Bishop of St Albans asks about investment in women’s centres as an alternative to prison

On 8th February 2018 Lord Lee of Trafford asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the size of the prison population and conditions within prisons.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question about women in prison:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, research by the Ministry of Justice shows that women’s centres have a statistically significant effect on decreasing reoffending rates, are substantially cheaper than keeping women in custody and often allow families to stay together. Will the Minister use his department’s evidence to invest in women’s centres that treat women holistically as the best way forward for many women? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about investment in women’s centres as an alternative to prison”

Lords backs Bishop of St Albans’ bill on marriage registration

On 26th January 2018 the Registration of Marriage Bill [HL], a Private Member’s Bill by the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, was debated at Second Reading in the Lords. It received the backing of Government all other parties, and having passed Second Reading now proceeds to Committee. The speeches of the Bishop opening and closing the debate, and the Government Minister’s reply are reproduced in full below:

Second Reading

12.42 pm

Moved by

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: That the Bill be now read a second time.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the purpose of this Bill is to correct a clear and historic injustice. When a couple are married and that marriage is registered, there is currently provision only for a father’s name to be recorded. This is an archaic practice and unchanged since Victorian times, when children were seen as a father’s property and little consideration was given to a mother’s role in raising them. Continue reading “Lords backs Bishop of St Albans’ bill on marriage registration”

Bishop of Durham praises work of faith-based agencies in tackling domestic violence

On 27th November 2017 Baroness Donaghy asked Her Majesty’s Government “whether the proposed Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill will include measures to prevent violence against women and girls as well as criminal justice measures to deal with perpetrators.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, while recognising that faith communities have serious issues of domestic violence abuse within themselves, does the Minister also recognise that they contribute a great deal to tackling it through organisations such as the Mothers’ Union, Restored and Kahrmel Wellness, and that today, 16 days of global action begin to try to raise awareness of domestic violence and abuse? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham praises work of faith-based agencies in tackling domestic violence”

Bishop of St Albans supports Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Bill

On 10th March 2017 the House of Lords considered at Second Reading the Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Bill, a Private Member’s Bill that originated in the House of Commons, sponsored in the Lords by Baroness Gale. The Bishop of St Albans spoke in support of the Bill.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: We on these Benches also give our wholehearted support to the Bill. I have been following this issue for some while—indeed, I have participated in previous debate and tabled some Questions. I congratulate Dr Eilidh Whiteford in the other place and the noble Baroness, Lady Gale, on the hard work that they and others have done in getting the Bill so far, and the many agencies involved in getting it to us today, including IC Change. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans supports Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Bill”

Bishop of Derby speaks on importance of employment opportunities for women and girls in developing countries

On 26th January 2017 Lord Loomba led a short debate in the Lords, “to ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the report published by Oxfam on wealth disparity, what steps they are taking to ensure that women and girls in the developing world are equipped with the right employment skills.” The Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, spoke in the debate:

derby-19117The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Loomba, and congratulate him on the splendid work that his foundation does in targeting widows, who are some of the most vulnerable people. I also congratulate Oxfam on producing such a helpful report. Many noble Lords have spoken about the issues. I want to stress the fact that this is not just about inequality and discrimination; the report shows that they are both growing. That growth is the context in which we look at this debate. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby speaks on importance of employment opportunities for women and girls in developing countries”

Bishop of Gloucester on building strong local communities of shared values

On the 2nd December 2016 the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, spoke in the debate led by the Archbishop of Canterbury on shared  values and their role in shaping public policies. She highlighted the compassionate hospitality which this country has shown generations of refugees alongside the work she is undertaking in Gloucestershire to build community, standing ‘with’ rather than ‘othering’ people to promote human flourishing. 

gloucesterThe Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I thank my noble friend the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury on his foresight in tabling this debate on shared values. I also add my own congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord McInnes of Kilwinning, and the noble Baroness, Lady Bertin, on their poignant and insightful maiden speeches.

In the diocese of Gloucester, I have recently been talking to young people about body image and reflecting with them on how their true worth begins deep within, the place from which true values emerge and are lived. Last Saturday, I hosted a huge community party in Cheltenham to publicly launch our new vision for the diocese of Gloucester. The vision has emerged from conversations in local communities, urban and rural, involving about 6,000 people, churchgoers and otherwise, discussing what sort of church they want to see in their communities.The vision is one of human flourishing and transformation, emanating from those words of Jesus from the gospel of John:

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”.

That is a good starting place when it comes to talking about values. Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester on building strong local communities of shared values”

Bishop of Derby highlights importance of local grassroots work in combating FGM

On 9th June 2016 Lord Berkeley of Knighton led a short debate to ask Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they intend to take in the light of NHS statistics showing that in 2015 over 1,000 cases of female genital mutilation were reported every three months and the lack of any successful prosecutions to date.” The Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, spoke in the debate, highlighting the historic and cultural influences behind the practice and the work taking place at a local and grassroots level to reduce instances of FGM and support the law. 

Derby 191115cThe Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, for introducing this vital debate and making the point that we need to keep this subject in the public domain to raise awareness and challenge people.

I want to offer some perspectives from my experience in Derby, where I operate as a bishop at grassroots level, to try to help understand why we are in this position and how we might best tackle things. Your Lordships will know that FGM is a very ancient practice going back to at least the fifth century BC. It was mentioned by Herodotus, especially in Egypt and Ethiopia, all that time ago. I remind noble Lords that FGM was practised until the 1950s in western countries as part of dealing with what was then called “female deviancy”. Things such as hysteria, epilepsy and lesbianism were dealt with by this horrific practice as an enlightened medical approach to those conditions. We have to recognise that it is not only deeply embedded in ancient culture, but until quite recently in the west, we have been implicated in using this barbaric method for medical reasons. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby highlights importance of local grassroots work in combating FGM”