There have been 34 exchanges involving Andrew Selous and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
|Thu 4th March 2021||Oral Answers to Questions||22 interactions (602 words)|
|Thu 21st January 2021||Oral Answers to Questions||44 interactions (1,139 words)|
|Thu 26th November 2020||Oral Answers to Questions||47 interactions (1,630 words)|
|Thu 15th October 2020||Oral Answers to Questions||24 interactions (688 words)|
|Thu 10th September 2020||Oral Answers to Questions||18 interactions (633 words)|
|Thu 25th June 2020||Oral Answers to Questions||37 interactions (1,211 words)|
|Thu 11th June 2020||Zoos, Aquariums and Wildlife Sanctuaries: Reopening||3 interactions (763 words)|
|Tue 19th May 2020||Oral Answers to Questions||34 interactions (1,056 words)|
|Thu 19th March 2020||Oral Answers to Questions||26 interactions (913 words)|
|Wed 26th February 2020||Environment Bill||3 interactions (57 words)|
|Thu 6th February 2020||Oral Answers to Questions||34 interactions (938 words)|
|Mon 28th October 2019||Environment Bill||3 interactions (1 words)|
|Thu 17th October 2019||The Climate Emergency||3 interactions (44 words)|
|Wed 1st May 2019||Environment and Climate Change||3 interactions (710 words)|
|Mon 4th June 2018||Fur Trade (Westminster Hall)||3 interactions (46 words)|
|Tue 22nd May 2018||Transport Emissions: Urban Areas||3 interactions (104 words)|
|Mon 21st May 2018||Sale of Puppies (Westminster Hall)||3 interactions (54 words)|
|Thu 22nd February 2018||Air Quality||3 interactions (86 words)|
|Mon 24th April 2017||Air Quality Strategy||3 interactions (48 words)|
|Thu 20th April 2017||Oral Answers to Questions||4 interactions (126 words)|
|Thu 19th January 2017||Oral Answers to Questions||3 interactions (53 words)|
|Thu 15th December 2016||Air Quality (Westminster Hall)||5 interactions (1,031 words)|
|Thu 3rd November 2016||Air Quality||3 interactions (84 words)|
|Thu 27th March 2014||Oral Answers to Questions||11 interactions (151 words)|
|Thu 13th February 2014||Oral Answers to Questions||5 interactions (72 words)|
|Thu 9th January 2014||Oral Answers to Questions||5 interactions (84 words)|
|Thu 6th December 2012||Oral Answers to Questions||11 interactions (237 words)|
|Thu 5th July 2012||Oral Answers to Questions||6 interactions (56 words)|
|Tue 22nd May 2012||Littering and Fly-tipping||10 interactions (1,493 words)|
|Thu 19th January 2012||Oral Answers to Questions||4 interactions (50 words)|
|Thu 24th November 2011||Oral Answers to Questions||4 interactions (88 words)|
|Wed 26th October 2011||Environmental Protection and Green Growth||3 interactions (76 words)|
|Thu 12th May 2011||Oral Answers to Questions||4 interactions (111 words)|
|Thu 9th December 2010||Oral Answers to Questions||5 interactions (42 words)|
(4 days, 12 hours ago)Commons Chamber
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his answer. St Michael’s church in Fulwell was closed and in a semi-derelict state when a new church was planted there in 2014. Since then, the committed team have been holding Sunday services and serving their community with no formal heating or lighting. In order to restore this listed building to achieve their vision of being community centred, they have raised over £1.5 million, but they need a further £230,000 to make the church functional. What support might the Church Commissioners be able to offer to help plug that gap for St Michael’s?
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When I met the Commissioners, I was told that they did not have comprehensive digital maps of their lands that they could publish. However, a recent report from the Archbishop of Canterbury recommended that the Church map all of its land holdings by using the Good Steward Mapping Tool. I note that its website features digital maps of the Church Commissioners’ lands. In the interests of transparency, will the Commissioner make those maps public?
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Congregants at one of Aylesbury’s churches are deeply concerned about Christian charities in India being forbidden from receiving funds from overseas, amid reports of persecution based on faith. Such organisations often help some of the most vulnerable people in Indian society, so will my hon. Friend tell me what steps the Church of England is taking to help Christian charities and to stop faith-based persecution, both in India and elsewhere?
