Week in Westminster, 15th-19th June 2020

Parliament met this week, in Westminster and online.

The Bishops of Durham and Peterborough began each sitting day in the Lords with prayers. They also asked Government about, respectively, the situation of children in families with no recourse to public funds, and for Government commitments to overseas aid in light of the merger of Government departments.

Eight bishops opposed Government Regulations on abortion in Northern Ireland in a vote in the Lords to approve them. The Bishop of Carlisle set out his concerns about the implications for abortion on grounds of disability.

The Bishop of St Albans asked Government whether they would implement the findings of past reviews into racism and discrimination following recent public protests. He also asked about freedom of religion in China, and about future social housing provision.

The Bishop of Gloucester received answers to questions on COVID-19 in prisons, cell sharing, shielding and deaths. The Bishop of Rochester also asked about coronavirus in prisons, and about the role of smaller charities in providing probation services.

The Bishop of Salisbury asked Government about emissions reduction targets, and the Bishop of Winchester asked about the retention of nurses in the NHS. Continue reading “Week in Westminster, 15th-19th June 2020”

Week in Westminster, 8-12 June 2020

Parliament met this week, in Westminster and online.

The Bishop of Derby began each sitting day in the Lords with prayers, spoke in a debate on the  COVID-19 recovery strategy and asked Government about protecting children from online harms.

The Bishop of Oxford also spoke in the debate on the COVID-19 recovery strategy, on the need for digital access for all.

The Bishop of Worcester asked Government whether G20 countries would write off the debts owed by the world’s poorest countries.

The Bishop of St Albans spoke in a debate on the Government’s Agriculture Bill, and asked questions on child poverty, and business rates for small high street shops.

The Bishop of Carlisle asked Government when routine health checks for the over-75s would resume, the Bishop of Gloucester asked about COVID-19 levels in immigration removal centres, and the Bishop of Rochester asked about the same in prisons.

In the House of Commons the Second Church Estates Commissioner answered a written question on plans for reopening of church buildings for individual prayer.

Continue reading “Week in Westminster, 8-12 June 2020”

Week in Westminster, 1-5 June 2020

Parliament met this week, in Westminster and online.

The Bishop of Chelmsford began each virtual sitting day in the Lords with prayers, spoke in a debate on the economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and asked Government about reducing poverty by raising universal credit payments.

The Bishop of St Albans spoke in a debate on protests in Hong Kong, asked Government about the links between mental health and gambling, and supported Regulations on direct payments to UK farmers. The Bishop of Winchester asked Government about the impact of COVID-19 on apprenticeship schemes.

During the preceding recess week, written answers had been given to questions from the Bishop of St Albans on free school meals, the Bishop of Salisbury on coal and renewable energy in India, the Bishop of Bristol on modern day slavery, and the Bishop of Durham on the two-child benefit limit. Continue reading “Week in Westminster, 1-5 June 2020”

Week in Westminster, 18th – 21st May 2020

Parliament met this week, in Westminster and online.

The Bishop of Portsmouth began each virtual sitting day in the Lords with prayers, and asked Government about coronavirus tests for the armed forces, the contact tracing app trials on the Isle of Wight, housing for the homeless, and setting up a Royal Commission on social care.

Throughout the week Lords Spiritual  raised the impact of COVID-19 across a range of policy areas: The Archbishop of Canterbury asked about partnership with faith groups in delivering support to refugee camps, the Bishops of London and Newcastle asked about mental health support for NHS workers, and the right to remain of NHS migrant workers.  The Bishop of Winchester asked about local discretion in reopening schools, and student courses . The Bishops of Durham and St Albans spoke in a debate about the international response.

In the House of Commons the Second Church Estates Commissioner Andrew Selous MP answered questions from MPs on the clergy discipline process, and the effects of coronavirus on access to worship, family life, funerals, schools, and hospital chaplaincy. He answered written questions from MPs on coronavirus and the reopening of churches, including for weddings, baptisms and funerals,

The Bishop of St Albans also asked Government about demolition of churches and arrest of Christians in China. Continue reading “Week in Westminster, 18th – 21st May 2020”

Week in Westminster, 11th-15th May 2020

Parliament met this week, in Westminster and online.

The Bishop of Durham began each virtual sitting day in the Lords with prayers, and also asked COVID-19 related questions of Ministers on rough sleepers, the job retention scheme in the north-east, the two-child benefit limit, school reopening plans and the rollout in schools of relationships education, and the need to include spiritual social and mental wellbeing in the Government’s response strategy. He also raised the situation of migrant children after Brexit.

Throughout the week Lords Spiritual  raised the impact of COVID-19 across a range of policy areas: The Bishop of St Albans called for more help for farmers and for rural transport. The Bishop of Gloucester asked about testing in prisons, and the Bishop of London asked about the effect on immigration detention and removals. The Bishop of Winchester asked about support packages for universities in the UK, and about food insecurity in Africa.

