Votes: Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 4) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020

On 23rd September 2020 the House of Lords debated the Government’s Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 4) (Coronavirus) Rules 2020 and voted on two amendments to the motion to approve them, one to annul instead and the other to pass a motion of regret. Bishops took part in the votes.

House of Lords Division Lobby

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Bishop of St Albans: China should not host Winter Olympics because of Uighur treatment

On 23rd September 2020 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked Government about the condition of Uighur internment camps in Xinjiang in China, and urged that the International Olympic Committee review China’s hosting of the 2022 Winter Olympics. The exchanges are below, with the further questions asked by other Members:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the condition of Uighur internment camps in Xinjiang in China.

The Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con): My Lords, there are reports of torture and overcrowding in detention centres in Xinjiang, where over a million Uighurs are extrajudicially detained. We have repeatedly condemned the abuses of human rights perpetrated against the Uighurs in Xinjiang and again call upon China to immediately allow UN observers unfettered access to the region and to end extrajudicial detention. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans: China should not host Winter Olympics because of Uighur treatment”

Votes: Agriculture Bill

On 22nd September 2020 votes took place in the House of Lords on amendments to the Government’s Agriculture Bill. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishops of St Albans, Leeds and Worcester took part.

House of Lords Division Lobby

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Agriculture Bill: Bishop of St Albans supports successful amendment on food standards

On 22nd September 2020 the House of Lords considered amendments to the Government’s Agriculture Bill at its Report Stage. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in favour of an amendment he had co-sponsored, to extend the mandate and lifespan of the Trade and Agriculture Commission, to safeguard food and farming standards. The amendment was put to a vote and was passed by the House.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans [V]: My Lords, I too will speak on Amendment 101, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Curry of Kirkharle, to which I have ​added my name. The previous three speakers have more than adequately spelled out why it makes a great deal of sense, so I can limit my comments.

The Government, through the joint letter from the Environment Secretary and the Secretary of State for International Trade, have assured us that standards will not be compromised as part of trade negotiations. Furthermore, I am reassured by the breadth of experience among the agri-food trade advisory group. However, welcome though these developments are, fundamentally they lack the legally binding requirement that properly guarantees that Parliament will have recourse to ensuring that our standards are not diluted. Continue reading “Agriculture Bill: Bishop of St Albans supports successful amendment on food standards”

Agriculture Bill: Bishop of St Albans proposes amendments on food security

On 17th September 2020 the House of Lords considered amendments to the Government’s Agriculture Bill at its Report Stage. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, sponsored and spoke in favour of amendments to Government to set targets on food security and report more frequently to Parliament on the issue.

  The amendments were not put to a vote but withdrawn after debate.

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Bishop of St Albans asks if Covid ‘rule of six’ will prevent outdoor Remembrance Sunday events

On Wednesday 16th September 2020 Members of the House of Lords asked questions of Government on its response to coronavirus. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, can the Minister clarify one or two issues? Does the rule of six mean that it will no longer be possible to have any public marking of Remembrance Sunday outdoors this year? Will he also clarify whether this effectively means that all public protests and demonstrations are now illegal? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks if Covid ‘rule of six’ will prevent outdoor Remembrance Sunday events”

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about accessible housing for elderly and those with disabilities

On 16th September 2020 Lord Kennedy of Southwark asked the Government “what plans they have to ensure that any changes to the planning system will improve (1) building standards, (2) safety, (3) environmental impacts, and (4) the well-being of residents.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the latest English housing survey reveals that only 9% of our housing stock has key disability accessibility features. Disability in old age is frequent, and with the ONS estimating that one in four people will be aged 65 or over by 2050 it is vital that we cater for what we are going to need.

Although the recently announced government consultation into this issue is welcome, can the Minister confirm that prior to any changes in planning law, the recommendations of this consultation will be fully implemented to ensure that the vulnerable are not left behind? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about accessible housing for elderly and those with disabilities”

Agriculture Bill: Bishop of St Albans supports amendments on food security, spending, and direct payments

On 15th September 2020 the House of Lords considered amendments to the Government’s Agriculture Bill at its Report Stage. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, sponsored and spoke in favour of amendments to:

  • improve food security and access to food that promotes good health and wellbeing,
  • require Government to set out detailed spending plans,
  • delay the start of the transition away from direct farm payments from 2021 to 2022.

The amendments were not put to a vote but withdrawn after debate.

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Bishop of St Albans says Gambling Commission inadequately resourced

On 10th September 2020 Members of the House of Lords questioned Government on what plans they have to review gambling legislation. Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, asked a question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans (V): My Lords, with the significant increase in gambling harms during lockdown, are Her Majesty’s Government satisfied that the Gambling Commission has adequate resources to do its work? Is the Minister content with the commission reducing its staffing to make savings at the very point when it needs to take additional action to regulate online gambling? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans says Gambling Commission inadequately resourced”