“No one is an individual—that is a modern myth. Each human being is a person who is who they are because of their relationships with others. Crime is when relationships go wrong or are handled destructively. Human beings are formed through relationships” – Bishop of Derby, 8.11.13
On 8th November 2013, the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, took part in the debate on the Second Reading of Lord Dholakia’s Age of Criminal Responsibility Bill, which sought to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12. The Bishop focused his remarks on the challenges associated with treating children as entirely individual and independent units, and the associated need of providing safe and positive spaces in which children can develop socially – particularly focusing on the need for strong family units. The Bill did not progress any further than its Second Reading.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, for introducing this topic and I heartily endorse all that the noble Earl has said. This is a very complex issue, and we are having this debate in a national context in which public opinion wants justice to be seen to be done. A strong scapegoating mentality exists which indicates that there is also a high level of anxiety in society. The key people to be scapegoated tend to be criminals and immigrants. We have to take that part of the context seriously in having this debate. A second context, as we have heard, is the UN recommendation on the rights of the child, that the age of criminal responsibility should be at least 12. Many countries, as we have heard, go even higher than that. A third context is that there are suggestions, as there is in Ireland, of raising the age to 12, but of allowing some flexibility in dealing with serious crimes. So this is a very complex issue in an anxious society which is nervous about seeming to give positive signals to bad behaviour and social deviancy. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby supports raising age of criminal responsibility”
On 7th November 2013, Baroness Cox led a short debate on what assessment Her Majesty’s Government have made of the situation in Sudan, and the implications for citizens of the Republic of South Sudan. The Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, took part in the debate.
The Lord Bishop of Guildford: My Lords, I completely endorse what has been said so far in this discussion. I want to raise a rather different point, but equally I want to express my distress—and, indeed, my shared anger—about the humanitarian, agrarian and political disaster about which we have been speaking.
My rather different point is a question about the implications of further destabilisation of Sudan for the country’s international neighbours. I think that that is an important point. I visit Nigeria regularly, and I am due to fly out to Abuja on Sunday. Four years ago, I was able to go to the province of Maiduguri up in the north-east. I cannot go there now, at the moment anyway, because of the political situation. Maiduguri is a long, long way from Sudan—many miles away. Nevertheless, I believe that there is a connection. Continue reading “Bishop of Guildford warns of further destabilisation if situations in Sudan and South Sudan are not resolved”
“There are huge numbers of practising Christians in China, amounting to many tens of millions, although I agree that the exact figure is very hard to determine…. The Chinese Government have a close interest in how religion helps in building a harmonious society, now that communism is not the only player in China’s major global role.”
On 7th November 2013 the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, took part in Lord Dobbs take-note debate on the recent developments in the relationship between the United Kingdom and China. He focused on the long-standing relationship between the West and China, particularly in terms of the long history of Christianity in China. He noted contemporary initiatives to strengthen the relationship between the Church of England and the church in China, particularly the role of the Bishop of Birmingham as the Archbishop’s envoy to China.
The Lord Bishop of Guildford: My Lords, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Birmingham deeply regrets that he cannot be in his place today. He is the envoy of the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury in relation to China. I am sorry that he is not here speaking, and not only because I am speaking in his place.
We are hearing, and shall continue to hear, many fascinating things in this debate about China, not least from the two maiden speeches, to which we look forward. The importance of student academic exchanges, stressed by some noble Lords, particularly resonates with me. I declare an interest in the University of Surrey with its developing—indeed burgeoning—links with China. That is wonderful. Continue reading “Bishop of Guildford highlights long history of Christianity in China”
On 6th November 2013, the Chief Whip in the House of Lords, Baroness Anelay of St Johns, responded to concerns regarding the timetabling of the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill by a number of Peers. The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, raised some concerns, speaking on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
“Over the past 12 months in the city of Derby, we have seen a 100% increase in the use of food banks. The point I want to make in this debate is that the shift has moved away from the normal suspects, who are, tragically, homeless people, towards families who are housed, but whose incomes are so low that they cannot feed themselves seven days a week.”