Some 83% of the world’s population live in countries where freedom of religion or belief is not adequately respected. This freedom is essential for societies to secure democratic freedoms, economic development and peace, yet many people, including young people, are unaware of its importance. What is the Church of England doing to help to educate young people about the importance of freedom of religion or belief for all?
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To ask the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what assessment the Commissioners have made of the potential effect on the Church of England of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s decision to take a sabbatical in May 2021. (912869)
I thank my hon. Friend very much for his answer. It is a concern of many members of the frontline clergy, in the light of press reports, that there will be a reduction in the number of clergy in the Church of England. Given that the Archbishop is going on sabbatical and there is considerable concern about that, will my hon. Friend just outline how the Church of England will protect frontline clergy in the event of any review of Church structure?
(1 month, 2 weeks ago)Commons Chamber
We have been working closely with both the Secretary of State for Wales and the Welsh Government on this challenge, which we all take seriously. I know that discussions have taken place in the past with the national Coal Authority on this matter as well, and we will continue to work closely with the Welsh Government on it.
We all very much hope to be able to lift the restrictions of lockdown as soon as possible. My hon. Friend will be aware that in the first lockdown, we allowed zoos to open after we allowed parks to open. Zoos are outdoors, but people tend to follow the same routes, so the risk is judged by Public Health England to be higher. However, I have sympathy with the issues zoos face, and we want to get them open as soon as possible.
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The “Keeping the Faith” report in November showed the remarkable extent to which local councils have turned to churches and other faith groups during the pandemic, especially for help in distributing food, and how positive an experience for councils this has proved to be. Will the Church of England urge Ministers to help these new partnerships with local councils continue beyond the pandemic?
A recent Open Doors UK event highlighted that Christians are more likely to be tortured and murdered for their faith by Islamic militants in the north of Nigeria than in any other country. Persecution also includes denying Christians food, aid and treatment for covid-19. The UK Government need to place pressure on the Nigerian Government to defend and protect their Christian population. What is the Church of England’s involvement in supporting these persecuted Christians, and what relief work is it doing with Nigerian internally displaced people camps?
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It is very encouraging to hear that. It is a matter of deep regret that churches were closed during the lockdowns last year. I very much appreciate that they are allowed to conduct services this time. Obviously we hope that we will all be out of restrictions soon, but there is always a danger of further restrictions. We worry a lot about the provision of online teaching in schools. Does my hon. Friend agree that the delivery of online live church services is enormously important, and—we must be frank—that this is not a skill that might come naturally to many vicars? Does he agree that the Church of England should make an absolute priority the provision of online resources, and the training of vicars and church teams to deliver them?
Many churches in Rother Valley have adapted during these times by holding online services, such as the many wonderful services at the Wales parish church and St Joseph’s, Dinnington. However, Rother Valley’s churches have lost a great deal of income from the in-person offertory collections and fundraising events, putting church maintenance and repairs at risk, including the much-needed repairs to St Simon and St Jude church in Thurcroft. Does my hon. Friend share my concern regarding the black hole in local churches’ budgets and potential delays to repairs, and will he work with churches to ensure that they have what they need to survive?
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From Nigeria to Eritrea and Burkina Faso to India, Christians are facing grave persecution because of their faith. The persecution of Christians, particularly where they are a religious minority, is a matter of growing concern among my constituents, and this has been reflected in the casework I am receiving. What steps is the Anglican Communion taking to tackle persecution of Christians across the world? Is the hon. Gentleman able to provide me with information on what guidance and support he is offering to churches in the UK in helping those who have fled persecution?
I thank my hon. Friend for his answer. The Church Commissioners own an estate of about 105,000 acres. What is the Church doing to help its tenant farmers to achieve sustainable farming, especially in the light of the current pressure that farmers face during coronavirus?
The Church Commissioners’ ownership of a large amount of land—over 100,000 acres—gives us an opportunity to lead development of conservation agricultural farming techniques, improving soil health, reducing carbon inputs, and developing the evidence base on carbon sequestration. Does my hon. Friend agree that practitioners should approach management of their farming assets in the same way as they do with their other ethical investments?
The recently appointed Archbishop of York has spoken in the past about the importance of caring for green spaces. In his enthronement sermon, he declared that
“we are at risk of separating ourselves from the planet itself, so obsessed have we become with the dangerous suppositions of our own importance and dominion.”
