On 17th December 2014 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Rev Alan Smith, received a written answer to a question on violence against women:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to improve the standardisation of comprehensive and analysable data on violence against women.[HL3284] Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about data on violence against women”
On 6th November 2014, the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, took part in a debate in the House of Lords on women facing homelessness, domestic violence and social exclusion, led by Labour Peer Baroness King of Bow. The Bishop focused his remarks on tackling domestic violence, highlighting the need for closer co-ordination between faith groups and local and national government, increasing the availability and quality of training for key institutions such as the police, and asked the Minister to update the House on progress made on the Government’s violence against women strategy and its obligations under international treaties.
The Lord Bishop of Leicester: My Lords, as this debate progresses the seriousness and critical nature of this subject is dawning on all of us. I share with other noble Lords a gratitude to the noble Baroness, Lady King, for bringing it to our attention with such eloquence and passion. We all look forward to the maiden speeches of the noble Baroness, Lady Rebuck, and the noble Lord, Lord Farmer, this morning.
Although there are profound links between the three subjects before us, I intend to concentrate on the issue of women facing domestic violence. I do so with considerable caution, even trepidation, because of the horrific stories that have already been brought to our attention, but also as a man who represents a hierarchical position in a patriarchal ecclesiastical institution. Nevertheless, I dare to speak, for three reasons. First, because of the extremely disturbing statistics which others have referred to: an estimated 7% of all women experience domestic violence, according to the 2011-12 figures, equivalent to some 1.2 million victims. There were 88,000 domestic violence cases referred to the Crown Prosecution Service that year, of which more than 64% reached a decision to charge, leading to more than 52,000 convictions. Even more disturbing are the 2013 figures, which indicate that on average 155 women and 103 children were turned away from refuges every day, at the most dangerous and vulnerable moment for them. They were then, of course, faced with returning to an abusive partner. Continue reading “Bishop of Leicester calls for closer co-ordination between faith groups and Government to tackle domestic abuse”
“It is vital that councils and the NHS maintain a basic level of support, not least because a lot of money going into this area is matched by funding from companies, charities and churches. We cannot solve the problem with just the voluntary sector being expected to pick up these extraordinarily complex problems” – Bishop of St Albans, 26.6.14
On 26th June 2014, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Tyler of Enfield led a short debate to ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have plans to improve how local services respond to women with multiple and complex needs including homelessness, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse and physical and mental health problems. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Alan Smith, spoke in the debate. He focused his speech on three areas – the need for mutli-agency coordination in light of financial constraints, the need for a greater availability of affordable housing and the vital role of key workers to support those with multiple and complex needs. He also highlighted the issue of domestic violence and called for greater efforts to be made in improving rates of prosecution.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Tyler, for keeping this vitally important area high on the agenda. I confess that I was slightly reticent in putting my name down to speak today because it is not an area in which I am an expert. However, I find myself regularly bumping into people who are involved in it and come across it as a matter of real concern for us. Certainly we are discussing a complex subject which affects women in many different ways and impacts on a wide range of agencies—police, health professionals, probation services and statutory and voluntary groups which are working in homelessness, substance use and abuse, human trafficking and so on. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans calls for multi-agency co-ordination for effective response to challenges faced by vulnerable women”
“It is undoubtedly the case that the female prison population disproportionately includes those who face huge challenges in their lives. It is also clear that prison is not the best place to address many of the issues that these people face” – Bishop of Rochester, 26.6.14
On 26th June 2014, the Bishop of Rochester and Bishop to HM Prisons, the Rt Revd James Langstaff, took part in Baroness Healy of Primrose Hill’s short debate on the measures being taken to reduce the number of women given custodial sentences. He focused his remarks on the role of community-based schemes to reduce rates of re-offending and called on the Government to look at how such projects can have a positive impact on the public purse, society and families affected by such sentences.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Healy, for initiating this debate. Your Lordships will be pleased to know that a number of the points that I was going to make have already been made, so I will resist the temptation to make them all over again. Indeed, many of your Lordships will have had the briefings from various organisations that give the statistics, and so forth. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester speaks in debate on reducing levels of custodial sentences for women”
On 25th June 2014, Labour Peer Baroness Thornton asked Her Majesty’s Government what measures they are taking to address any fall in wages of women in the United Kingdom. The Archbishop of York, the Most Revd and Rt Hon John Sentamu,asked a supplementary question:
The Archbishop of York: My Lords, the Living Wage Commission published its final report yesterday. It makes it clear that people in the care industry are paid very poorly—and the majority happen to be women. Will the Government take a reality check and recognise that people in the care professions are paid poorly? Will they make sure that, in terms of procurement, local authorities encourage those in the care profession to pay at least the living wage, which we wanted to be voluntary and not compulsory? If that does not happen, concern about women being paid poorly will continue. It is a stain on the conscience of this country that people work hard and are still in poverty.
Baroness Northover: I read the report of the most reverend Primate’s commission with enormous interest. I note that he has just said that he is looking for a voluntary approach rather than regulation, but he challenges responsible employers to pay a fair wage. He is right to identify the difference in pay between men and women.
In Westminster Hall on Thursday 20th March 2014, Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP led a short debate on the role and contribution of women to the ordained ministry of the Church of England. The debate celebrated the 20th anniversary of the ordination of the first women as priests in the CofE and looked ahead, both to the ongoing process to legislate for female bishops, as well as enabling them to sit in the House of Lords without delay. Sir Tony Baldry MP responded in his capacity as Second Church Estates Commissioner, and contributions were made by Rt Hon Ben Bradshaw MP, Sir Peter Bottomley MP and Helen Goodman MP. The Equalities Minister Helen Grant MP was also present to hear the speeches.
A full transcript is reproduced here and a recording of the debate can also be watched on the UK Parliament website here. Continue reading “MPs Celebrate Contribution of Women to the Ordained Ministry of the Church of England”
The Bishop of Chester spoke during the International Women’s Day debate on the contribution of women in the economic life of the United Kingdom and worldwide. He updated the House on the progress being made by the Church of England to allow the consecration of women as bishops, and used the example of this process to examine the challenges faced by many women in the economy to be accepted in their own right. He also spoke of the role of women in the wider life of the church.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, the noble Baroness could well have said, “Bishops’ Benches: 26 men, no women”, but I am glad that she did not, although I am sure that others will. I rise with an appropriate hesitancy as the first male speaker in a debate in which only 22% of the speakers will be men. The majority of those listening are also women, which is a pity. However, I look forward to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Palumbo, whom I can only describe as a fellow Daniel in the lion’s den on this occasion.
Indeed, those who inhabit these Benches might be seen as somewhat handicapped in advocating the fuller involvement of women in the wider life of our society. As we are regularly reminded, ours are the only Benches from which women are currently excluded. I hope that I can say something today about that and about the wider significance of the struggles of the church over the full involvement of women in its life. Continue reading “Women in the Church: Bishop of Chester’s speech in Lords debate on International Women’s Day”