On 3rd May 2023, the House of Lords debated the Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill in committee. The Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich spoke in support of amendments to the bill tabled by Baroness Young of Old Scone which would require consultations to take place on developments affecting ancient woodlands:
The Lord Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich: My Lords, I too add my support for the amendment from the noble Baroness, Lady Young, and pay tribute to the work she has done in this area. I declare an interest as someone who grows trees and has contributed to the green canopy project in Suffolk. We managed to plant 1.3 million trees under that auspice, which was more than a third of the national total. We were completely committed through various networks of people to this and, indeed, to the preservation of ancient woodlands.
The Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich asked a question on the rationale behind increasing the number of gambling machines on 3rd May 2023, in response to the government’s proposals on gambling reform:
The Lord Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich: My Lords, I echo the concerns that have been expressed about advertising, particularly the susceptibility of youngsters to it, but I want to raise a different question. Can the Minister explain the rationale for increasing the number of gambling machines, which are already deeply unpopular with local authorities, require more policing due to the antisocial behaviour associated with them, and often, as was said by the previous speaker, are targeted at poorer areas?
On 3rd May 2023, the House of Lords debated the Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill in committee. The Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich spoke in support of amendments to the bill tabled by Lord Best and Lady Warwick, and supported by the Bishop of Chelmsford, relating to housing development and the infrastructure levy:
The Lord Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich: My Lords, I support Amendment 335 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Warwick, and Amendments 336 and 337 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Best, to which my colleague the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford has added her name as the Church of England’s lead bishop for housing. I am aware, as others have commented, that we are touching on matters that will arise again in the 10th group.
The Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich asked a question on training for installation of low carbon technology during a debate on the government’s net-zero strategy on 3rd May 2023:
The Lord Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich: My Lords, as I understand it, one of the barriers to installing new low-carbon technology is the shortage of skilled labour to carry out this work. Can the Minister tell us what plans there are to invest in and expand training and skills programmes for the installation of low-carbon technology such as heat pumps, EV chargers and solar panels?
On 18th April 2023, the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich spoke in support of amendments to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill regarding the importance of housing for older people:
The Lord Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich: I shall speak very briefly in support of the group of amendments, on none of which would I dare wish to claim to be an agnostic. I particularly support Amendment 207 proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Best, to which my colleague the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford has added her name. The amendment addresses the important role of local authorities to consider older groups’ housing needs when developing local plans. Together with Amendment 221 from the noble Lord, Lord Best, these changes to the Bill would deliver a more effective response to the shortfall in appropriate housing for older people at all levels of government.
On 18th April 2023, the House of Lords debated the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill in committee. The Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich spoke in support of amendments to the bill that would ensure planning decisions by local authorities and other conducive to reducing carbon emissions:
The Lord Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich: My Lords, I speak in general support of this group of amendments. I agree with those who have said that they are both crucial and urgent. Specifically, I speak in support of Amendment 309 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Teverson. I will take a leaf out of the book of the noble Baroness, Lady Young, in that, despite the points I will make having been made, I will barrel on regardless. I will not, necessarily, reflect on what my dying words might be.
The Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich spoke during a debate on a motion to approve new regulations on direct payments to farmers, highlighting the need for support for farmers to engage with Environmental Land Management Schemes:
The Lord Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich: My Lords, I shall follow the comments that we have just heard. I declare a new interest as the president-elect of the Suffolk Agricultural Association, where we see the issues that have just been described in the uplands similarly in small family farms in Suffolk.
By and large, the farmers that I speak to want to embrace the ELM scheme and many of them are doing so. What those who are embracing it are saying to me about those who are not yet doing so is that somehow the scheme needs to be made more attractive, the incentives need to be increased—particularly for the smaller family farmers—and the process simplified in some way so that they can gain access to the scheme. I understand that His Majesty’s Government are seeking to achieve 80% take-up of ELMS by 2030. I ask the Minister where we are with that at the moment and what he sees as the possibilities of accelerating and incentivising the take-up by those who, as we heard earlier, might need hand-holding in that process.
On 21st February 2023, the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich spoke in a debate on the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill, expressing concerns on workers rights and the broadness of the legislation proposed, and urging that the government reconsider the bill:
The Lord Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich: My Lords, I too look forward to the maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady O’Neill. There is only me standing in the way, so I will try to be brief.
At Second Reading in the other place, the Government said that the Bill’s purpose was
“to maintain a reasonable balance between the ability of workers to strike and the rights of the public, who work hard and expect the essential services that they pay for to be there when they need them.”—[Official Report, Commons, 16/1/23; col. 54.]
At first glance this might seem a straightforward aim. However, as noble Lords and those in the other place have already said, there is much more at stake here than initially meets the eye. I believe that the Bill in its current form creates more problems than those it perceives or seeks to solve.
There has been a terrible increase in industrial action in the past months. We all reflect on why this may be the case. There are serious and legitimate concerns held by those who decide to go on strike about their well-being, as well as the well-being of the services for which they work and that of wider society.
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