The Bishop of Birmingham made his valedictory speech to the House of Lords on 10th October 2022, during a debate on the Economy Growth Plan 2022 (Motion to Take Note):
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I have been immensely grateful for the stimulation and companionship I have found in your Lordships’ House as a Member for the last 12 years, not least in the last three or four speeches this afternoon on this immensely complex subject. It is worth turning up, if only to feel the embarrassment of my colleagues when one of their number is called “mature” and “sensible”—where better to hear it than here, in public and on the record? —and to be with the Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, with whom I share a long business background, although not necessarily in the same sector. I am particularly grateful to have been Convenor of this Bench for some years and to have been able to relate to the usual channels in the House informally. I am very grateful to those here who have accepted my presence at certain moments, whether they were to do with Brexit, the pandemic and the hybrid House, or even the late Queen’s funeral.
This is an opportunity just to say thank you to the officers of the House for the remarkable support that we received from them—in recent weeks, as it happened, day and night. I wish my successor as convenor of these Benches, my right reverend friend the Lord Bishop of St Albans, every success and the same wonderful co-operation and fulfilment.
On 9th September 2022 the House of Lords met to hear tributes to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, whose death had been announced. The Archbishop of Canterbury paid tribute, on behalf of the Lords Spiritual.
On 31st October 2019 MPs paid tribute in the House of Commons chamber to the Speaker’s Chaplain, Reverend Prebendary Rose Hudson-Wilkin, on her final day before leaving to take up her new role as Bishop of Dover. A full transcript is below:
Tributes to the Speaker’s Chaplain
Mr Speaker: As people will speedily see, we move from one subject to another quite quickly, and we now come to the very happy business of the motion on tributes to the Speaker’s Chaplain. I have the great pleasure of calling the Leader of the House to move the motion.
The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg) I beg to move,
That this House congratulates the Reverend Prebendary Rose Hudson-Wilkin on her twenty-eight years of ordained ministry in the Church of England, nine years of which have been in the service of Mr Speaker and this House as Chaplain to the Speaker, the first woman and the first BAME holder of that post; expresses its appreciation for the generous, ecumenical and compassionate spirit of her work among hon. Members and staff of the House; and wishes her every success in her forthcoming ministry as Bishop of Dover and Bishop in Canterbury.Continue reading “MPs pay tribute to the Speaker’s Chaplain, Rose Hudson-Wilkin”
“Voting matters, but doing the job matters even more. The belief that only elected Members can have any sort of legitimacy, or that once someone has won a vote it gives them carte blanche to do whatever they like for the next five years, rings extremely hollow when it is precisely some of the elected Members in another place who have brought the system into disrepute. Our whole political system has encouraged career politicians who have never run a farm or a shop or a school or a ship, and who lurch from utopianism, which gets most of them into politics in the first place, to pragmatic power-seeking, which is what they turn to when Utopia fails to arrive on schedule.” – Bishop of Durham, 11/6/09 Continue reading “Archive speeches: Bishop Tom Wright – ‘The constitution is far more important than party politics.’”
In 1936 the House of Lords debated the Voluntary Euthanasia Legalisation Bill, the first of its kind to come before the UK Parliament. Its rejection set the pattern for future Bills in both Houses for the eight decades to come.
The Voluntary Euthanasia Legalisation Bill 1936 sought to allow mentally competent adults with an incurable condition, accompanied by severe pain, to have assistance in ending their lives. It was proposed by Arthur Ponsonby, Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede, a former leader of the Labour Party in the Lords and minister under Ramsay MacDonald. He did so in place of the late Lord Moynihan, who a year before had helped found the British Voluntary Euthanasia Society.The Bill was opposed on pragmatic as well as moral grounds by a majority of Peers and rejected at the end of Second Reading in a Division of the House. Among those speaking against were the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cosmo Lang and the Bishop of Norwich, Bertram Pollock.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, died on 30th March 2002. On 3rd April 2002 the House of Lords met to offer tributes. The Lord Privy Seal rose to move, ‘That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty’, which began as follows:
“Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to express our heartfelt sympathy in the great sorrow which Your Majesty has suffered by the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother; and to offer to Your Majesty our most sincere condolences.
“what will we be heard to be saying about the worthwhileness of life under certain conditions? Do we, by legally accommodating the mental suffering of some, debase the currency for all? These are not trivial considerations; nor are they parochially religious ones.” – Rowan Williams, 12/5/06
On 12th May 2006 the House of Lords debated a Private Members’ Bill from Lord Joffe: the ‘Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill’. The then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, was one of three Lords Spiritual who spoke against, in a debate that lasted over seven hours and featured 90 speakers.
The Bill would have allowed a doctor to prescribe medication upon request from a terminally ill patient with capacity, so that by means of self-administration, that patient could end his or her life.
Following the debate a vote took place on whether to allow the Bill to proceed any further. Peers voted to not allow it to proceed by 148 to 100. 14 Lords Spiritual joined those voting against the Bill.
A transcript of the Archbishop’s speech follows:
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, opposition to the principle of this Bill is not confined to people of religious conviction—as we have been reminded by the noble, monotheistic and utilitarian Lord, Lord Carlile—and it would be a lazy counter-argument to suggest that such opposition can be written off because it comes only from those committed to a world view not universally shared. It is worth remembering that the secular or “enlightened” view of human autonomy assumed by many of the Bill’s defenders is no less a particular world view rather than a self-evident and universal truth. Continue reading “Archive speeches: Rowan Williams on Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill”
“There is the big picture for every politician who seeks to be more than a mere manager of the state’s business, a part of the mechanism of collecting Caesar’s taxes. Good government from a Christian point of view is about the acknowledgement and reinforcement of human dignity.”- Rowan Williams, 8/6/10