Can my hon. Friend encourage the archbishop to act on his words and impress upon the Church Commissioner landowners the need to have a rethink of their plan for the unjustifiable destruction of unspoilt countryside and farmland at Chidswell in Dewsbury?
What discussions has the Church of England had with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to ensure that covid-19 international assistance aid reaches all in need and is not abused by discrimination against Christians, which has appallingly occurred in some countries?
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I thank my hon. Friend for his response. Church leaders and congregations in Eastbourne and Willingdon at St Michael and All Angels and St John’s Meads have stepped into the digital divide by rallying round and providing laptops and devices for primary school children in their parishes. Will he join me in thanking them for their contribution, which complements the Government’s support in this vital area?
(3 months, 1 week ago)Commons Chamber
Over the past 1,000 years, we have had a fair proportion of saints and sinners as Archbishop of Canterbury, but one thing that we demand of our established Church is that it provides robust leadership against arbitrary government. I do not know whether my hon. Friend noticed that 90 colleagues and I wrote to the Prime Minister on the subject of the closure of churches, but can he assure me, as a voice of the established Church in this place, that if there is any future proposal to prevent public worship, the Church of England will demand evidence—there has never been a shred of evidence—and we will try to save this very important part of public life?
I thank the hon. Member for that answer. At the last Church Commissioners questions, he said to me that he strongly wanted to see more trees planted on the Church estate, but that most of the rural estate is high-quality agricultural land and is therefore not suitable. He has just said that 39% is high-grade agricultural land. Does that not mean there is an awful lot of other land on which they could plant trees and help meet the Government’s commitment to increasing woodland cover?
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I am grateful for my hon. Friend’s comments on services, but at Christmas time, the Church does a lot more—it provides support for our communities through financial advice, fuel and food poverty advice and, of course, the social support that is at the heart of it all. With that in mind, what discussions has he had with local and national Government and the Churches to ensure that they can continue to provide that support in a covid-secure way at Christmas?
I thank my hon. Friend for his answer. Once again, churches have done amazingly through this pandemic, continuing with outreach to their communities. I pay tribute to the churches in Penrith and The Border and across the country that enabled remembrance ceremonies to go ahead this year in challenging circumstances. Does he agree that, as churches look to reopen for worship and other activities in the months ahead, targeted Government financial support for them would be a great way to ensure that their vital community work and support can carry on?
I thank my hon. Friend for his answer. Churches in Redcar and Cleveland, such as St Mark’s in Marske and St Cuthbert’s in Ormesby, have gone above and beyond to ensure that the risk of transmission in churches is low. They are a place for people of all faiths and none to find peace in what has been an incredibly difficult eight months. Unfortunately, Advent Sunday this year will fall inside the lockdown, but I am grateful that the Government have said that churches can reopen for the rest of Advent from 2 December. What message does the Church Commissioner have for those churches in Redcar and Cleveland in the approach to Christmas?
I want to pay tribute to the family of Margaret Keane, whose grief at the loss of their mother has been compounded by still not having a headstone on her grave to visit this Christmas, two and a half years on from her death. The family have said that Margaret is “In our hearts forever”—“In ár gcroíthe go deo”—and that sentiment is shared now by the Irish community in Britain. May I ask the commissioner—I thank him and the Church for their engagement with me and the work they do in Saint Helens in the diocese of Liverpool—if a review can take place into the current appeals system in ecclesiastical courts, whereby even successful appellants are liable potentially for huge court costs to an unlimited amount? This is an access to justice issue and one of fairness that should be looked at.
Good morning, Mr Speaker, and I look forward to seeing you later.
I thank my hon. Friend for his response on behalf of the Church Commissioners—[Inaudible]—it is pleasing to hear. We look forward to a quick return to daily and weekly services for primary worship as soon as we are able, but also to the collections taken at these services along with the extra-curricular activities in the annual calendar of parish churches to fundraise and generate income for churches and their parishioners, which we hope can be reinstated as soon as is practicable, too.
I know that my hon. Friend would agree with me that at this particular time our churches are more important than ever. Certainly in my constituency, they do remarkable work—for instance, with the Southend night shelters—and during the coronavirus pandemic, they have been delivering food and medicines to vulnerable people. Will my hon. Friend please tell the House what the Church is doing to thank local churches and to celebrate their work?
