The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to include freedom of religion or belief on the agenda of the 2018 Commonwealth Summit.
On 16th March 2017 the House of Lords debated a Government motion “To move that this House takes note of the United Kingdom’s relationship with the Commonwealth, ahead of the United Kingdom hosting the Heads of Government meeting in 2018.” The Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay for her introduction and her leadership in international development matters and, now, the Commonwealth. I want us to think of the Commonwealth as a global community which, like any community, will have very mixed ingredients, as we have already heard. Although it is important in our present moment to look at the potential for trade and its enriching, I want us to look at the wider context in which the meeting is happening and what the agenda for the Heads of Government might be to be fruitful.
“It is obvious that we cannot change the past, but we are responsible for how we remember it. Memory—and its more active form, commemoration—is certainly more than just lifting down a file and recalling a past event: it is a creative and responsible art which involves highlighting certain features and identifying significant resonances” – Bishop of London, 25/6/14
On 25th June 2014, Lord Gardiner of Kimble led a debate in the House of Lords to take note of the programme to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. The Bishop of London the Rt Rev. & Rt Hon Richard Chartres, took part in the debate, speaking of the importance of collective memory and ‘active commemoration’ of the First World War. He made reference to the significant role of citizens of the Commonwealth who served in the War, the ‘proper protest’ of those compelled to take a pacifist position, and set out some of the plans being made by churches and cathedrals across the country to commemorate the First World War.
The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the Minister for the comprehensive and measured way in which he introduced this important debate and laid out the Government’s plans for this commemoration. I also very much echo the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, about the emphasis being placed on the Commonwealth dimension. I have had the privilege of participating in the annual observances at the memorial gates since their inception. Remembering the sacrifices that were made by so many of those from Commonwealth countries who served provides us with an extremely important opportunity to weave that strand into the national tapestry and our national identity.
On 18th November 2013, the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, asked a question in response to a Government statement on the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and the Philippines typhoon. The question was answered by the Leader of the House of Lords, Lord Hill of Oareford.
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I thank the Government for this remarkable reminder of the generosity of the British people and DEC, and for the commitment of “HMS Daring” and other support. “HMS Daring” of course is connected with Birmingham, the most landlocked city in Britain. Perhaps I may ask the Leader of the House about not just the emergency phase, which is so important, as regards food, water and shelter, but the recovery phase in disasters such as this where we are looking for housing, infrastructure and livelihood. In looking further ahead than just the natural response to the ghastly situation, will he take into account two matters? One was raised by the Philippines climate change commissioner, Yeb Sano, at the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw. He said, “Typhoons such as Haiyan”— or Yolanda as it is called in the Philippines—
“and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action”,
and that the emergency response should look into the much more serious long-term effects of these kinds of climate changes.