Bishop of Blackburn asks Government about fire safety costs for leaseholders

On 24th May 2021 the Bishop of Blackburn asked a question on behalf of the Bishop of St Albans, on fire safety costs for leaseholders.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the (1) current, and (2) future, incidence of leaseholder bankruptcies attributable to remedial fire safety works and interim fire safety costs.

The Lord Bishop of Blackburn: My Lords, on behalf of my right reverend colleague, I ask the Question standing in his name on the Order Paper.

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Bishop of Southwark asks about freedom of religion and expression in Turkey

24th May 2021

The Bishop of Southwark: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the conviction of Sefer (Aho) Bileçen of the Mor Yahqup d-Qarne Monastery on terrorism charges in April, what assessment they have made of the government of Turkey’s policies towards freedom of (1) religion, and (2) cultural expression.

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Bishop of Southwark asks Government about reports of genocide and war crimes in Tigray

24th May 2021

The Bishop of Southwark: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the statement by Patriarch Abuna Mathias in April (1) that the government of Ethiopia and its allies are committing genocide in Tigray, and (2) that rape is being used as a weapon of war in that region.

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Church Commissioners written answer: rural parish support

24th May 2021

Rt Hon Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, if he will make a statement on what steps the Church of England is taking to support the diocese of (a) Hereford and (b) Lichfield; and what plans the Church of England has to support dioceses with large rural parishes.

Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire): Diocesan resourcing of mission and ministry is supported by congregational giving, historic investments and other income. Additional support is provided from national funds generated by the investments of the Church Commissioners and distributed by the Archbishops’ Council.

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Church Commissioners written answer: St Paul’s Cathedral

Andrew Rosindell (Conservative Romford): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church of England is taking to ensure the future of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Andrew Selous (Conservative South West Bedfordshire): The Church Commissioners and other National Church Institutions have been in regular contact with the Dean and Chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral throughout the pandemic as they have with all the Anglican cathedrals in England. The Church Commissioners made additional financial support available to all cathedrals and dioceses throughout the pandemic over and above the financial support they regularly make available.

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Bishop of Birmingham reflects on pandemic changes to working life in Lords

On 20th May 2021 the House of Lords debated the changes made to its working procedures as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The Bishop of Birmingham, as convenor of the Lords Spiritual, spoke about the effect on the Bishops’ Benches and more widely in the country.

The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I share, from these Benches, our gratitude for all those who have worked so hard, with agility and rapidity, both the staff that serve the House and those who manage the business of the House, in a very challenging and, in fact, a unique time, as has been referred to several times already.

The noble Earl, Lord Howe, said that every aspect of life has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Even churches have become hybrid. Families have been separated and have kept in touch by Zoom. Employers and employees are now negotiating home and back-to-work settings. Online parents’ evenings at schools have become more popular than ever. As has been said already, I join those who are at a moment of learning lessons from what has happened to us, unexpected and unprepared, over the past 15 months. This great disruption means that we will face further change, not just here but in society as a whole.

The decisions we have to make are about what to keep that has been beneficial, or surprisingly new and advantageous, and what to go back to, as what works well for our purpose today. We do so in the context of an uncertain journey ahead, on the road map, and also with the priority to keep everyone safe and well in this terrible time of virus, as I believe we have tried to do in this House.

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Bishop of Southwark says underlying causes of Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be addressed

On 20th May 2021 the Bishop of Southwark asked a question in the Lords about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: Some of your Lordships may be aware that I returned from Jerusalem yesterday evening, where I attended the very joyful installation of the new Anglican archbishop there. From an earlier answer given by the Minister, I take it he agrees that, until the underlying causes that gave rise to the clashes on Temple Mount, in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood where I was staying, and the conflict between Hamas and Israel, are addressed, Israelis and Palestinians will not enjoy security, experience justice or build a relationship of mutual respect and regard? Does the Minister agree that, for violence to permanently end, Israel’s occupation must also end?

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Bishop of St Albans asks about access to debt advice

Debts: Advisory Services – written question Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans. Answer received 20th May 2021.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the findings in the Christian’s Against Poverty’s Our Story, Client Report 2021, published in April, that 45 per cent of clients did not initially know where to access help to manage their debts, what plans they have to better (1) signpost, and (2) raise awareness of, debt advice services as part of the recovery from COVID-19. [HL93]

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Queen’s Speech – Bishop of Leeds on foreign policy ethics, EU and Russia

On 19th May 2021 the Bishop of Leeds spoke in the House of Lords in the fifth and final day of debate on the Queen’s Speech. He focused on ethics, the EU and Russia.

My Lords, I am grateful to follow the Noble Lord Campbell and for the Noble Lady the Minister’s comprehensive and ambitious speech introducing this debate. I welcomed the Government’s Integrated Review as a necessary attempt to hold together the diverse interests, challenges and opportunities facing the UK in the future.

One of the things I learned in my early career as a linguist at GCHQ was that words and assumptions need to be interrogated as they can be used to obscure reality. For example, in our context, an increased “cap” on nuclear weapons tells us nothing about numbers that might actually be intended or the rationale for them.

So, I think it was remarkable that reference in the Review to the European Union was almost completely missing. Now, this had been widely predicted as it seems that, for the Government, any such reference might be heard as an ideological Remainer capitulation. Yet, the rationale for a tilt towards the Indo-Pacific only makes sense to a point: it is not just what we are “tilting towards” that matters, but also what we are “tilting away from” that has to be considered.

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Queen’s Speech – Archbishop of Canterbury on need for reconciliation as priority in foreign policy

On 19th May 2021 the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke in the House of Lords on the fifth and final day of the debate on the Queen’s Speech.

My Lords, it is a privilege to speak in this debate on the Gracious Speech after the Noble Lord, Lord Hannay with his vast experience and knowledge, and I have learned much from his speech and agree with what he’s said.

The Integrated Review of Global Britain in a Competitive Age has much to be welcomed, including especially the thoughtfulness about the security implications of climate change, the strong commitment to Freedom of Religion and Belief and the commitment to restore the 0.7%. However, to speak of security, defence, development and foreign policy without a developed section on peacebuilding and peace-making, especially with competitors, is like speaking of the pandemic without mentioning vaccination.

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