Bishop of St Albans asks about civil and human rights of Rohingya and Chin people in Myanmar

St Albans 2On 4th November 2019 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received written answers from the Government, in reply to two questions about persecuted people in Myanmar:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: (i) HL530 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of whether the Rohingya people’s civil and human rights are being upheld in Myanmar.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: (ii) HL532 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports of attacks against Chin people in Myanmar.

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MPs pay tribute to the Speaker’s Chaplain, Rose Hudson-Wilkin

On 31st October 2019 MPs paid tribute in the House of Commons chamber to the Speaker’s Chaplain, Reverend Prebendary Rose Hudson-Wilkin, on her final day before leaving to take up her new role as Bishop of Dover. A full transcript is below:

Tributes to the Speaker’s Chaplain

Mr Speaker: As people will speedily see, we move from one subject to another quite quickly, and we now come to the very happy business of the motion on tributes to the Speaker’s Chaplain. I have the great pleasure of calling the Leader of the House to move the motion.

The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg) I beg to move,

That this House congratulates the Reverend Prebendary Rose Hudson-Wilkin on her twenty-eight years of ordained ministry in the Church of England, nine years of which have been in the service of Mr Speaker and this House as Chaplain to the Speaker, the first woman and the first BAME holder of that post; expresses its appreciation for the generous, ecumenical and compassionate spirit of her work among hon. Members and staff of the House; and wishes her every success in her forthcoming ministry as Bishop of Dover and Bishop in Canterbury. Continue reading “MPs pay tribute to the Speaker’s Chaplain, Rose Hudson-Wilkin”

Bishop of Durham on lessons learned from Grenfell Tower tragedy

On 31st October 2019 Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth moved a Motion, “that this House takes note of the Phase 1 report of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in the debate, drawing attention to the work of churches and others in supporting the survivors, and the wider issues of neglect within the community.

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I thank the Whips Office for understanding that my friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans cannot speak due to the change of time, and that I have been allowed to speak in his place.

It is important for us to remember that for the bereaved families and survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire, who have now suffered for so long, the past week has been particularly difficult. The report mentions many contributing factors, including issues of fire safety, communication between emergency services, building regulations and the use of materials. In his introduction, the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, spoke eloquently on all those, and many other noble Lords will be able to speak about them from a position of informed authority.

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Church Commissioner Questions: Tributes, climate change, archbishops, reconciliation, telecommunications, thefts, women in prison, marriage, digital evangelism

On 31st October 2019 Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman answered questions from MPs for the last time as Second Church Estates Commissioner. Tributes were paid to her, and questions were answered on climate change, archbishops, reconciliation, telecommunications, thefts, women in prison, marriage, and digital evangelism. This was also the same day that the Speaker and his Chaplain were due to retire. A full transcript follows:

Church Commissioners

The right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—

Climate Change: Investment in Companies

Michael Tomlinson (Mid Dorset and North Poole) (Con): What progress the Church of England has made on holding the companies in which it invests to account on climate change. [900272]

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Dame Caroline Spelman): Since this is my last set of oral questions, I would like to record my heartfelt thanks to my small team of staff, and especially my constituency secretary, who has faithfully served me for 20 out of 22 years. We often forget that our staff are on the frontline of much of the abuse that we receive, and I want to record my admiration for their fortitude. I also thank the amazing staff I have had to support me in this role, particularly Simon Stanley at Church House.

In tribute, Mr Speaker, I thank you for your kindness and courtesy—unfailingly so, and especially at times of personal duress. I single out your inspired choice of Speaker’s Chaplain, who has enriched the spiritual life of this place—but more of that later.

The Church of England Pensions Board has tabled a shareholder resolution ahead of the annual general meeting of BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, on 7 November this month. It asks BHP to suspend its membership of trade associations that are not lobbying in line with the climate change agreement. This is just the latest example of the Church Commissioners using their shareholder position to change company policy in line with the climate change agreement.

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Bishop of Durham supports Early General Election Bill, hopes for respectful campaign

19.01.07 durham bOn the 30th October the Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Evans of Bowes Park) moved the Second Reading of the Early Parliamentary General Election Bill. The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, contributed to the debate: 

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, it is an honour to follow the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, but it is always slightly daunting as well. I believe that the House should expedite this business as simply and as quickly as it can. While I have much sympathy with giving the vote to 16 and 17 year-olds, that should be done with full due consideration and process at another time. Perhaps such a Bill could be introduced by the next Government. I also have sympathy with giving EU nationals the vote, but since that would be an example of the UK offering fuller and better rights than any current EU nation, it too would require proper scrutiny. Rushing it now would be inappropriate.

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Bishop of Durham asks Government about Saudi-brokered deal in Yemen

19.01.07 durhamOn 30th October 2019 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a question about the situation in Yemen, on behalf of the Bishop of St Albans, who was unable to attend:

Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the deal brokered by the government of Saudi Arabia in Yemen and the prospects for lasting peace there.

Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in the name of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans, who apologises for the fact that he cannot be in his place today.

The Earl of Courtown (Con): My Lords, the UK welcomes signs of progress through the Saudi-led talks to bring together the Government of Yemen and the Southern Transitional Council to reach a peaceful settlement following the clashes in Aden in August. This has further demonstrated the need for inclusive political talks through the UN-led peace process. The UK urges all parties to engage constructively with the UN special envoy Martin Griffiths to broker a sustainable peace for all of Yemen.

Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his response and I share his support for any initiative that brings peace to Yemen, but this deal brokered by the KSA brings only limited opportunities for a peaceful future in the region. After four years and seven months, almost 100,000 people have died—84,000 children from starvation, and 2,500 from cholera. What pressure are Her Majesty’s Government putting on Saudi and Emirati opposites to secure an immediate cessation to the wider war in Yemen?

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Bishop of London speaks during second reading of Health Service Safety Investigations Bill

London3On 29th October 2019 the House debated the second reading of the Health Service Safety Investigations Bill. The Bishop of London, Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, contributed:

The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak at this Second Reading. I declare my interests as set out in the register. I too am grateful for briefings from the Library, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Surgeons and the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

Like most noble Lords, I welcome the Bill’s proposal to create an independent body which will investigate serious patient safety incidents. The NHS is to be congratulated on the way in which it has sought over the years to develop as a learning organisation. Florence Nightingale said:

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