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 26th June 2019 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered two written questions from Jim Shannon MP (Strangford) on Church-based tourism and community development:
Jim Shannon MP: 271461 To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church of England has taken to promote tourism to its churches and cathedrals.
Dame Caroline Spelman: The Church of England welcomes the Government’s new Tourism Sector Deal, which encompasses all our churches and cathedrals and will give a significant boost to our cultural heritage. Cathedrals in England attract over 10 million visitors a year, the majority as tourists.
The Church supports the work of the Churches Visitor and Tourism Association on several initiatives that help the public learn more about their local churches:
Continue reading “Church Commissioners written answers: Church tourism and local economy”
On 31st January 2019 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Whitty, “that this House takes note of the case for a long-term commitment to increased provision of social housing to help to reduce housing costs, homelessness and housing benefit expenditure.” The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: As Bishop of Chelmsford, I am also proud to be the Bishop of Becontree, Harlow and Basildon, three of the nation’s boldest attempts by policymakers in the last century to address the housing needs of London and the south-east. When Becontree was built in the 1920s, it was Europe’s largest public housing development. The Government were then building homes fit for heroes after the First World War, and London County Council had a bold vision for 27,000 new homes and the infrastructure that went with them, which we do not see in housing estates today. There are many being built across Essex. It is great to move in, provided that you do not own a car—there is nowhere to park it—and provided that nobody who ever visits you has a car, because there is nowhere for them either.
Continue reading “We need to build communities as well as social housing – Bishop of Chelmsford”
On 9th July 2018 Baroness Williams of Trafford repeated a Statement updating the House on the Amesbury incident which the Home Secretary had previously made in the Commons. The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, responded to the Statement:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, as it happens, over the weekend I was talking to a member of the clergy who is a resident of Salisbury. I simply asked her how it feels, and she said, “Grim and deeply disturbing”, because of the second occurrence. She said that people were just beginning to come out of this and now they do not know how to react. She was talking about community life, businesses and so on. In exploring support for businesses, does the Minister understand that this feels like a double hit for people in Salisbury, and that community encouragement and up-building is needed, not simply economic support? I ask this largely in the name of my noble friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Salisbury. Continue reading “Bishop of Durham says support for community in Salisbury and Amesbury as important as support for local economy”
On 15th March 2018 the Minister for Faith, Lord Bourne, repeated a statement made by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on the new Integrated Communities Green Paper. The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, there is a great deal in this Statement and in the strategy that I welcome. It promises a big and positive difference in what the Government are doing to improve integration. It is good to see in the Green Paper initiatives such as the Near Neighbours Catalyst leadership programme, to which the Minister has recently referred. It is good to see that singled out for praise. However, there is some anxiety that Catalyst and other valuable Near Neighbours activity might have to come to an end as a result of a reduction in overall funding for Near Neighbours and the for the small grants fund. I am sure that that is far from the Government’s intention, and I wonder whether the Minister can give an assurance that he will look at the impact of any funding changes as part of the assessment of this new strategy. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth welcomes Government integration strategy, raises concern about Near Neighbours funding”
Baroness Berridge asked Her Majesty’s Government “what plans they have to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the arrival of MV Empire Windrush.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I am grateful that the noble Baroness, Lady Berridge, tabled this debate, and in particular that she has framed it in the context of a celebration. Having said that, we also need to face the fact that there are a number of quite shameful things in our history that we need to confront. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans suggests ways to mark the Windrush 70th anniversary”
On 22nd June 2017 the Leader of the House of Commons repeated a Government statement on the Grenfell Tower fire in Kensington. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd & Rt Hon Justin Welby, spoke after the statement:
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I welcome the Statement and the eventual comprehensive response, and I particularly welcome the speech given by the noble Baroness, the Leader of the Opposition, which was especially powerful and helpful. Having been with voluntary groups at the Grenfell Tower during the day following the fire, I have two questions.
First, one of the fire officers we were talking to said, “This is the third once-in-a-generation event in a few weeks”. The number of emergency service people, who for the third time in a very few weeks put their lives on the line and found themselves in a situation of the most absolute horror, seeking to save the victims who were caught in the fire as well as in the previous terrorist incidents, is much higher than would normally be expected. Continue reading “Archbishop commends response of faith communities and emergency services to Grenfell Tower Fire”