Grace and compassion needed in Brexit disagreements says Bishop of Birmingham

On 12th September 2017 the House of Lords debated a Government motion on Brexit, “That this House takes note of the position papers and future partnership papers published by Her Majesty’s Government on the United Kingdom’s future relationship with the European Union.” The Bishop of Birmingham spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I am grateful for the debate and for the papers. It may help noble Lords to rest their ears for a moment if I say that my concluding remarks will be very similar to those of the noble Lord who has just spoken. It may also help your Lordships to know that—in confession terms, if I take the lead—I have not read all the papers in detail. None the less, I would have liked those sorts of details much earlier, I would have liked them to be debated and scrutinised, and I would have liked them to achieve a little more consensus as we get into the timetable of these negotiations.

Before and after the referendum, we were treated to the lazy slogans “Brexit means Brexit” and “No deal is better than a bad deal”. I am hopeful and expectant that those moments are over and that now, with these papers and other details, we are getting down to some serious work. Continue reading “Grace and compassion needed in Brexit disagreements says Bishop of Birmingham”

Higher Education and Research Bill: Bishop of Birmingham on cathedrals group of universities

birmingham-211016cOn 11th January 2017 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Higher Education and Research Bill in Committee. The Bishop of Birmingham, Rt Revd David Urquhart, introduced an amendment in the name of the Bishop of Portsmouth, on the need “to have a variety of institution types with distinctive characteristics.” The amendment was withdrawn after the debate, following assurances from the Minister that the issue would be looked at afresh. Below is his speech in full, and a section of the Minister’s reply:

The Lord the Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I regret that my friend the Bishop of Portsmouth is not in his place tonight, having been exhausted, I suppose, by leading the debate on the Armed Forces covenant on Monday. He has asked me to bring before your Lordships Amendment 58 which relates to the general duties of the Office for Students. This is in the context of warmly welcoming the Bill’s commitment to greater diversity and improved choices for students, both in the wider choice of the number of institutions and in course and subject. However, we believe it is vital also to have a variety of institution types with distinctive characteristics.

Continue reading “Higher Education and Research Bill: Bishop of Birmingham on cathedrals group of universities”

Bishop of Birmingham supports move to reduce the size of the House of Lords

birmingham-211016c On the 5th December 2016, the House of Lords debated and approved a motion from Lord Cormack “to resolve that this House believes that its size should be reduced, and methods should be explored by which this could be achieved.” The Rt Revd David Urqhart, the Bishop of Birmingham and Convenor of the Lords Spiritual, spoke in the debate, supporting the motion. 


Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I am pleased to be able to contribute to this important debate and am grateful to the Campaign for an Effective Second Chamber, in which we are allowed to participate from time to time, for bringing it to us today. I am also grateful for the remarks of the noble Lords and noble Baronesses who have already spoken. I have written down that I share their widely shared view that the House is too large, and I shall start on that point. Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham supports move to reduce the size of the House of Lords”

Bishop of Birmingham speaks in Lords debate on Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

On 29th November 2016, Lord Young of Cookham moved that the House take note of the economy in the light of the Autumn Statement. The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, spoke in the debate:

2016 Autumn Statement – Response from Bishop of Birmingham

david-urquhartResponding today (23rd November 2016) to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, the Bishop of Birmingham, Rt. Revd David Urquhart, said:

The political turbulence of the past year and lower growth forecasts have meant the Chancellor has been given limited economic room for manoeuvre. But I welcome the emphasis in the Autumn Statement on long term stability, investment in innovation, in our national infrastructure and on supporting regional growth. To be a nation living within its means is an aspiration worth keeping, even if the revised figures for deficit reduction mean that the goal of its achievement has been moved slightly further away. Continue reading “2016 Autumn Statement – Response from Bishop of Birmingham”

Bishop of Birmingham supports Bill to reduce size of the House of Lords

On the 21st October 2016 Conservative Peer Lord Elton introduced the ‘House of Lords Bill’ –  a Private Member’s Bill to reduce the size of the House of Lords. The Bishop of Birmingham, Rt Revd David Urquhart, spoke in support. A number of other Peers made reference to the Lords Spiritual and extracts of their remarks can be found after the Bishop’s speech, below. 

birmingham-211016cThe Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I am resisting the temptation to tear up my notes and respond to the noble Lord’s last quote. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Elton, for again bringing before us this important matter. It is widely agreed in many places that as weseek to be effective as a House, the size of the House is of great concern. Of course, as has already been said by the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, recent changes have attempted to alleviate the size of the House—we have adopted retirement provisions—yet they have not been sufficient to alleviate the flow of new Members. The statistics have already been referred to.

From this Bench, the Lords spiritual have spoken consistently over the past few years in support of reform aimed at addressing the size of the House—and we do so again, keeping in mind the aim of the House to improve the core functions of our scrutiny of legislation and government proposals from the other House, and of offering expertise and independence, which have already been referred to. Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham supports Bill to reduce size of the House of Lords”

Paris attacks – Bishop of Birmingham stresses need for community integration

On 17th November 2015 the Leader of the House of Lords repeated a statement by the Prime Minister on the Paris terrorist attacks of 13th November, and the G20 summit. The Bishop of Birmingham, Rt Revd David Urquhart, responded to the statement from the Bishops’ Benches.


Birmingham 171115The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for her repeating of the Statement and, from these Benches, join your Lordships in offering our sympathy for the tragic loss of life and the injuries that occurred in Paris—and, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace, said, in other parts of the region, in recent weeks.

On the area of ideology, the third of area in the Statement, can the Minister go a bit further? While we make every effort, as we must, to deal with this issue by military power and by counter-extremism measures, the area of ideas is a matter which I ask the Minister to consider very seriously in terms of quite small but important resources, as we try to develop the right relationships in the community that the Prime Minister so wants—not just asking Muslims to argue for a good Islam, but also to join people of faith, or no faith, of all parts in developing right thinking, friendship and deep relationships, which will allow us to move on from this ghastly use of violence into a more integrated society. Will she also encourage us to make a successful integration of the new wave of Syrian refugees fleeing from death in their own country? Continue reading “Paris attacks – Bishop of Birmingham stresses need for community integration”