The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, I am grateful for the Minister’s Statement. As we all know, attention has rightly focused on the Somerset Levels and the terrible plight that people are enduring there, but when I left Worcester this morning the city was gridlocked as a result of the closure of the main bridge across the river and the situation remains acute. I do not want to apportion blame; I want to pay tribute to those who are working very hard and to the understanding and graciousness of the inhabitants of Worcester. However, it is true that the implications of this will be enormous, economically and from a human point of view. Can the Minister confirm that a coherent policy will be forthcoming for all the affected areas, not just those most terribly affected?
Lord De Mauley: The right reverend Prelate is absolutely right—I can confirm that. We have finite resources and must apportion them in a proper way, in accordance with priorities, and the priorities must be human life and property. While I am at the Dispatch Box, can I say that, although I have not given them credit, I know that the churches in Somerset in particular are playing a major part in helping people affected by this dreadful tragedy?
The Lord Bishop of Worcester asked Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to include a robust gender mainstreaming goal in the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals.
Baroness Northover: The UK has been clear in its advocacy for a standalone post-2015 goal on gender equality and girls’ and women’s empowerment as well as ensuring that these issues are mainstreamed in the goals and targets in the framework to be agreed by the United Nations.
We are working with others across the international community, including civil society, to ensure that this is achieved.
“I would describe myself as a pro-Palestinian Zionist, wholeheartedly committed to the right of Israel to exist securely, and equally committed to the right of the Palestinian people to a viable state in which they can flourish. Reaching that is crucial to a wider Middle East peace settlement.” – The Bishop of Worcester
On 2nd December 2013, the Bishop of Worcester received answers to three written questions related to the situation in the West Bank.
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to address impediments to the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the West Bank such as the confiscation of humanitarian aid and the prevention of access to communities in need of emergency assistance.
Baroness Northover: We are concerned at reports that the Israeli military authorities have blocked the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Palestinian communities in Area C of the West Bank. Where humanitarian aid is needed, Israel is obliged under international humanitarian law to facilitate the work of humanitarian relief schemes. Our Embassy in Tel Aviv has raised this issue with the Israeli National Security Adviser and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
On 24th October 2013, the Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd John Inge, received answers to three written questions regarding Israeli settlement-based entities, activities and products.
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they intend to take to implement the new European Commission guidelines of July 2013 on the funding of Israeli settlement-based entities and activities.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The EU guidelines on the eligibility of Israeli entities and their activities in the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967 for grants, prizes and financial instruments, were prepared to implement the commitment made by EU Foreign Ministers in December 2012 to make a distinction in relevant EU programmes and agreements between the State of Israel and Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories. The guidelines themselves apply to EU, rather than individual Member State programmes, and will be implemented by the European Commission. The guidelines are due to be implemented in January 2014.