Bishop of Leeds says we must act on the views on young people, if we are to ask for them

On 20th June 2019 Lord Bird led a debate in the House of Lords on the motion “that this House takes note of the case for better protecting and representing the interests of future generations in policy-making.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate, and his speech is below. The speech of the Bishop of Oxford in the same debate can be seen here.

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Bishop of Portsmouth – we must not let Brexit dilute our moral purpose

On 15th May 2019, the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Horam, “That this House takes note of the Report from the European Union Committee Brexit: Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations (16th Report, HL Paper 132).” The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate: 

19.04.02 Portsmouthb

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth:  My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Dannatt, has just reminded us that none of us participating in this debate can forget that we will shortly mark the 75th anniversary of what must surely be the most defining day in Europe in living memory: D-day. That has special significance for the city of Portsmouth, and indeed the whole diocese I serve. As a result, we will have the pleasure—I think—of welcoming the President of the United States into our midst as part of the commemorations.

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Bishop of Leeds calls for leadership by example to counter ‘toxic public debate’

On 9th May 2019 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Harris of Haringey, “to move that this House regrets the conduct, and toxicity, of debate in public life; of the divisions in society which result from that; and calls on Her Majesty’s Government to take steps to address such divisions.” The Bishop of Leeds spoke in the debate and a transcript is below. The Bishop of Rochester also spoke in the debate and his speech can be read here:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Harris, for securing this debate and for the clarity of his and other speeches. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Patten, that if such a cast were assembled, some of the people who need to be there simply would not turn up. If they did, they would see it as their job to disrupt it, so I suspect it will be more complex.

We still admire Benjamin Disraeli for telling Parliament that half the Cabinet were asses and, on being ordered to withdraw the comment, responding, “Mr Speaker, I withdraw. Half the cabinet are not asses”. Political invective is not new and it must have a place in a free society, but words matter. I speak as a former professional linguist. Language is never neutral, and the ad hominem abuse we increasingly witness now simply encourages wider public expression of violent hatred. It is incrementally corrosive.

If the conduct of debate in public life has become toxic, it is only because it has been in the interests of some people to allow it to be so. I have already spoken in this House of the corruption of the public discourse and the consequences of normalising lying and misrepresentation. I add that reducing people to categories might reinforce tribal identity, but it demonises and dehumanises everyone else. As Viktor Klemperer recognised from 1930s Germany, a million repetitions of single words, idioms, and sentence structures or slanders become unconsciously assumed to be normal. Think of Rwanda and “cockroaches”.

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Bishop of Leeds asks Government about vision for future of Europe

On 24th April 2019 Lord Robathan asked the Government “whether the United Kingdom will participate in the European parliamentary elections next month; and what preparations are being made.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow up question:

18.12.05 Leeds Brexit deal debateThe Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, whether the election goes ahead or not, is it not clear that the Government need to have some vision that goes beyond the EU for the future of Europe, of which the UK remains a part in a post-Brexit world? If so, is this vision being developed so that it can be articulated?

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Votes: European Union (Withdrawal) (Number 5) Bill

On 4th April 2019 the House of Lords considered the European Union (Withdrawal) (Number 5) Bill, which sought to require the Prime Minister to request a later exit date from the European Union and a further extension of the Article 50 period. Continue reading “Votes: European Union (Withdrawal) (Number 5) Bill”

Vote: REACH etc. (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

On 26th March 2019 the House of Lords considered the REACH etc. (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. Labour Peer Lord Whitty tabled a Motion to Regret the Regulations, and the Bishop of Chester, Rt Revd Peter Forster took part in the vote.
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Bishop of Newcastle – abuse and threats toward MPs unacceptable and risk to democracy

The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, following the Prime Minister’s Statement in the other place this afternoon, it is clear that we remain in a place of deep uncertainty. We are still asked to note the two dates of 12 April and 22 May, signifying that there are at least two, probably more, very different directions we might still take as a country.

I shall not focus on the choices before us, but I note that, whether by intention or default, we will make a choice—a choice will be made—and, beyond that choice, we have to live together. We are experiencing a time of extraordinary turbulence and toxicity in our political life, and it is how we navigate and respond to that turbulence and toxicity now and in future that I shall address in the remainder of the time available to me this afternoon.

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