On 21st November 2013, Liberal Democrat Peer Baroness Benjamin asked Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to record whether or not an individual remanded in custody, or sentenced to prison, has any children. The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart asked a supplementary question.
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, perhaps I may press the Minister a little further. When a court is aware of a child whose parent is imprisoned and that child is in a vulnerable state, will he ensure that the court refers the child to the proper care of the local authority or a charity in the region where that child is living?
Lord McNally: I go back to what I would expect to be common sense in these areas. Courts already have a duty, in every case, to take account of any mitigating factors, including that the offender has primary care responsibilities for children or other dependants. However, it is important that the presence of such dependants is brought to the attention of the court. Again, I can only emphasise that the direction of travel we are going in is to try to make sure that the prison and court authorities are aware of their responsibilities and that they link up with the supporting organisations needed in these cases.
On 21st November 2013, the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Timothy Stevens, led a take-note debate in the House of Lords on the July 2013 report by ResPublica, Holistic Missions: Social Action and the Church of England. The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd James Newcome also spoke in the debate. The Bishop of Leicester spoke of an opportunity for the church to play an increasingly important role in the social fabric of the UK, through formal and informal networks, and offered various ways by which this role could be enhanced. The Bishop of Carlisle, making his maiden speech, particularly speaking of his role as lead Bishop for Healthcare and the important role played by the Church of England in areas of holistic health and social care.
The Lord Bishop of Leicester: My Lords, the Church of England is on the verge of extinction, or so you would believe if you accept this week’s tabloid headlines. The report of the think tank ResPublica, entitled Holistic Missions: Social Action and the Church of England, presents us with a different picture. It presents a picture of a church which is present in every community, town, village and city and embedded in its localities. It is a church which baptises, marries and buries a significant proportion of the population, educates some 1 million children in church schools and serves the poor, the homeless, the lonely, the hungry and the distressed in often unnoticed but crucial ways. Continue reading “Bishops of Leicester and Carlisle speak in debate about the ResPublica Report, Holistic Missions: Social Action and the Church of England”
In Church Commissioners Question Time on Thursday 21st November 2013, Sir Tony Baldry MP was asked by MPs to answer questions on women bishops, the recruitment of clergy, credit unions and metal crime.
Andrew Stephenson (Pendle) (Con): What progress has been made by the General Synod of the Church of England on legislating to enable women to enter the episcopate.
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): Yesterday, the General Synod voted by 378 votes to eight, with 25 abstentions, to approve a new package of proposals that will enable women to become bishops in the Church of England.
Andrew Stephenson: This is obviously very welcome news. Can my hon. Friend give us an idea of the likely time scale for the introduction of the change?
Sir Tony Baldry: My hon. Friend is right; this is very welcome news. As a result of the vote yesterday, I am confident that this House will have an opportunity to pass the necessary legislation in the lifetime of this Parliament.
Continue reading “MPs Questions to Church Commissioners”
On 21st November 2013, the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, and the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, took part in a debate on human rights, led by Lord Alton of Liverpool. The Bishop of Derby spoke about the role of women within society and religious institutions. He particularly focused on the objectification of women in magazines and the treatment of women in India. The Bishop of Wakefield spoke of the need for a greater engagement on the subject of the right to the freedom of religion, calling on the Government to develop a more positive approach towards religious freedom.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Alton, on securing this debate, and I also associate myself with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Selkirk.
Many of the pictures painted are dramatic and challenging, and I invite the House to think a little about the context that we are in and how we might approach some of these huge issues. The Government have identified six key priority areas, including women and freedom of religion, and those are the two things that I will look at in particular. We are in a world where we have ideals and fall short of them, and need to negotiate between the two. Continue reading “Bishops of Derby and Wakefield take part in debate about Human Rights”
On 20th November 2013, the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, took part in the Committee Stage of the Government’s Children and Families Bill. He spoke in favour of amendments to the Bill that would ban smoking in cars when children are present, and also in relation to measures to standardise the packaging of cigarettes.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, I will speak very briefly. Over the years I have been attracted by most vices, but never to smoking, so in the circumstances it is easy to speak against it. I will add that it is not just a domestic issue. The noble Lord says that he has an interest in BAT. What astonishes me is the way in which the growing awareness in this country of the dangers of smoking seems to be so slowly taken up in the developing world. We have a moral need, not only in relation to our own children but to the developing world, to make clear the dangers of smoking. It really is a global issue. It behoves particularly the wealthier countries—not least if the interests of big business are engaged, as undoubtedly they are, or those of the Exchequer—to give a proper lead. I think these amendments do just that.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): …The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester rightly suggested that this is a global issue. I agree. We are, however, considered to be a leader in tobacco control internationally. The World Health Organisation has assessed us to be number one in Europe in this area, and through the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control we share this good practice as much as we can…
On 19th November 2013, the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, took part in the Report Stage of the Government’s Energy Bill. He spoke in support of a Government amendment regarding the power to modify energy supply licences in domestic supply contracts. The amendment was agreed to.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, I welcome this amendment, which began its life, I think, in an interchange between the noble Baroness and me in Grand Committee. She has pretty much supplied everything that I asked for then, and I am very pleased. The only point that I will make now is that the Government rightly want to make it easy for consumers to switch suppliers. That is a good thing and it is very helpful that this information will be made available one way or another on bills. However, it needs to be made available consistently, in the same form, by different suppliers, so that if you are comparing a bill from one supplier with a bill from another, the information is supplied in the same form on each bill. The noble Baroness did not quite make that point in what she said. I hope that she can assure us that these costs will be disclosed—either voluntarily or by the exercise of the power that she is taking—not only transparently but consistently and comparably by different suppliers. Continue reading “Bishop of Chester welcomes Government amendment to Energy Bill”
On 19th November 2013, the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, took part in Lord Pearson of Rannoch’s debate to ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the basis for the statement by the Prime Minister on 3 June that “There is nothing in Islam that justifies acts of terror” (HC Deb, 3 June, col 1234). The Bishop of Birmingham spoke about the experiences of Christian-Muslim relations in Birmingham, highlighting positive engagement between those of different beliefs to promote peaceful and practical relationships.
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for enabling us to talk about these very important matters, so in that sense I can agree with him. I also encourage him not to lose heart at sin and evil wherever they are found. There are remedies, and people of religion are often seeking to achieve them.
Of course, if I read my own scriptures, as I do every day, and select various pieces of them, I could easily form myself into some kind of sect which would be disapproved of, I hope, by most of civil society. None the less, our activities which are theological, seeking peace, are often turned into historical disappointments and much less than the ideal that we want to promote. That is true of all religions and, indeed, of all humanity. Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham highlights strong inter-faith relations in Birmingham during debate on Islam”