Bishop of Lichfield urges caution in redefining ‘anti-social behaviour’

“We [must] steer a course between tolerating bad behaviour on the one hand, and on the other hand taking an overly punitive and controlling approach to those whose behaviour can just be annoying. I am not here thinking of street preachers or those who sing hymns very loudly—though a balance has to be struck even in those instances—but chiefly of young people and the more vulnerable among adults.”

On 29th October 2013, the Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill, spoke in the Second Reading debate of the Government’s Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill. He welcomed measures in the Bill on strengthening firearm regulations, tackling forced marriage and reforms to the College of Policing’s code of ethics. He raised concerns about the newly proposed definition for ‘anti-social behaviour’, suggesting that young people and vulnerable adults could be at risk from a broad definition.


14.03.27 Bishop of LichfieldThe Lord Bishop of Lichfield: My Lords, there is much to welcome in this Bill. The strengthening of the laws on firearms and on forced marriage, for example, are obvious steps forward. The measures for prevention of sexual harm, while raising important issues about the need for caution in restricting the freedoms of unconvicted people, will make possible swifter and more effective action to protect potential victims. The College of Policing has made an encouraging start. I am pleased to welcome the draft code of ethics. It sets a strong, ethical and I would say spiritual basis for law and its enforcement, which is a key concern for us all.

The emphasis on communities—people working together for the common good—has run through the long gestation period of these proposals. The principles of restorative justice and restorative practice, especially in local communities, are built into the efforts of churches in every part of this country to serve their local communities and especially those who are most vulnerable. In my part of the world, 80% of young people typically reoffend in the first two years after their sentence. However, with those who are taken on board by church monitoring and mentoring groups, even with the more difficult cases, the rate of reoffending is less than 20%. Continue reading “Bishop of Lichfield urges caution in redefining ‘anti-social behaviour’”

Care Bill – Vote

On 29th October 2013, three bishops took part in a division during the Third Reading of the Government’s Care Bill. 

House of Lords Division Lobby
House of Lords Division Lobby

Lord Hamilton of Epsom moved amendment 1, in clause 1, page 1, line 10, after “emotional” to insert “and spiritual”.

The Bishops of Lichfield, Norwich and Ripon & Leeds voted ‘content’. No bishop voted ‘not content’.

There were: Contents: 96 | Not Contents: 271 | Result: Government Win


Bishop of London presses for reduction in demand for electricity during consideration of Energy Bill

On 28th October 2013, the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd and Rt Hon Richard Chartres, took part in the Report Stage debate of the Government’s Energy Bill. He tabled an amendment to the Bill, which sought to require the Secretary of State to publish a strategy setting out cost-effective policies to achieve a reduction
in demand for electricity, including specific targets for reductions to be made by 2020 and 2030. 
Following the debate on the Amendment, the Bishop did not move it to a vote.  

LondonThe Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, biblical studies teach me that when you have two amendments that look as much alike as my amendment and that of the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, you must look for an Ur-text. Indeed, there is an Ur-text, as we all know, and the figures in my amendment are simply the latest figures available from the Government. This is intended to be a constructive and supportive amendment, which also reflects the concern mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Roper, about the sole emphasis on the capacity market not really catching the full subject here.

According to the Secretary of State in his own foreword to the response to the consultation, which was published in May of this year, a 9% reduction in overall demand could save electricity equivalent to the output of four power stations in one year. I do not want to pose as an expert, of which there are many in this House, but I have been trying in my own diocese of London to improve energy efficiency. I have taken a keen personal interest in the various efforts and our churches have actually achieved a 22% saving in energy consumption between 2005 and 2011. Continue reading “Bishop of London presses for reduction in demand for electricity during consideration of Energy Bill”

Vote – Energy Bill

On 28th October 2013, two bishops took part in a division on the Government’s Energy Bill, during its Report Stage.

House of Lords Division Lobby
House of Lords Division Lobby

Crossbench Peer Lord Oxburgh moved amendment 1, which would require the government to set out its decarbonisation strategy in 2014, establishing milestones up to 2030.

