On 19th November 2013, Crossbench Peer Baroness Boothroyd asked Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have received relating to the creation of a humanitarian aid corridor in Syria. The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd and the Rt Hon. Richard Chartres, asked a supplementary question.
The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, I think that everybody recognises the complexity of the situation, but just over a month ago, the UN Security Council itself called unanimously for humanitarian pauses. What contribution have Her Majesty’s Government been able to make diplomatically pursuing the possibility of more humanitarian pauses to bring relief to some of the civilians caught up in the fight?
Baroness Northover: Again, that is a case in point. The right reverend Prelate makes a good point in referring to those humanitarian pauses which were politically agreed but not delivered. That is the challenge. This is a very complex situation with many groups fighting each other, and enormous efforts are being put in—not least by UN special envoy Brahimi at the moment—to try to push forward some kind of agreement, but it is immensely difficult.
“It is not surprising that the violence and insecurity that now plagues this country has hampered the delivery of humanitarian aid. As a result, local faith groups and a few national and international NGOs are the primary responders” – Bishop of Wakefield, 18.11.13
On 18th November 2013, Conservative Peer Baroness Berridge led a short debate to ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the security and humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic and the Great Lakes region of Africa. The Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, took part in the debate, focusing his remarks on the need to sanction the perpetrators of violence in the Central African Republic and the urgent need to tackle sexual violence in conflict.
The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: My Lords, I warmly congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Berridge, for securing this debate and for introducing it with such clarity of purpose. Those of us of a certain age will remember graphically the tragedy of the Congo, going all the way back to independence itself. This was followed by the Katanga breakaway movement and the instability there, and the subsequent tragedies made the entire Great Lakes region a terrible, open wound on our common humanity. As we know, that conflict, which began all those years ago, continues in a number of countries. Continue reading “Bishop of Wakefield urges proactive response to crisis in Central African Republic”
On 18th November 2013, the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, asked a question in response to a Government statement on the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and the Philippines typhoon. The question was answered by the Leader of the House of Lords, Lord Hill of Oareford.
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I thank the Government for this remarkable reminder of the generosity of the British people and DEC, and for the commitment of “HMS Daring” and other support. “HMS Daring” of course is connected with Birmingham, the most landlocked city in Britain. Perhaps I may ask the Leader of the House about not just the emergency phase, which is so important, as regards food, water and shelter, but the recovery phase in disasters such as this where we are looking for housing, infrastructure and livelihood. In looking further ahead than just the natural response to the ghastly situation, will he take into account two matters? One was raised by the Philippines climate change commissioner, Yeb Sano, at the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw. He said, “Typhoons such as Haiyan”— or Yolanda as it is called in the Philippines—
“and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action”,
and that the emergency response should look into the much more serious long-term effects of these kinds of climate changes. Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham calls for long-term focus in development assistance in emergency situations”
On 11th November 2013, the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, took part in the Committee Stage of the Government’s Children and Families Bill. He spoke in favour of two amendments – one of the duty of schools to promote the academic, spiritual, cultural, mental and physical development of children and the second on the welfare of children who are asylum seekers. Neither amendment was put to a division of the House.
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I also would like to speak briefly in support of Amendment 233, which was so ably and vividly introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones. I have a particular responsibility in the Church of England for education, so I am pleased to be able to bring that authority and support, as it were, on behalf of all the schools that I represent. This is a small but important and crucial piece of work. Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford supports amendments to Children and Families Bill”
“No one is an individual—that is a modern myth. Each human being is a person who is who they are because of their relationships with others. Crime is when relationships go wrong or are handled destructively. Human beings are formed through relationships” – Bishop of Derby, 8.11.13
On 8th November 2013, the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, took part in the debate on the Second Reading of Lord Dholakia’s Age of Criminal Responsibility Bill, which sought to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12. The Bishop focused his remarks on the challenges associated with treating children as entirely individual and independent units, and the associated need of providing safe and positive spaces in which children can develop socially – particularly focusing on the need for strong family units. The Bill did not progress any further than its Second Reading.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, for introducing this topic and I heartily endorse all that the noble Earl has said. This is a very complex issue, and we are having this debate in a national context in which public opinion wants justice to be seen to be done. A strong scapegoating mentality exists which indicates that there is also a high level of anxiety in society. The key people to be scapegoated tend to be criminals and immigrants. We have to take that part of the context seriously in having this debate. A second context, as we have heard, is the UN recommendation on the rights of the child, that the age of criminal responsibility should be at least 12. Many countries, as we have heard, go even higher than that. A third context is that there are suggestions, as there is in Ireland, of raising the age to 12, but of allowing some flexibility in dealing with serious crimes. So this is a very complex issue in an anxious society which is nervous about seeming to give positive signals to bad behaviour and social deviancy. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby supports raising age of criminal responsibility”
On 7th November 2013, Baroness Cox led a short debate on what assessment Her Majesty’s Government have made of the situation in Sudan, and the implications for citizens of the Republic of South Sudan. The Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, took part in the debate.
The Lord Bishop of Guildford: My Lords, I completely endorse what has been said so far in this discussion. I want to raise a rather different point, but equally I want to express my distress—and, indeed, my shared anger—about the humanitarian, agrarian and political disaster about which we have been speaking.
My rather different point is a question about the implications of further destabilisation of Sudan for the country’s international neighbours. I think that that is an important point. I visit Nigeria regularly, and I am due to fly out to Abuja on Sunday. Four years ago, I was able to go to the province of Maiduguri up in the north-east. I cannot go there now, at the moment anyway, because of the political situation. Maiduguri is a long, long way from Sudan—many miles away. Nevertheless, I believe that there is a connection. Continue reading “Bishop of Guildford warns of further destabilisation if situations in Sudan and South Sudan are not resolved”
“There are huge numbers of practising Christians in China, amounting to many tens of millions, although I agree that the exact figure is very hard to determine…. The Chinese Government have a close interest in how religion helps in building a harmonious society, now that communism is not the only player in China’s major global role.”
On 7th November 2013 the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, took part in Lord Dobbs take-note debate on the recent developments in the relationship between the United Kingdom and China. He focused on the long-standing relationship between the West and China, particularly in terms of the long history of Christianity in China. He noted contemporary initiatives to strengthen the relationship between the Church of England and the church in China, particularly the role of the Bishop of Birmingham as the Archbishop’s envoy to China.
The Lord Bishop of Guildford: My Lords, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Birmingham deeply regrets that he cannot be in his place today. He is the envoy of the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury in relation to China. I am sorry that he is not here speaking, and not only because I am speaking in his place.
We are hearing, and shall continue to hear, many fascinating things in this debate about China, not least from the two maiden speeches, to which we look forward. The importance of student academic exchanges, stressed by some noble Lords, particularly resonates with me. I declare an interest in the University of Surrey with its developing—indeed burgeoning—links with China. That is wonderful. Continue reading “Bishop of Guildford highlights long history of Christianity in China”