The Bishop of Leeds received answers  on suspending debt payments from poorer countries during the pandemic. The Bishop of Worcester received  answers on the UK’s contribution to the UN pandemic response plan, the WHO and African Union, and the impact of coronavirus on both press freedoms abroad and UK military operations. The Bishop of Coventry received answers  on the impact of COVID-19 on religious minorities overseas including Saudi Arabia, on food aid, and the situation of Baha’i prisoners in Yemen.

The Bishop of Southwark also received answers to written questions on Israel and West Bank settlements.

Continue reading “Week in Westminster, 11th-15th May 2020”

Week in Westminster, 27 April-1 May 2020

Parliament met this week, in Westminster and online. 

The Bishop of St Albans began each virtual sitting day in the Lords with prayers, and also asked questions of Ministers on the pressures facing charities because of the coronavirus. He also raised the situation of dairy farmers, and the humanitarian needs of people already vulnerable in Syria.

The Bishop of Durham called on Government to suspend the benefit cap and two-child limit, which he said was contributing to a rise in child poverty during the Covid-19 restrictions. He also received an answer to a written question on the impact on early years childcare provision. The Bishop of Gloucester asked a question about support for vulnerable children during lockdown. Continue reading “Week in Westminster, 27 April-1 May 2020”

Week in Westminster, 20-24 April 2020

Parliament returned from Easter recess this week in physical and virtual forms, with much of procedure moving online in response to the social distancing requirements caused by the coronavirus pandemic.  Both Houses also sat for a reduced period, of three days in the week.

The Bishop of Newcastle began the first virtual meeting of the House of Lords with prayers, and asked questions of Ministers on provision of protective equipment in sheltered housing and hospices, and on regional successes in the north-east to produce PPE for local NHS use.

The Bishop of Gloucester also spoke in a Lords debate held online about prisons and coronavirus.

During the Easter recess written answers had been published to questions from the Bishop of London on Covid-19 health support to those in immigration removal centres, the Bishop of Durham on the immigration health surcharge, and visa requirements for religious workers, and the Bishop of St Albans on domestic food production and reviewing the 2005 Gambling Act.

Continue reading “Week in Westminster, 20-24 April 2020”

Week in Westminster, 23rd-26th March 2020

This week in Parliament the Bishop of Rochester and the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous, spoke during debates on the Government’s Coronavirus Bill. The Government accepted an amendment to the Bill to enable General Synod elections to be postponed.

The Bishop of Rochester also asked a question about Government discussions with charities on the coronavirus response.

Government ministers answered written questions on Falun Gong in China, visas for ministers of religion, and nutrition, from respectively the Bishops of Carlisle, Southwark and St Albans.

Andrew Selous MP, answered written questions from MPs on cashless giving to churches, and maintenance of graveyards.

Parliament rose for the Easter recess, to return on April 21st. Continue reading “Week in Westminster, 23rd-26th March 2020”

Week in Westminster, 16th-20th March 2020

This week in Parliament the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke in response to Government statements on the coronavirus pandemic, the Budget and the Windrush Lessons Learned Review. He also asked  about plans to build communities and affordable housing.

The Bishop of Rochester spoke in a debate on the Chancellor’s Budget statement, and the Bishop of Carlisle supported two amendments to the Government’s Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill.

The Bishop of St Albans asked a question on the humanitarian situation in Yemen and received written answers to questions on a review of the Gambling Act, and rural connectivity. The Bishop of Winchester received a written answer to a question about further education college mergers, and the Bishop of Salisbury received a written answer to a question on climate change and migration.

In the House of Commons the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered questions  on church closures, coronavirus, persecution of Christians, and marriage support.

He also answered seven written questions from Jim Shannon MP, on carbon reduction, cashless donations, South Sudan, Uganda, lead theft and graveyard records, and a written question from Sir Desmond Swayne MP on marriages. Continue reading “Week in Westminster, 16th-20th March 2020”

Week in Westminster, 9th-13th March 2020

This week in Parliament the Bishop of Portsmouth called for a new national measurement of children’s wellbeing, backing a campaign by the Children’s Society. He also asked how the coronavirus outbreak might be managed on the prisons estate, and raised the problems faced by women and children when they leave the support of refuges.

The Bishop of Gloucester spoke in a debate on International Women’s Day, highlighting the issues of global education, violence against women and women’s treatment in the criminal justice system. She also asked Government how its Domestic Abuse Bill would meet the needs of children.

The Bishop of Bristol spoke in a debate on climate change, highlighting the commitment of the Church to net zero and the investment action being taken.

The Bishop of St Albans asked several questions about the findings of a new Gambling Commission report on participation and attitudes towards gambling. He also asked about gambling and bankruptcy, and gambling firms sponsoring football shirts.

The Bishop of Salisbury received written answers to questions on illegal waste exports.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered a question on Gypsy and Traveller sites and plans of the church to combat racism.

Continue reading “Week in Westminster, 9th-13th March 2020”