Coronavirus Bill: Andrew Selous supports new clause on postponing General Synod elections

On 23rd March 2020 the House of Commons considered the emergency legislation from Government to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Part of the Bill provided powers to delay scheduled elections for devolved and regional assemblies and other bodies. A new clause to extend that provision to the General Synod of the Church of England had been tabled by the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, and was accepted by Government.  Andrew spoke about it during the Committee stage of the Bill in the Commons:

Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire) (Con): I will not detain the House long. I rise to speak to new clause 1, which I understand has been agreed in advance with the Government, and I will move it at the end of this evening’s proceedings.

New clause 1 is very straightforward. It enables the elections to the General Synod of the Church of England to be postponed. Quite recently, we postponed all the elections that we in the House are involved in—the mayoral, local government and police and crime commissioner elections—but the General Synod is the National Assembly of the Church of England, and it is a Church that is episcopally led and synodically governed. The General Synod is a devolved body of this Parliament. It is the first devolved body of the Westminster Parliament and has been since 1919. Synods last five years, just as Westminster Parliaments do. The last one was elected in summer 2015 and therefore would expire this summer.

Continue reading “Coronavirus Bill: Andrew Selous supports new clause on postponing General Synod elections”

Bishop of Carlisle asks Government about persecution of Falun Gong in China

On 23rd March 2020 the Bishop of Carlisle, Rt Revd James Newcome, received a written answer to a question on the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China:

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: HL2425 To ask Her Majesty’s Government why the government of China’s persecution of Falun Gong practitioners has not been referenced in relation to their proposals for a new Magnitsky-style sanctions regime.

Continue reading “Bishop of Carlisle asks Government about persecution of Falun Gong in China”

Bishop of Southwark asks Government about visas for ministers of religion

On 23rd March 2020 the Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, received a written answer to a question on visas for ministers of religion:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: HL2370 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the UK’s points-based immigration system: policy statement, published on 19 February, what changes, if any, they plan to make to the existing Tier 2 Minister of Religion Category.

Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark asks Government about visas for ministers of religion”

Week in Westminster, 16th-20th March 2020

This week in Parliament the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke in response to Government statements on the coronavirus pandemic, the Budget and the Windrush Lessons Learned Review. He also asked  about plans to build communities and affordable housing.

The Bishop of Rochester spoke in a debate on the Chancellor’s Budget statement, and the Bishop of Carlisle supported two amendments to the Government’s Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill.

The Bishop of St Albans asked a question on the humanitarian situation in Yemen and received written answers to questions on a review of the Gambling Act, and rural connectivity. The Bishop of Winchester received a written answer to a question about further education college mergers, and the Bishop of Salisbury received a written answer to a question on climate change and migration.

In the House of Commons the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered questions  on church closures, coronavirus, persecution of Christians, and marriage support.

He also answered seven written questions from Jim Shannon MP, on carbon reduction, cashless donations, South Sudan, Uganda, lead theft and graveyard records, and a written question from Sir Desmond Swayne MP on marriages. Continue reading “Week in Westminster, 16th-20th March 2020”

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”

Archbishop responds to Government statement on coronavirus school closures

On 19th March 2020 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, responded to the Government statement on school closures in light of the coronavirus crisis:

The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, clearly the educational world is working extraordinarily hard—one welcomes that—in its determination to deal with an extraordinarily difficult situation very quickly and under huge pressure. If we follow the Imperial College analysis model that was recently published, we can see in certain circumstances the repeated waves of Covid-19 going on for 18 to 24 months. At what point will we begin to move towards a longer-term view of what needs to happen? Clearly, schools cannot be closed for two years. I wonder whether the Government have in their mind the planning for the eventuality of longer-term infectious prevalence in this country. Continue reading “Archbishop responds to Government statement on coronavirus school closures”

Bishop of St Albans asks about humanitarian situation in Yemen

On Thursday 19th March 2020 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a question in the House of Lords that he had tabled on the humanitarian situation in Yemen.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to tackle the humanitarian situation in Yemen.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con):  My Lords, the humanitarian situation in Yemen remains the worst in the world. Some 80% of the population require humanitarian assistance. Alongside our diplomatic efforts to end the conflict, we have provided over £200 million in aid this current financial year. This has met the immediate food needs of more than 1 million Yemenis each month during the year. However, we are clear that the only way to address the humanitarian crisis is through a political settlement.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I thank the Minister for his reply and for the hard work that I know he and his colleagues are putting into this situation. However, Yemen is now also suffering terrible outbreaks of cholera and diphtheria, and now Covid-19 has come along as well. So the airports have been closed. What are Her Majesty’s Government able to do to ensure that food supplies, aid and medicines are still actually getting into the country and getting where they are needed? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about humanitarian situation in Yemen”