The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answers on 25th May 2022:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked Her Majesty’s Government, further to the report by the National Farmers Union Growing our agri-food exports to 2030 and beyond, published on 27 April, what plans they have to match Agricultural and Horticulture Development Board levy contribution funding to help grow British agricultural exports.
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about agricultural exports”
The Bishop of St Albans spoke in a debate on the Working Practices – International Agreements Committee Report on 19th May 2022:
My Lords, I declare my interest as president of the Rural Coalition. Although I am not a member of this committee, I am very grateful for this report and enjoyed reading it, including its stress on the role of Parliament, not just in approving what has been decided but in the issues we are discussing now.
I found the previous speech very helpful. Why is there such reluctance to allow Parliament—both its Houses—to engage at a much earlier stage? This House is renowned for its extraordinary levels of experience, both in international diplomacy and negotiation and in the actual substance of many of the areas in which we are trying to get treaties and memoranda of understanding. Surely all it will do in the long run, if we can simply go ahead and give Parliament time, is to allow that experience to come out and be brought together. This is precisely what we should be doing.
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans speaks in a debate on international agreements”
On 7th December the House of Lords considered the Government’s Trade Bill at its Report Stage. The Bishop of St Albans sponsored and spoke in support of amendment 6 from Lord Purvis of Tweed on parliamentary approval of future trade deals:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans [V] :
My Lords, I support Amendment 6 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Purvis of Tweed, and the revision he has made as he has engaged with the Government. I am grateful for his very clear exposition and will be concise in my support.
Modern trade agreements affect huge swathes of public policy, including consumer and workers’ rights, environmental legislation, food standards, health, public services and international development. MPs, who represent constituencies and work with a variety of stakeholders, deserve the right to assess the consequences of an agreement, as does your Lordships’ House.
Continue reading “Trade Bill: Bishop of St Albans support amendments to give parliament approval of trade deals”
On 17th November Lord Wallace of Saltaire asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the comments by the Prime Minister of Canada on 11 November about the United Kingdom’s prospects of a trade deal with Canada.” The Bishop of Salisbury asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: My Lords, early this morning, I had breakfast on Zoom, hosted by my colleague the Bishop of Sherborne, along with people from the Dorset churches and community. A farmer and local businessman said that his greatest fear for the future was uncertainty. How will this uncertainty be ended so that he will not be left just watching this space but will know what opportunities there are? How will the House assess these both in relation to the economy and to the environment? Continue reading “Bishop of Salisbury asks when trade deal uncertainty will end”
On 9th November 2020 the House of Lords debated and voted on the Government’s UK Internal Market Bill during its Committee stage. A cross-party group of Peers had tabled motions that all the clauses of Part 5 of the Bill, which covered Northern Ireland, international law, and executive powers, should not remain in the Bill. These successfully passed by large majorities across two votes. The Bishop of Leeds acted as a sponsor of two of those motions, and spoke in the debate on whether the clauses of Part 5 should ‘stand part’ of the Bill:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds [V]: My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the speech by the noble Baroness, Lady Suttie. I endorse completely the points made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, at the outset of this debate. I hope the Government will listen carefully to the advice from the noble Lord, Lord Empey, on the alternatives to what is before us. This is not an either/or situation.
I have read every word of the Second Reading and Committee debates and the reports—especially from the Constitution Committee. I have even reread Tom Bingham’s book on the rule of law. I ask myself whether I am missing something, but I still come back to the point of principle. I accept the Government’s intention in this Bill, but not the means. Continue reading “UK Internal Market Bill: Bishop of Leeds supports removal of clauses on Northern Ireland and international law”
On 19th and 20th October the House of Lords considered the Government’s UK Internal Market Bill at its Second Reading. The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke in the debate, repeating the concerns he and his fellow UK Anglican Primates had raised about the rule of law, devolution and the Northern Ireland peace process, in an open letter published that day by the Financial Times:
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I look forward to hearing, here and online, the contributions to come, especially the maiden speeches of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman of Ullock, and the noble Lord, Lord Sarfraz.
