Bishop of St Albans asks about lack of communication around supporting asylum seekers in local communities:

The Bishop of St Albans asked a question about the need for better communication with local communities and support organisations when housing asylum seekers on 15th November 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, of course we are delighted at the hard work that the people at Manston are putting into this, but there is a very serious problem indeed. Just a few days ago, I had an email from one of my clergy who said that, during the week, large numbers of asylum seekers were moved in, without any warning to the local authority or local partners, and it has caused chaos. That means not only that we do not have the statutory support in place but that voluntary groups such as churches, which are trying to offer support, simply have no warning. Will he go back to his officials? We simply need to get the communication right and we will all work with the Government and other partners to try to solve this very difficult, agonising problem.

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Bishop of St Albans asks about unmanned aircraft vehicles in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine

The Lord Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 15th November 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the capability of Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles (UAVs) provided to Russia by Iran; and what steps they are taking to help Ukrainians defend themselves from Russian UAV attacks.

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Bishop of St Albans asks about public health impacts of sewage discharges

The Bishop of St Albans asked a question about the public health consequences of sewage being discharged into the sea and rivers on 14th November 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, this is not just causing devastation in our rivers—not least in our wonderful chalk streams in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire in my diocese—it is also a public health issue. Noble Lords may have seen the story of Jayne Etherington, a 22 year-old who went swimming in Pembrokeshire, caught E. coli from sewage and landed up in hospital with serious damage to her organs. What does the NHS think about this as a health hazard which is affecting a significant number of people and stopping them getting exercise by swimming in the sea?

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Bishop of St Albans asks about pension funds

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 14th November 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government:

  • what discussions they have had with the Pensions Regulator regarding the use of Liability Driven Investment by pension funds.
  • what assessment they have made of the risk to individuals from the practice of Liability Driven Investment by pension funds.
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Bishop of St Albans asks about permits for overseas agricultural workers

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 14th November 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government what plans they have to grant more overseas workers permits for work in food production in the Lee Valley.

Lord Murray of Blidworth (Con): Our skills-based immigration system enables us to treat people from every part of the world equally. We have broadened the eligibility of Skilled Worker visas from graduate jobs only to include jobs skilled to RQF level 3 and lowered the salary threshold to £25,600, making more overseas worker eligible to enter the UK. There are already a range of occupations in the agri-food sector which are eligible under our immigration system, if English language and salary requirements are met. Our immigration system is not regional and therefore available to all employers (including those in the Lee Valley area).

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Bishop of St Albans asks about calls to place an arms embargo and sanctions on Myanmar

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answers on 9th November 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the call by the Women’s League of Burma and Burma Campaign UK to institute a comprehensive global arms embargo.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con): The UK is a longstanding supporter of an arms embargo on Myanmar. We are clear that countries should not sell arms to the Myanmar military. On 27 March, the UK coordinated a joint statement with 48 signatories that committed us to working to prevent the flow of arms and equipment to the Myanmar military. We have also worked with international partners at the G7, UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council.to secure strong language on stopping the flow of arms.

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Bishop of St Albans asks about consumer protection

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answers on 9th November 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government:

  • whether they consider that the new Consumer Duty set out by the Financial Conduct Authority in their policy statement PS22, published on 9 July, is the same as a general duty of care; and if not, what the differences are.
  • what assessment they have made of whether the new Consumer Duty set out by the Financial Conduct Authority in their policy statement PS22, published on 9 July, will be effective.
  • what plans they have, if any, to introduce a statutory duty of care for consumers.
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Bishop of St Albans asks about economic challenges to agriculture in the Lee Valley

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answers on 9th November 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the economic challenges facing vegetable growers in the Lee Valley due to increasing energy prices.

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Bishop of St Albans speaks about the challenges facing pensioners and low-income workers

The Bishop of St Albans spoke in a debate on financial stability on 3rd November 2022, focusing on the effects of the current financial situation and cost of living crisis on low-income workers and on pensioners:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, we are living in challenging times, with inflation rates at a 40-year high. Turbulence in the financial markets, with higher interest rates and larger mortgage payments, is adversely affecting people in all walks of society. With the wholesale price of energy and gas increasing due to Putin’s appalling and illegal invasion of Ukraine, it is vital that His Majesty’s Government do all they can to protect renters, those with mortgages and, of course, pensioners.

To put a human face to this debate, I thought it might be worth while just quoting one of a number of emails I have received from communities in my diocese this very week. One person emailed me on Friday: “In my role as chair of a food bank, we are having to make decisions around both frightening increases in demand and a growing decline in donations. This summer, we increased our warehouse capacity to handle food for somewhere around 500 food parcels a day. The problem is in-work poverty which is growing substantially. In the past few weeks, we have been approached by a hospital, a large business, schools and a local council about whether they can refer low-paid staff to us.” He went on: “Apparently, employers are not prepared to talk about the problem of in-work poverty, feeling ashamed. They would like to raise wages and want the best staff welfare but can’t because that would move them into a deficit budget.” The human reality of what we are facing is stark. Unfortunately, the mini-Budget of 23 September made a challenging financial climate much worse.

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Public Order Bill: Bishop of St Albans highlights concerns of excessive police powers

On 1st November 2022, the House of Lords debated the Public Order Bill in its second reading. The Bishop of St Albans spoke in the debate, highlighting concerns that the bill would grant excessive powers to the police:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I think many of us in this debate will have a feeling of déjà vu. No matter how many pieces of legislation come through here granting the police additional powers, it seems that they are never enough. It seems we are always one more public order provision away from solving the problem.

Along with other noble Lords, I want to support the police and the rule of law. We are grateful for all the police do; they stand in our place and, very often, have to take very difficult decisions. But we already have the Public Order Act 1986, which grants the police powers to place restrictions on protests and to prohibit those which threaten to cause serious disruption to public order. We already have the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, which introduced the offence of aggravated trespass. We have the offence of obstruction of a highway and the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, which allows for civil injunctions to prevent protesters demonstrating in a way which causes harm or harassment. As recently as last year, remarkably extensive powers, including on noisy and disruptive protests, were granted in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.

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