Archbishop of Canterbury responds to Home Office Windrush Lessons Report

On 19th March 2020 the Home Secretary made a statement on the publication of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review. The statement was repeated in the House of Lords and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, responded:

The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, the publication of this Statement is very welcome indeed. The heartfelt nature of the apology was notable.​

I have a couple of questions about the recommendations to put to the noble Baroness. First, one of the historic failures of the Church of England—in many ways as bad as the hostile environment—was the terrible reception that we gave the Windrush generation, the vast majority of whom were Anglicans, when they came here. They were often turned away from Church of England churches, or were given a very weak welcome or no welcome at all. As a result, they went off and formed their own churches, which have flourished much better than ours. We would be so much stronger had we behaved correctly. I have apologised for that, and I continue to do so and see the wickedness of our actions. Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury responds to Home Office Windrush Lessons Report”

Church Commissioners Written Answer: Travellers, plans to tackle racism

On 12th March 2020 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered a written question from Kate Green MP on Gypsy and Traveller sites and plans to tackle racism:

Kate Green (Stretford and Urmston) 27547: To ask the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what progress has been made on (a) making Church land available for Gypsy and Traveller sites and (b) other plans to tackle racism and discrimination as agreed at the General Synod in February 2019.

Continue reading “Church Commissioners Written Answer: Travellers, plans to tackle racism”

MPs pay tribute to the Speaker’s Chaplain, Rose Hudson-Wilkin

On 31st October 2019 MPs paid tribute in the House of Commons chamber to the Speaker’s Chaplain, Reverend Prebendary Rose Hudson-Wilkin, on her final day before leaving to take up her new role as Bishop of Dover. A full transcript is below:

Tributes to the Speaker’s Chaplain

Mr Speaker: As people will speedily see, we move from one subject to another quite quickly, and we now come to the very happy business of the motion on tributes to the Speaker’s Chaplain. I have the great pleasure of calling the Leader of the House to move the motion.

The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg) I beg to move,

That this House congratulates the Reverend Prebendary Rose Hudson-Wilkin on her twenty-eight years of ordained ministry in the Church of England, nine years of which have been in the service of Mr Speaker and this House as Chaplain to the Speaker, the first woman and the first BAME holder of that post; expresses its appreciation for the generous, ecumenical and compassionate spirit of her work among hon. Members and staff of the House; and wishes her every success in her forthcoming ministry as Bishop of Dover and Bishop in Canterbury. Continue reading “MPs pay tribute to the Speaker’s Chaplain, Rose Hudson-Wilkin”

Bishop of St Albans on links between inequality, unemployment and mental ill health

Inequality, unemployment and mental ill health are three interconnected, intersecting areas which are important to address if we are to have a flourishing and thriving society in which all can participate. As we know, mental ill health is one of the two main disabilities affecting participation in work. I am glad that the Government have decided that the NHS long-term plan will assist people with mental health issues into work. That plan recognises that mental health problems disproportionately impact on people living in poverty and those who face various forms of discrimination. This is a huge step forward in the visibility and awareness of this issue, and I hope that it really will help us move ahead.

Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans on links between inequality, unemployment and mental ill health”

Bishop of Rochester suggests shared learning forum to improve diversity in public appointments

On 9th May 2019 Lord Holmes of Richmond asked the Government “what steps they are taking to increase diversity in public appointments”. The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I am conscious that these Benches may not embody everyone’s image of diversity. None the less, I was pleased to lead the final stages of the process by which these Benches were opened to women as well as men, although none of them is here today. I have also been chairing for the last five years a process within the Church where we are tasked with increasing the proportion of BME people in senior roles in the life of the Church. We have made some modest progress, though there is lots still to do. Nevertheless, we have learned that while legislation and processes are important, as has been indicated, so are culture, attitudes and bias. I wonder whether the Government might welcome some kind of forum within which quasi-public bodies might engage with public bodies so that we can share our learning on these matters. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester suggests shared learning forum to improve diversity in public appointments”

Bishop of Salisbury asks Government about changes to the Honours system

On 26th March 2019 Baroness Berridge asked the Government “what plans they have, if any, to review the honours system.” The Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: My Lords, I am not sure that the Minister’s Answer to the original Question* from the noble Baroness was entirely convincing. There is careful screening to check whether somebody might be willing to consider accepting an honour before an application is ever made. That is done by talking to their family, their friends and others involved with them. Therefore, the figure of 2% refusals is entirely unconvincing, and there needs to be a much more careful analysis of what is going on behind the Question in order to deal with the real issue, as is recognised by the questions asked by the House.

