Bishop of Birmingham supports amendment to Banking Reform Bill

“In the wake of the economic debacles following 2008, one of the greatest areas of concern among the public was the apparent lack of change in the financial fortunes of those whom they viewed as being most responsible for the banking crisis.”

On 23rd October 2013, the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, spoke during the Committee Stage of the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill. He spoke in support of an amendment tabled by Lord Turnbull, to require that banks and other financial institutions abide by a ‘remuneration code’, implemented and enforced by the financial regulator. The amendment, based on a recommendation by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, was not pressed to a vote during Committee Stage.

01.04.14 Bishop of BirminghamThe Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I rise to speak on behalf of the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury. He regrets very much that he cannot be in his seat today, but it is seldom that one has the opportunity to offer Christian baptism to a young couple, particularly when their child is a future heir to the throne of this country. None the less, I know that he, like me, would want to echo the support for these amendments, which have been spoken to by the noble Lords, Lord Turnbull and Lord Eatwell. In a sense, I now regret that I am here doing my duty, because I could not have put it better myself.

In the wake of the economic debacles following 2008, one of the greatest areas of concern among the public was the apparent lack of change in the financial fortunes of those whom they viewed as being most responsible for the banking crisis. As we have heard, the salaries of senior bankers seem to remain high and bonus levels have quickly regained their old levels, while for many ordinary people and ordinary businesses across the country, it has been a matter of tightening the belt and looking very seriously at difficult household and commercial budget decisions. The submission of the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council to the banking commission said of this disparity between what I am going to talk about as two cultures that it,

“has gravely harmed the public perception of banking”. Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham supports amendment to Banking Reform Bill”

Archbishop of Canterbury backs calls for review into gambling in the financial sector

On 15th October 2013, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, spoke during the Committee Stage of the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill. He spoke in support of an amendment tabled by Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Phillips of Sudbury, which sought to require a review to be undertaken into the current exemptions some banks and similar institutions enjoy from the Gaming Acts, on transactions which could be understood as gambling. Following the debate on the amendment, it was withdrawn.

Archbishop of CanterburyThe Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I am slightly surprised that the Minister should be resistant to what seems to me a very reasonable amendment. One of the dangers that we have faced in the markets over many years is that of parallel markets. The derivatives markets are, as we know, opaque, as has already been remarked on, and we examined them in some detail in the banking standards commission. The computer-driven markets are also very opaque. We examined those markets and remarked that they would constitute the next great crash. When you have these gambling markets on the side that no one quite understands or knows who is participating in them, and which often take place offshore, it seems to me that at the very least there are grounds to hold an inquiry into the effect they are having on market prices through their impact on the shadow market—we should also examine the psychology of the dealers—and on those involved directly in the more regulated market. Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury backs calls for review into gambling in the financial sector”

Archbishop of Canterbury supports “second reserve power” amendment to Banking Reform Bill

“The amendment—and this is why the element of culture is so important—increases vastly the voltage of the ring-fence. If it has to be used, like much of these forms of regulation, it will have failed to some degree. But it says that, if the industry loses its way in ethics and culture, as it did in the early years of this century, there is catastrophe in regulatory terms.”

On 8th October 2013, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd. and Rt Hon. Justin Welby, spoke on the first day of the Committee Stage of the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill. He spoke in support of Lord Turnbull’s amendment, based on the recommendation made by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, which sought to introduce a second reserve power to “implement full separation” of “the [banking] sector as a whole.” The Archbishop described the amendment as a rational extension to existing provisions. He stated that it would reinforce a change of culture and act as a permanent reminder to the banking industry of the danger of slipping back into previous norms of behaviour. The Government argued against the amendment, having previously rejected the Commission’s recommendation in its First Report. The amendment was subsequently withdrawn. 

Archbishop of CanterburyThe Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I apologise that I, too, was not here for Second Reading as I was at the funeral of a close friend. I speak as a member of the PCBS [Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards], having had the privilege of a year of lessons from the other members, especially noble Lords here today, and the great pleasure of being rung up by the noble Lord, Lawson, quite frequently at weekends, to explain how I should think about a particular subject, which he has done with great eloquence as well today.

I agree entirely with the speeches made by the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, twice, and both speeches by the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, which have put the position very clearly. It must be a very long time—and my experience of this House is very limited—since a solution to a major problem was put forward with such a noticeable lack of enthusiasm. Almost everyone who has spoken about the ring-fence has damned it with faint praise, to put it at its most polite. The noble Baroness, Lady Cohen, simply eliminated it quite quickly and very clearly. We are in danger of getting lost in looking at the regulation and forgetting what the regulation is trying to do. This is about a question of a culture and ethics, not detailed rules. We all remember Bob Diamond, the chief executive of Barclays, saying that culture is what happens when no one is looking. Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury supports “second reserve power” amendment to Banking Reform Bill”

Archbishop of Canterbury speaks during debate on use of chemical weapons in Syria

“In civil wars, those who are internal to the civil conflict fight for their lives, necessarily. Those who are external have a responsibility, if they get involved at all, to fight for the outcome. That outcome must be one that improves the chances of long-term peace and reconciliation.”

