Archbishop of Canterbury responds to Home Office Windrush Lessons Report

On 19th March 2020 the Home Secretary made a statement on the publication of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review. The statement was repeated in the House of Lords and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, responded:

The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, the publication of this Statement is very welcome indeed. The heartfelt nature of the apology was notable.​

I have a couple of questions about the recommendations to put to the noble Baroness. First, one of the historic failures of the Church of England—in many ways as bad as the hostile environment—was the terrible reception that we gave the Windrush generation, the vast majority of whom were Anglicans, when they came here. They were often turned away from Church of England churches, or were given a very weak welcome or no welcome at all. As a result, they went off and formed their own churches, which have flourished much better than ours. We would be so much stronger had we behaved correctly. I have apologised for that, and I continue to do so and see the wickedness of our actions. Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury responds to Home Office Windrush Lessons Report”

Bishop of Rochester responds to Chancellor’s Budget Statement

On 18th March 2020 the House of Lords debated the Budget Statement made the previous week by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Rochester:  My Lords, as many have already observed, this Budget comes in extraordinarily unusual circumstances, and in relation to the issues around Covid-19, subsequent to the Budget announcement, the Chancellor has brought forward a number of measures which have been largely well received, and no doubt others will need to follow. While voluntary action in our communities will form much of the day-to-day response to those who are the most vulnerable and potentially isolated across our nation, the sustaining of public services and of businesses is vital for both our social and economic well-being; other speakers have already begun to address some of those issues.​

Following the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury is always a risky business, and other noble Lords have already spoken with considerable knowledge of these matters, so I shall focus my remarks on one or two specific issues and areas which were already matters of concern, and where that concern is perhaps greater because of the circumstances in which we now find ourselves.

On children and young people, I hugely welcome the long-overdue extension of higher-rate housing benefit for care leavers until the age of 25, thus giving stability in their accommodation beyond their 22nd birthday. This is something that the Church of England organisation the Children’s Society and other charities have campaigned for over some time, and it is most welcome. Also welcome is the £2.5 million for research on family hubs. However, what is not in the provisions of the Budget or subsequent provisions is sufficient funding to address the urgent need for every child to achieve a good start in life, and that is becoming more urgent in the light of the current circumstances. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester responds to Chancellor’s Budget Statement”

Archbishop of Canterbury calls for vision of a ‘we’ society, alongside spending in response to coronavirus budget measures

On 18th March 2020 the House of Lords debated the Budget Statement made the previous week by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, spoke in the debate:

The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, a Budget is social morality in numbers. Whatever we say we believe about the dignity of human beings and about the existence or otherwise of society, the reality of our belief is demonstrated by the way we act, and especially by the way we act with money. The crisis through which we are passing will change this nation in deep and unpredictable ways, as the noble Lord, Lord Oates, has just said. Like a nuclear explosion, the initial impact is colossal, but the fallout lasts for years and will shape us in ways we cannot even begin to predict at the moment.

The Budget and the extra package announced yesterday must be both adequate in amount and sufficient in their aims to ensure that this country emerges confident from overcoming the virus—positively better than before it began. We will overcome the virus. The noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, commented that small groups all over the country are showing fresh signs of community spirit and collaboration, and it is from those small groups, through to the large-scale government measures, that things will change.

Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury calls for vision of a ‘we’ society, alongside spending in response to coronavirus budget measures”

Bishop of Bristol speaks of climate commitments, Government praises “strong leadership” of church

On 12th March 2020 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Parminter, “To move that this House takes note of the case for investing in, and embracing, a green economy that promotes resource efficiency and zero carbon usage.” The Bishop of Bristol, Rt Revd Viv Faull, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Bristol:  My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for bringing this debate before the House. As has been said already, and will no doubt be said again, our climate is at a crisis point. As your Lordships are well aware, we continue to see significant losses of biodiversity, increases in global temperatures, rising sea levels and extreme weather events. In the knowledge that these circumstances will disproportionately affect the poorest, and as a nation that has historically consumed large amounts of carbon, it is our moral imperative to act now.

I find myself in the privileged position of representing both a Church and a city to which this issue matters a great deal. Only two weeks ago, Bristol welcomed Greta Thunberg to its College Green, where she addressed more than 15,000 young people. She said that

“nothing is being done to halt this crisis despite all the beautiful words and promises from our elected officials.”

It is my hope that our work here today and in the future will amount to much more than just beautiful words.

Continue reading “Bishop of Bristol speaks of climate commitments, Government praises “strong leadership” of church”

Bishop of Portsmouth call for measurement of children’s well-being on national level

On 12th March 2020 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Tyler of Enfield, “that this House takes note of the case for Her Majesty’s Government to use wellbeing as a key indicator of national performance when setting budgets, deciding policy priorities and reviewing the effectiveness of policy goals.” The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, I begin by humbly making two recommendations of ways in which your Lordships might profitably spend their time.

The first is to visit Portsmouth’s historic dockyard, where the nations historic naval hardware is on display. It is the stuff of national myth: from the “Mary Rose” to HMS “Victory” to HMS “Warrior”. Beyond them, visitors can see one or sometimes both of the Royal Navy’s latest, hugely powerful expressions of British sea power: the great aircraft carriers HMS “Queen Elizabeth” and “Prince of Wales”. These great ships, old and new, represent projections of hard power, but what often speaks more powerfully to those visiting the dockyard is the soft side to life on board: the story, how people lived their lives, their feelings, aspirations, hopes and fears—their well-being.

It seems to me that this exemplifies the challenge faced by policymakers and any assessment of how well, and if, a policy has worked: whether it has produced the desired outcome. Crunching the numbers is one way, but what policy looks and feels like in Whitehall and Westminster can be very different from the feelings and experience of those it directly affects. ​ Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth call for measurement of children’s well-being on national level”

Bishop of Gloucester speech in International Women’s Day debate

On 10th March 2020 the House of Lords held a debate to mark International Women’s Day, on a motion from Baroness Berridge, “That this House takes note of International Women’s Day and the United Kingdom’s role in advancing equalities for women everywhere.” The Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, spoke in the debate, highlighting the issues of global education, violence against women and women’s treatment in the criminal justice system:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, it is a privilege to participate in this debate, although I am disappointed not to be in New York at the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which was cancelled last week. This event was to celebrate the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, published 25 years ago, which saw countries agree to dedicate themselves unreservedly to addressing constraints and obstacles to gender equality, thus enhancing the empowerment of women and girls all over the world. There is still much to do. Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester speech in International Women’s Day debate”

Bishop of Salisbury says BBC needs to be cherished, not disrupted

On 5th March 2020 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Young of Norwood Green, “That this House takes note of the role of the BBC and public service broadcasting in the United Kingdom’s economy and creative culture.” The Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: My Lords, the timing of this debate could hardly be better. I also want to thank the noble Lord, Lord Young, for his introduction. The Media and Telecoms 2020 & Beyond conference and the Culture Secretary’s contribution to it inevitably inform a lot of what is to be said. I also wondered whether I need to declare an interest, having been the vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields for 16 years, given that the first religious service ever broadcast came from there, by the BBC, in January 1924. The link continues. I never made much income from it, but it is a significant relationship with considerable affection for the BBC built into it. Continue reading “Bishop of Salisbury says BBC needs to be cherished, not disrupted”