On 16th April Baroness Evans of Bowes Park repeated a statement from the Prime Minister on the UK’s military action in Syria. The Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, responded to the statement:
The Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, it was very good to hear that assurance from the Leader of the House on the commitment to a long-term diplomatic solution. It does not appear very loud and clear in the Statement—it is only two lines—but great energy and skill has been given to the military action and the consensus that has been gathered around it is really impressive. It would really help many of us to hear more about whether the same energy, skill and confidence that there can be a negotiated solution will be given to that, with the same sort of targeted, intense effect that was given to the military action. I want to repeat a question I asked when this House last met—in the Syria debate on the humanitarian crisis—about whether the degradation in relations between Britain and Russia was going to cause the Syrian people to be the long-term victims, because of the failure in efforts to bring all parties together. I failed to get an answer to that: will the Leader of the House say something about the state of those relations today and whether the recent deterioration has made the prospect of that concerted effort for peace possible?
Baroness Evans of Bowes Park: I can certainly assure the right reverend Prelate that we are committed to continuing with diplomatic means and to looking for a long-term sustainable solution to the situation in Syria, because that is the only way that the Syrian people will have a bright future ahead of them. We will absolutely continue to do that. Of course, hitting these targets with the force that we have done will significantly degrade the Syrian regime’s ability to research, develop and deploy chemical weapons, which was obviously the main aim of this particular action. I also reassure him that we remain committed to the humanitarian support that we have provided. I have already set out the range of ways in which the UK has provided help—indeed, we have committed £2.46 billion since 2012, our largest ever response to a humanitarian crisis—and we will continue to do so.