I thank my hon. Friend for his kind words. Recently around the world, including in Nice and Vienna, evil acts have been committed in the name of religion. Pope Francis said in 2018:
“Every religious leader is called to unmask any attempt to manipulate God for ends that have nothing to do with him or his glory.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury expressed similar views in 2016 on tackling extremism through theological dialogue. Can my hon. Friend confirm what steps are being taken by the Church to work with other faith leaders around the world to further address the issue of persecutions of Christians, who are the largest persecuted faith in the world, and to address the issue of other individuals of all faiths being persecuted for their faith through theological and inter-faith dialogue?
Thank you, Mr Speaker; I am indeed very close to Lichfield cathedral, and the dean of Lichfield cathedral is the chairman of the Association of English Cathedrals. We are all delighted that we are going to have services this year and he has sent me a question, and I am going to read it, because he only lives a few doors down, and I have given my hon. Friend prior notice of the question. The dean asks, “What additional support can be given to cathedrals in the first quarter of 2021 to ensure they remain open and responsive to public need?”
With reference to the publication of the November 2020 Church of England report entitled “Living in Love and Faith”, what steps the Church is taking to encourage parishes to discuss sexuality and methods of supporting their own LGBT communities. (909357)
I welcome the hon. Gentleman’s and Church Commissioners’ support for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Sexual violence in conflict remains far too common a tactic of warfare. Can the Church Commissioners report on the steps being taken by the Anglican communion to stop the dreadful stigmatisation of survivors of sexual violence in conflict and the important role that the Church can play around the world?
(4 months, 3 weeks ago)Commons Chamber
I thank my hon. Friend for that encouraging answer. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, it has been at first impossible and latterly difficult to enable church congregations to meet physically as they used to. However, churches up and down the land have done amazingly by offering virtual services, prayer sessions and courses such as Alpha courses, meaning that many additional people who had never been to church before are now involved in a church. Will my hon. Friend join me in thanking churches of all denominations who have done so much during the pandemic to serve their local communities, ranging from worship opportunities to physical care, food distribution and pastoral support?
I thank my hon. Friend for that answer, but how can we ensure that we do not put any further restrictions on baptisms, weddings and funerals? Does my hon. Friend agree that those ceremonies must be supported and that we cannot have another six months of cancellations?
Any Church should be a haven for children and young people to be able to grow in Christ but to do so in safety. The report found that 390 clergy and leaders in the Church of England were convicted of child abuse between the 1940s and 2018, but many more will have evaded punishment for their crimes. In fact, in 2018 alone, we heard that 449 concerns were raised about child sexual abuse relating to church leaders, so does the Commissioner agree that historical complaints against living alleged perpetrators must be investigated and justice brought for their victims? Can he outline what action the Church is taking to ensure that those found guilty of offences are removed as a threat to children?
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St Mary’s in Aylesbury is a grade 1 listed community treasure that is fundraising for much-needed repair and restoration, but it has lost about 40% of its overall income this year due to coronavirus, notwithstanding the commitment of members of the congregation who are paying by standing order, which is still being done. However, events such as lunchtime concerts, craft fairs and civic services have all been cancelled, so what will the Church do to help parishes such as St Mary’s financially during the current crisis?
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The 4% English cover puts it at the very bottom of the list. As I understand it, there are 105,000 acres in England. Why is the figure so low? Is there not a strategy to increase that cover, given that we know how important the role of trees is in natural carbon sequestration? Could the Church of England not do an awful lot better when it comes to England?
(5 months, 4 weeks ago)Commons Chamber
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I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. It is incredibly encouraging to hear all of that. Does he agree with me that faith communities, the Church and other faith groups have a huge contribution to make to national recovery and to the future of our society, but that to realise this potential we need public servants at all levels of national and local government and in public services to overcome certain prejudices or suspicions they have about working with faith groups, and what does he think the Government can do to encourage this?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that answer, because financial difficulty is a really difficult problem. I was lucky enough to visit St John’s in Hinckley, at the request of the Rev. Gary Weston, where he showed me their food bank and the food parcels that they deliver to provide support locally. One of the questions that he wanted me to ask today was about better joining up with local government and raising awareness of what churches can do, because they can respond very quickly to provide support for local people in need. What steps is my hon. Friend taking to ensure that that can happen?
