Bishop of Manchester speaks in a debate on climate change and food security

On 8th September 2022, the House of Lords debated the effects of climate change on biodiversity and food security. The Bishop of Manchester spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Manchester: My Lords, I begin by adding my own compliments to the noble Baroness, Lady Willis, on what was a most excellent maiden speech. I am very much looking forward now to her deep scientific learning informing many future contributions. We need good science in this House. I also echo the sentiments of my right reverend friend the Bishop of Durham in the previous debate, assuring your Lordships that Her Majesty is very much in the prayers of the Lords Spiritual at this time.

I am deeply grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Boycott, for securing time for us to discuss the important matters in this debate. I draw attention to my interest as set out in the register as a Church Commissioner; we are one of the largest owners of agricultural land in England.

This year we have seen unprecedented consequences of climate change, both at home in the UK and abroad: record temperatures, shifting weather patterns, rising sea levels and biodiversity loss. Climate change is alive and kicking, and we need to work together at all levels, locally, nationally and internationally, to address the crisis.

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Bishop of St Albans asks about heatwave impact on agriculture

The Bishop of St Albans asked the following question on 21st July 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked: My Lords, it is right that we think about the effect on human beings, but these high temperatures have a huge effect on our agricultural sector, particularly on livestock. Extreme heat reduces milk yields from cattle, for example, and reduces fertility and increases the number of miscarriages.

What work is being done by government scientists to prepare our agriculture industry if this continues, and what advice is being given in the short term to help our first-class British agriculture sector adapt and continue to provide the food as it does so well?

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Energy Bill: Bishop of Carlisle calls for more community-led energy generation

On 19th July 2022 the House of Lords debated the Government’s Energy Bill at its Second Reading:

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I take many of the cogent and very well-informed points that have already been made in this debate, not least the one made by the noble Lord, Lord Howell, on the need for international co-operation. Even so, I welcome all three pillars of this Bill. Its stated direction could offer at least a step forward towards the goal of net-zero carbon.

I suggest in particular two rather domestic but, I hope, practical areas that could, in my view, do with further development in the Bill; namely, local renewable energy generation, as raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, and carbon capture, which has been addressed by the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, and the noble Baroness, Lady Sheehan.

In both cases, I hope noble Lords will forgive special reference to Cumbria, where I live. It is currently engulfed in a very contentious debate about the Woodhouse Colliery near Whitehaven that is not nearly as straightforward as it might first appear. Cumbria also has the “energy coast”—originally coal, then nuclear and now, increasingly, renewables. It has the Walney Extension offshore wind farm, which has more than 20% of the UK’s wind farm generating capacity. What is more, as a county, we have more than 50% of all the potential small-scale hydropower generation in the north-west.

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Bishop of St Albans speaks in support of Climate and Ecology bill

On 15th July 2022, the Climate and Ecology Bill, a Private Member’s Bill, was considered at Second Reading in the House of Lords. The Bishop of St Albans spoke in the debate – his speech is below, along with contributions from other peers:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I too thank the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, for this Bill. I know he has made many contributions about diversity in the past. I seem to remember that red squirrels are something we have discussed on a number of occasions, and I am glad he still works on that.

This debate is taking place at a crucial moment in our country’s battle against climate change. Despite the circumstances that have led to a change of Prime Minister, there was at least genuine confidence in the urgency and seriousness with which he was approaching the issue of climate change—he spoke out on a number of occasions. Therefore, it seems all the more extraordinary that, in the current events going on, we are hearing virtually nothing from candidates who want to be the next Prime Minister about this vital area. It is as if the only thing that matters is taxation. Taxation is important for all sorts of reasons, but where are the prophetic voices speaking about where we must be for the sake of vital future generations?

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Church Commissioner Questions: Christian Persecution, Church Schools, Religious Freedom, Net Zero, Ukraine, Russia, Institutional Racism

On June 23rd 2022 MPs put questions in the House of Commons to the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP:

Persecution of Christians Overseas

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)

  1. What steps the Church is taking to support the implementation of recommendations in the final report of the Bishop of Truro’s review on persecution of Christians overseas. (900659)

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Andrew Selous): The murder of 50 Catholics in church this month in Ondo state in Nigeria and the ongoing murders for alleged blasphemy are a stark reminder of why the Church of England stands foursquare behind the implementation of the Bishop of Truro’s review.

