On 6th May 2020 the Archbishop of York, Most Revd John Sentamu, led a debate in the House of Lords on the motion that the Lords “do consider the case for increasing income equality and sustainability in the light of the recent health emergency.” The Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Libby Lane, made her maiden speech in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Derby (Maiden Speech): My Lords, Jesus said,
“seek first the Kingdom of God”,
and in your Lordships’ House, I have caught glimpses of that kingdom: in the warm welcome, in the kind advice of officers and staff, in the patient support of the Church of England Parliamentary Unit, and in the substance of the work noble Lords do, as today.
In January 2015, I became the first woman consecrated bishop in the Church of England. I take this opportunity to thank my friend, the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York for his support and encouragement, and to pay tribute to his integrity and influence. It is true to his priorities that he uses this debate to champion the poor and continue the fight for justice. It was a particular gift to be “called home” a year ago, to serve as Bishop of Derby and I am proud of the ways in which diocesan staff, clergy, schools and congregations have stepped up in these difficult times. Derby and Derbyshire have responded generously to meet the needs of the most vulnerable: they have made known the kingdom of God.
There are common threads running throughout my ministry, including the fight for equal access, inclusion and opportunity; a passion for the arts, culture and sport; and a commitment to children and young people, with particular concern for the most vulnerable and at risk. It is an honour, therefore, to be vice-chair of the Church of England Children’s Society. At this time of national emergency, we know that there is much to be done: to respond to every child; to keep all our children and young people safe; to support the mental health and well-being of our children; and to protect children and families facing increased financial insecurity as a result of this crisis. The inequalities that affect the more than 4 million children in poverty in our country run deep and are systemic, so solutions need to be long-term and sustainable.
When asked about the kingdom of God, Jesus brought a child among them and said,
“of such is the kingdom of heaven”.
I thank noble Lords for their patience in hearing my plea that we put children at the heart of our work for a more just, equitable and sustainable society.