On 14th January 2019 the House of Lords voted to pass a ‘Motion to Regret’ the Government’s EU Withdrawal Agreement, tabled by the Leader of the Opposition Baroness Smith of Basildon. Five bishops voted, and whilst the Archbishop of Canterbury attended and spoke in the debate, he abstained in the vote.
Baroness Smith of Basildon moved ‘That this House, while noting that it is for the House of Commons to determine the matter, considers that a no deal outcome to negotiations under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union must be emphatically rejected, and regrets that withdrawal from the European Union on the terms set out in the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration laid before Parliament would damage the future economic prosperity, internal security and global influence of the United Kingdom.
On 13th September 2018 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Popat, “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what actions they are taking to reassure the Jewish community over the impact of anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom.” The Bishop of Birmingham, Rt Revd David Urquhart, spoke:
On the 11th of September Lord Black of Brentwood asked Her Majesty’s Government “what plans they have to commemorate the 75th anniversaries of D-day and the Battle of Arnhem in 2019”. The Rt Revd David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham, asked a follow up question focusing on the importance of educating young people about past events in an effort to promote peace in the future.
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham:…My Lords, I do not have to declare such a close interest in the name Urquhart as the noble Lord across the Chamber, but I bear the same surname. These events were some time ago. In addition to the very important commemorations which the Church and other faiths fully support and participate in, I encourage the Minister to talk to colleagues in the Department for Education to ensure that they live on in the memory and experience of our young people, so that they understand—particularly in the light of current world events—the consequences of keeping the peace and the mobilisation of great forces. Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham on importance of commemorating anniversaries of D-day and the Battle of Arnhem”
On 19th December 2017 the House of Lords debated its size, in the form of a Motion from Lord Burns ‘That this House takes note of the Report of the Lord Speaker’s committee on the size of the House’. The Bishop of Birmingham and Convenor of the Lords Spiritual, Rt Revd David Urquhart, spoke in support of the Committee’s proposals and said that bishops would look at the question of their numbers when legislation on Lords reform, backed by consensus, was forthcoming:
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, as convener of the Lords spiritual, I welcome warmly the report of the Speaker’s Committee and pay tribute to the work of the noble Lord, Lord Burns, and his fellow committee members for their thoughtful and thorough attention to the question of the size of the House, which we all agree is in need of urgent resolution. I notice that the word “magic” has already been used in the debate, but the desire for love has also been added at Christmas time. To hear the leader of the Lib Dems imploring the work of the Lord in becoming pure is a most encouraging start to this debate.
The main recommendations of the committee are ones that I hope most of us in this House can rally behind. They offer a set of suggestions which, with good will and a spirit of co-operation, not least from the party leaderships, will provide us with a route map for reducing the membership of this House to a more acceptable level. That is something that my predecessors as convener and many others on these Benches have supported consistently. Rather than comment on the detail of the proposals, I thought that it would be helpful to focus my remarks on what the report did or did not say about the Lords spiritual. Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham supports proposals to reduce size of House of Lords”
On the 18 December 2017 Baroness Tyler of Enfield led a debate on the report of the Select Committee on Financial Exclusion – Tackling Financial Exclusion: A country that works for everyone? (Session 2016-17, HL Paper 132). The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart was a member of the Committee, and spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, as we resume the debate on Tackling Financial Exclusion: A Country that Works for Everyone?, there can be no more poignant reminder of the issues raised in the committee’s report and the seriousness with which we need to take its challenge. As the Bishop of Kensington said in the service [for Grenfell Tower survivors and community] just mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, we can be too wrapped up in our own interests and prosperity, but we might just now turn outwards towards each other—a society known for listening, compassion and love.
Responding today (22nd November 2017) to the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget Statement, the Bishop of Birmingham, Rt. Revd David Urquhart, Convenor of the Lords Spiritual, said:
“The Chancellor’s Budget has gone some way to deal with the immediate problems facing our economy, housing and NHS, but it could have gone much further to help the many at the sharp end struggling to get by.
“Across the country churches support and are in touch with those who experience poverty or financial difficulty as a result of low pay, illness, or debt. The Budget statement provided an opportunity to make a difference to the lives of the most disadvantaged at a time when the cost of living is rising. The country faces substantial financial challenges and the growth forecast downgrades are worrying. But whilst the Chancellor has limited room for manoeuvre, there is more that could have been done to alleviate the situation of those who are struggling to manage. Deficit reduction is important, but should be achieved in ways that promote fairness, generosity, and sustainability. Bishops frequently raise these issues in the House of Lords and in meetings with ministers, and will continue to do so. Continue reading “Autumn Budget 2017 – response from Bishop of Birmingham”