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Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich gives maiden speech

On 16th May 2022 the Bishop of St Edmundsbury an Ipswich, Rt Revd Martin Seeley, gave his maiden speech in the House of Lords, in the debate on the Queen’s Speech.

The Lord Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich (Maiden Speech): It is a huge honour to be able to address your Lordships’ House today. I thank noble Lords for kind words and acts of welcome. I have been very struck by the kindness and warmth of the staff who work here and who have supported me in my early faltering steps. I regret that a bout of Covid last week prevented me attending at all, but I look forward to building a pattern of regular engagement in the work of this House.

I have had the joy and privilege of serving the people of the diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, which comprises most of the wonderful county of Suffolk, for the past seven years. I previously served in Scunthorpe, New York City, St Louis, Missouri, Westminster, the Isle of Dogs and Cambridge, and I simply reflect on the curious ways of the Church of England that I ended up serving a largely rural diocese.

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Environment Bill: Bishop of Salisbury makes plea for greater climate ambition in farewell speech

On 7th June 2021 the Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, made his final speech in the House of Lords before retirement, in the Second Reading debate on the Government’s Environment Bill:

The Lord Bishop of Salisbury (Valedictory Speech): My Lords, I have not been in the House in person since the first week of February. Sitting on the Front Bench earlier with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Lincoln, I found myself wondering whether both of us had misjudged the timing of our retirements. I have led on the environment for the Church of England for seven years and have been a Member of the House for six. It has been a privilege as well as a responsibility and I am grateful to noble Lords who have spoken kindly of what has been achieved; of course, it could never be enough.

With an eye towards retirement, I had thought that last year, 2020, would have provided a good conclusion, with the Lambeth Conference of Bishops from the Anglican Communion, COP 26 and this Environment Bill. All were postponed, so I find myself standing for the last time in this House without the prospect of being able to engage in the detailed scrutiny and revision that will make what is, in many ways, a good Bill better. Of course, my colleagues will contribute, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Oxford has already. I thank the Minister for meeting the Bishops in preparation for this debate.

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Bishop of Blackburn asks about energy saving for schools and heritage buildings

On 25th May 2021 the Bishop of Blackburn asked a question about finding energy saving solutions for historic and educational buildings.

The Lord Bishop of Blackburn: My Lords, I am grateful for the Question and the Minister’s response. My question is about the outcome for the many heritage buildings and schools in this country, where the challenge is often the greatest. Will the Government do anything to make them part of the solution rather than the problem?

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Queen’s Speech – Bishop of Bristol on climate and environment

On 17th May 2021 the Bishop of Bristol spoke during the third day of debate in the House of Lords on the Queen’s Speech. She focused on the environment and the Government’s Environment Bill.

“My Lords, along with others in this House, I welcome the speeches of the noble Lords, Lord Coaker and Lord Morse. I remember making my own maiden speech in the debate on the Humble Address in 2019, though of course in rather different circumstances. When I gave that speech, we were looking ahead to 2020 as the year of climate action. Instead, the impact of Covid-19 has understandably been the focus of global activity. However, the situation for our planet is becoming more urgent, not less. With another year of action now lost because of Covid-19, we need meaningful global, national and local agreements on the climate and biodiversity issues more than ever before.

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Bishop of Salisbury asks about use of rural churches as charging points for electric vehicles

On 16th December the Bishop of Salisbury responded to a Government statement in the Lords about the Energy White Paper:

The Lord Bishop of Salisbury [V]:  My Lords, I very much welcome the energy White Paper.

One thing we have learned during this pandemic is the importance of the local. What assessment have the Government made of the further potential of local solar, wind and micro hydro energy schemes and of what finance might be needed to facilitate their collectively enormous potential?
Given the comments in the other place about the lack of rural infrastructure for energy, might the Minister find it helpful to consider the possibility of churches being places for siting bidirectional charging points for electric vehicles?

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