Bishop of Rochester highlights work of faiths in promoting community cohesion

On 26th November 2015 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Mobarik: “To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the attacks in Paris on 13 November, what steps they plan to take to foster links between communities, as part of their counterterrorism strategy.” The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, spoke in the debate:


RochesterThe Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I, too, am very grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Mobarik, for initiating the debate and for the opportunity to speak in it. I am grateful, too, to the noble Baroness, Lady Eaton, for saying some of the things about Near Neighbours that I might have said. That will save me having to do it. It is good to have other advocates of these things.

The point has been made already, not least by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, that the important issues raised in the debate, although perhaps prompted by part of the current world situation, have been there for many generations. Many of us have been working away at them for a good many years. None the less, one of the strands in the Government’s counterterrorism strategy, published last month, has been the building and strengthening of community links within and between communities. It is a very important strand that clearly builds on things that many of us have been involved in before. In many ways it is the most difficult strand, because it requires perseverance and hard work over many years. It requires commitment in local communities and all the things that lead to fruitful engagement. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester highlights work of faiths in promoting community cohesion”

Bishop of Ely defends freedom of speech in universities

“If we allow the dominant agenda to become the refusal to be exposed to being offended, we deny ourselves the rich opportunity to be agents of the transformation of conflict through positive engagement.”–  Bishop of Ely, 26/11/5

On 26th November 2015 the House of Lords debated a motion from  Baroness Deech: “That this House takes note of the protection of freedom of speech in universities.” The Bishop of Ely, Rt Revd Stephen Conway, spoke in the debate:

14.10.16 Bishop of Ely 1The Lord Bishop of Ely: I, too, take the opportunity to congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, for bringing this debate about. I would be very glad to engage in metaphysical conversation with the noble Lord, Lord Patten, about the soul of the university sometime outside the Chamber. I am more concerned for us to promote and understand the importance of religious literacy in the defence of free speech, and the Church’s engagement with a number of institutions in seeking to make the most of the Prevent agenda without throwing aside openness and readiness to engage in full debate. Continue reading “Bishop of Ely defends freedom of speech in universities”

Syria and military action – Archbishop of Canterbury responds to Prime Minister’s statement

On 26th November 2015 the Leader of the House of Lords, Baroness Stowell, repeated in the Lords a statement given earlier in the day to the House of Commons by the Prime Minister about Syria and the possibility of military action. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, responded:

Archbishop of CanterburyThe Archbishop of Canterbury: I thank the Leader of the House for the repetition of the Statement, and particularly the publication of the Foreign Affairs Committee report, and welcome the seriousness of the emphasis in both the Statement and the report on a comprehensive approach—the seriousness of military action but also the integration of soft and hard power, support for jobs, education, family and community life and stability, and of communities flourishing in the neighbouring countries, which comes out very strongly. The test will obviously be the total mobilisation of effort in a focused way that recognises the long-term needs of security for indigenous populations, particularly the Christian populations, which are being harried out of the area. Continue reading “Syria and military action – Archbishop of Canterbury responds to Prime Minister’s statement”

Archbishop of Canterbury asks Government about link between food bank use and benefit changes

On 26th November 2015 Lord Beecham asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the provision of food banks at, and the distribution of food to people in need by, NHS hospitals.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Rev & Rt Hon Justin Welby, asked a supplementary question:

Archbishop of CanterburyThe Archbishop of Canterbury: Does the Minister recognise that the comments at the time of the previous Government about there being no link between benefit changes and food banks was significantly challenged at the time and that our experience in Church of England, which is involved in the vast majority of food banks across the country, is that between 35% and 45% of people coming to get support from food banks report that the reason for running out of food is to do with changes to the benefit system and sanctions?

Lord Prior of Brampton:All I can do is repeat what I said before which is that, as Ed Davey said, there is no statistical link, in his view, between the Government’s benefits reforms and the provision of food banks. I think that the issue is much more complex than the most reverend Primate is suggesting.



Lord’s Prayer Cinema Advert Ban – Bishop of Chelmsford asks question in Lords

On 25th November 2015 the Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell asked a question of Government about the decision by Digital Cinema Media not to accept an advertisement from the Church of England featuring the reading of the Lord’s Prayer. The video can be seen on the website A full transcript of the exchange and those that followed, is below.


Chelmsford 251115The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the freedom of religious and non-religious organisations to express their beliefs in the public sphere, in the light of the decision by Digital Cinema Media not to accept advertisements from the Church of England.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con): My Lords, freedom of expression, including freedom of the media, is fundamental to democratic society. Open discussion of faith issues has the benefit of bringing communities together, thereby giving rise to greater understand among faith groups. In this case, the decision not to accept the advertisement was by an independent media organisation. The Government made clear that they do not agree with that decision and urged the cinema to look again.

Continue reading “Lord’s Prayer Cinema Advert Ban – Bishop of Chelmsford asks question in Lords”

Bishop of St Albans asks about support for rural small businesses

On 24th November 2015 Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty’s Government “what proposals they have for strengthening the role and powers of town and parish councils, particularly as part of the northern powerhouse.” The Bishop of St Albans asked a follow up question:


StAlbans171115The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the northern powerhouse has great potential to bring social and economic benefit to many people, but it is fundamental from the very start that we embed it in the rural communities. Micro-businesses employing fewer than 10 people make a very significant contribution to the rural economy, yet previous approaches to regional development tended to ignore or sideline the rural dimension of it. Will the noble Lord the Minister assure the House that, with the northern powerhouse and other devolved areas, there will be a specific, focused and relevant approach to providing resources for small rural businesses? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about support for rural small businesses”

Defence review – Bishop of Leeds responds

On 23rd November 2015 the House of Lords heard repeated the Government’s statement on the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow up question:

LeedsThe Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, would the Minister agree with me that some of the language we are using in this debate reflects an assumption that the world is binary and divided into allies and enemies? The reality is that allies become enemies, and enemies become allies. In any strategic approach to the future, could we be assured that that possibility will be taken into account? I worked on elements to do with Iraq in the 1980s, and we can see what happened in the 2000s.

Arms and resources that we sell to people who are rebels in Syria can then be used against us. Is that sort of strategic thinking about a non-binary, more eclectic world being taken into consideration?

Continue reading “Defence review – Bishop of Leeds responds”