Church hopes for long term improvement following Government's legislative programme

The Methodist Church envisages long term improvement rather thana quick fix to the economic crisis following the Queen's speech toParliament.

The Church welcomed measures to empower around eight million peopleon low incomes through the Welfare Reform Bill and the GatewaySavings Bill, but added there were questions still to be answeredon how they would affect lone parents.

David Bradwell, Methodist Policy Adviser, said: "In thesechallenging economic times it is crucial that the Government doesall it can to support the least well-off and most vulnerablemembers of society. We mustn't expect this legislative programme toprovide a quick fix, but we can hope that it will help ordinarypeople in the long term.

"The Welfare Reform Bill and the Gateway Savings Bill provideopportunities to empower about eight million people on low incomesto start saving, with the help of Government funded contributions,and to encourage unemployed people into work. There are questions,however, about how this might impact on lone parents with youngchildren. We will also be interested to see the detail of proposedchanges to housing, employment and banking practices. As members ofthe Get Fair campaign, the Methodist Church supports any measuresdesigned to reduce inequality and provide financialstability."

The Church also said it would continue its commitment to tacklealcohol abuse by lobbying lawmakers. It also backed progresstowards a fairer society as well as plans to repeal restrictions onprotesting around Parliament.

"We hope to be able to engage lawmakers in a number of other areasof concern, such as alcohol abuse and the licensing of lap dancingclubs," said David. "We hope that there will be opportunity toplace restrictions on irresponsible alcohol promotions, and to givelocal authorities more powers to take into account local feelingwhen considering lap dancing club licence applications.

"We warmly welcome the proposals in the Constitutional Reform Billto repeal the restrictions on protesting near Parliament. This Billwill also strengthen the role of Parliament in approvinginternational treaties.

"The new Equality Bill will present opportunities for our societyto become fairer, in terms of gender pay difference and byintroducing a single equality duty for public bodies. Thislegislation does throw up issues relating to religious belief, andwe still need to resolve the tension between secular expectationsabout equality and religious traditions and understanding of theworld.

"We will continue to work closely with ecumenical partners,Government departments and MPs on these topics over the comingmonths. We continue to hold MPs and Peers in our thoughts andprayers as the new Parliamentary session gets underway."