Welfare Reform Bill: Bishop of Durham supports amendments to rename Social Mobility Commission with ‘Life Chances’


On 25th January the House of Lords considered the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill at its Report Stage. The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler,spoke to amendments he had co-sponsored with Baroness Lister of Burtersett, to replace Social Mobility definitions with those of ‘Life Chances’. The amendments were not put to a division, but withdrawn after the debate. The Bishop’s speech and those of others are below.

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The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I support this amendment. Yesterday, I spent a delightful evening with a small number of academics after preaching at Evensong in an Oxford college—Worcester College. It was a very pleasant evening. However, as I sat there, I kept coming back in my mind to today’s debate because I was reminded of the extraordinary privilege of being in an Oxford college and the elite nature of it. This is not to criticise it or put it down; I had the privilege of studying in a private hall in Oxford when I trained for my ordination. However, I found myself thinking about the vast number of children and young people I meet in schools and colleges around the north-east, and have met in other parts of the country over the years, for whom such privilege is not their aim. Continue reading “Welfare Reform Bill: Bishop of Durham supports amendments to rename Social Mobility Commission with ‘Life Chances’”

Welfare Reform Bill: Bishop of Durham passes amendment to Bill on measurement of child poverty

On 25th January 2016, the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, led a debate on an amendment he had tabled to the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill. The amendment, at the Bill’s Report Stage, sought to ensure that Government would continue to use income as part of its measurement for child poverty.The amendment was supported by the Labour and Liberal Democrat frontbench and by a crossbench Peer. The Bishop put the amendment to a vote, which the House passed by 290 to 198. His speech and others from the debate are below.

14.06.10 Bishop of Durham 5 Continue reading “Welfare Reform Bill: Bishop of Durham passes amendment to Bill on measurement of child poverty”

Welfare Reform Bill: Bishop of St Albans supports amendment on Disability reporting

StAlbans171115On 25th January 2016, Baroness Campbell of Surbiton led a debate on an amendment she had tabled to the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill. The amendment, at the Bill’s Report Stage, would require Government to commit to statutory reporting of the disability employment gap. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in support of the amendment. It was withdrawn after the debate, following assurances by Government. The Bishop’s speech and extracts of those by the Minister and Baroness Campbell are below. 

Continue reading “Welfare Reform Bill: Bishop of St Albans supports amendment on Disability reporting”

Welfare Reform Bill: Bishop of Rochester backs amendment on supported housing

On 12th January 2016 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill in its fifth and final day of Committee. 

The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, co-sponsored an amendment to clause 22 of the Bill, concerned with exceptions. The amendment, which was withdrawn after the debate, sought to exclude supported housing from the proposed 12% cuts in social housing rents.


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The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, when I added my name to the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Best, I did so in the naive belief that we might be pushing at an open door. I still maintain that belief because I hope that the Minister will reassure us on some of these matters. I, too, cannot believe it was intentional that we would be threatening to undermine the housing provision for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. The two noble Lords who have just spoken have made many of the points which I would have made, and others have been made earlier this evening. Continue reading “Welfare Reform Bill: Bishop of Rochester backs amendment on supported housing”

Welfare Reform Bill: Bishop of Southwark supports amendment to exempt kinship carers from benefit cap reduction

Southwark 2On 21st December 2015 the Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, spoke in favour of amendment 90B during the fourth day of committee stage of the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill. This amendment sought to exempt kinship carers from the impact of the reduced benefit cap.


The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I rise to express my support for the intention behind the amendment in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, which makes both sound social and economic sense. If a child can be cared for within the family network, and that is not to be parents or step-parents, that is in most cases preferable for the emotional, physical and spiritual well-being of the child. Churches have watched and participated for centuries in the patterns of such relationships and know that while they can hide dangers, they provide in the main the best setting for the formation of life. Better that than the anxiety, grief and hardship that the imposition of benefit rules not designed for such scenarios imposes, and that a proportion of such children be an economic charge on local authorities and reap the emotional deficit that will all too often occur. Continue reading “Welfare Reform Bill: Bishop of Southwark supports amendment to exempt kinship carers from benefit cap reduction”

Welfare Reform and Work Bill: Bishop of Durham supports amendments on benefit cap and rate freezes

On 21st December 2015 the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in favour of six amendments to the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill, during the fourth day of its committee stage.

