Bishop of Coventry on peacebuilding and need to protect minority communities in Syria


On 9th February 2017 the House of Lords debated a motion from Crossbench Peer Baroness Cox “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of recent developments in Syria.” The Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, spoke in the debate:

Coventry Moses RoomThe Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for securing this debate. My main reason for speaking is to draw your Lordships’ attention and, especially, Her Majesty’s Government, to a recent report by the World Council of Churches, The Protection Needs of Minorities in Syria and Iraq. It is a serious piece of field study that has gathered the first-hand views of some 4,000 people, over 2,000 of them Syrians from minority communities: Christians, Yazidis, Druze, Turkmen and many others. I was in Baghdad and Irbil last month as part of a World Council of Churches delegation to test the findings of the report with community leaders and members, as well as with UNAMI and locally based NGOs, and confirm the soundness of its recommendations. I have every reason to believe that the report’s analysis of the Syrian situation is as credible as we found its Iraqi analysis to be. Therefore I ask the Minister that the Government engage with this robust report. Continue reading

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about support to address self-harm by young people


stalbans190117-bOn 9th February 2017 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Massey of Darwen “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they plan to take in the light of the Association for Young People’s Health briefing There for you which discusses the role of parents in supporting young people with mental health problems.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, there are few more urgent issues in modern Britain than the state of mental health among our young people, and I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, for tabling this important debate. Referrals to specialist mental health services have risen dramatically in recent years as increasing social pressures on our young people threaten the mental health of a generation. Issues around body image are one area of particular concern, fuelled in part by the rise of social media. I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Gloucester for her important work around body image and self-worth. Continue reading

Bishop highlights heritage connections of St Albans


Bishop St Albans June 2015On 9th February 2017 the House of Lords debated a motion from Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Oates “To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will publish guidance to encourage the protection of existing historical statues and memorials and promote the establishment of new memorials that reflect the broader history of the United Kingdom.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I add my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Oates, for this debate, and in particular for the work he is doing on the memorial to those who have been enslaved. We look forward to hearing more about it as it develops. I am pleased that he has focused our minds not just on existing memorials, but on what we ought to be doing as we look to the future, especially for the urgent need to celebrate the wide diversity of people and events that have contributed to our national life, many of which are underrepresented in our public spaces. Continue reading

Bishop of St Albans says UK must be a world leader in disability rights, post-Brexit


On 2nd February 2017 Baroness Scott of Needham Market led a debate in the House of Lords “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact on disabled people of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:

stalbans190117The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I too am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Scott, for giving us the opportunity to reflect on this important subject. For many years, the European Union has been an important driver of disability rights in the UK, helping to improve disability access and strengthen non-discrimination laws right across Europe. It was the European Union that ensured non-discrimination laws were extended to smaller businesses, and the European Court of Justice which extended rights to carers and those in relationships with a disabled person, to name just two examples. With the proposed European Accessibility Act still some time away from implementation, I hope the Minister can understand the fear expressed by many in this House and outside it that a post-Brexit UK may start to fall behind its European counterparts when it comes to disability rights. Continue reading

Bishop of Derby speaks on importance of employment opportunities for women and girls in developing countries


On 26th January 2017 Lord Loomba led a short debate in the Lords, “to ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the report published by Oxfam on wealth disparity, what steps they are taking to ensure that women and girls in the developing world are equipped with the right employment skills.” The Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, spoke in the debate:

derby-19117The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Loomba, and congratulate him on the splendid work that his foundation does in targeting widows, who are some of the most vulnerable people. I also congratulate Oxfam on producing such a helpful report. Many noble Lords have spoken about the issues. I want to stress the fact that this is not just about inequality and discrimination; the report shows that they are both growing. That growth is the context in which we look at this debate. Continue reading

Bishop of Durham speaks of Brexit uncertainty for families with EU citizens in UK


On 26th January 2017 Labour Peer Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town led a debate on a Motion “That this House takes note of the impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union and potential withdrawal from the single market on the rights of European Union citizens living in this country and the United Kingdom’s future economic requirements.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in the debate:

durham-230117The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, for introducing this debate. At the outset, I will take the opportunity to thank the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, for his participation in ongoing conversations with the Church of England around these issues and for the time he has taken in hearing our concerns. Continue reading

Archbishop of York speaks on importance of building communities as well as homes


On 24th January 2017 Labour Peer Baroness Andrews moved “That the Grand Committee takes note of the Report from the Select Committee on National Policy for the Built Environment (Session 2015–16, HL Paper 100).” The Archbishop of York, Most Revd John Sentamu, spoke in the debate, highlighting the need not only for new homes but for community resources too:

york-170117The Archbishop of York: My Lords, it is essential that more homes are built to support the population of the United Kingdom. Parliament’s own publication estimates that a minimum of 230,000 new homes need to be built each year, a level of building not sustained since the 1970s, and two to three times above the current levels of supply. Some 81,000 households were estimated to be homeless or in temporary accommodation in 2013-14. It is young people in their late teens and 20s who are most unable to afford rents, particularly in the private sector. The gap between average household income and house price continues to rise, further reducing affordability for many households. Therefore, as affordable new-build housing is essential, the quality and effort put into designing the living environment and communal space becomes even more important. Continue reading