Bishop of Oxford asks Government for update on peace negotiations in Syria

On the 8th October 2013, Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the prospects for a United Nations-led settlement in Syria supported by the European Union, the United States, Russia and China.

Bishop of OxfordThe Lord Bishop of Oxford: It is well known that to have a peace process that works all the relevant parties must be gathered together, not just the moderates. Can the Minister assure us that, at Geneva II, the more extreme nations will be involved, including Iran, Saudi Arabia and so on, as well as the opposition groups, both internal and external? Will they all be there?

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The right reverend Prelate may be aware that the Geneva communiqué was for the first time adapted and supported by the UN Security Council as part of this resolution. That effectively means that the opposition and the regime have committed to being part of the Geneva II process. Which other states are part of that process depends very much on what they would be prepared to endorse, and whether they would be prepared to agree to the Geneva communiqué. At this stage, Iran has not done that.

(via Parliament.uk)

Second Church Estates Commissioner answers written question on zero hour contracts

On the 12th September 2013 Sir Tony Baldry MP answered a written question from Chris Ruane concerning the employment of persons directly or indirectly employed by the Church Commissioners on a zero hour contract14.01 CCQ Baldry Continue reading “Second Church Estates Commissioner answers written question on zero hour contracts”

Liverpool Care Pathway – Bishop of Bristol receives written answers

On 9th September 2013, the Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Mike Hill, received an answer to two written question on the Liverpool Care Pathway.

14.03 Bishop of BristolThe Lord Bishop of Bristol: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to ensure that quality statement six (holistic support—spiritual and religious) of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s 2011 quality standard for end of life care for adults is embedded in the end of life care proposals to replace the Liverpool Care Pathway.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Healthcare Chaplaincy is considered a “specialist service”, as referred to in recommendation 22 of the Independent Review of the Liverpool Care Pathway.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government’s intention is for the Liverpool Care Pathway to be phased out over the next 6-12 months in favour of an individual approach to end of life care for each patient, with a personalised care plan backed up by condition-specific guidance and a named senior clinician responsible for its implementation.

Spiritual and religious support is an essential part of first-class end of life care. However we have yet to set out the specific responses to the Independent Review’s recommendations. Over the coming weeks, the Department will be working with partner organisations, stakeholders and charities across health and care to inform a full system-wide response to the Review’s recommendations later in the autumn.

(via Parliament.uk)

Second Church Estates Commissioner answers written question on ethical investment

On 4th September 2013 Sir Tony Baldry MP answered a written question from Helen Goodman concerning the category limits of the Church Commissioners’ Ethical Investment Policy14.01 CCQ Baldry Continue reading “Second Church Estates Commissioner answers written question on ethical investment”

Archbishop of Canterbury speaks during debate on use of chemical weapons in Syria

“In civil wars, those who are internal to the civil conflict fight for their lives, necessarily. Those who are external have a responsibility, if they get involved at all, to fight for the outcome. That outcome must be one that improves the chances of long-term peace and reconciliation.”

On 29th August 2013, the House of Lords was recalled to take note and debate the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon. Justin Welby, spoke during the debate. He urged that all intermediate steps before opening fire should be taken and expressed concern that intervention from abroad would declare open season on Christian communities in the country and wider region, which have already been devastated. He argued that such a consequence needed to be balanced against the consequences of inaction and that intervention would have  to be effective in preventing any further use or promotion of chemical weapons and make it more possible for Syria and the Middle East to be places without millions of refugees.

Archbishop of CanterburyThe Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I welcome very much the opportunity to speak later in this debate because of the extraordinary quality of many of the contributions that have been made and how much one can learn by listening to them. Like many noble Lords I have some experience in the region, partly from this role that I have and from recent visits and contact with many faith leaders of all three Abrahamic faiths, and through 10 years of, from time to time, working on reconciliation projects.

I do not intend to repeat the powerful points that have been made on international law, which is itself based on the Christian theory of just war. That has been said very eloquently. However, I want to pick up a couple of points. First, it has been said, quite rightly, that there is as much risk in inaction as there is in action. In a conflict in another part of the world—a civil conflict in which I was mediating some years ago—a general said to me, “We have to learn that there are intermediate steps between being in barracks and opening fire”. The reality is that, until we are sure that all those intermediate steps have been pursued, just war theory says that the step of opening fire is one that must only be taken when there is no possible alternative whatever under any circumstances. As the noble Lord, Lord Alli, just said very clearly and very eloquently, the consequences are totally out of our hands once it has started. Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury speaks during debate on use of chemical weapons in Syria”

Bishop of Wakefield – EU Justice and Home Affairs measures (Written Answer)

On 5th August 2013, the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, received an answer to a written question on European Union Justice and Home Affairs measures.

Bishop of Wakefield PlattenThe Lord Bishop of Wakefield: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, prior to their decision on 9 July to opt out of 130 European Union Justice and Home Affairs measures as provided for by the Lisbon Treaty, guarantees were provided by the European Commission that the United Kingdom would be able to opt back in to various police and justice provisions.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Protocol 36 to the Treaties places an obligation on the UK and the Union institutions to, “…seek to re-establish the widest possible measure of participation of the United Kingdom in the acquis of the Union in the area of freedom, security and justice without seriously affecting practical operability of the various parts thereof, while respecting their coherence”. We are confident that we will be able to reach agreement on a sensible final package of measures that the UK will formally apply to rejoin.

Of course it is not possible to predict the final outcome of the discussions with EU institutions, but following the Governments announcement on 9 July the Commission made clear in a press release that it “respects the UK Government’s choice to opt out, which is in line with the Treaty, and welcomes the UK intention to also opt back into certain measures”.

(via Parliament.uk)

Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 – summary and timeline

Summary & timeline: Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013

The Government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill received Royal Assent on 17th July 2013, having been passed by both Houses of Parliament.

The Bill followed a Government consultation in 2012. The Church of England made a formal response to that consultation in June 2012 and accompanied it with a press release. In December 2012 the Government published a summary of responses to the consultation, alongside its own response. Continue reading “Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 – summary and timeline”