MPs questions to Church Commissioners’: Stephen Sutton, school chaplains, persecuted Christians, church repairs, credit unions, biblical literacy

Church Commissioners’ Questions: 12th June 2014

Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked questions in the House of Commons on 12th June, on the service of remembrance for Stephen Sutton, school chaplains, persecuted Christians overseas, listed church building repairs, credit unions and biblical literacy amongst children. The transcript is below:

14.01 CCQ Baldry

Stephen Sutton

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con):If he will visit Lichfield cathedral to discuss the service of remembrance and celebration of the life of Stephen Sutton. [904158]

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): I am always happy to visit Lichfield cathedral. The whole country will have celebrated the life and achievements of Stephen Sutton. The recent service of remembrance and celebration at Lichfield cathedral demonstrates the importance of cathedrals as a focus for unity at times of local and national celebration, commemoration and mourning. Continue reading “MPs questions to Church Commissioners’: Stephen Sutton, school chaplains, persecuted Christians, church repairs, credit unions, biblical literacy”

Bishop of Durham gives maiden speech in House of Lords

“Young people…have been told that their value and contribution to the world is in work and their economic contribution. They have been told a lie…We have to help our young people to understand their true value as human beings first and foremost—but yes, we have to help them to find good, meaningful work” – Bishop of Durham, 10/6/14

14.06.10 Bishop of Durham 4

On 10th June 2014 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Rev Paul Butler, gave his maiden speech to the House of Lords, during the debate on the Queen’s Speech. The Bishop spoke about the attributes and needs of the Durham diocese, his experience of the global church, and his concern for young people’s social and economic welfare. He voiced his support for the Living Wage and plans within the Queen’s Speech for laws to tackle the emotional abuse of children.

This was the seventh contribution to the debate on the Queen’s Speech from the Bishops’ Benches. You can also watch a video of the Bishop delivering the speech on


The Lord Bishop of Durham (Maiden Speech): My Lords, I begin by thanking your Lordships for the way in which I have been welcomed and supported as I have entered this noble House. That support has been full of wisdom, including guiding this Bishop as to how to kneel correctly during Prayers, for which I was extremely grateful. Continue reading “Bishop of Durham gives maiden speech in House of Lords”

Votes: Immigration Bill (trafficking, citizenship)

House of Lords Division Lobby
House of Lords Division Lobby

Bishops took part in two votes in the House of Lords on amendments to the Government’s Immigration Bill at its Report Stage on 7th April 2014. In both cases the amendments passed, meaning the Government was defeated. Continue reading “Votes: Immigration Bill (trafficking, citizenship)”

Bishop of Leicester urges greater consideration of child welfare in immigration cases

The Bishop of Leicester spoke during Report Stage of the Immigration Bill, speaking in favour of Baroness Lister’s Amendment 21. The amendment sought to reduce the threshold at which a child becomes a material factor in a parents’ immigration case from seven to four years. The amendment was not moved, with the Minister giving assurances that the Bill would not have a negative impact on the safeguarding or welfare of children in the United Kingdom.

LeicesterThe Lord Bishop of Leicester: My Lords, I want just to assure your Lordships that as the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, suggested, I support Amendment 21 in spirit. I also support it in practice. It seems that the arguments, from any understanding of child development, are clearly overwhelming. I speak as a former chair of the Children’s Society and as a member of the commission that published the A Good Childhood report on behalf of the Children’s Society some four or five years ago, which was based on the evidence of more than 20,000 children, many of them very young children. They made it very clear, even at the age of five or six, that friendships were an absolutely primary part of their understanding of their well-being. This is documented and spelt out in that report, as indeed it is in many other more academic reports. I would be happy to support this amendment as it stands or even if it is reduced to fewer years. On the basis of any understanding of child development, the argument for a cut-off period of four years seems overwhelming. I hope the Minister will be able to respond positively to the amendment.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: …The noble Baroness, Lady Lister, talked about her experience of losing friends at the age of four, and that was echoed by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester, but let us face it: many parents move with their children around the country or out of the country for work or other temporary purposes, and the family leaves to return home or move elsewhere. When a family comes to the United Kingdom for a temporary purpose, they cannot and should not expect to settle permanently in the UK, and should not be able to do so unless they meet the rules for doing so. It is essential that the public interest in controlling immigration and protecting the public be properly weighed in the balance, even when children are involved. We believe that Clause 18 strikes the right balance in this regard…


Schools: Bad Behaviour

On 25th March 2014 Baroness Massey of Darwen asked Her Majesty’s Government ‘what policies they promote to prevent bad behaviour in schools, apart from punishment?’. The Bishop of Leicester asked a supplementary question:

The Lord Bishop of Leicester: LeicesterMy Lords, in view of the Minister’s clear endorsement of the policy of positive reinforcement of good behaviour, does he agree that we should be doing much more to promote a culture of mutual respect more widely in society so that the benefit of the positive work of many schools is not lost when our children step out of the school gate?

Lord Nash: I agree entirely with the right reverend Prelate. I know that the church has a particularly strong record of promoting community cohesion across its schools. A culture of mutual respect and of respecting other races and religions is essential to a modern school.

Cost of Family Breakdown: Bishop of Chester Question to Government

The Bishop of Chester asked Her Majesty’s Government: what is their estimate of the cost of family and relationship breakdown to the welfare budget.

After the Minister’s reply, he followed up with a supplementary question.

Lord Freud: My Lords, I am unable to give an official figure. A number of organisations have produced estimates—for example, the Relationships Foundation, at £45 billion-odd—but there is no consensus. The social security spend on lone parents and collecting child maintenance is just under £9 billion, but we must acknowledge that there are wider societal costs. Government have an important role to play in supporting families and working to ensure stable futures for children.

The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, if the figure of £45 billion or £46 billion given by the Relationships Foundation is even remotely accurate, that illustrates the cost of family and relational breakdown, which cashes out at about £1,500 each year for each taxpayer in our country. What more do the Government propose to do to support and strengthen family life and relationships in our country, which must somewhere include supporting the institution of marriage? Continue reading “Cost of Family Breakdown: Bishop of Chester Question to Government”

Votes – Children and Families Bill

House of Lords Division Lobby
House of Lords Division Lobby

On 28th and 29th January 2014, the Bishop of St Albans took part in two votes on the Government’s Children and Families Bill, during its Report Stage.

Continue reading “Votes – Children and Families Bill”