The Bishop of St Albans raises concerns about growing regional economic inequality

Baroness Wilcox asked Her Majesty’s Government what recent assessment they have made of the levels of manufacturing activity in the United Kingdom.

The Bishop of St Albans asked a supplementary question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I am sure we all want to encourage a much more robust manufacturing base in this country. An article in the Economist last week pointed out that, unlike the rest of the country, the north-east and south-west regions still saw an increase in unemployment up to the year ending November 2013. There are huge problems at the moment in the south-west, which was already facing a downturn in its tourist industry and now has floods and difficulties with trains. Is there anything the Government can do to encourage a more long-term, stronger economic and, indeed, manufacturing base in the south-west of England?

Viscount Younger of Leckie: Our industrial strategy focuses on the whole country. I note the right reverend Prelate’s point about the south-west where they are suffering so terribly from the floods. The industrial strategy has five main strands which are bearing fruit, particularly in places such as Liverpool and Tyneside, and the south-west is just as important.

(via parliament.uk)

Bishop of St Albans raises plight of Roma communities in Parliament (Written Question)

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked Her Majesty’s Government what analysis they have made of reports of the forced evictions of Roma communities in Cluj-Napoca, Romania; and whether they will discuss the matter with the government of Romania and ask that government to enforce the decision of the Cluj-Napoca County Court that evictions targeting the Roma community are illegal.

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Our Embassy in Bucharest has been monitoring this issue closely (along with other forced evictions of Roma e.g. in Eforie Sud and Baia Mare). We understand that the Cluj-Napoca Court recently ruled the forced eviction in December 2010 illegal. However this decision is not final and is subject to appeal. We have raised wider concerns about social inclusion of the Roma with the Romanian government on 28 January. With regard to this specific case, the British Embassy will visit Cluj on 11 February and will raise the issue of forced evictions with the local government. They will also launch a partnership with a local NGO to develop projects aimed at preventing disadvantaged Roma children leaving school before the minimum age. The UK government does not condone unjustified evictions of any community.

(via parliament.uk)

Bishop of St Albans calls on Government to include churches in voter registration initiatives

Lord Roberts of Llandudno asked Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to support National Voter Registration Day on Wednesday 5 February, which seeks to encourage new, especially young, people to register to vote.

The Bishop of St Albans asked a supplementary question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the Church of England is involved in the education of more than 1 million young people and we want to play our part in supporting this. Will Her Majesty’s Government talk with the department to see if, in future, they will write not only to schools but to the 43 statutory diocesan boards of education, many of which employ full-time schools workers, and to dioceses? My diocese has an average of 30 to 40 full-time paid youth workers and many volunteer ones. We would be delighted to use our communication resources to support this sort of initiative.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, the Government recognise that they alone cannot do everything in this regard. We welcome conversations with all other organisations. I wondered whether the right reverend Prelate was going to promise that the Church of England would give sermons on the subject. Once, when I was a parliamentary candidate, I was taken by a young woman called Liz Barker—the noble Baroness, Lady Barker, as she is now—to the Methodist church in which her father had been a minister. The sermon came as close as possible to suggesting that the congregation might like to vote for me.

Bishop of St Albans asks questions on affordable energy for rural households

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the Office of Fair Trading about securing an affordable energy supply for rural households that are off the gas grid.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma):
Representatives of the Office of Fair Trading attend the Roundtable meetings chaired by my Rt. Hon. Friend the Minister of State for Energy. The Roundtable brings together Government, regulators, advisory and charitable bodies, the fuel supply industry and others to work together to improve the security and affordability of off-grid fuel supply.14.03 Bishop of St Albans

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the energy companies about reducing the price of electricity paid by households that are not dual fuel customers because they do not have access to the gas grid.

Baroness Verma: DECC Ministers regularly meet with energy supply companies to discuss a range of energy issues. Electricity prices for household consumers are a commercial matter for the companies concerned.

(via Parliament.uk)

The Bishop of St Albans raises concerns about affordable energy in rural areas (Written Questions)

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the Office of Fair Trading about securing an affordable energy supply for rural households that are off the gas grid.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): Representatives of the Office of Fair Trading attend the Roundtable meetings chaired by my Rt. Hon. Friend the Minister of State for Energy. The Roundtable brings together Government, regulators, advisory and charitable bodies, the fuel supply industry and others to work together to improve the security and affordability of off-grid fuel supply.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the energy companies about reducing the price of electricity paid by households that are not dual fuel customers because they do not have access to the gas grid.

Baroness Verma: DECC Ministers regularly meet with energy supply companies to discuss a range of energy issues. Electricity prices for household consumers are a commercial matter for the companies concerned.

Votes – Children and Families Bill

House of Lords Division Lobby
House of Lords Division Lobby

On 28th and 29th January 2014, the Bishop of St Albans took part in two votes on the Government’s Children and Families Bill, during its Report Stage.

Continue reading “Votes – Children and Families Bill”

Bishop of St Albans seeks clarification on underoccupancy charge contingency plans

The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Lord Bishop of St Albans asked a supplementary question relating to the underoccupancy charge and its impact on tenants. The Bishop asked about tenants in the North of England and Wales who believed they would be unable to pay their rent in full due to the introduction of the new charge for an empty bedroom. Lord Freud responded to say 14.03 Bishop of St Albansduring the transition the Government were making available adequate funds for discretionary housing payments.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the effect of the underoccupancy charge on tenants.

Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans seeks clarification on underoccupancy charge contingency plans”