Since the beginning of the pandemic, churches have been conducting services in a variety of ways. I am thinking in particular of the open-air services held by Wave House church in Newquay and the Anchor church in Fowey—in Cornwall we do like a church with a maritime themed name. Other churches have been holding services online. A recent Tearfund survey found that as many as one in four adults in the UK has listened to or watched a religious service during the lockdown. Does my hon. Friend agree that, as we come out of the pandemic, it is important that churches continue to innovate and adapt, in order to engage with people in a variety of ways?
(8 months, 2 weeks ago)Commons Chamber
The self-sacrifice of so many people during the extreme lockdown period will have saved many lives, but one of the great sacrifices for many people will have been the inability to attend church physically and to have had to cancel weddings, baptisms and other deeply significant ceremonies. I understand my hon. Friend had to cancel his own daughter’s wedding last Saturday, and I wish her and her fiancé all the best. Will he now confirm that their wedding, as well as many others, can now go ahead in safety in church with 30 guests, and when does he expect the number of guests to be increased to reflect the capacity of the church being used and the new 1 metre-plus rule?
I used to enjoy a hymn sandwich before this interdict, but I have broken the habit. How is my hon. Friend going to lure us back if we are not allowed to sing? May I suggest, as a minimum, shorter services, even shorter sermons, some comfortable words from the Book of Common Prayer and an end to prating prelates?
I very much welcome that services can resume in places of worship in England and that private prayer is allowed in other nations of the United Kingdom, but what discussions have there been with Churches to ensure that people are encouraged to go back to church and are reassured that it is safe to do so?
Thank you, Mr Speaker: from where I am sitting now Lichfield cathedral is just about 100 yards behind me.
Lichfield has a great choral tradition; we have a choral school and the services are very good. It is open for two hours a day at the moment for private prayer, but when does my hon. Friend anticipate that we will be able to go to evensong and enjoy the wonderful choir that sings there?
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Parishes in the Winslow benefice in my constituency are seeing 400 to 500 people take part in virtual services each Sunday and about 100 each day in midday-ish prayer. Given the extraordinary number of people who have either connected with the Church for the first time or reconnected with it virtually, what plans do the Church Commissioners have to set aside funds to continue this excellent work?
It is obviously fantastic to see Canterbury Cathedral open for private prayer, but rural and smaller village communities often use their churches as a lifeline, particularly those who have been shielding. I want to reassure them that it is going to be safe for them to return to church soon.
What better way to celebrate couples than getting married, but, sadly, in beautiful Beaconsfield countless couples have had to cancel their church wedding. I welcome the news of 30 people being able to gather at a wedding, but what has the Church of England done to work with Government and to lobby them to increase the numbers for gatherings and weddings? Could we increase those numbers for this summer?
The Catholic diocese of Shrewsbury, which covers my constituency, has told me that income is down by a third since lockdown—a loss heading towards £700,000. In the long term, this will have an impact on building maintenance. Have the Government considered an enhanced gift aid scheme to help our faith communities to mitigate the damage?
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I am very grateful for that answer, and congratulate the Church’s pension trustees on their innovation and vision. The TPI has worked with major global companies to reduce their emissions and has established a framework for pension funds to move towards net zero emissions. Can the hon. Gentleman tell me whether our own parliamentary pension fund is able to sign up to the initiative, and what more the Church could do to encourage other pension funds to join that $20 trillion of assets?
(9 months ago)Commons Chamber
My hon. Friend the Member for Romford (Andrew Rosindell) gets a result before he has even opened his mouth. That is certainly an example to other parliamentarians of how to do things, and I pay tribute to him for his great work in this field.
Just like my hon. Friend, I am an animal lover. In fact, we have been all over the world, and hon. Members can be reassured that whenever I travel with him there is always a visit to a zoo. We have been to Shanghai zoo to see the pandas and to Madagascar to see the lemurs, and all over the world we have seen these marvellous animals. Before I forget, my hon. Friend mentioned Edinburgh zoo and the pandas there—I have been there—and I think we should get our money back. These two pandas were leased from China on the basis that there would be the pitter-patter of tiny feet, and for a long while now the Scottish people have waited for something to happen but it is not happening. However, as my hon. Friend said, it is good that China is at least prepared to lease these animals.