On 29th August 2013, the House of Lords was recalled to take note and debate the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon. Justin Welby, spoke during the debate. He urged that all intermediate steps before opening fire should be taken and expressed concern that intervention from abroad would declare open season on Christian communities in the country and wider region, which have already been devastated. He argued that such a consequence needed to be balanced against the consequences of inaction and that intervention would have  to be effective in preventing any further use or promotion of chemical weapons and make it more possible for Syria and the Middle East to be places without millions of refugees.

Archbishop of CanterburyThe Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I welcome very much the opportunity to speak later in this debate because of the extraordinary quality of many of the contributions that have been made and how much one can learn by listening to them. Like many noble Lords I have some experience in the region, partly from this role that I have and from recent visits and contact with many faith leaders of all three Abrahamic faiths, and through 10 years of, from time to time, working on reconciliation projects.

I do not intend to repeat the powerful points that have been made on international law, which is itself based on the Christian theory of just war. That has been said very eloquently. However, I want to pick up a couple of points. First, it has been said, quite rightly, that there is as much risk in inaction as there is in action. In a conflict in another part of the world—a civil conflict in which I was mediating some years ago—a general said to me, “We have to learn that there are intermediate steps between being in barracks and opening fire”. The reality is that, until we are sure that all those intermediate steps have been pursued, just war theory says that the step of opening fire is one that must only be taken when there is no possible alternative whatever under any circumstances. As the noble Lord, Lord Alli, just said very clearly and very eloquently, the consequences are totally out of our hands once it has started. Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury speaks during debate on use of chemical weapons in Syria”

Bishop of Birmingham speaks in debate on Banking Reform Bill

“I and my colleagues on these Benches trust that the industry will wholeheartedly embrace a professional standards process, with independent leadership and all the practical things that we will talk about in the next few minutes and days; and that step by step—with any necessary amendments to the Bill and a full adoption in the autumn of the parliamentary commission’s recommendations—we will all take responsibility for achieving a healthy, vigorous, profitable and accessible but virtuous banking system.”

On 24th July 2013, the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, took part in the Second Reading debate of the Government’s Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill. He welcomed the practical themes in the bill and the opportunity it provided to develop structures with a new culture that would enable the common good to develop in society.

01.04.14 Bishop of BirminghamThe Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Eatwell, for his kind remarks about members of the banking commission who sit in this House, not least my friend the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, who, sadly, is not in his place today but fully intends to be so many times in the autumn when the commission’s work will be discussed in this House in more detail. Perhaps I can partially stand in his place as we spent many years in different parts of the oil industry before entering another sort of multinational work.

We appreciate the practical themes in the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill and the opportunity that it provides to implement the recommendations of the Vickers report and, more recently, of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards. As the Community Investment Coalition put it, the Bill provides an opportunity,

“for Britain to continue as a leading global financial centre, while at the same time protecting ordinary working people”.

I thought that that conveyed rather well the complexity of the issues with which we are dealing. Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham speaks in debate on Banking Reform Bill”

Vote – Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill

On 4th June 2013, nine bishops took part in a division during the Second Reading debate of the Government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. 

House of Lords Division Lobby
House of Lords Division Lobby

Crossbench Peer Lord Dear moved, as an amendment to the motion that the bill be now read a second time, to leave out from “that” to the end and insert “this House declines to give the bill a second reading”.

Nine bishops voted “content” with Lord Dear’s amendment. They were: the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Bishops of Birmingham, Bristol, Chester, Coventry, Exeter, Hereford, London and Winchester. A further five bishops attended but abstained from the vote. No bishops voted “not content.”

There were: Contents: 148 | Not Contents: 390 | Result: Government Win

(via Parliament.uk)

Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill – Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech in the Lords

On 3rd June 2013 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at its Second Reading. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd & Rt Hon Justin Welby, spoke in the debate and his remarks are below, with extracts from speeches made by Peers where reference is made.

Archbishop of CanterburyThe Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, the initial proposals published at the end of the autumn have needed much work to get them into today’s form. Much of that work has been done through detailed legal effort and discussion. I am deeply grateful to the DCMS teams and especially to the Secretary of State for the thoughtful way in which she has listened and the degree to which she has been willing to make changes in order to arrive at the stage we have reached today. Continue reading “Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill – Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech in the Lords”