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Bishop to lead parliamentary inquiry into food poverty
27 February 2014 15:38 by Liz Dodd

An Anglican bishop is to lead a parliamentary inquiry into food poverty in the wake of a row between church leaders and politicians over its causes.

The Bishop of Truro, Tim Thornton, will co-chair the inquiry along with Frank Field, the Anglican Labour MP for Birkenhead.

Bishop Thornton was one of 27 bishops who signed a letter to the Daily Mirror last week about food poverty and said the Government’s welfare reforms were leaving people hungry.

In a statement this week welcoming the inquiry Bishop Thornton said that politicians had to find a way to address the root causes of poverty.

"I am deeply concerned at the growth in the need for foodbanks amongst those without work or on low incomes,” he said. “The stronger our understanding of the reasons for hunger in Britain, the more effective that response can be."

The inquiry will be led by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hunger and Food and will gather evidence on the causes of hunger around Britain and what is being done to alleviate it.

The APPG decided to conduct an inquiry into food poverty at the beginning of February, but a spokesman for Mr Field's office said that public debate triggered by the church leaders' remarks helped to bring the announcement forward.

The announcement of the inquiry this week came days after the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, broke ranks with the majority of the Church of England and criticised bishops, including his successor, Justin Welby, for their “simplistic” critique of welfare cuts. They were echoing comments made by Cardinal Vincent Nichols earlier this month when he warned that poor people had their lives “torn apart” by welfare cuts. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, countered his criticisms, arguing that the reforms were part of a “moral mission”.