My long-suffering mother had a small child who was animal mad. Every time I wanted to be taken out I wanted to go to a zoo, so we went to a zoo. I wanted to ride on an animal, and there I would be in the queue with the ice-cream—a 99—melting as we eventually got to the animal at the front. In those days, of course, we could ride on practically anything, although I do not think I ever rode on a lion or a tiger. However, I did see Guy the Gorilla.
My hon. Friend the Member for South West Bedfordshire (Andrew Selous) spoke about Whipsnade, which is an absolutely fantastic place, and I love the giraffes there. Zoos are very controversial, but I will not have a word said against them.
(9 months, 3 weeks ago)Commons Chamber
In normal times, churches engage with thousands of parents and children each week through playgroups, coffee mornings, church services and youth groups, providing support to families across all sections of society. In my constituency, groups such as these have been a lifeline to many families, including my own. During this crisis, what steps are churches taking to remain in contact with these families, particularly to support parents as they continue to raise children in very difficult circumstances?
During this national crisis, there has been a vital role for the established Church to represent the concerns and fears of the whole nation. Does my hon. Friend agree that the physical presence of a parish church, open for prayer and attended by its priests, is an important signal that we are not alone in our struggle? Health workers, care workers, bin collectors, posties and now all those who are unable to undertake their work from home have been asked to accept additional personal risk to carry out their important work for the health and wellbeing of the nation. Should our clergy not be allowed to provide the same level of service to their—[Inaudible.]
Polling shows that during the current crisis, one in four adults, and one in three of 16 to 30-year-olds, have joined a religious service remotely. Does my hon. Friend welcome that, and what is the Church doing to ensure that this continues more widely, even after lockdown?
To ask the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church of England is taking with (a) the Government and (b) other faith groups to support people in need. 
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I have many interests, including cricket, as you do I know.
The smaller charities are struggling because of fundraising difficulties in the current crisis. Will my hon. Friend look at how the Church can work with those charities? It is true that our churches have closed, but the Church has many buildings—church halls and so on—that might be made available. Fellowship and faith are so important at this time, as is our charitable work. I wonder if he can help.
Research has shown that the clergy discipline process leaves many members of our clergy vulnerable and, in some deeply saddening cases, has driven them to take their lives. What steps are the Church Commissioners taking to review these processes and to provide the right mental health support to those clergy subject to discipline, particularly where such discipline arises from a spurious or malicious allegation? Will my hon. Friend reassure the House that the Church Commissioners will provide our clergy with the support they need during the process?
I warmly welcome the huge efforts going into ensuring that people have remote access to church services, but there are some situations when that is not a substitute for meeting in places of worship with one’s family, so can I urge the Church Commissioners and my hon. Friend to speed up the introduction of small-scale funerals within churches, with social distancing observed, because of the comfort they can bring to people bereaved by this terrible crisis?
I thank my hon. Friend for his comments. Sadly, I was touched by the virus with the loss of my father, and Father John Diver of St Lawrence’s parish in Sidcup was a source of great comfort to him and my family at a difficult time. Would the Church Commissioner join me in recording our gratitude to hospital chaplains and to the clergy of all faiths?
Here in Cumbria and the South Lakes, headteachers of Church schools—in fact, of all schools—do want to return on 1 June, but of course they see protecting the safety of their school community as their first and primary responsibility. Will the hon. Gentleman make strong representations to the Department for Education about supporting those schools that decide to stay closed for the time being for safety reasons, especially given new Government guidance against schools using flexible approaches for returning pupils?
(11 months, 3 weeks ago)Commons Chamber
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is working on a national volunteer project to co-ordinate the many offers of volunteer help that we have had. In the context of food, we have been working very closely with supermarkets to expand their click-and-collect services to make it easier, where possible, for them to expand their delivery capacity to homes. We continue to work with other groups to identify how we can get food to people at this difficult time.
I am happy to look at the specific issue that my hon. Friend raised. However, it is also worth noting that while there has been an increase in demand at retail shops, notably in supermarkets, there has been a sharp fall in demand in the service trade, as restaurants, pubs and so forth find that demand for their services has plummeted. Our understanding at the moment is that there are not issues in the food service supply chain, but I am happy to take up any particular case that he might have.
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I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. In my constituency, we have 24 churches of different denominations, yet the Christian religion is actually the minority. More recently, we have had a huge influx of Romanian citizens who are very keen churchgoers, but they cannot acquire premises. So as the Church of England population dwindles, can churches make efforts to reach out, particularly to the Romanian churches, to allow them to carry on their worship?
