Reading in the House of Lords. The Bill was introduced by the Bishop of Coventry, on behalf of its sponsor the Bishop of St Albans. First Reading is a formality and no debate was held.
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.
On 3rd September 2019 Baroness Neville-Rolfe asked the Government “what steps they plan to take to support the Crown Prosecution Service in prosecuting, and the courts in sentencing, those involved in gang-related offences, illegal migration and petty offences”. The Bishop of St Albans asked a follow-up question:
Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I share with many others gratitude for what the Government are doing to have an integrated approach to serious violence and youth violence in particular, and I welcome having more police because we need to have safer streets. But by the time we get to prosecuting and sentencing it is all too late. Very often people have been left injured and dead. How much are we investing way before that, particularly at school level?
Will the noble and learned Lord say a little more about what support is being given to our schools? In particular, when, for example, children are found with knives, does this trigger a safeguarding response so that we are trying to deal with the causes, rather than just the results?
On 6th August 2019 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer from Government, in reply to two questions about funding for problem gambling clinics:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: (i) HL17484 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answers by Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford on 17 July (HL16963 and HL16964), what was the budget of Leeds and York Partnership NHS Trust for funding the NHS Northern Gambling Clinic; and what is the projected cost of that clinic in (1) 2020, (2) 2021, and (3) 2022.
(ii) HL17485 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answers by Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford on 17 July (HL16963 and HL16964), what was the budget of the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust for funding the National Problem Gambling Clinic; and what is the projected cost of that clinic in (1) 2020, (2) 2021, and (3) 2022.
On 25th July 2019 the Bishop of St Albans asked the Government “what steps they are taking to help those areas affected by the latest outbreak of Ebola which has been declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization”. He then asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her Answer and, indeed, for the money that has been made available. One of the most effective ways of rolling out preventative health education is to use local indigenous leadership. In 2015, Christian Aid and other charities recommended that NGOs should engage with local faith leaders for this purpose. Are Her Majesty’s Government following this advice? Secondly, with daily flights between DRC and Europe, given the highly infectious nature of this disease, will she explain to the House the steps that are being taken for our own domestic preparedness?
On 23rd July 2019 Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab) asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the impact on children of the no recourse to public funds immigration condition”. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, research by the Children’s Society shows that this particular group of children is more likely to experience absolute poverty, homelessness and greater levels of domestic violence. Despite the significant evidence about the damage that poverty, destitution and abuse can have on children’s outcomes, the Home Office has not yet made public how many children are subject to these NRPF [no recourse to public funds] conditions on their families’ leave to remain. Will the Minister commit to making these figures publicly available?
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.