On 20th January 2014, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds spoke in favour of an amendment to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, during the Bill’s Report Stage. The amendment, proposed by Lord Deben and co-sponsored by the Bishop of Newcastle, related to the use of amplified noise equipment in vicinity of the Palace of Westminster, and the Bishop spoke of the impact that such equipment has on worship in Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s Church.
The Lord Bishop of Ripon and Leeds: My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Deben, for the way in which he introduced this debate and to the Minister for those comments and his response. My colleague the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Newcastle has added his name to this amendment, thereby expressing the concern of these Benches, in particular with regard to the work and worship at Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s parish church. I am sorry that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Newcastle is unable to be with us today. However, it is a particular delight to welcome the very reverend Dean of Westminster, as he exercises his constitutional right to sit on the steps of the Throne of this House.
The Abbey has suffered, as the noble Lord, Lord Deben, was saying, as a result of what is often quite unintentional disturbance of its worship, and its role as a place of prayer and the worship of God. It is important to affirm absolutely both the right of protest, with the human rights which are involved in being able to protest, and, at the same time, the right and duty of the Abbey to maintain its pattern of prayer to God, particularly in view of the way in which it stands for the spiritual nature and concerns of this nation, and of our monarch and the Royal Family. Our daily prayers here with your Lordships stress particularly the needs of this realm and of the monarch. Westminster Abbey is a unique testimony to prayer for those needs, and there is a need at this point to ensure that the Abbey is able to fulfil that particular task which it has in the life of both the church and the nation. I support the amendment and am grateful to the Minister for his generous words about it.