The Bishop of Peterborough delivered his maiden speech to the House of Lords on 25th February 2014, during the debate tabled by Lord Low of Dalston: ‘To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to Tackling the Advice Deficit, the report of the Low Commission on the future of advice and legal support on social welfare law in England and Wales’.
The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, as I make this maiden speech I am delighted to have the opportunity to thank the many Members and staff of your Lordships’ House who have made me so very welcome here. I am also most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Low, for initiating this debate, and for producing with his colleagues this excellent, wide-ranging and challenging report.
I suppose it to be inevitable that cuts in government spending, however necessary they may be, will always hit the poorest most. It is therefore all the more important to give attention to ways of helping the most vulnerable to claim and receive the support to which they are entitled and the professional advice they may need. This report does that: I welcome it most warmly and hope that Her Majesty’s Government can do so too. Continue reading “The Bishop of Peterborough makes his maiden speech in the House of Lords”
The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Prosser, on securing this debate. I reassure noble Lords that I am not speaking simply to bring a modicum of gender balance to the Chamber.
Many years ago now, when we were living in the East Midlands, my wife was a volunteer at a women’s refuge. She was scrupulous in maintaining confidentiality about those who used the refuge. None the less, on occasion, she would return home shocked and distressed at the violence that women had experienced, even here in our own country. It was a phenomenon that did not relate to just one stratum of society. Continue reading “Bishop of Wakefield calls for close links with civil society to end violence against women”
The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: My Lords, perhaps I may focus my question on Ukraine. It seems to me that there are some senses—not exactly repetitions—in which we are seeing replayed some of the things that were not resolved in the early 1990s with the collapse of the Soviet Union. I remember that at that time I was working at Lambeth as the archbishop’s foreign secretary, as it were, and on one occasion the telephone was brought to me in the bath. There was a call from the gatekeeper telling me that Mr Gorbachev was in captivity in the Crimea and he thought that I ought to know so that I could do something about it. Some very good and quite low-key, and low-cost, initiatives were taken by Her Majesty’s Government at that time to support the development of democracy in the various republics that resulted from the collapse of the Soviet Union, including Ukraine. Can we be reassured that, once things become a little more stable, those sorts of initiatives might be looked at again? I am suggesting not carbon copies but that sort of thing.
My other point is that only the churches never recognised the division of Europe. The Conference of European Churches always worked across Europe. There are very serious divisions in the churches in the Ukraine, often reflecting some of the fragmentations that exist in the country as a whole. Again, that is another area where Her Majesty’s Government might work with others to see how one moves towards a more democratic situation.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I continue to learn how close church links can be across national boundaries. I was in Armenia some months ago and was met by a very chatty archbishop, who seemed to know almost every bishop I had ever met in this country. However, we all know that the Orthodox Church in and across the former Soviet Union is a very complex and divided entity, and not all its branches are committed to anything that we would recognise as a liberal approach to organised religion. Sadly, the different branches of the church in Ukraine represent that rather well.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, for securing this debate. Like her, I am a great lover of the Forest of Dean, which until recently was part of the diocese of Worcester. When I say “recently”, I mean the 16th century, but what are a few centuries in the life of the church or, indeed, in the life of a forest? I pay tribute to her for her work, as I do, along with other noble Lords, to the recently retired Bishop of Liverpool for his significant contribution to the welfare of our forests made as chairman of the Independent Panel on Forestry. Continue reading “The Bishop of Worcester speaks in debate on Independent Panel on Forestry”
My Lords, I was eager to participate in this debate and I, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, for raising this vital issue, which has touched the nerves of so many people right across the country, in every part of our nation. I want to pick up four details of the Government’s response. They are minor, not major, points but I hope that they will be helpful. The first is to build on the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Parminter, about the unprecedented levels of flooding that we are having in the UK. Continue reading “The Bishop of St Albans speaks in debate on Independent Panel on Forestry report”
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, for securing this debate and I pay tribute to the wonderful work that he has done in this area over many years, as I do to the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, who has similarly done wonderful work. I claim no particular expertise, although I am passionate about the arts—perhaps that is something to do with the fact that it is sometimes said that many clergy are failed actors. Continue reading “The Bishop of Worcester speaks on arts and culture in the ‘current financial climate’”
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, I am grateful for the Minister’s Statement. As we all know, attention has rightly focused on the Somerset Levels and the terrible plight that people are enduring there, but when I left Worcester this morning the city was gridlocked as a result of the closure of the main bridge across the river and the situation remains acute. I do not want to apportion blame; I want to pay tribute to those who are working very hard and to the understanding and graciousness of the inhabitants of Worcester. However, it is true that the implications of this will be enormous, economically and from a human point of view. Can the Minister confirm that a coherent policy will be forthcoming for all the affected areas, not just those most terribly affected?
Lord De Mauley: The right reverend Prelate is absolutely right—I can confirm that. We have finite resources and must apportion them in a proper way, in accordance with priorities, and the priorities must be human life and property. While I am at the Dispatch Box, can I say that, although I have not given them credit, I know that the churches in Somerset in particular are playing a major part in helping people affected by this dreadful tragedy?