Archbishop leads Lords debate on the role of education in building a flourishing and skilled society.

On 8th December 2017 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, led a debate in the House of Lords, ‘That the House takes note of the role of education in building a flourishing and skilled society.’ The Archbishops’ opening and closing speeches are below in full:

The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I am grateful to the usual channels for making time once again for me to lead a debate in your Lordships’ House. It is now something of a tradition for an Archbishop’s debate to be held in early December. Though a little later and less well established than the John Lewis advert, the appearance of an Archbishop on the order paper is a sure sign that Christmas is just around the comer.

Last year, I led a debate on shared national values, which featured some extremely impressive and thoughtful speeches. I am sure that today’s debate will be equally impressive, and I am grateful to so many of your Lordships for making time to attend. I look forward to your contributions, and it will be an especial pleasure to hear the first speech from the noble, reincarnated and right reverend Lord, Lord Chartres. I am also delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Sacks, will be speaking today. He has told me—and obviously we all understand—that he will have to leave before the wind-up to get home in time for the Sabbath. But it is very good that he has come here at all.

There is a link between today’s debate on education and the previous one on shared values. What I hope to give today is an outline of the sort of values that we suggest, from these Benches especially, should underpin our education system, and the structures that might support them, so that we might create a society where individual and mutual flourishing become the norm.

Continue reading “Archbishop leads Lords debate on the role of education in building a flourishing and skilled society.”

Queen’s Speech 2017: Bishop of Southwark praises community response to tragedies, calls for better funding of prison and emergency services

southwark-20feb17On 27th June 2017, the Bishop of Southwark, Rt Rev. Christopher Chessun, contributed to the ongoing debate on the Queen’s Speech. The Bishop’s speech addressed the strong response from volunteers and emergency services to recent events, and called for a re-examination of current resources. Government Minister Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth responded to the Bishop of Southwark’s speech at the end of the debate.

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I too wish to contribute to your Lordships’ debate on the humble Address. Last Thursday, the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury observed in this House that the gracious Speech spoke of taking British values around the world, but for that to happen we need to know what we mean by British values. That applies equally to the measures under discussion today. Traditionally, these values have expressed themselves in a respect for the rule of law, local and national institutions, our liberties and freedoms, and parliamentary democracy. They were born of a society in which people participate, not a consumer society. From them spring mutual obligations, not merely contractual ones. Mutuality issues from civic virtue of the sort we have seen on our streets in response to calamity and terror in recent months in London and Manchester.

Continue reading “Queen’s Speech 2017: Bishop of Southwark praises community response to tragedies, calls for better funding of prison and emergency services”

Bishop of Gloucester on building strong local communities of shared values

On the 2nd December 2016 the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, spoke in the debate led by the Archbishop of Canterbury on shared  values and their role in shaping public policies. She highlighted the compassionate hospitality which this country has shown generations of refugees alongside the work she is undertaking in Gloucestershire to build community, standing ‘with’ rather than ‘othering’ people to promote human flourishing. 

gloucesterThe Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I thank my noble friend the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury on his foresight in tabling this debate on shared values. I also add my own congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord McInnes of Kilwinning, and the noble Baroness, Lady Bertin, on their poignant and insightful maiden speeches.

In the diocese of Gloucester, I have recently been talking to young people about body image and reflecting with them on how their true worth begins deep within, the place from which true values emerge and are lived. Last Saturday, I hosted a huge community party in Cheltenham to publicly launch our new vision for the diocese of Gloucester. The vision has emerged from conversations in local communities, urban and rural, involving about 6,000 people, churchgoers and otherwise, discussing what sort of church they want to see in their communities.The vision is one of human flourishing and transformation, emanating from those words of Jesus from the gospel of John:

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”.

That is a good starting place when it comes to talking about values. Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester on building strong local communities of shared values”

Bishop of Ely highlights role of church schools in fostering shared values

On the 2nd December 2016 the Bishop of Ely, the Rt Revd Stephen Conway spoke in a debate led by the Archbishop of Canterbury on shared values and their implications for public policy making. The Bishop of Ely spoke about the importance of character education in developing values and the role played by church schools in fostering good links between children of all faiths and none.

ElyThe Lord Bishop of Ely: My Lords, I thank my friend the most reverend Primate for securing this timely and essential debate. I applaud the noble Lord, Lord McInnes, on his excellent speech, not least on drawing together our concern for values with opportunity for our children and young people. When we talk about British values, we should be aiming not at the lowest common denominator but, as the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, said, at the highest ideals that we want to promote for and with our children.

