Bishop of Portsmouth calls on UK Government to ratify Hague Convention for Protection of Cultural Property in Armed Conflict

On 14th January 2016 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Andrews “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their plan for ratifying the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict”. The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate:

14.04.09 Portsmouth maiden speech 1The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, I add my thanks to the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, for this debate and for the very important Question that she asks of the Government Front Bench. In June 2015, the Ministry of Defence answered a Written Question, as we have heard, on the timetable for ratifying the Hague convention. A Minister stated:

“The Government believes that protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict is a priority and remains committed to that task”.

She confirmed the,

“plan to introduce legislation to ratify the Convention”,

as we know,

“as soon as Parliamentary time allows”.

The Answer continued with a reassurance:

“Respect for cultural property is already upheld across the Armed Forces and they currently act within the spirit of the 1954 Convention. This respect is incorporated into military law”.

I wholeheartedly welcome that commitment and ask the Minister if she can recognise both the embarrassment of the present and lengthy delay in ratification, which successive Governments since 2008 have pledged to end, and the compelling practical, cultural and humanitarian reasons for speedy rectification of this inordinate delay. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth calls on UK Government to ratify Hague Convention for Protection of Cultural Property in Armed Conflict”

Bishop of Portsmouth speaks on Strategic Defence and Security Review

On 3rd December, 2015 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Attlee “that this House takes note of the United Kingdom’s role in supporting international security and stability in the light of the strategic defence and security review.” The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate. His speech is below, alongside an extract from the Minister’s response.


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 Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, even before we reach the halfway point of this debate, a range of significant and important matters have been raised. Some merit much more substantial consideration—for example, international partnerships and relationships, the deliverability of counterterrorism and the cyberterrorism agendas, and the huge importance of diplomatic presence and influence. To these I add the projected development of the delegated model. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth speaks on Strategic Defence and Security Review”

Bishop of Coventry speaks in Lords debate on action against ISIL in Syria

On 2nd December 2015 the Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, spoke during the House of Lords debate on ISIL in Syria. The full text of his speech is below. The Archbishop of Canterbury also spoke in the debate.

Bp Coventry May 2015The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, coming from Coventry, a city bound in solidarity of suffering with bombed cities in Europe, I am kept in daily remembrance of the costs of military action, especially to civilians. Against such costs, the benefits must be clear and the chances of success especially high. We all agree that the evil of Daesh needs to be stopped, but will extending strikes from Iraq into Syria do it? Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry speaks in Lords debate on action against ISIL in Syria”

Second Church Estates commissioner speaks in House of Commons Syria debate

On the 2nd December 2015 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon. Caroline Spelman MP, spoke in the House of Commons debate on action against ISIL in Syria. Mrs Spelman highlighted the need for a comprehensive strategy, which needed to included a theological, ideological response, not just military and humanitarian. The subsequent vote on the Government’s motion was passed by 397 to 223. Mrs Spelman voted with the Government. Her speech is reproduced below:

CarolineMrs Caroline Spelman (Meriden) (Con): There is an important religious dimension to this debate and faith leaders shape public opinion, so I thought it might be helpful if I shared with the House the views expressed by the Church of England on the subject.

At a meeting of the General Synod last week, a motion on the migrant crisis called unanimously upon the Government,

“to work with international partners in Europe and elsewhere to help establish safe and legal routes to places of safety, including this country, for refugees who are vulnerable and at severe risk.”

Continue reading “Second Church Estates commissioner speaks in House of Commons Syria debate”

Archbishop of Canterbury speaks in Lords debate on action against ISIL in Syria

On the 2nd December 2015 the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon. Justin Welby, spoke during the House of Lords debate on ISIL in Syria. The Archbishop’s speech is reproduced in full below and can be watched here. The Bishop of Coventry also spoke in the debate.

AbpCanterbury021215The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I add to the welcomes given to the noble Lord, Lord Hague of Richmond, and note his perfect timing in bringing his immeasurable wisdom and experience to our debates. I look forward very much to his contribution.

To my mind, the “just war” criteria have been met. However, while they are necessary, they are not by themselves sufficient in action of this kind, where we can end up doing the right thing in such a wrong way that it becomes the wrong thing. To my mind, there are three components that currently need more emphasis and are to some extent missing. In this role, through visiting all 38 provinces of the Anglican communion, through the constant contacts that we have with Muslim and Christian leaders in the region, as recently as three weeks ago in a conference at Lambeth Palace, I am constantly reminded that this is a global issue to which we are applying local solutions. Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury speaks in Lords debate on action against ISIL in Syria”

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about security of Camp Liberty

StAlbans171115On 16th November 2015, the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received written answers to questions about the security of Camp Liberty in Iraq.


Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the recent missile attacks on Camp Liberty in Iraq. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about security of Camp Liberty”

Bishop of Portsmouth speaks about challenges of retention of armed forces reservists

On 22nd October 2015 Lord Freeman led a Lords debate “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the present and future strength of the reserves of the British Armed Forces.” The Bishop of Portsmouth spoke in the debate

14.04.09 Portsmouth maiden speech 2The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth:  My Lords, I share our gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Freeman, for this Question for Short Debate. The Whole Force Concept is journeying from theory to reality. It is a tricky journey, it seems to me, not because the Government set the wrong course five years ago but because of the scale and complexity of the task. It is true that many essential defence skills, and especially many essential national security skills, reside in the private sector as well as in the Armed Forces. To bring these together coherently and effectively requires both strategic direction and effective management. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth speaks about challenges of retention of armed forces reservists”