Durham171115The Bishop spoke to amendments 93 and 94, which would introduce considerations for the safeguarding of children and the welfare of the disabled into any statutory review of the benefit cap; to amendments 95, 100 and 102, which would block the proposed benefits freeze; and to amendment 101 (on behalf of the Bishop of St Albans), which would protect ESA Support Group claimants from the impact of the freeze to the basic ESA rate. Continue reading “Welfare Reform and Work Bill: Bishop of Durham supports amendments on benefit cap and rate freezes”

Welfare Reform Bill: Bishop of Durham supports amendments on reporting on apprenticeships

On 14th December 2015 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill in its third day of Committee. 

The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in support of amendments that would require the government to provide a more thorough reporting on the take-up of apprenticeships. The amendments were withdrawn after debate.


14.06.10 Bishop of Durham 5The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, in the north-east I get to see apprentices in the car industry, the subsea industry, traditional industries such as stonemasonry, farming, and all kinds of sectors in schools. It is brilliant to be able to see them face to face, to meet them and talk to them. There are brilliant apprenticeships and we need to grow them. Therefore, the 3 million target is fantastic, but I have to say that where the Bill refers to,

“information about the progress made in the reporting period towards the apprenticeships target”,

which is simply the figure of 3 million, that does not give the information about the types of apprenticeship that there are. Continue reading “Welfare Reform Bill: Bishop of Durham supports amendments on reporting on apprenticeships”

Welfare Reform Bill: Bishop of St Albans supports amendments on reporting of disability employment gap

On 14th December 2015 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill in its third day of Committee. 

The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith spoke in support of two amendments that would require the government to report annually on progress towards halving the disability employment gap. The amendments were withdrawn after the debate.


StAlbans171115The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I rise briefly to support Amendment 65 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Manzoor, and Amendment 67 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Campbell of Surbiton, which would legislate for a disability employment gap reporting obligation. Continue reading “Welfare Reform Bill: Bishop of St Albans supports amendments on reporting of disability employment gap”

Welfare Reform Bill – Bishop of Durham supports amendments about parents of young children

On 9th December 2015 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill in its second day of Committee. 

The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in support of a group of amendments to clause 15 of the Bill, concerned with work-related requirements and Universal credit. The amendments, which were withdrawn after the debate, sought to make the work-related requirements in legislation take into account particular circumstances of parents with young children or those with disabilities.


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The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I encourage the Minister to at least agree to go away and think very seriously about these amendments. The paramountcy of the welfare of the child, I am sure, we are all entirely agreed about. We know that the first two years of life are absolutely crucial to long-term life chances. The next two years matter as much again. So how we behave towards children in the first four or five years of life, before they go to school, is the most significant factor in their long-term life chances.

Continue reading “Welfare Reform Bill – Bishop of Durham supports amendments about parents of young children”

Welfare Reform Bill – Bishop of Durham supports amendments on children’s life chances

On 9th December 2015 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill in its second day of Committee. 

The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in support of a group of amendments to clauses 4 and 5 of the Bill, concerned with Government reporting on the life chances of children. The amendments sought to require the Government to lay before Parliament a report setting out the measures it proposes to take to improve children’s life chances, and to rename the proposed Social Mobility Commission the ‘Life Chances Commission’. The amendments were withdrawn after the debate.

Bp Durham June 2015 bThe Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I rise to speak first to Amendment 31. Given the serious enthusiasm that the Government have for introducing “life chances” as a title and theme, it would make complete sense for the Government to want to report on improvement in children’s life chances in the future. So I commend this as being entirely in line with the purpose of the whole Bill—it would make sense to report. Continue reading “Welfare Reform Bill – Bishop of Durham supports amendments on children’s life chances”

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