Bishop of Winchester asks Government to continue to prioritise freedom of religion and belief overseas

On 11th November Lord Bruce of Bennachie asked the Government “further to the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, what assessment they have made of (1) their foreign aid, and (2) their development spending, commitments.” The Bishop of Winchester asked a further question:

The Lord Bishop of Winchester [V]: My Lords, protecting freedom of religion or belief remains a pertinent issue in the developing world when more than 80% of the world’s population identify with a religion or belief system. My diocese has historic links with the Church of the Province of Myanmar, and during the pandemic many of its clergy have been providing volunteer support in understaffed hospitals. Can the Minister assure the House that, despite the almost £3 billion cut in the UK’s foreign aid budget, Her Majesty’s Government will continue to prioritise international freedom of religion and belief and recognise the contribution of religious groups in the development and support of their communities, particularly in times of crisis?

Baroness Sugg (Con) [V]: My Lords, I assure the right reverend Prelate that we are indeed committed to continuing to support the freedom of religion and belief around the world. We will also continue to work with and alongside faith groups. I agree with him that they have been incredible in their response to Covid-19. They are among the first to respond and can play an effective role in bringing about the behaviour change essential to slowing the spread of Covid and reducing infection and illness.