On 12th July 2017, Lord Warner led a short debate in the House of Lords on the question: “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment have they made of the risks to NHS sustainability arising from the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union”. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, contributed to the debate.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Warner, for introducing this important topic for us this evening and for his helpful and comprehensive opening remarks.
Ensuring the sustainability of the NHS is undoubtedly a significant challenge, even before the potential consequences of Brexit are considered. The uncertainty surrounding the Brexit negotiations has created significant stress for many working in already pressurised health and social care systems.
On 12th July 2017 the Bishop of St Albans received a written answer to a question on the case of Asia Bibi, a Christian detained in Pakistan on charges of blasphemy:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the adjournment of Asia Bibi’s appeal, what representations, if any, they have made on her behalf to the government of Pakistan regarding reports that (1) there is a lack of information about when her appeal will be heard, and (2) that she is still being kept in solitary confinement. Continue reading
On 11th July 2017, Rt Rev. Alan Smith, the Bishop of St Albans, asked Her Majesty’s Government “what proportion of the Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund is expected to be available to support the provision of superfast broadband in hard to reach rural areas.” The full exchange is below, along with the follow-up questions asked by other Members:
The Lord Bishop of St Albanso ask Her Majesty’s Government what proportion of the Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund is expected to be available to support the provision of superfast broadband in hard to reach rural areas.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Ashton of Hyde) (Con): My Lords, the digital infrastructure investment fund aims to support industry investment in full fibre networks, which are the next generation of digital infrastructure. The Government are committing £400 million, which will be at least matched by private sector investments on the same terms. It will be up to the selected managers of the fund themselves to make investments.
On 6th July 2017 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer to a question on persecution of religious and ethnic minorities in Iran:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Republic of Iran concerning the continuing persecution of religious and ethnic minorities, as described in the Annual report of the UN Secretary-General to the Human Rights Council submitted on 13 March, Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran A/HRC/34/40. Continue reading
On 4th July 2017 the Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty’s Government “who is responsible for ensuring the implementation by Clinical Commissioning Groups and hospital providers of the Guidance for commissioners of services for people with medically unexplained symptoms, published by the Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, many of us are glad to have this report published by the Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health on services for people with medically unexplained symptoms. There is a welcome stress in it on trying to get integrated care—a both physical and mental approach. Would the Minister comment on the need to have an integrated approach to the spiritual dimension of this as an essential aspect of addressing these medically unexplained symptoms? Continue reading
On 29th June 2017 the Marriage Registration Bill was introduced. The Bill is sponsored by the Bishop of St Albans. Its text can be read here. It would enable mother’s names to be added to marriage certificates and update the technological processes of registering marriages. Continue reading
On 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