Bishop of Leeds speaks in debate on EU Withdrawal Agreement

On 5th December 2018 the House of Lords debated a motion to take note of the Government’s EU Withdrawal Agreement, alongside an Opposition motion to regret it. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I wish that I could pack as much into a single speech as the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, but I defy the challenge.

It is perhaps not a bad idea at this stage in the debate just to take a step back and to remember what the point of all this is. I was doing “Thought for the Day” on Radio 4 this morning and picked up on three words from the title of a Theos think-tank report on resilience in the north-east of England—people, place and purpose. They are three words that offer us a lens through which to see what all this is about. I endorse what the most reverend Primate said this morning in his speech.

Whatever the ultimate outcome, one of the legacies of the Brexit process thus far is, as I have said before, a corruption of public discourse, polarisation between people and communities, and a too frequent reduction of the polity to the merely economic. People are now too often categorised as either Punch or Judy; argument and nuance are dismissed in favour of emotive ad hominem judgment.

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Archbishop of Canterbury speaks on EU Withdrawal Agreement

On 5th December 2018 the House of Lords debated a motion to take note of the Government’s EU Withdrawal Agreement, alongside an Opposition ‘motion to regret’. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, spoke in the debate, emphasising the importance of reconciliation and for the poorest in society to be protected should there be an economic downturn. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, of the choice of psalms that form part of our daily prayers in the Lords, we have Psalm 46, which we heard today,

“The nations rage, the kingdoms totter”,

and Psalm 121, which we will doubtless hear tomorrow,

“I lift up my eyes to the hills …

My help comes from the Lord,

who made heaven and earth”.

Eyes need to be lifted now more than ever, and that is a gift of this House, perhaps more than others. It is a skill and a calling here.

The withdrawal agreement and the political declaration are essentially political more than economic; the debate has moved on from the referendum campaign, which was the other way round. Another change, as we know particularly since yesterday evening, is that the great decisions are now left firmly in the hands of Parliament—as is right.

The decision on this agreement and consequent legislation is thus about not just the immediate politics but national policy and identity, and our future place in the world and how we develop it. It is long term: it is for the child born yesterday and not just for parliamentarians today. The decision must be made in the interests of those who will be here for the long term. In the midst of political struggle, that is a very hard thing to do, but it is the calling of Parliament and one to which it has risen in equal crises in the past. Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury speaks on EU Withdrawal Agreement”

Bishop of Worcester says crisis in school funding causing stress for staff and impacting children with special educational needs

On 29th November 2018 Baroness Morris of Yardley led a debate in the Lords on the motion “That this House takes note of the impact on schools of Her Majesty’s Government’s approach to school funding.” The Bishop of Worcester, Rt Revd John Inge, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Morris of Yardley, for securing this important debate on school funding and for her impassioned and powerful introduction to it. I fear that she is right that there is a crisis in school funding. Head teachers in the diocese of Worcester speak of the stress they are experiencing due to funding worries; of not sleeping due to such worries, which impacts negatively on all they are trying to do; of a sense of letting down children with significant needs; and of a feeling that they have nowhere to turn to be truly heard. One head of a school who has been asked to double its numbers has not been provided with sufficient funding to do so, throwing his school into financial insecurity and causing immense stress. Continue reading “Bishop of Worcester says crisis in school funding causing stress for staff and impacting children with special educational needs”

Bishop of Durham on need to welcome refugee children on 80th anniversary of Kindertransport

durham-230117-bOn 26th November 2018 Lord Dubs led a short debate on the motion: ‘To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the decision to allow Kindertransport children to come to the United Kingdom.’ The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, contributed to the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I add my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, for securing this debate and for all he does as the living embodiment in this House of the Kindertransport legacy. It was also my privilege to be present at the event at the Friends’ meeting house a couple of weeks ago, which was deeply inspiring.

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Bishop of Leeds calls for honesty in discourse and about deep challenges UK faces with Brexit

On 20th November 2018 Government Minister Lord Callanan led a debate in the House of Lords on the motion “That this House takes note of the statement by the Prime Minister repeated by the Lord Privy Seal on 15 November relating to the European Union exit negotiations.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, only four months remain before we walk arm-in-arm to the sunlit uplands where the easiest deal in history will have been made and everybody will be happy—except we know that this is not the case.

Other noble Lords will concentrate on the details of the deal—a word I loathe because it reduces an existential question simply to a matter of trade and transaction—and the position in which it leaves us. I want to pick up on one line of the Prime Minister’s Statement to the House last week, which I questioned in the short debate on Thursday:

“If we get behind a deal, we can bring our country back together and seize the opportunities that lie ahead”.—[Official Report, Commons, 15/11/18; col. 1982.]

I asked if the promise to bring our country back together was credible and achievable and, if so, how it was to be done. The answer was simply a repeat of mantras about the deal. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds calls for honesty in discourse and about deep challenges UK faces with Brexit”

Bishop of Oxford calls for vigorous public debate on impact of artificial intelligence

Oxford 5718On 19th November 2018, Lord Clement-Jones tabled a Motion ‘That this House takes note of the Report from the Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence AI in the UK: ready, willing and able? (HL Paper 100).’ The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Steven Croft, served on the committee that produced the report and he spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, it was a pleasure to serve as part of your Lordships’ Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence, and an education. I join others in paying tribute to the expertise and skill of our chair, the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, and our excellent staff and advisers.

At the beginning of my engagement with AI, what kept me awake at night was the prospect of what AI might mean for the distant future: the advent of conscious machines, killer robots and artificial general intelligence. We are probably more than a generation away from those risks. But what kept me awake as the inquiry got under way—it really did—were the possibilities and risks of AI in the present.

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Archbishop pays tribute to HRH the Prince of Wales on his 70th birthday

On 14th November 2018 the House of Lords paid tribute to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales on the occasion of his 70th birthday. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rt Hon Justin Welby, spoke on behalf of the Bishops’ Benches:

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