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.
Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham asks Government to increase support for the financially excluded”
Press release from the Church of England website:
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”
From the website of the Archbishop of Canterbury:
Thursday 12th October 2017
The Archbishop of Canterbury has warmly welcomed the announcement by 10 Downing Street that the former Bishop of London is to be made a life peer.
Bishop Richard, the 132nd occupant of the see, retired in March of this year after almost 22 years in the post. He will sit in the House of Lords as a crossbench member. Continue reading “Former Bishop of London to become life Peer”
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”
On 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”
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”