The Bishops of Lichfield and London voted ‘content’. No bishop voted ‘not content’.

There were: Contents: 202 | Not Contents: 216 | Result: Government Win


Bishop of Guildford supports reform of hereditary titles and honours

On 25th October 2013, the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, spoke in support of of Lord Lucas’ Equality (Titles) Bill, during its debate at Second Reading. He also highlighted the Church of England’s progress towards enabling women to become Bishops. The Bill received one day of Committee consideration, but did not receive Royal Assent.

guildfordThe Lord Bishop of Guildford: My Lords, I am grateful for the courtesy of the House in allowing me to slip into the gap, as it were. I shall, I hope, be courteous in return by being very brief in so doing.

Members on this Bench have no direct interest in the content of the Bill, for obvious reasons. Nevertheless, I express support in principle and, indeed, in practice for the Bill before your Lordships’ House and hope to hear that the government Front Bench is also sympathetic. I will not rehearse what has already been said in the House in support of the Bill, which I fully agree with, but am sorely tempted to slip in an amendment to the effect that women bishops could be ordained in the Church of England.

Noble Lords: Hear, hear!

The Lord Bishop of Guildford: That would allow the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, to add bishops to her list.


Bishop of Birmingham supports amendment to Banking Reform Bill

“In the wake of the economic debacles following 2008, one of the greatest areas of concern among the public was the apparent lack of change in the financial fortunes of those whom they viewed as being most responsible for the banking crisis.”

On 23rd October 2013, the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, spoke during the Committee Stage of the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill. He spoke in support of an amendment tabled by Lord Turnbull, to require that banks and other financial institutions abide by a ‘remuneration code’, implemented and enforced by the financial regulator. The amendment, based on a recommendation by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, was not pressed to a vote during Committee Stage.

01.04.14 Bishop of BirminghamThe Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I rise to speak on behalf of the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury. He regrets very much that he cannot be in his seat today, but it is seldom that one has the opportunity to offer Christian baptism to a young couple, particularly when their child is a future heir to the throne of this country. None the less, I know that he, like me, would want to echo the support for these amendments, which have been spoken to by the noble Lords, Lord Turnbull and Lord Eatwell. In a sense, I now regret that I am here doing my duty, because I could not have put it better myself.

In the wake of the economic debacles following 2008, one of the greatest areas of concern among the public was the apparent lack of change in the financial fortunes of those whom they viewed as being most responsible for the banking crisis. As we have heard, the salaries of senior bankers seem to remain high and bonus levels have quickly regained their old levels, while for many ordinary people and ordinary businesses across the country, it has been a matter of tightening the belt and looking very seriously at difficult household and commercial budget decisions. The submission of the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council to the banking commission said of this disparity between what I am going to talk about as two cultures that it,

“has gravely harmed the public perception of banking”. Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham supports amendment to Banking Reform Bill”

Bishop of Derby urges caution over ‘sapping of political energy’ in civil society

“We need transparency for professional lobbying and for political parties but we need transparency, and that is openness, in political debate. We should rejoice that so many charities, faith groups and voluntary groups want to be involved. They are subject to regulation in the political sphere through our tradition of charity Acts. Politics needs this political energy for the common good and all the signals—as we can tell from our e-mail inboxes—are that this source of political energy is being closed down and discouraged at the very time we are wringing our hands because the great public are not interested in political parties, elections or the democratic process.”

On 22nd October 2013, the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, took part in the Second Reading debate of the Government’s Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill. In his speech, he asked the Minister to comment on three of the major tests for regulating transparency: the test of influencing electoral outcomes; the test of levels of financial expenditure and the test regarding the constituency as a measure. He expressed concern that as a result of politics becoming professionalised and pragmatic, ordinary people with political instincts were being excluded and the Bill as it stood would further sap political energy. The bishop hoped that there would be a pause and that the Minister would be willing to meet representatives of charities, faith and voluntary groups to look at proper controls and accountability.