Character education is all set to be the foundation for the kind of person we want each child to become: a member of society who not only understands the world, but cares about it, is equipped to continue in the good and recognise and challenge the bad and is courageous enough to bridge divides and extend the hand of friendship. The Church of England vision for education actively seeks to provide an education that fosters this. Character education is about educating children not only to become efficient economic units, but to flourish in all areas of their lives, and enjoy life in all its fullness, as Jesus says in the Gospel of John. Fundamental to this is the nurturing of virtues as the intrinsic building blocks of a rounded human life with concrete outcomes in behaviour and service. St Paul takes the life of virtue beyond what had previously been categorised when he wrote in the Letter to the Galatians about the “fruits of the spirit”: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Archbishop of Canterbury leads Lords debate on shared values

On 2 December 2016 the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, led a debate in the House of Lords “That this House takes note of the shared values underpinning our national life and their role in shaping public policy priorities.” His opening and closing speeches are below. The Bishops of Ely and Gloucester also spoke in the debate.

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The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I am most grateful to the usual channels for making this debate possible. I should also like to thank noble Lords who have made the time and taken the trouble to attend today in considerable numbers, the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, and those who look after us so well in this House.

In case noble Lords are wondering what the Motion is [laughter]…I decided to change it at the last minute…It reads:

“The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury to move that this House takes note of the shared values underpinning our national life and their role in shaping public policy priorities”.

It will be an especial pleasure to hear maiden speeches from the noble Baroness, Lady Bertin, and the noble Lord, Lord McInnes of Kilwinning. The noble Baroness brings her knowledge of communications, issues of disability among children and education. The noble Lord will enable us to have a wider view of issues in Scotland.

The UK, especially perhaps England, is a pragmatic country with a bias towards the empirical over the theoretical. Not for us the cries of “liberty, equality and fraternity”, to be followed by years of bloodshed to ensure true fraternity was established. Rather, ours is an untidiness of cumulative reforms and changes, worked out in practice through the highways and byways of our constitution. We relish the irony of a constitution that works in practice but never could in theory.

Great times of change in mood and culture demand from us a reimagining of what we are about as a nation. As we move into a post-Brexit world, alongside the other events that buffet and deflect us, unless we ground ourselves in a clear course and widely accepted practices, loyalties and values—what I will call values in this speech—we will just go with the wind. Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury leads Lords debate on shared values”

Bishop of St Albans – need for fresh thinking on corporate governance

StAlbans171115On 29th November 2016, Lord Henley put the Government’s new Green Paper on Corporate Governance before the House. The Lord Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, contributed to the debate that followed.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans My Lords, I, too, welcome the Statement and the Green Paper because we urgently need some fresh thinking in this area. Those of us who have been following the issues concerning banking standards can see that it is really quite complex. There is a delicate and difficult relationship between legal regulation on the one hand and values and social responsibility on the other. We face a number of problems. We have a disconnect between shareholders and corporations that has become ever more complex and further apart. How can we encourage shareholder engagement in long-term, sustainable business rather than short-term gains? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans – need for fresh thinking on corporate governance”

Queen’s Speech: Bishop of Southwark on extremism, freedom of speech and British values

On 24th May 2016 the Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, spoke in the third day of debate on the Queen’s Speech. He addressed the Government’s proposals for tackling extremism, British values and prison reform, and remarked on the need for unifying language and behaviour in political debate.

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The Lord Bishop of Southwark: I will make a number of points which I hope will be of value to your Lordships’ House and respond appropriately to Her Majesty’s gracious Speech. It is clear to me that Ministers in this Government understand freedom, as did their predecessors, as freedom in security. We have heard in the Queen’s Speech that we may expect legislation,

“to prevent radicalisation, tackle extremism in all its forms, and promote … integration”.

This may be necessary, but I have concerns about our ready desire to legislate solutions to problems where other avenues present themselves. The recent lowering tone and content in public discourse is an example. It diminishes sympathy and challenges what constitutes legitimate and proper boundaries for political debate. I agree with the Chief Rabbi that:

“There has been nothing more disheartening … than the suggestion that this is more about politics than about substance”.

I am bound to observe, for example, that there were lapses of judgment during the recent mayoral election in London.

We need a politics of generosity that transcends such divisiveness, a narrative that does not engender fear, and I applaud indications within major political parties that recognise this. Continue reading “Queen’s Speech: Bishop of Southwark on extremism, freedom of speech and British values”