On 17th October 2019 the Gambling Act 2005 (Amendment) Bill [HL] received its First Reading in the House of Lords. The Bill was introduced by the Bishop of Coventry, on behalf of its sponsor the Bishop of St Albans. First Reading is a formality and no debate was held.
On 1st October 2019 Lord Keen of Elie moved a draft order for approval: the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (Legal Aid for Separated Children) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Order 2019. The motion was agreed by the House, and the Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, contributed to the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, I declare an interest as a vice-president of the Children’s Society. I want to share my delight in the work of the Children’s Society and other children’s charities in helping to bring us to this point.
I warmly welcome the draft order amending the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 to bring immigration matters for unaccompanied and separated children within the scope of legal aid. That is a wonderful thing. Without this amendment, children outside their country of origin who are separated from their parent or care giver are at significant risk. The reinstatement of legal aid for separated children will be transformative for some of the most vulnerable children in our country.
On 6th September 2019 the House of Lords considered the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill at its Committee, Report and 3rd Reading stages. Three bishops voted against an amendment to the Bill that was tabled by Conservative Peer Lord True, which would have delayed the implementation of the Act until after a General Election had been held. Continue reading “Vote – European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill”
On 5th September 2019 the House of Lords considered the European Union (Withdrawal) (Number 6) Bill at its Second Reading. It had been passed by the House of Commons the previous day despite Government opposition. Its effect would be to require the Prime Minister to request an extension of the Article 50 period beyond the current 31st October Brexit deadline, should the Prime Minister not have agreed a withdrawal deal or Parliament voted for no deal, by the 19th October. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, it is already evident in some of the terms of this conversation—of this debate—that we have to get away from this binary thinking about leave or remain. They were terms that pertained to the referendum in 2016 where the question was “what”. Where we have got stuck is on the question of “how”. You do not need a degree in logic or philosophy to recognise that they are different questions. The Members of the other place and of this House trying to take their obligations seriously under the constitution to serve the people of this country means that we have got to this sort of impasse. It is not because of negligence, or because of waging ongoing campaigns from three years ago. I deeply resent the constant insinuation that if you voted remain then you remain a remainer and anything you do has to be suspected as being a plot to ensure that we remain. Many people in this House who voted remain have gone on to say that the referendum result was to leave and we have to move on to the question of how to do that but with the responsibility to look to the interests of our country. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds calls for end to binary leave/remain labels in Brexit debate and focus on values to shape shared future”
On 4th September 2019 the House of Lords considered a motion from the Leader of the Opposition to suspend the usual procedures for the taking of a Bill, in order to enable the House to take all stages of the European Union (Withdrawal) (Number 6) Bill 2017-19 on Thursday and Friday of that week.
A series of amendments were tabled to that motion by those objecting to that procedural change and those who disagreed with the Bill, which had been passed by MPs that day and would require Government to seek an extension of the Article 50 period for the UK to leave the EU.
A series of votes took place throughout the day and late into the night on the amendments tabled and also to bring an end to speeches by Members that were considered attempts to filibuster. A number of bishops took part in those votes, largely on the side of those Peers wishing to see the procedural changes made, and to ensure business could progress.
The House eventually passed the motion after agreement was reached between Government and Opposition parties. Details follow: Continue reading “Votes: Motion to suspend usual procedures to enable consideration of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill”
On 4th September 2019 the House of Lords voted on a series of amendments to a Motion from the Leader of the Opposition to suspend the usual procedures for the taking of a Bill, in order to enable the House to take all stages of the European Union (Withdrawal) (Number 6) Bill 2017-19 on Thursday and Friday of that week. Conservative Peer Lord True moved an amendment to the Motion to oppose the suspension of the usual rules for consideration. The Bishop of Leeds contributed to the debate:
Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I strongly endorse what the noble Lord has said. It seems to me that we have to be realistic. I speak as a Lord Spiritual with an obligation to engage in what was called “high politics” earlier, as a Member of this House, noting that the Lords Spiritual cannot be whipped and that we are not a party.
It seems to me that we have to be realistic and say that this prorogation has been disingenuously propagated as being just a little extension to recess, when we know that it is of a completely different order.
On 25th July 2019 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Farmer (Con) that the House “takes note of the needs of women in the criminal justice system”. The Bishop of Rochester contributed to the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Farmer, for obtaining this debate and for his unstinting efforts in this area, not least the welcome emphasis in his most recent report on relationships, which he expounded so clearly when introducing this debate.
I am sorry that the right reverend Prelates the Bishop of Gloucester and the Bishop of Newcastle are not in their places today, because they both take a very close and informed interest in the issues around women in the criminal justice system. However, I have visited a good number of women’s prisons over the last few years and, in making those visits, I have been both shocked and inspired.