On 31st October 2019 Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman answered questions from MPs for the last time as Second Church Estates Commissioner. Tributes were paid to her, and questions were answered on climate change, archbishops, reconciliation, telecommunications, thefts, women in prison, marriage, and digital evangelism. This was also the same day that the Speaker and his Chaplain were due to retire. A full transcript follows:
The right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—
Climate Change: Investment in Companies
Michael Tomlinson (Mid Dorset and North Poole) (Con): What progress the Church of England has made on holding the companies in which it invests to account on climate change. 
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Dame Caroline Spelman): Since this is my last set of oral questions, I would like to record my heartfelt thanks to my small team of staff, and especially my constituency secretary, who has faithfully served me for 20 out of 22 years. We often forget that our staff are on the frontline of much of the abuse that we receive, and I want to record my admiration for their fortitude. I also thank the amazing staff I have had to support me in this role, particularly Simon Stanley at Church House.
In tribute, Mr Speaker, I thank you for your kindness and courtesy—unfailingly so, and especially at times of personal duress. I single out your inspired choice of Speaker’s Chaplain, who has enriched the spiritual life of this place—but more of that later.
The Church of England Pensions Board has tabled a shareholder resolution ahead of the annual general meeting of BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, on 7 November this month. It asks BHP to suspend its membership of trade associations that are not lobbying in line with the climate change agreement. This is just the latest example of the Church Commissioners using their shareholder position to change company policy in line with the climate change agreement.
Continue reading “Church Commissioner Questions: Tributes, climate change, archbishops, reconciliation, telecommunications, thefts, women in prison, marriage, digital evangelism”
On 24th October 2019 Baroness Randerson asked the Government “what plans they have to encourage more people to travel by bus”. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith asked a supplementary question about public transport and air pollution:
Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, in welcoming the strategy, I am aware that we have seen numerous stories this week about levels of pollution, particularly along school runs, so we should do everything we can to get children on to buses where appropriate. However, many buses are still very poor in terms of the pollution they create, which might take some years to go through. Is there any way in which the Government can help bus companies move more rapidly to zero emissions?
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On 26th June 2019 Lord Bird asked the Government, “by what means, if at all, they require public bodies to act, and to demonstrate how they act, in a manner which seeks to ensure that the needs of the present generation are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Steven Croft, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, it has been a real privilege today—as the noble Lord, Lord Bird, mentioned—to spend time with some of the 16,000 people, many of them young, representing all faiths and none, who have come to say to Parliament that the time is now on climate change. I very much support the proposal from the noble Lord, Lord Bird. Does the Minister agree that the issues of climate change, both in the material sense and the perceived sense—public opinion—are absolutely the pressing priority for the future generation? Following the commendable adoption of the net zero by 2050 target, will the Minister share with the House what the Government’s next three priorities are in combating climate change?
Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford asks Government for its climate change priorities”
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 Oxford, Rt Revd Steven Croft, spoke in the debate, and his speech is below. The speech of the Bishop of Leeds in the same debate can be seen here.
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I too welcome this debate and thank the noble Lord, Lord Bird, very warmly for bringing it. I welcome his proposals. As the noble Lord, Lord Layard, said, the foundation is a moral and ethical case. That moral case has shifted in recent years because of the realisation of the effects of the Anthropocene era. Humanity’s effect on the environment means that the interests of not just the next generation but every generation beyond that need to be protected in our policy-making and debate.
Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford on future generations, climate change and technology policies”
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.
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bird, for bringing this debate to us. Despite wanting to say one or two things, I hope to listen and to learn from the wisdom of others. This debate is particularly pertinent at a time when phrases such as “the will of the people” are being bandied around, without specifying which people. If we are going to take this seriously, it must include people who are not people yet: future generations. Too often that term is used as a static term. It references the past. It does not create any vision for the future. It takes today seriously at the expense of tomorrow.
Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds says we must act on the views on young people, if we are to ask for them”
On 5th June 2019 Lord Cameron of Dillington led a debate on a motion “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to (1) harness the potential of tidal ranges to generate renewable energy, and (2) encourage the private sector to invest in this area.” The Lord Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: My Lords, this debate has already become something of a no-brainer. Quite a lot of what I wanted to say has been said, so there is no point in repeating it, but I want to thank the noble Lord, Lord Cameron, for asking the Question which has generated the debate.
The context is one in which we see a climate emergency, an increasing number of councils across the country responding to it and the other place in Parliament recognising that. Whatever we think of Extinction Rebellion, it has raised the public profile and urgency of the climate change debate and the environmental awareness of what is required of us as legislators. It cannot be business as usual.
Continue reading “Bishop of Salisbury calls for substantial determined and transformative response to climate challenges”
On 2nd May 2019 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Rooker, that “this House takes note of Her Majesty’s Government’s legal responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as detailed in the Climate Change Act 2008 and the implications of continuing climatic changes for global security and stability and for the world economy.” The Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: My Lords, the context of this debate has changed radically over the past few months. Whatever you think of the tactics of Extinction Rebellion, what has been created by its disruption has put the environment on the agenda in a new way and with greater urgency. The debate in the other place yesterday on a climate emergency was Parliament catching up with more than 40 councils in the UK that have decided to act in response to this climate emergency, including Wiltshire declaring that it will be carbon neutral by 2030. Two-thirds of Britons are now said to agree that the planet is in a climate emergency.
Continue reading “Bishop of Salisbury calls for climate action and legally binding target of net zero emissions by 2045”