Bishop of Rochester calls for targeted sanctions to defend freedom of religion or belief, and protection for Uighurs in China

On 29th July the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon “Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020”. The Right Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, spoke in the debate.

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I, too, welcome this new regime of sanctions, but we must of course ensure that targeted sanctions do not become empty gestures. As other noble Lords have indicated, these sanctions will be most effective when they are consistent with other foreign policy priorities and done through co-ordinated, collective action. Without the support of a wider coalition, we risk being isolated diplomatically.

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Bishop of Birmingham asks Government about mineral supplies for green industries

On 6th July, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham, received a written answer on two questions from Lord Callanan.

The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: HL6040 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans are in place to ensure the UK’s continued access to critical minerals on the international market up to, and following, 31 December.

The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: HL6041 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the growth of UK-based green industries and the resultant need for high levels of critical mineral supplies.

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Bishop of Carlisle opposes Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations

On 15th June the House of Lords debated the Government’s “Abortion (Northern Ireland) (No. 2) Regulations 2020”. The Rt Revd James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle, spoke in support of an amendment to negative the Regulations, highlighting its effects on abortion on grounds of disability. In two subsequent votes, he and other bishops voted against, but the House of Lords passed the Regulations without amendment by large majorities. 

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I support the amendment from the noble Baroness, Lady O’Loan, and will focus on the proposal in Regulation 7 that abortion for disabilities including Down’s syndrome should be available during the first 12 weeks without question or counselling and then potentially through to birth.​

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Bishop of Derby says Covid-19 recovery strategy must consider needs of children and families

On 11th June 2020 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Hayman, “that this House takes note of the case for post-COVID-19 recovery strategies that will contribute to a fairer, cleaner, and more sustainable economy.” The Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Libby Lane, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, for securing this vital debate. The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the life of every child in this country. Many of their households face reduced income, irregular working hours, increasing debt, greater risk of online harm, growing concern over mental health and well-being, and increased prevalence of domestic violence. Already vulnerable children have been made all the more at risk. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby says Covid-19 recovery strategy must consider needs of children and families”

Bishop of Oxford calls for post-Covid economy with fast, affordable internet access for all

On 11th June 2020 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Hayman, “that this House takes note of the case for post-COVID-19 recovery strategies that will contribute to a fairer, cleaner, and more sustainable economy.” The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Steven Croft, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I warmly welcome this debate. The country faces the triple challenge in the next decade of the threat of climate change, the deepest recession for generations and the health challenges of Covid, all of which will exacerbate existing inequalities. I support much of what other noble Lords have said and will focus my remarks on the vital theme of digital inclusion.

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Bishop of St Albans speaks in debate on Second Reading of Agriculture Bill

On 10th June the House of Lords debated the Agriculture Bill. The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, spoke in the Second Reading debate, and highlighting issues around food security and environmental land management.

The Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I am pleased that the long-anticipated Agriculture Bill has finally arrived in your Lordships’ House. There are many good and laudable parts of the Bill, not least the fair trading provisions for farmers and concerns for the environment and wildlife.​

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Bishop of Chelmsford calls for vision of economy and society where everyone has a future

On 4th June 2020 the virtual House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Eatwell, “to move that the Virtual Proceedings do consider (1) the economic lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, and (2) the measures necessary to repair the United Kingdom economy.” The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, spoke in the debate.

Bishop of St Albans highlights issues with crop diversification

On 2nd June the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Gardiner of Kimble that the “Virtual Proceedings do consider the Direct Payments to Farmers (Crop Diversification Derogation) (England) Regulations 2020”. The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans spoke in the debate, and highlighted issues with crop diversity.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, British agriculture needs all the help it can get at this moment, so this legislation is most welcome. I congratulate Her Majesty’s Government on their flexibility in responding to this need. As the National Farmers Union said earlier this year, farmers

“have found it virtually impossible to have one crop in the ground, let alone three. Without a derogation they would have been forced down the bureaucratic ‘force majeure’ route that would require case by case assessments.”

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Bishop of Portsmouth asks Government about historic buildings

On 21st May 2020, Lord Cormack asked the Government “what steps they are taking to support (1) museums, (2) galleries, and (3) historic buildings open to the public, affected by the restrictions in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic”. The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate:

Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, the Church of England alone has 16,000 church buildings, over 12,000 of which are listed. We are at the bedrock ​of our communities and thus can be at the heart of recovery. I therefore make three points. First, we are rich in assets, but the pandemic means that income is plummeting, and budgets were already tight. I therefore urge the Government at least to remove VAT on repairs to historic buildings.

Secondly, government often brackets us with the hospitality industry. Are we hospitable? I hope so. Are we historic? Yes. Does such categorisation meet our distinct needs? No.

Thirdly, the Church encompasses buildings and people. Our impact on people will define us, so how we respond pastorally to the pandemic from our buildings will leave the deepest impression.

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Bishops of Durham and St Albans debate international response to Covid-19

On 18th May 2020 a virtual sitting of the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Sugg, “That the Virtual Proceedings do consider the international response to COVID-19.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, and the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:

20.04.30 Durham 2The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, thankfully, the virus appears to be spreading slowly in most African countries, with Lesotho declaring its first case only last week. However, the World Bank forecasts that Covid-19 could push 49 million people into extreme poverty. The economic impact on some poorer nations could be more detrimental than the health threat. The aid Her Majesty’s Government committed at the international pledging event will be vital for the poorest nations, but our international response must be sustainable, which requires trade, not simply aid. What actions have Her Majesty’s Government taken to ensure that good free trade agreements are made with poorer nations?

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