Monday, 30 January 2012

The Church and Devo Max

I read many articles in the Scottish Press over the weekend and found they made very interesting reading. It is good to know that fictional writing in Scotland is alive and well.

Despite all that may have been reported The Church of Scotland has not taken a position on what should appear on the ballot paper, and has not taken a position either on the question of independence or on further devolved powers for the Scottish Parliament. What we do support is an honest debate among people in Scotland about the issues that most matter when deciding Scotland’s future

Along with a range of other organisations, the Church supports an initiative involving all of Civic Scotland to encourage debate about issues that matter about the future of Scotland. Such a debate is not connected to any political party or any campaign for a particular question to be put to the Scottish people. Whilst this initiative is a place where the Church of Scotland will speak, this initiative does not and cannot speak for the Church of Scotland.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Welfare Reform Bill

The Welfare Reform Bill is once again back in the media spotlight as amendments are being debated in the House of Lords.

The Church of Scotland has given its backing to one particular amendment, proposed by Baroness Lister, Lord Hope of Kirkwood and the Rt Rev John Packer, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds.  The amendment has the support of a large number of organisations working with children, including Action for Children in Scotland, Banardo’s Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland, Citizens Advice Scotland, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, Save the Children Scotland, Scottish Women’s Aid and many others.

We want to ensure that claimants wth a dependent child or children do not face sanctions if they are unable to access work or work related activity, or to sustain work, due to a lack of appropriate childcare.  Most lone parents want to have the opportunity to combine paid work with the vital job of being a parent.  We believe, however, that the Welfare Reform Bill fails to recognise that the required childcare infrastructure is lacking in many parts of the UK – particularly before school starts and after it finishes, and during school holidays – and is insufficient to meet the demands being made upon benefit claimants.  There also continues to be a serious lack of childcare settings that are properly equipped - and have staff properly prepared to deal effectively and positively with – children having disabilities, learning/communication/behaviour challenges or a wide range of additional support needs.

We hope that this amendment will be considered today and are seeking assurances from the Government that they will think again about the impact of their current proposals.

Please keep all in the Government and House of Lords in your prayers as they continue to deliberate on these important issues.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Is anyone asking ‘Who is my neighbour?’ in the independence referendum debate?

 A week is certainly a long time in politics.

I was on the radio last week ( Good Morning Scotland – 2hr12mins into the show) talking about the question of Scottish independence (an issue I should say the Church of Scotland has not and will not be taking sides on!).

My main points were:

  • This is an issue that is beyond politics and concerns the whole Scottish people, so it cannot be left to politicians alone, nor should we be focussing on process questions as the important ones.
  • We should be asking  what kind of society do we want to live in? What is the vision that we want as a kind of society for all the people of Scotland to live in relationship with all its neighbours, both near and far.
  • Will change or status quo make any difference to the really important thinks, such as child poverty.
  • In the debate, politicians need to be informed by the reality of people’s lives on the streets, otherwise it will be an impoverished process.  It will be enriched by involving all of Scotland’s people in a debate about the values that we want, and how we can reduce gross inequality.

I would be very interested to hear from blog readers what their take of last week’s events has been.