On 31st October 2013, Baroness Prosser led a take-note debate on the current cost of living and its impact on family budgets. The Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, took part in the debate, focusing his remarks on the response of civil society to issues of food poverty in the UK, particularly the role of churches in providing food banks. He also spoke about work and income, questions around lifestyle, and the role of the state.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Prosser, on securing this debate and on setting such a good framework in her introduction. I want to look particularly at the human cost of this issue and at the family budgets of those who are at the sharp end of the struggle in trying to deal with rising living costs. I shall begin with the big picture. Earlier this year I organised a hunger summit in Derby. We looked at food poverty in what we call the developing countries, but we also looked at food poverty in our own city. We took the opportunity to launch a remodelled food bank system to provide a more comprehensive service to meet the growing food poverty that we are finding in our own back yard. That is the context in which we should begin to look at the pressure on family budgets. We were supported by the Fair Share Trust. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Newby, was in the House earlier this week when there was a Question about food waste, and I hope that one of the things we can do with excess food is redirect some of it towards organisations such as the Fair Share Trust so that it can be used to supplement those families whose budgets are so stretched that they cannot afford to eat properly. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby takes part in debate on the cost of living”
On 31st October 2013, the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, received an answer to a written question regarding free schools.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the recent concern about the Al-Madinah free school, what plans they have to provide a framework in which free schools should operate that reflects the expectations of parents and the Department for Education.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): The Department has already put in place such a framework, through the rigorous approval process for free school applications, the contractual funding agreement between the school and the Secretary of State for Education, the legislative requirements placed on academies and free schools through the Independent School Standards and, as for all schools, Ofsted inspections. Together, they provide the necessary checks and balances to ensure that free schools meet the high standards expected of them. Where those standards are not met, the framework enables us to take swift and decisive action.
On 31st October 2013, the Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, received an answer to a written question on Israel.
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Warsi on 10 October (WA 47), and in the light of the first progress report from UNICEF (14 October 2013) on the treatment of children in Israeli military detention, what representations have they made to the Government of Israel about the conformity of such practice with international standards.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): Ministers at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and our Ambassador to Tel Aviv, have spoken and written to both the Israeli Justice Minister and the Israeli Attorney General to make representations on the treatment of Palestinian child detainees and the need for Israel to abide by its obligations under international law. Most recently, our ambassador in Tel Aviv wrote again to the Israeli Justice Minister, Tzipi Livni, on 14 October and Embassy officials discussed the issue with the Israeli Ministry of Justice on 16 September.
I can assure the Most Reverend and Noble Lord Bishop that we will continue to press for further progress on this important subject.
“Even with a political solution, the scars of this conflict will take many generations to heal. It will require the continued generosity of the international community in a sustained and strategic humanitarian commitment. I hope that Her Majesty’s Government will continue to take a courageous lead and make this not the last business of a long day but the priority of every morning until the holy land of Syria is healed.”
On 30th October 2013, the Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, led a short debate in the House of Lords, to ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to address the humanitarian crisis caused by the ongoing conflict in Syria. In his opening speech, the Bishop commended the Government for its response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, but called for all pledged humanitarian assistance to be supplied as quickly as possible. He called on the Goverment to look into the resettling of Syrian refugees and noted the negative impact that the humanitarian crisis was having on the broader region.
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, despite the admirable diplomatic activity of recent weeks, the humanitarian costs of the ongoing conflict in Syria show no sign of abatement. As violence expands exponentially and cruelty abounds, no one can fail to be moved by the scale of the crisis, which is nothing short of a catastrophe.
This debate seeks neither to underestimate the efforts of Her Majesty’s Government to rise to the challenge of humanitarian support, nor to question their resolve to work towards a political resolution of the civil war. Rather, I hope that it will give an opportunity for your Lordships’ House to focus its expert attention on the humanitarian costs of the conflict and the humanitarian imperative of bringing the conflict to an end, and, in so doing, of checking that every stone is being turned in the cause of compassion and the pursuit of peace. Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry leads debate on humanitarian crisis in Syria”
On 30th October 2013, Baroness Massey of Darwen asked Her Majesty’s Government whether free schools and faith schools will be required to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum which addresses the needs of all pupils. The Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Lichfield: Does the Minister agree that the use of the phrase “faith schools” can be profoundly unhelpful in the context of this discussion? Schools of a religious character come in many forms. Is it not true that the nearly 4,700 Church of England schools sit very firmly within the mainstream of English education, and that even C of E free schools and academies are linked to diocesan boards to ensure that the education that they provide is broad and balanced, academically challenging, personally inspiring and serving the needs of the whole local community?
Lord Nash: I agree entirely with the right reverend Prelate. Faith schools are a long-established and highly valued part of our educational establishment, and church schools are, too. Church schools consistently outperform maintained schools; they are very popular and often highly oversubscribed. The applications procedures of many of them do not rely heavily on faith; they have a much wider intake.