On 11th November Lord Bruce of Bennachie asked the Government “further to the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, what assessment they have made of (1) their foreign aid, and (2) their development spending, commitments.” The Bishop of Winchester asked a further question:
The Lord Bishop of Winchester [V]: My Lords, protecting freedom of religion or belief remains a pertinent issue in the developing world when more than 80% of the world’s population identify with a religion or belief system. My diocese has historic links with the Church of the Province of Myanmar, and during the pandemic many of its clergy have been providing volunteer support in understaffed hospitals. Can the Minister assure the House that, despite the almost £3 billion cut in the UK’s foreign aid budget, Her Majesty’s Government will continue to prioritise international freedom of religion and belief and recognise the contribution of religious groups in the development and support of their communities, particularly in times of crisis? Continue reading “Bishop of Winchester asks Government to continue to prioritise freedom of religion and belief overseas”
On 4th November 2020 the House of Lords debated the Government’s Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (England) (No. 4) Regulations 2020. The Regulations introduce a second coronavirus lockdown in England, including the susp0ension of public worship. The Bishop of Winchester responded:
The Lord Bishop of Winchester [V]: My Lords, I am grateful to Her Majesty’s Government for seeking to ensure that the appropriate measures are in place to protect the most vulnerable and restrict the spread of this virus. It is important that we do not prolong such stringent lockdown measures because of the way that they impact on the mental, physical and, indeed, spiritual well-being of the population. However, I will not be supporting the fatal Motion. I recognise the exceptional nature of these times, and welcome that the regulations will enable places of worship to remain open for private prayer and broadcasting acts of worship. Creating such broadcast acts of worship often requires a team of people, both amateurs and professionals. I would welcome more clarity from the Minister on the number of people allowed to do this.
Clergy across the country have worked hard to ensure that our church buildings are Covid-secure for public worship, education settings, food banks and other essential services. In most places, by distancing and limiting congregation sizes, communal worship can safely take place without the need for an outright ban.
On 3rd November 2020 the House of Lords heard the repeat of a statement made by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, announcing a second lockdown in England to tackle coronavirus. The Bishop of Winchester responded to the news that public worship would not be allowed to continue during the lockdown period:
The Lord Bishop of Winchester [V]: My Lords, the situation facing the country is gravely concerning and we all have a collective responsibility to avoid over- whelming the NHS with the spread of the virus. Churches and faith communities continue to play a crucial role in supporting their local communities. The social and economic support of churches has been estimated at more than £12 billion a year. In my diocese, many churches have offered emergency food and essential supplies to those in desperate need as part of the love your neighbour initiative. It is pleasing, therefore, that the Government have recognised the significance of this contribution by permitting places of worship to continue to offer such essential services during lockdown. I also welcome the provision for private prayer, broadcast and the continuation of funerals.
However the most reverend Primates the Archbishops and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London said in their letter to clergy this weekend:
“The sacramental life of the church cannot be seen as an optional extra.”
On 3rd November 2020 Lord Haskel asked the Government “what steps they are taking (1) to rationalise the number of, and (2) to set standards for, qualifications to ensure that such qualifications are of value to (a) individuals, and (b) employers.” The Bishop of Winchester asked a further question:
The Lord Bishop of Winchester [V]: My Lords, a recent survey of apprenticeship employers published by the Department for Education indicates that employers see higher apprenticeships as better value for money than lower level 2 and 3 apprenticeships, so they are utilising levy funds to upskill existing staff, rather than to train new recruits. Can the Minister confirm what plans Her Majesty’s Government have to prevent further decline in level 2 apprenticeships to ensure that these apprenticeship pathways are available to new recruits across the country? Continue reading “Bishop of Winchester asks whether employers are using apprenticeship funding for new recruits”
On 2nd November 2020 Lord Harries of Pentregarth asked the Government “what steps they are taking in their discussions relating to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting 2.0 Project to prioritise a fairer settlement for those less economically developed countries who lose income as a result of tax avoidance by multinational corporations”. The Bishop of Winchester asked a question:
The Lord Bishop of Winchester [V]: My Lords, I underline what the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, has brought into focus. The loss of corporate tax—about 3% from high-income economies compared with 9% for low-income ones—further exacerbates the impact of coronavirus on trade and tourism. For example, sub-Saharan Africa currently faces its first recession in 25 years, with up to 14 million people driven into extreme poverty. Can the Minister assure the House that Her Majesty’s Government will urgently offer the OECD technical support in the form of revenue analysis along with support for legislative and policy measures so that countries that wish to implement unilateral tax reforms will have the wherewithal and advice to do so in the best way?
On 21st July Baroness Massey of Darwen asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they are taking to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on social mobility”. The Rt Revd Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester, asked a follow up question focusing on free meals for college students.
The Lord Bishop of Winchester: My Lords, the Association of Colleges’ summer survey, published yesterday, indicates that three out of four colleges require additional resources to provide free college meal vouchers to eligible students over the summer. In my diocese, 52% of students at City College Southampton receive free college meals. We welcome the £96 million of ring-fenced funding announced yesterday for all 16 to 19 providers to supply additional catch-up tutoring. Will the Minister say how the Government will support colleges to ensure that all eligible students receive free college meals over the summer?
On 30th June Baroness Randerson asked Her Majesty’s Government “what support they are providing to universities to assist them in dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic”. The Rt Revd Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester, asked a follow up question focusing on students preparing to enter into key public service roles.
The Lord Bishop of Winchester: My Lords, universities make a significant contribution to their local communities and economies, particularly smaller institutions that attract a larger proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. These make a significant contribution to their local context, particularly in this pandemic. In particular, several Cathedrals Group universities during the 2018-19 academic year had 20% undergraduate students from low-participation—POLAR4—backgrounds. How will the Government work with higher education institutions to maintain the widening of access and retention of students, especially those preparing for key public service roles that have been so important during this pandemic crisis?
On 18th June 2020 Lord Clark of Windermere asked the Government “what plans they have to facilitate the recruitment of nurses onto degree courses beginning in September 2020.” The Bishop of Winchester, Rt Revd Tim Dakin, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Winchester: My Lords, support for key public service staff and maintaining quality training for those professions will be strategic in the successful rebuilding of our post-Covid society. In the Royal College of Nursing 2019 employment survey, 37% of qualified nurses said that they were seeking a new job outside the profession. Does the Minister agree that the retention of qualified nurses, midwifery and allied health professional staff is just as important as the recruitment of trainees? Will he therefore say more about how the Government will review the support packages available to both students and new post-qualification nurses and allied health professionals, in order that more of those newly qualified are encouraged to remain in the profession? Continue reading “Bishop of Winchester asks Government about retention of nurses”