Continue reading “Bishop of Salisbury asks Government about changes to the Honours system”

Bishop of Southwark raises concern at mental health care disparities based on ethnicity

On the 6th of September 2018 the House of Lords debated the motion ‘that this House takes note of NHS and healthcare data and how that data could be used to improve the health of the nation.’ The Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, spoke in the debate:

Southwark170718

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I too express appreciation to the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, for securing a debate on a subject so full of possibilities for enriching our knowledge and improving the lives of fellow citizens. In England alone the National Health Service deals with more than 1 million patients every 36 hours. The potential use of data is enormous.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Carlisle, who takes a special interest in health matters, is particularly sorry not to be able to participate in this debate. I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, on the quality of his maiden speech. I was, furthermore, particularly grateful for the wisdom of the noble Lord, Lord Kakkar, who spoke from his great expertise in this field. My focus is on mental healthcare data, which was recently highlighted in the Church of England’s toolkit on minority ethnic mental health issues, launched at our General Synod in July.

Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark raises concern at mental health care disparities based on ethnicity”

Bishop of Worcester says church can help society improve mental health services for black and ethnic minority communities

On 28th November 2017  Lord Boateng led a debate in the House of Lords “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made in improving mental health services for people from black and ethnic minority communities.” The Bishop of Worcester, Rt Revd John Inge, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, I, too, am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Boateng, for securing this debate and, like the noble Lord, Lord Ouseley, pay tribute not only to his eloquent introduction but to all he has done in this area. We owe him a great debt of gratitude.​
Some of the evidence which has already been cited—there is lots more— concerning black and minority-ethnic individuals and mental health is a dreadful indictment of our society. One of the most shocking statistics to me is that UK minority-ethnic individuals are 40% more likely than white Britons to come into contact with mental health services through the criminal justice system rather than through referral from GPs or talking therapies. Continue reading “Bishop of Worcester says church can help society improve mental health services for black and ethnic minority communities”

Bishop of Chelmsford responds to Government statement on race disparity audit

On 10th October 2017 a Government statement about the new race disparity audit was repeated in the House of Lords, the Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, responded to the statement: 

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, although, let me be clear, the Church of England has nothing to teach anyone else on this subject—our record is not a good one—in the diocese of Chelmsford, where I serve, which includes the east London boroughs, which ​have some of the most diverse communities in Europe, we have found that of course there is racism and xenophobia but there is also what has been explained to me as unconscious bias.

It is not quite the same as racism; it is those things which prevent us from seeing each other as clearly as we need to. Both in the Church of England generally and in the diocese where I serve, we have done a lot of training over the past couple of years to help people to see their own unconscious bias towards people, and this is already bearing fruit in the church context with black and global majority people coming forward into positions. I wondered whether the Government had looked at that both for us and in wider society to try to move the debate on beyond the binary thing of, “Somebody is a racist or they are not”. Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford responds to Government statement on race disparity audit”

Bishop of Rochester raises disproportionate use of stop and search against black people

On 13th June 2016 Baroness Meacher asked Her Majesty’s Government “whether they have any plans to review their drug policies in the light of the United Nations statements at the UN General Assembly Special Session on 19-21 April.” The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, asked a follow up question:

RochesterThe Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I note the Minister’s disinclination to institute a review. None the less, I wonder whether he could assure the House that in some context or other, attention is being given to such matters as the information in a report by the charity Release published in 2013, which shows that black people were stopped and searched for drugs at more than six times the rate of white people, despite successive crime surveys showing that drug use in black communities is at a lower rate than in white communities? Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester raises disproportionate use of stop and search against black people”