Bishop of Leeds asks Government about farming and rural policy post-Brexit

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On Thursday 23rd March 2017 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Teverson “That this House takes note of the Report from the European Union Committee Brexit: environment and climate change (12th Report, HL Paper 109).” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, a number of questions have already been posed, and I pity the Minister for having to go through them in some detail. We heard earlier that we in this Chamber tend to be gloomy, and now we should be cheerful. I am neither; I am just puzzled—which is not a new experience.

From reading the report, which is a model of clarity, as are most of the Brexit reports that come from the various committees, it seems that, as we peel back the layers of the onion, we end up with more layers. I realise that that sounds paradoxical, but it seems to get more and more complex. The other night in the debate on Brexit and Gibraltar I tried to ask some questions about stress testing, to which I got no answer. So I shall try again, focusing very briefly on just one or two questions. Continue reading

Archbishop responds to terror attack on Westminster

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On Thursday 23rd March 2017 the House of Lords paid tribute to those who had been killed and injured, and to first responders, during the previous day’s terror attack in Westminster. The House also heard a repeat of the statement given in the House of Commons by the Prime Minister. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby spoke of the “deep values” in British society that give us the strength to persevere:

The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I associate myself with the thanks and tributes paid today, and especially our prayers and thoughts for PC Keith Palmer and for his family. I also acknowledge the work of so many members of the public who pitched in and did what they needed to do when faced with things for which they had never been trained or prepared. Continue reading

Bishop of Leeds asks Government to stress test all scenario outcomes for Gibraltar in leaving the EU

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Leeds160620On 21st March 2017, Lord Boswell of Aynho asked Her Majesty’s Government what their response is to the Report from the European Union Committee Brexit: Gibraltar (13th Report, HL Paper 116). The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate, asking whether the Government were stress testing the outcomes of leaving the European Union on Gibraltar.

The Lord Bishop of Leeds My Lords, I endorse all that has been said so eloquently. The report is excellent, but for me it raises a number of questions. The main one concerns the fact that throughout the referendum campaign, and subsequently, we have repeatedly heard statements such as, “We will get a good deal”, and, “We will do this and we will do that”, when in fact we do not hold the power in a lot of this—it will have to be negotiated. Despite urging that we get the best for Gibraltar, I want to be assured that the Government are stress-testing all the scenarios, including the worst-case ones. We owe it to the people of Gibraltar to do that because it was not done in preparation for the referendum itself. Continue reading

Bishop of Leeds comments on the capability of the armed forces and the UK’s relationship with Russia

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leeds-20117On 21st March 2017 the Government’s Armed Forces Act (Continuation) Order 2017 was laid before Parliament with a motion to approve. The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines spoke in the debate, commenting on the UK’s relationship with Russia.

The Lord Bishop of Leeds My Lords, I hesitate to follow such eloquent speeches on so much detail, but I want to make one or two general points about a more specific area. I do so from an interest that began when I was a Soviet specialist at GCHQ in a previous incarnation, although I realise that that is probably not the right religious phrase to use.

It still seems to me that an SDSR should enable us to be flexible enough to cope with whatever changes are likely to come. My fear, which I have expressed in the House before, remains that in 15 to 20 years’ time we may end up with a force that meets the demands of now but perhaps not the demands of the situation 15 or 20 years down the line because the world changes so much. When I left GCHQ, the Soviet Union was intact, and we see what has changed since then. Therefore, I want to focus on Russia in particular. Continue reading

Bishop of Derby on role of the Commonwealth in development and modelling diversity

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On 16th March 2017 the House of Lords debated a Government motion “To move that this House takes note of the United Kingdom’s relationship with the Commonwealth, ahead of the United Kingdom hosting the Heads of Government meeting in 2018.” The Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay for her introduction and her leadership in international development matters and, now, the Commonwealth. I want us to think of ​the Commonwealth as a global community which, like any community, will have very mixed ingredients, as we have already heard. Although it is important in our present moment to look at the potential for trade and its enriching, I want us to look at the wider context in which the meeting is happening and what the agenda for the Heads of Government might be to be fruitful. Continue reading

Bishop of Chester welcomes Government policy reversal on National Insurance contributions

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ChesterOn 15th March 2017, a statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on national insurance contributions was repeated in the House of Lords. The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, responded to the statement.

The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, I think I can paraphrase the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, by saying:

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often”,

as Churchill said. It is a strength that the Government can change their mind so openly and directly, and I wish that politicians would more often simply and openly accept that they have changed their mind in the light of the evidence. So, in that sense, I welcome this announcement. Continue reading

Bishop of Durham highlights the importance of chaplaincy and a whole person approach to end of life care

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durham-230117On 14th March 2017, Baroness Finlay of Llandaff led a short debate on the question of ‘how the Government intends to ensure that Clinical Commissioners respect the undertakings made in Our Commitments to You for End of Life Care: The Government Response to the Review of Choice in End of Life Care’. The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler spoke in the debate, paying tribute to the importance of chaplaincy to end of life care.

The Lord Bishop of Durham My Lords:

“The medical side of a patient’s health is not always the key to treating them”.

So said a medical student recently, describing what he had learned from a leading end-of-life care specialist at St Benedict’s Hospice and Centre in Sunderland. Another medical student said:

“Palliative care is not just end-of-life care. It is a very holistic approach which supports the patients’ needs very well”. Continue reading