Bishop of DerbyThe Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, want to comment on Part 2 from the perspective of charities and faith groups and the scoping out of a framework in this debate for further work. I declare an interest as a trustee of Christian Aid and as chair of the governors of the Churches’ Legislation Advisory Service, the secretariat service of which comprises Central Lobby consultants who will have to register under Part 1 of the Bill.

I recognise that the Government are trying hard to listen to concerns about Part 2. Like others, I have been in correspondence with the Leader of the Commons and his team. However, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, and others have said, the Constitution Committee noted:

“The provisions of Part 2 directly affect the fundamental common law right to freedom of political expression”. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby urges caution over ‘sapping of political energy’ in civil society”

Bishop of Ripon and Leeds raises concerns over implementation of welfare reforms

On 21st October 2013, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer spoke during the debate on the Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (Claims and Payments) Regulations 2013. The Bishop said he hoped that proper attention would be paid in the working out of the universal credit system to the mother’s role, which in many circumstances was crucial when the whole family was under stress. He also expressed concern about the monthly payments system, which was making it more difficult to control family finances. The Bishop hoped that the Minister would give an assurance that one-month’s back-dating would be legitimate without a particular reason needed for it and would clarify the circumstances under which a claimant was considered unable to claim online due to system failure.

R_LThe Lord Bishop of Ripon and Leeds: My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, for bringing this matter to our attention again, and for the three powerful speeches which we have already heard. First, I want to emphasise my concern about that part of the Motion which speaks of the way in which universal credit awards paid in respect of children will not necessarily by default be paid to the main carer of the children and the disproportionate impact this will have on women. Through my work, I have become increasingly aware of the mother’s crucial role in the sorts of situations that we have been discussing over the past few minutes and indeed over the past few years. The mother needs to have proper control of the money which is coming for the benefit of the family and in respect of her children. I hope that in our discussions and the way in which the regulations and the whole universal credit system are worked out we shall be able to pay attention to the mother’s role, which in many circumstances is crucial when the whole family is under severe stress. Continue reading “Bishop of Ripon and Leeds raises concerns over implementation of welfare reforms”

Bishop of Chester speaks during debate on Children and Families Bill

On 21st October 2013, the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, spoke during the Committee Stage of the Children and Families Bill. He raised concern about the wording of an amendment tabled by Lord Lloyd of Berwick on the standard of proof required in cases where children are taken into care, suggesting that the amendment be altered before being re-tabled at a subsequent stage of the Bill. The amendment was withdrawn following the debate.

14.03 Bishop of ChesterThe Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, at the risk of lowering the tone of this extraordinarily learned exchange, in the church we face a similar issue when trying to discern when someone poses a potential risk but nothing can be proved. It is a difficult line to establish. In the drafting of this amendment, my eye has been caught by the juxtaposition of the words “likely” and “possible”. I wonder whether there is a better way of phrasing it. The noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, used the word “might” at one point, but interestingly then corrected herself and said “was likely to”. There is a real difference between someone being assessed as “might” be a threat and “is likely to” be a threat. I think that I come down on the side of the noble and learned Baroness. However, it is good to know that the lawyers have only two views in these situations.

If this comes back, I hope that we will be able to look at the phraseology. To deduce that something is “likely” from a certain level of possibility seems to carry a stigma that we should not attach unless we really have to do so.


Votes – Care Bill

On 14th, 16th and 21st October 2013, a number of bishops took part in divisions on the Government’s Care Bill, during its Report Stage.

House of Lords Division Lobby
House of Lords Division Lobby

14 October 2013

Labour Peer Lord Hunt of Kings Heath moved amendment 63, which sought to create a model deferred payment scheme, to act as a framework for all local authorities.

The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, voted ‘content’. The Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, voted ‘not content’.

There were: Contents: 202 | Not Contents: 224 | Result: Government Win


Continue reading “Votes – Care Bill”