Can the hon. Gentleman outline what advice for smaller congregations is in place at this time? Is it his interpretation that the closure of all churches, regardless of size, is optional, or that small congregations can continue to meet, even if they do so in small numbers?
In the light of my hon. Friend’s response to the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon), does he agree that, although churches are not gathering for worship, they still have a vital role to play in meeting the spiritual, emotional and, indeed, practical needs of our communities at this very difficult time? Although they may not be gathering for services and other meetings, churches are most definitely not closed.
6. To ask the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what recent assessment the commissioners have made of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s progress on implementing the recommendations in the Bishop of Truro’s independent review for the Foreign Secretary of FCO support for persecuted Christians. 
I thank my hon. Friend for his answer. As the world looks to navigate the challenge of the virus, other challenges clearly remain. Indeed, those challenges can be exacerbated in such circumstances, so what steps is the Church of England taking to work hand in glove with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to tackle anti-Christian persecution across the world?
I thank my hon. Friend for his answer. How does the Church aim to support couples and families in this moment of national crisis, when they are forced to spend more time together and are probably feeling anxious, possibly with several family members unwell?
This is probably something to come back to once we have got past the immediate crisis, but what progress has been made on liaising with the Department for Education on aligning such pre-marriage education with schools’ relationship education, which has now been made compulsory for all young people? Will that tie up?
May I suggest that one form of marriage support the Church of England might like to get on with is enacting clause 1 of my Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Act 2019, which became law a year ago now and will overhaul marriage registration and allow mothers’ names to go on marriage certificates for the first time since 1832? Can he give us a progress report on whether this is at last going to happen?
(1 year ago)Commons Chamber
I would like to make a little bit of progress. I am conscious of the number of Members who want to speak today.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my predecessors, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office and my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Theresa Villiers), who did a lot of groundwork on this Bill. I should also like to record my thanks to my colleague the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Taunton Deane (Rebecca Pow), who has been involved with the Bill from the start.
The Bill is key to this Government’s ambitious environmental agenda. In 2020, as the UK hosts the next climate change conference, COP26 in Glasgow, we will be leading from the front as we write this new chapter for the UK outside the European Union: independent and committed to net zero and to nature recovery. The Government will work to tackle climate change and support nature recovery around the world and here at home, whether through recycling more and wasting less, planting trees, safeguarding our forests, protecting our oceans, savings species or pioneering new approaches to agriculture.
The first half of the Bill—parts 1 and 2—sets out the five guiding environmental principles for our terrestrial and marine environments to inform policy making across the country. These principles are that the polluter should pay; that harm should be prevented, and if it cannot be prevented, it should be rectified at source; that the environment should be taken into consideration across Government policy making; and that a precautionary approach should be taken.
My hon. Friend makes an important point. The Bill contains a number of measures relating to a biodiversity net gain. It includes, for instance, a provision on conservation covenants, which will enable a landowner entering into an agreement to plant woodland, for instance, to have a covenant on that land as part of an agreement that would prevent it from subsequently being scrapped.
(1 year, 1 month ago)Commons Chamber
1. To ask the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church is taking to support equality for LGBT+ Christians in the UK. 
I thank the hon. Member for his answer and join him in his tribute to the former Member for Meriden, with whom I worked on many issues. I totally agree with the comments he made about her and wish her well for the future; I am sure she has a big role to play in the country. However, the comments that he made do not reflect the pastoral guidance that the Church issued in recent weeks, which the archbishops have apologised for and which suggested that sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage fall
“short of God’s purpose for human beings.”
Does he recognise the great deal of concern within the Anglican communion that this potentially pre-empts the Living in Love and Faith discussions, which are ongoing, and sends a message of non-inclusivity at the start of LGBT history month, which is greatly regrettable?
2. To ask the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what representations Church authorities have made to (a) the Department for Transport and (b) HS2 Ltd on the exhumation of graves on the site of the old church of St Mary's, Stoke Mandeville. 
My constituent Mrs Bradley’s great great grandfather is buried at St Mary’s, Stoke Mandeville, and she was very distressed to learn by accident that the graves were to be exhumed by construction work linked to HS2. How will the Church of England monitor this to ensure that the exhumations are carried out in the way that my hon. Friend has just described, even on deconsecrated land?