General Elections: Party-political Spending

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Excerpts
Wednesday 29th November 2023

(6 months, 4 weeks ago)

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Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My Lords, I believe that as a result of the debates on that Act the Government took forward a commitment to ensure information sharing between the police and other relevant authorities with a view to finding a way to improve that process. The sharing of information could improve the ability of relevant authorities to identify any individuals making or facilitating donations from foreign powers and sanction them. We have a commitment to report back to Parliament next year on that work.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB)
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In recent elections there has been concern on the part of non-political campaigning organisations about the limits on their expenditure. Have the Government reviewed what non-political campaigning groups are able to spend at election time?

Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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I believe that the rules regarding third-party campaigning organisations will also be uprated as part of this work.

Prime Minister: Meeting with First Ministers

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Excerpts
Wednesday 20th October 2021

(2 years, 8 months ago)

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Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Lord is obviously more expert than me on the specifics, but it is important that the state aid rules apply fairly and equally across all our four nations.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB)
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My Lords, given the somewhat frayed cords that hold the nations of the United Kingdom together, are the Ministers of the devolved Governments satisfied that they have a fair voice in drawing up the agenda of these meetings? Are the issues that they want to discuss being discussed?

Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh (Con)
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The noble and right reverend Lord should understand that there is a three-tiered form of engagement: there are portfolio-level meetings, cross-cutting issues and then the Prime Minister meeting with First Ministers and the Deputy First Minister. The sheer volume of meetings indicates that there are plenty of fora to ensure that we deal with the issues at the appropriate level of engagement, whether at the bottom tier or in meetings with the Prime Minister.

Rough Sleeping

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Excerpts
Tuesday 2nd March 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

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Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh (Con)
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My Lords, I thank my noble friend for showing the complexity that underpins rough sleeping. We know that 82% of rough sleepers have a mental health vulnerability; 83% have a physical health need; and 60% have substance misuse needs. We do not necessarily know the interrelationship between those problems. Getting rough sleepers vaccinated is very much part of the Protect Plus programme, which is backed by £10 million to support and urge local authorities to play their part in getting rough sleepers—whether on the streets or in emergency accommodation —vaccinated when it is their time in the queue. We also continue to work closely with NHS England and Public Health England to ensure that this vulnerable cohort of people gets vaccinated at the earliest opportunity.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB) [V]
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The Government are to be congratulated on the initiatives they have taken over rough sleeping during the Covid epidemic, and particularly for their success during the first lockdown. But the key question, of course, is whether there is the right policy, with adequate backing, to ensure that this is a permanent change. There were worrying signs before the pandemic that there were many more first-time rough sleepers; there was a report from Southwark recently, for example, that there are still new people coming on to the streets, with the number of applications from the homeless rising. As the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, emphasised, the problem is still there before our eyes. Of course, this has a great deal to do with the loss of jobs and the shortage of long-term accommodation, so how do the Government intend to ensure that during the difficult months ahead, we do not slip back into the old, pre-Covid situation?

Covid-19: “Everybody In” Scheme

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Excerpts
Monday 11th January 2021

(3 years, 5 months ago)

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Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh (Con)
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My Lords, I thank the front-line workers in those night shelters. It is important that we recognise that, in the current pandemic, they are putting themselves at risk. They need to be prioritised in the same way that we prioritise those working in the National Health Service and other care workers. There is a real commitment to getting people off the streets, into a Covid-secure and safe setting, and then to finding them the right accommodation. That is backed up by more cash than ever to ensure that we do, in time, end rough sleeping.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB) [V]
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The city of Manchester has been remarkably successful in rehousing rough sleepers. There were 356 long-term rough sleepers three years ago. Of those, 79% are now in housing and a percentage of them are receiving appropriate help for mental health and drug- or alcohol-related problems. What lessons can the Government learn from the policy of the city of Manchester to pass on to other local authorities?

Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh (Con)
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I am delighted that the noble and right reverend Lord raised the excellence of the city of Manchester. That is an example of fantastic local leadership—fantastic. Sir Richard Leese, a long-time leader of the city of Manchester, is a fantastic local leader. Sir Howard Bernstein is a fantastic chief executive. What the city of Manchester does today is what other local authorities should do tomorrow. That is the message of the city of Manchester.

Covid-19: Places of Worship

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Excerpts
Tuesday 3rd November 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

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Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh (Con)
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My Lords, my noble friend will be pleased to know that the members of the places of worship task force have made that precise point to the Prime Minister: that public worship is Covid-19 secure; that it is essential to sustain our service; that it is necessary for social cohesion and connectedness; that it is important for the mental health of our nation; and that it is an essential sign of hope. Those points have been well made, but we understand that there is a difficult balance to be made, as we also need to ensure that we battle to contain the virus, whose prevalence is increasing. However, those points have been made to the Prime Minister.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB) [V]
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Although it is true that churches are remaining open for private prayer, is it not important to recognise that the Christian faith is essentially a corporate activity? It is a gathering of the Lord’s people around the Lord’s table on the Lord’s day. Similarly, Islam is no less a communal religion. My experience has been exactly the same as that of the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths of Burry Port. The Anglican and Roman Catholic churches that I have experienced have been absolutely meticulous. I was glad to hear that the task force is examining the evidence. Will the Minister give an assurance that, as soon as some evidence is available about churches’ impact, or lack of impact, on Covid-19, he will be able to report to this House?

Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh (Con)
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My Lords, I am very happy to give that assurance. As soon as we have the specific evidence of the review by Public Health England, that will be made available to all.

Housing: Rent and Covid-19

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Excerpts
Thursday 8th October 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

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Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh (Con)
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My Lords, I assure my noble friend that there is no evidence yet of an eviction epidemic. We have established an unprecedented package of support, and the Chancellor has announced in the other place the Government’s winter economy plan to support people through the winter, and to support jobs, including the new job support scheme. We have increased local housing allowance rates to the 30th percentile, which will remain in place at least until the end of March 2021.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB) [V]
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My Lords, 300,000 people are now reported to be behind on their rent. As the Minister will know, debt because of rent is one of the major causes, if not the major cause, of anxiety, and it is very prevalent at this time. The Government are to be commended on the steps they have already taken, but in view of the seriousness of the present situation, and rising anxiety levels, will he consider a special coronavirus relief fund for private renters?

Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh (Con)
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My Lords, the Government are always receptive to creative ideas. We will continue to keep the position under review, and will consider such ideas if we need to.

Housing: Cladding

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Excerpts
Tuesday 22nd September 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

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Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh (Con)
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My Lords, there is no doubt that the costs of historic failure, with regard to the quality of construction, mean that the costs will exceed the £1 billion that we have committed—but we do not expect the entire burden to fall on the taxpayer. We should note that, from the first fund, a number of private building owners have moved to remediate that or used warranties to raise the funds, so it has not fallen on leaseholders. I would point out that there has been an unacceptable culture within the construction industry, built up over successive Governments, that this Government are trying to address.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB) [V]
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In September of last year, the housing Minister said that those owners who fail to remove unsafe Grenfell-style ACM cladding from their buildings would suffer the consequences. He said:

“There is no excuse for … delay.”—[Official Report, Commons, 5/9/19; col. 373.]


But there are still 246 tall buildings where such cladding remains. Can the Minister say what consequences those who fail to conform have suffered over this last year?

Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh (Con)
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My Lords, clearly the pace of remediation is our utmost concern, and that has meant that some costs, including those on interim measures, have fallen on leaseholders. We continue to push to ensure that this remediation does occur and look at the relevant parties to carry out the necessary enforcement action.