I also concur totally with the powerful and remarkable speech by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge. What we are called to do above all in this country, deeply embedded in our Christian culture and history, is to act justly and honestly. We cannot do so if we openly speak of breaking a treaty under international law, reached properly, on which peace in part of the UK relies. My distinguished former colleague Sentamu, who paid with beatings for his defence of law and justice in Uganda would have spoken trenchantly. I regret his absence.
There are some who claim that I and my colleagues who wrote in the FT this morning are misinformed. But the letter—and this intervention—followed the lead of those who have spent their lives seeking peace in Ireland. Peace is surely something of which religious leaders should speak. We also listened to the Select Committee on the Constitution, to all five living former Prime Ministers, two former Conservative leaders, and distinguished judges, including former Presidents of the Supreme Court and the former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, to name but a few. Continue reading “UK Internal Market Bill: Archbishop warns of consequences for Northern Ireland peace and UK reputation if international law is broken”
On 12th October 2020 Lord Leigh of Hurley asked the Government “what steps they are planning to take (1) to protect third party sellers from the dominance of Amazon, and (2) to ensure that Amazon does not benefit from passing on the costs of the Digital Services Tax to sellers.” The Bishop of Oxford asked a further question:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, the Minister will be aware that last week the United States Congress published a 449-page report, after reviewing millions of documents and taking testimony from hundreds of witnesses, including Amazon’s CEO. The report concluded that
“the totality of the evidence produced during this investigation demonstrates the pressing need for legislative action and reform.”
Does she agree with or dispute the findings of the report? How soon will the Government introduce their own draft reforms to stop these predatory and harmful treatments of third-party sellers and consumers? Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford calls on Government to publish reforms to prevent “predatory and harmful treatment” by Amazon of consumers and third-party sellers”
On 8th October 2020 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Trade Bill in committee. The Bishop of Blackburn spoke in support of amendments that would:
- require parliamentary approval of both negotiating objectives and of free trade agreements before the UK becomes a signatory to any agreements, to safeguard food, environmental, animal welfare and health standards.
- ensure trade agreements cannot be implemented, signed or ratified unless they are consistent with the provisions of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Bishops’ speeches are below and the full text of the amendments beneath.
The Lord Bishop of Blackburn: My Lords, having made my maiden speech a week or so ago at Second Reading of the Bill, I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, for proposing Amendment 35, to which I wish to speak, without, I have to say, the expertise of other contributors, but I shall speak in favour of the amendment on two counts, only simply, as I do not wish to repeat what has already has been said. Continue reading “Trade Bill: Bishop of Blackburn supports amendments on sustainable development goals, environmental, health and food standards”
On 1st October 2020 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Trade Bill in Committee. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in support of amendments to the Bill to ensure that future trade agreements are fully compliant with international environmental obligations, and meet standards on animal welfare and food safety.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans [V]: I plan to speak mainly on Amendment 12, but I also support Amendment 40 and, particularly, Amendment 69 in this group [texts below]. Leaving the European Union should not mean leaving our international obligations. Recognition of those conventions mentioned under Amendment 12 is, one would imagine, already accounted for in the existing trade agreements due to be transposed into UK law as a result of this Bill. However, without this amendment, these remain an expectation not an assurance.
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On 14th July Lord Haskel asked Her Majesty’s Government “whether clauses (1) protecting human rights, and (2) maintaining environmental standards, will be inserted in the trade agreements being negotiated as a result of the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union.” The Rt Revd David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham, asked a follow up question focusing on good working conditions.
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, just this week we have heard reports of poor working conditions and pay in factories in Leicester, but the UK is also heavily reliant on international supply chains. Will the Minister specify what steps the Government are taking to ensure that trade agreements insist that all UK imports are produced by workers with good conditions and dignified pay?
Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham asks Government about supply chains for all UK imports”