Bishop of St Albans presses Government on taking action against payday loan advertising (Written Questions)

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the Ofcom’s publication Trends in Advertising Activity—Payday Loans, published in December 2013, what assessment they have made of the impact on children between four and 15 years old of the number of payday loan advertisements to which they are exposed.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of Ofcom’s publication Trends in Advertising Activity—Payday Loans published in December 2013, what assessment they have made of the increase in the number of payday loan advertisements watched by children aged four to 15 years old over the past four years; and whether they have any plans to address the situation.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of Ofcom’s publication Trends in Advertising Activity—Payday Loans published in December 2013, what assessment they have made of the frequency and impact of payday loan advertising viewed by children on non-children’s television channels.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of Ofcom’s publication Trends in Advertising Activity—Payday Loans published in December 2013, whether they plan to commission research into the impact of payday loan advertisements on young peoples’ attitudes to the responsible use of money.

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): Payday loan adverts are subject to the Advertising Standards Authority’s strict content rules. The ASA will not hesitate to ban irresponsible adverts, and has a strong track record of doing so.

The Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP), the body that writes the Broadcast Advertising Code, is considering Ofcom’s research and the extent to which payday loan advertising features on children’s TV, and whether there are any implications for the ASA’s regulation of this sector.

Separately, the Financial Conduct Authority is consulting on new rules for consumer credit adverts, including proposals to introduce mandatory risk warnings and signposting to debt advice. It has powers to ban misleading adverts which breach its rules.

Bishop of St Albans seeks assurances from Government on illegality of sex-selective abortion

Baroness Knight of Collingtree asked Her Majesty’s Government what action they intend to take in the light of recent analysis of the ratio of boys and girls in United Kingdom families suggesting that sex-selective abortion is taking place.

The Bishop of St Albans asked a supplementary question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, there is an opportunity coming up where this can be underlined. At the moment, the procedures for the approval of independent sector places for the termination of pregnancy are being revised. Will Her Majesty’s Government undertake to ensure that they spell out clearly and unequivocally that termination on grounds of gender alone is illegal and that an appeal on gender alone is insufficient to satisfy the mental health criteria of the Abortion Act?

Earl Howe: My Lords, as I have said, the guidance to abortion providers will be updated and that will include the guidance to independent sector providers. It will be made abundantly clear that gender selection is illegal.

(via parliament.uk)

The Bishop of St Albans speaks in debate on Independent Panel on Forestry report

My Lords, I was eager to participate in this debate and I, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, for raising this vital issue, which has touched the nerves of so many people right across the country, in every part of our nation. I want to pick up four details of the Government’s response. They are minor, not major, points but I hope that they will be helpful. The first is to build on the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Parminter, about the unprecedented levels of flooding that we are having in the UK. Continue reading “The Bishop of St Albans speaks in debate on Independent Panel on Forestry report”

The Bishop of St Albans asks Government about support for healthy living in schools

Baroness Morgan of Ely asked Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the food and drink industry about reducing levels of sugar in processed products in the United Kingdom.

The Bishop of St Albans asked a supplementary question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, while I support the need to reduce the level of sugar in processed food wherever possible, I am concerned that this alone will do little to improve the nation’s health or deal with the problem of obesity. What progress are the Department for Education and the Department of Health making on reducing the number of calories in meals served in schools, and what progress is being made on increasing the level of physical activities for the pupils in our schools?

Earl Howe: My Lords, tackling obesity calls for action by the widest possible range of partners, including the food industry but also including schools. That is what we are trying to do through the responsibility deal. Our National Child Measurement Programme, the School Food Plan, the School Games and the money that we are putting into school sports funding—£150 million a year—all contribute to the joint effort across government to influence the way in which calories are consumed by children. I have encouraging news on that front, which is that the level of child obesity is now the lowest that it has been since 1998, so we are moving in the right direction.

(via parliament.uk)

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”