Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill ‘discourages possibility of reconciliation’ – Bishop of Portsmouth

On 5th February 2020 the House of Lords debated the Government’s  Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill at its Second Reading. The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, expressed concern about the Bill, saying that divorce needed to be kinder to all involved, rather than easier. In his view “the Bill before the House discourages reflection and hence the possibility of reconciliation”.

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Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill ‘creates more difficulties than it resolves’ – Bishop of Carlisle

On 5th February 2020 the House of Lords debated the Government’s  Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill at its Second Reading. The Bishop of Carlisle, Rt Revd James Newcome, spoke in the debate and his remarks are below. He highlighted several problems with the Bill, which he said would create more difficulties than it was intended to resolve.

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I am greatly looking forward to the maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Hunt of Bethnal Green, and I welcome her to this House, which I am sure will benefit greatly from her expertise, campaigning zeal and commitment to debates on justice and equality.

Let me begin by saying that I appreciate the motivation behind the Government’s Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill. As we have already heard, they want to make divorce less complicated, less acrimonious and less harmful. Who could possibly argue with that? I like the revised terminology that the Bill suggests, and I agree that, at first sight, this looks like a sensible response to shortcomings in a process that is currently unsatisfactory and often seems to lack transparency or fairness.

However, this deceptively simple piece of legislation actually creates more difficulties than it resolves. One has to do with the nature of marriage itself and our commitment to it as a society—I shall confine my comments to marriage rather than civil partnership.

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Lords approve Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure

On 30th January 2020 the House of Lords considered the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure, a piece of church legislation that was introduced by the Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek. A short debate also took place on a motion to regret the Measure, tabled by Lord Trefgarne, which was subsequently withdrawn. The Measure was passed.

Moved by The Lord Bishop of Gloucester

That this House do direct that, in accordance with the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919, the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure be presented to Her Majesty for the Royal Assent.

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, although the provisions contained in this Measure are miscellaneous, some of them are nevertheless important. Rather than go through the Measure section by section, it might be helpful if I just mention some of the more significant provisions at this point.

Section 2 implements a recommendation from Dame Moira Gibb’s report following her review of the Church of England’s response to the abuse committed by Peter Ball. One of the report’s recommendations was for the introduction of a national register of clergy with permission to officiate. That recommendation has been further developed and Section 2 will now require there to be a national ministry register. Every clerk in holy orders who has authority to exercise ministry in the Church of England will have to be included in the register. There is also provision for the creation of a register of licensed lay people, and bishops will be required to provide details to the Archbishops’ Council on a regular basis so that the national registers are kept up to date. A form of the register that omits personal contact information will be published by the council and be accessible to the public free of charge.

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Votes: EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill – Refugee children family reunion

On 21st January 2020 the House of Lords voted on amendments to the Government’s EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill. Three bishops took part in a vote on an amendment from Lord Dubs, to put in place  measures for refugee children family reunion. The Bishop of Durham also acted as a sponsor of the amendment. Continue reading “Votes: EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill – Refugee children family reunion”

EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill: Bishop of Durham urges support for Dubs amendment on refugee children family reunion

On 21st January 2020 the House of Lords debated and voted on an amendment to the Government’s EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill from Lord Dubs, which would restore  measures for refugee children family reunion. The Bishop supported the amendment as a co-sponsor and in the subsequent vote it was passed by 300 votes to 220. It returns to the Commons to be voted on by MPs.

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I speak once more from these Benches, recognising that the argument has been made again and again. I am honoured to follow the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, and to concur with all that he said. As my right reverend friend the Bishop of Worcester reminded the House last week—he kindly spoke for me because I could not be present in Committee—this debate resonates with the nativity story, the story of a child fleeing persecution. The voices of these children are too often drowned out by conflict and violence, by traffickers and by political leaders. Let this House speak on their behalf by voting for the amendment. Continue reading “EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill: Bishop of Durham urges support for Dubs amendment on refugee children family reunion”

Votes: EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill – Proof of settled status for EU citizens

On 20th January 2020 the House of Lords voted on amendments to the Government’s EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill. The Bishop of Birmingham voted on an amendment from Lord Oates to allow EU citizens covered by the settled status scheme to have the right to a physical form of proof of status. Continue reading “Votes: EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill – Proof of settled status for EU citizens”

Bishop of St Albans introduces Bill on gambling-related suicides

On 16th January 2020 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, introduced a Private Member’s Bill to the House of Lords. The Bill received its formal First Reading and awaits time for debate.

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