Bishop of St Albans calls for end to freeze on working age benefits, to help children and families

On 16th November 2017 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, led a debate in the House of Lords on the benefit freeze. His opening speech and that of the Minister responding are below. The whole debate can be read here.

“The Lord Bishop of St Albans to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the impact of rising inflation on families affected by the freeze of working age benefits.”

Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, we are at risk of failing a substantial number of children and some of the most needy people of this country. If a society is to be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable, then unless we are prepared to put aside party difference and make common purpose in addressing inequalities in our system of social security, we will surely be found wanting. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans calls for end to freeze on working age benefits, to help children and families”

Bishop of St Albans leads debate on risks of rising household debt

On Monday 13th November the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, led a debate in the House of Lords on the levels of household debt in the UK. His opening speech is below, along with the responding speech of the Government Minister (all the speeches in the debate can be read here).

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the risks posed by current levels of household debt in the United Kingdom.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I am deeply concerned—as I know are many other Members of this Chamber—about rising levels of household debt in this country. Households in the UK are taking ​on far more debt than they used to and overall are taking on more debt than they bring home in income. While the ratio of household debt to income has not yet eclipsed the 160% peak hit in early 2008, it currently hovers around 140%, a dramatic shift from the ratio of 95% in 1997.

Of course there are good reasons why families in this country choose to take on debt—perhaps to buy a house or another form of secured debt—but, nevertheless, we know that for some people the prospect of saving for a house is inconceivable and that those who are lucky enough to purchase a house take on an extremely high level of mortgage debt. This burden, especially for young people, should be recognised. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans leads debate on risks of rising household debt”

Bishop of St Albans asks whether workplace chaplains can help employees experiencing mental health issues

On 1st November 2017 Lord Haskel asked Her Majesty’s Government “what is their response to the review of mental health and employers, Thriving at Work, published on 26 October.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, there are many valuable statistics in the report, but also some quite worrying ones. Apparently 35% of the people interviewed thought that if they had had depression they would be far less likely to get any sort of promotion, while half of those interviewed said that they would not be willing to discuss mental health issues with their line manager. First, in the light of that, is there not a pressing need for a new public mental health awareness campaign? Secondly, will the Minister look into the contribution that workplace chaplaincy can make to addressing this problem? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks whether workplace chaplains can help employees experiencing mental health issues”

Votes: Financial Guidance and Claims Bill

On the 31st October 2017 the Government’s Financial Guidance and Claims Bill was considered at Report Stage in the House of Lords. Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Sharkey moved an amendment on guidance for individuals before transfer of pension assets to new schemes. Two bishops took part in the vote:

Continue reading “Votes: Financial Guidance and Claims Bill”

Bishop of St Albans urges Government to support a £2 stake for betting machines

 

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On 31st October 2017  a Government statement on its new consultation on fixed-odds betting terminals was repeated in the House of Lords. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, responded to the statement :

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, last year, there were more than 200,000 occasions when gamblers on FOBTs lost more than £1,000 at a single sitting. All other forms of gambling with stakes of more than £2 are restricted to premises such as casinos, which do not have open access and are not on the high street. Does the Minister agree that the only way to rectify the mistake of the 2005 Act and restore logic and order to the gambling regime is to support a £2 stake?

Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans urges Government to support a £2 stake for betting machines”

Cut stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals to £2, Bishop of St Albans urges Government

Press release, from the Church of England website:

The Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, has responded to the Government’s announcement today of The Triennial Review of Stakes and Prizes.

He said: “The Triennial Review of Stakes and Prizes has proposed a range of possible stakes for fixed-odds betting terminals. While a reduction in stakes is welcome, any stake higher than £2 does not go far enough to address the harm these machines cause to families and communities around the UK. Continue reading “Cut stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals to £2, Bishop of St Albans urges Government”

Bishop of St Albans asks about welfare standards for transported animals after Brexit

On 24th October 2017 Lord Allen of Kensington asked Her Majesty’s Government “what plans they have to increase the current penalties, including custodial sentences, for animal welfare offences in England to bring them into line with the European average.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, in the light of the Brexit debates on agriculture and other matters, can the Minister assure us that Her Majesty’s Government will ensure that in future, after Brexit, the regulations requiring very high standards of care for animals that are being bred and transported in this country, will continue to be applied to animals that are brought in from other countries with lower standards? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about welfare standards for transported animals after Brexit”