On 15th June the Lord Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked Her Majesty’s Government “what is their assessment of ongoing protests led by the Black Lives Matter movement, and the consequent removal of statues and monuments”.
Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office): My Lords, I understand the strength of feeling around the death of George Floyd and peaceful protest remains a vital part of a democratic society. However, coronavirus remains a real and present threat to all of us and mass gatherings for whatever reason risk spreading the disease. I condemn all forms of illegal activity. Changes to the urban architecture should be affected through democratic processes and not by criminal damage.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I thank the Minister for her response. Racism is deeply embedded, and it affects every part of society, including the Church. We all have much to do to confront it. Indeed, it is possible to remove statues from public places without dealing with the fundamental nature of the problem. Will another commission be any more successful in stopping the demolition of statues than the Lammy review, the Angiolini review, the Windrush Lessons Learned Review, and the review from the noble Baroness, Lady McGregor-Smith? Would it not be cheaper and quicker for Her Majesty’s Government to implement the recommendations of those reviews, committing proper resources and leadership to drive through the change we so desperately need?
Baroness Williams of Trafford: The right reverend Prelate mentioned a number of reviews. I know that the Government are working through the Angiolini review’s recommendations. The review by my noble friend Lady McGregor-Smith also awaits comment. He is right that the Government are considering a number of recommendations. Overall, the strategic response to everything we have seen over the past couple of weeks is that we have to work together, not only in government but in society, locally and nationally, to affect the societal change that is so desperately needed.