Archbishop of Canterbury supports “second reserve power” amendment to Banking Reform Bill

“The amendment—and this is why the element of culture is so important—increases vastly the voltage of the ring-fence. If it has to be used, like much of these forms of regulation, it will have failed to some degree. But it says that, if the industry loses its way in ethics and culture, as it did in the early years of this century, there is catastrophe in regulatory terms.”

On 8th October 2013, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd. and Rt Hon. Justin Welby, spoke on the first day of the Committee Stage of the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill. He spoke in support of Lord Turnbull’s amendment, based on the recommendation made by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, which sought to introduce a second reserve power to “implement full separation” of “the [banking] sector as a whole.” The Archbishop described the amendment as a rational extension to existing provisions. He stated that it would reinforce a change of culture and act as a permanent reminder to the banking industry of the danger of slipping back into previous norms of behaviour. The Government argued against the amendment, having previously rejected the Commission’s recommendation in its First Report. The amendment was subsequently withdrawn. 

Archbishop of CanterburyThe Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I apologise that I, too, was not here for Second Reading as I was at the funeral of a close friend. I speak as a member of the PCBS [Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards], having had the privilege of a year of lessons from the other members, especially noble Lords here today, and the great pleasure of being rung up by the noble Lord, Lawson, quite frequently at weekends, to explain how I should think about a particular subject, which he has done with great eloquence as well today.

I agree entirely with the speeches made by the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, twice, and both speeches by the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, which have put the position very clearly. It must be a very long time—and my experience of this House is very limited—since a solution to a major problem was put forward with such a noticeable lack of enthusiasm. Almost everyone who has spoken about the ring-fence has damned it with faint praise, to put it at its most polite. The noble Baroness, Lady Cohen, simply eliminated it quite quickly and very clearly. We are in danger of getting lost in looking at the regulation and forgetting what the regulation is trying to do. This is about a question of a culture and ethics, not detailed rules. We all remember Bob Diamond, the chief executive of Barclays, saying that culture is what happens when no one is looking. Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury supports “second reserve power” amendment to Banking Reform Bill”

Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 – summary and timeline

Summary & timeline: Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013

The Government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill received Royal Assent on 17th July 2013, having been passed by both Houses of Parliament.

The Bill followed a Government consultation in 2012. The Church of England made a formal response to that consultation in June 2012 and accompanied it with a press release. In December 2012 the Government published a summary of responses to the consultation, alongside its own response. Continue reading “Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 – summary and timeline”

Bishop of Chester speaks in support of development of domestic microhydro power capabilities

On 30th July 2013, the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, took part in the Committee Stage debate of the Government’s Energy Bill. He spoke in support of an amendment to the Bill tabled by Lord Cameron (moved by Lord Roper), which related to the regulation of domestic microhydro power. Following the debate on the amendment, it was wirthdawn by Lord Roper.

14.03 Bishop of ChesterThe Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, I very much support the amendment. This may well be the last time I speak in this Committee and I thank the Minister for the way in which she has conducted herself and for writing to me with answers to some previous questions that I raised.

In addition to the reasons which have been so clearly enunciated, I would like to inject into the discussion the issue of culture, because much of what we are about in energy policy in this country is working on a change of culture. It has become a fashionable word. The Second Reading of the Financial Services Bill was all about changing the culture of banking and financial services, and that is absolutely right. However, the same applies in the energy realm. The sort of installations that we are talking about are relatively small in themselves but speak more widely. Continue reading “Bishop of Chester speaks in support of development of domestic microhydro power capabilities”

Bishop of Birmingham speaks in debate on Banking Reform Bill

“I and my colleagues on these Benches trust that the industry will wholeheartedly embrace a professional standards process, with independent leadership and all the practical things that we will talk about in the next few minutes and days; and that step by step—with any necessary amendments to the Bill and a full adoption in the autumn of the parliamentary commission’s recommendations—we will all take responsibility for achieving a healthy, vigorous, profitable and accessible but virtuous banking system.”

On 24th July 2013, the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, took part in the Second Reading debate of the Government’s Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill. He welcomed the practical themes in the bill and the opportunity it provided to develop structures with a new culture that would enable the common good to develop in society.

01.04.14 Bishop of BirminghamThe Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Eatwell, for his kind remarks about members of the banking commission who sit in this House, not least my friend the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, who, sadly, is not in his place today but fully intends to be so many times in the autumn when the commission’s work will be discussed in this House in more detail. Perhaps I can partially stand in his place as we spent many years in different parts of the oil industry before entering another sort of multinational work.

We appreciate the practical themes in the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill and the opportunity that it provides to implement the recommendations of the Vickers report and, more recently, of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards. As the Community Investment Coalition put it, the Bill provides an opportunity,

“for Britain to continue as a leading global financial centre, while at the same time protecting ordinary working people”.

I thought that that conveyed rather well the complexity of the issues with which we are dealing. Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham speaks in debate on Banking Reform Bill”

Vote – Local Audit and Accountability Bill

On 24th July 2013, two bishops took part in divisions on the Government’s Local Audit and Accountability Bill, during its Report Stage.

House of Lords Division Lobby
House of Lords Division Lobby

Labour Peer Lord Wills moved amendment 1, which would allow auditors to access documents from significant private contractors that a local authority has used.

The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart and the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, voted ‘content’. No bishop voted ‘not content’.

There were Contents: 172 | Not Contents: 191 | Result: Government Win

(via Parliament.uk)

Continue reading “Vote – Local Audit and Accountability Bill”

Bishop of Chester speaks about energy security during Energy Bill debate

On 23rd July 2013, the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, spoke during the Committee Stage of the Government’s Energy Bill. He spoke during a debate on an amendment to develop the interconnectedness of European energy and electricity markets, focussing his remarks on the question of energy security.

14.03 Bishop of ChesterThe Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, when I am in a really tedious meeting I sometimes flick to my iPhone if I succumb to the temptation. The Energywatch organisation has a splendid app which tells you exactly what electricity generation is going on at any particular moment. I can tell your Lordships that at this moment we are depending upon supplies from overseas of 7%, or 3 gigawatts. Wind is producing at the moment less than one sixth of that. Over time, I am struck by just what a significant proportion of our electricity already comes in that way. Three gigawatts is not nothing; it is a very significant amount.

When the Minister responds, it would be helpful to give some indication as to what security there is. I belong to those who have some anxieties that in three or four years’ time, if economic activity picks up and some outages occur at a couple of big stations that we are not expecting, and if the weather is very cold and the wind is not blowing, we are going to depend upon electricity coming from these interconnectors. We can depend on it only if we know that they will be available. If the weather is also inadvertent in other countries, what security do we have that the electricity will be available from other places? I am entirely with the view that we should have a European electricity market. That is absolutely right but it has to be with certain guarantees for supply in this country, especially when supply gets tight in a few years’ time. Continue reading “Bishop of Chester speaks about energy security during Energy Bill debate”

Vote – Intellectual Property Bill

On 23rd July 2013, the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, took part in a division on the Government’s Intellectual Property Bill, during its Report Stage. 

House of Lords Division Lobby
House of Lords Division Lobby

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara moved amendment 4, which opposed the introduction of penalties for unauthorised copying of registered designs.

The Bishop of Chester voted ‘not content’. No bishop voted ‘content’.

There were: Contents: 153 | Not Contents: 233 | Result: Government Win

(via Parliament.uk)