“It is vital that councils and the NHS maintain a basic level of support, not least because a lot of money going into this area is matched by funding from companies, charities and churches. We cannot solve the problem with just the voluntary sector being expected to pick up these extraordinarily complex problems” – Bishop of St Albans, 26.6.14
On 26th June 2014, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Tyler of Enfield led a short debate to ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have plans to improve how local services respond to women with multiple and complex needs including homelessness, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse and physical and mental health problems. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Alan Smith, spoke in the debate. He focused his speech on three areas – the need for mutli-agency coordination in light of financial constraints, the need for a greater availability of affordable housing and the vital role of key workers to support those with multiple and complex needs. He also highlighted the issue of domestic violence and called for greater efforts to be made in improving rates of prosecution.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, for keeping this vitally important area high on the agenda. I confess that I was slightly reticent in putting my name down to speak today because it is not an area in which I am an expert. However, I find myself regularly bumping into people who are involved in it and come across it as a matter of real concern for us. Certainly we are discussing a complex subject which affects women in many different ways and impacts on a wide range of agencies—police, health professionals, probation services and statutory and voluntary groups which are working in homelessness, substance use and abuse, human trafficking and so on. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans calls for multi-agency co-ordination for effective response to challenges faced by vulnerable women”
On the 25th June 2014 the Lord Bishop of St Albans received three written answers, on apprenticeship data and on the events in Evin Prison, Iran.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether their commitment to making better apprenticeship data available will involve publishing the retention rate of apprentices as employees by company and by occupational sector. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks questions on Apprentices and Iran”
On 24th June 2014, Lord Storey led a short debate in the House of Lords, to ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they will take to ensure that all schools, sports clubs and public service buildings have defibrillators as part of their first-aid kit provision.The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith spoken during the debate, and expressed his desire to see a greater number of defibrillators in public spaces including churches and church halls. The Bishop commended the work of charities such as the British Heart Foundation and the Community Heartbeat trust as well as the efforts of the community first responders.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Storey, for raising this important issue and for keeping it to the forefront. When I was training to be ordained, I became used to some people going off for a little doze while I was preaching. What I did not know was that, during my very first sermon, somebody—a very nice lady—would have a heart attack. Fortunately, she did not die and I got to know her and her family very well during her convalescence. I saw something of the impact of such events on families; indeed, my sympathy goes out to those who know something of this in their own family.
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans speaks in support of greater availability of defibrillators in public spaces”
On 24th June 2014, Baroness Quin asked Her Majesty’s Government when they expect to publish their interim review on the under-occupancy charge.The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the Ipsos MORI report, undertaken by the National Housing Federation in February this year looked at 183 housing associations. It found that two-thirds of tenants affected by the underoccupancy charge were in rent arrears and 38% indicated that they were in debt. That is the equivalent of 72,000 tenants in housing associations in debt in England alone, which seems to be allied in some way to the underoccupancy charge. What assessment have Her Majesty’s Government made of the impact on housing associations of rent arrears because of the underoccupancy charge?
Lord Freud: We have a general look at the level of arrears through the Homes and Communities Agency, whose statistics show that arrears have fallen—not risen—for the past two quarters in a row. The average rent collection rate for associations remains at 99%, a very high figure, which is very much at variance with some of the stories that we hear and the data that the right reverend Prelate referred to.
On 24th June 2014, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, recieved an answer to a written question on off-grid energy supply.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress was made towards improving the security and affordability of off-grid fuel supply at the third ministerial roundtable meeting on heating oil and liquid petroleum gas supply on 21 May.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): My Rt. Hon. Friend the Minister of State for Energy chaired the third Ministerial Roundtable meeting on heating oil and LPG supply on 21 May. My rt. hon Friend the Minister of State for Climate Change joined the roundtable discussion on off gas grid fuel poor households and support for off gas grid consumers. This continued the useful discussions government has had at the previous two Roundtables with representatives from industry, consumer groups, oil buying groups and others on how to improve heating oil and LPG supply to UK consumers.
Issues covered at the third roundtable included the promotion of the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers’ Customer Charter, the messaging to consumers on buying oil early ahead of the winter and an update on the action government is taking more broadly to help fuel poor off-grid households. Full details of the meeting can be found in the minutes of the meeting which has been placed in the Library of the House.
On 18th June 2014 Lord Roberts of Llandudno asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the report Cedars: two years on by Barnardo’s; and what plans they have to implement the recommendations made in that report.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Rev Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the Chief Inspector of Prisons has written a subsequent report on Cedars. It describes a worrying incident where an arrest team arrived in full protective clothing and spent three minutes battering down the door of a house; there was no awareness of whether there was a child or children in the house, which could have been deeply traumatic for those young people. Does the noble Baroness agree that we need to have a full review of arrest procedures to try to prevent such situations?
Baroness Williams of Trafford: I thank the right noble Prelate for his question. I am sorry—I was so focused on the answer that I forgot the right reverend Prelate’s title. I think that there are lessons learnt from situations like that, and I know that refresher training is going on. I hope that, again, the specialist teams will provide that more consistent journey and that the lessons learnt will enable a better arrest and removal procedure in future.
On 17th June 2014, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, received an answer to a written question on climate change.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made in securing a deal on the European Union’s 2030 climate change reduction package, in advance of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): The European Council in March 2014 discussed the 2030 climate and energy framework and agreed to make a final decision on the Framework no later than October this year.
The UK believes that the EU should urgently adopt a domestic emissions reduction target for 2030 of at least 40% on 1990 levels, moving to 50% in the context of an ambitious global climate agreement.
I am determined to continue working closely and intensively with all my colleagues in Europe to ensure that the EU is in a position to play a leading role at the Ban Ki-Moon Climate Summit in September.