As we re-embrace freedom, it is important that the remit of government does not become reframed by the events of the past eighteen months.

Freedom Day is finally here. After weeks of promises that we would be able to cast aside the constrictions of the past seventeen months, the day has finally dawned.

However, despite assurances from the Prime Minister that we have weathered the worse of the COVID pandemic, the virus has shown that it is not yet finished with us. Ironically, both Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are shielding after it was confirmed that Sajid Javid has coronavirus and had been in close contact with many of his colleagues. …

It is 26 years since the Srebrenica massacre and the indiscriminate murder of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims. It was a stark reminder that Europe is not immune from genocide despite declaring: “It must never happen again” following the Holocaust during the Second World War. It is important that we never forget this dreadful event and those who were murdered.

Srebrenica was not just a tragedy but a failure on the part of the UN and NATO to uphold their promise to ensure that the town remained a safe zone. Again, the words “never again” resounded in the aftermath. …

Testimonies from the affected

It is two months since parliamentarians were defeated in their efforts to amend the Fire Safety Bill and protect leaseholders from unaffordable costs. At the time it was bitterly disappointing, because we knew what the consequences of failure would be for leaseholders.

The Fire Safety Bill contained measures to accelerate the pace of remedial fire safety works, something which was important and timely and which is to be welcomed. However, the problem was and remains that without a plan to finance these works, the costs inevitably default onto leaseholders.

My involvement in the Fire Safety Bill and support for the…

Is it possible for the UK to maximise trading relations and maintain a moral foreign policy?

A few weeks ago, I posted an article on Twitter about the UK Government’s halving of aid to Rohingya refugees. It was always the fear when the Government announced their intentions to cut foreign aid from 0.7% to 0.5% of national income, that it would disproportionality affect those who most desperately need assistance. Despite the government’s insistence that they would protect the most vulnerable, the cuts have still been made.

It is, of course, true that our foreign aid budget has not always been spent wisely; a fact which is often used to discredit the concept of foreign aid in…

It’s time for the gambling industry to stop offloading responsibility

The urgent need to reform gambling laws is rising up the political agenda. In 2018 the House of Lords secured a select committee whose report Gambling Harm — Time for Action: The Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry produced a series of recommendations. These became the cornerstone of the largest cross-party group in the Lords, Peers for Gambling Reform, with over 150 members. This undoubtedly helped persuade Whitehall and the current Government to launch their Gambling Review, which closed for submissions at the end of March this year.

With submissions now under review, it is vitally important campaigners…

For the past few weeks dramatic footage of the volcanic eruptions from La Soufrière volcano has caught the public attention. The volcano is situated to the north of the Island of St Vincent, part of the Windward Islands in the Caribbean.

Britain has had long and close connections with the island, which for many years was a crown colony before gaining independence in 1979. Still today St Vincent is part of the Commonwealth realm and retains the Queen as the Head of State.

I have been privileged to visit Saint Vincent as the Anglican Diocese of the Windward Islands has…

Can the Government continue to ignore the plight of leaseholders?

When an unexpected crisis hits a country and people’s lives are at stake, we demand decisive political leadership. In an emergency, most people in this country are willing to make compromises and sacrifices for the common good.

But what criteria do Governments use when deciding to intervene in some crises but not in others?

In 2008, following the financial crash, the UK Government swooped in with a £500 billion bailout package for the banks. It was argued that the crash was unforeseen and banks were ‘too big to fail’, so the State had to provide financial support.

In the Covid-19…

A short look into Britain’s silent endorsement of tax avoidance

Last Thursday I introduced a debate in the House of Lords about the proposals in two excellent reports by Church Action for Tax Justice, ‘Tax for the Common Good’ (Sept 2019), and ‘Fair Tax Now’ (Jan 2021).

I am no expert on matters of taxation, but I have been all too aware of the numerous news stories over recent years documenting how various multinational companies pay miserly rates of tax. Tax avoidance is one of the report’s central focuses, highlighting not only its extent but the associated loss of revenue. …

It is not enough to just make moral arguments in favour of overseas aid, the public also want to feel they are getting value for money

When the Government confirmed it was cutting foreign aid from 0.7% to 0.5% of Gross National Income, I, alongside many fellow Church of England Bishops, condemned the decision. My conviction on this issue stems from the fact that we live in a country which, despite some serious domestic challenges, is incredibly privileged compared to the majority of the world, and it is morally right that we give at least 0.7% to help those who are less fortunate.

Put in perspective, the 0.2% cut amounts to £4bn a year. Considering that the UK has wasted £10bn on PPE and wrote off…

The actions of international governments implicitly place greater value on the life of a Belarussian than that of a Uyghur. If we are still serious about human rights for all, then why is China hosting the 2022 Winter Olympic Games?

“Promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity” — Words lifted directly from the Olympic Charter. Perhaps naively, I took this as a principle, for when I questioned the UK Government over the unsuitability of Beijing as a host for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games due to the Chinese Communist Party’s treatment of its Muslim Uyghur minority, they rejected to approach the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Instead, statements of condemnation were given, that like those of the charter, amount to rhetoric without recourse.

Contrast this to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s announcement that the UK, along with its…

Dr Alan Smith

Bishop of St Albans, Doctor of Philosophy, Lords Spiritual Member of the UK Parliament

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