On 28th January 2015, the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, took part in the debate on amendments to the Government’s Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, during its Committee Stage. Speaking during the debate on the duties of higher education institutions under the Bill, the Bishop raised the point that places of religious instruction and education did not appear to fall under the remit of the Bill. Following the debate, the amendments were withdrawn.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: I will speak very briefly as we come to the end of this debate. As I was listening to it, I realised that there is a whole area to which we have not referred but which is entirely relevant; that is, religious institutions and places of religious instruction and education. Those are missing from the Bill. The application of the Bill to universities will have very uncertain benefits and be extremely impractical to apply in as much as universities are independent institutions. They do not always appear so to the heads of those institutions when they deal with Governments but they are independent institutions. That is a really important feature. Most of the authorities listed here are not independent in that way, although other educational establishments are included. Continue reading “Bishop of Chester takes part in debate on Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill”
On 20th January 2015 the Bishop of Durham spoke in support of amendment 2 in the name of Lord Rosser to the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill 2014-15 during the Bills committee stage. The amendment relates to inserting a sunset clause into the Bill which would be reviewed by Parliament after a two-year period. Following Lord Bates’s response from the Government to the amendment Lord Rosser decided to withdraw his amendment.
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, it is worth reminding ourselves of the speed of change in the world that has led to this legislation. If these proposals had been before us even 18 months ago, I suspect that we would not even have entertained them. Therefore, the speed of change that has brought them about demands that we say that we do not wish to forgo our existing liberties, some of which would be restricted by this Act, without having recourse, in two or three years’ time, to a serious look at whether the measures are working. So I fully support the idea of a sunset clause. I am prepared to accept that two years may be rather too brief, given all the circumstances and the likelihood that we are going to live with this for some time. I would, however, encourage the House to support these amendments in some form, since I believe that the removal of our liberties that is encompassed in these clauses is so serious that we should not put them into permanent place.
Continue reading “Bishop of Durham speaks about the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill”
On 13th January 2015, the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke during the Second Reading debate of the Government’s Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill. In his remarks, the Bishop praised the collaborative working between the Department for Communities and Local Government and local community projects aimed at community cohesion and the prevention of radicalisation. He noted that prevention was most effective when tackled at the long-term grass-roots level. He urged caution over the implementation of parts of the legislation that deal with placing obligations on public institutions, at the risk of creating climates of fear and suspicion within these institutions.
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I share with every other reasonable person a horror of the evil actions and effects of terrorism, grief for the suffering caused by terrorist acts and a heartfelt concern for those whose lives are lost or wounded through it. Events in Paris last week clearly illustrated this to us all. However, those events also highlight the need to ensure that we keep a global awareness and perspective, as the fresh Boko Haram attacks in Baga and its surrounding villages last Friday show us. Here, around 2,000 were killed. As we consider counterterrorism and security here in our land, we must stay aware of the global nature of the issues. Continue reading “Bishop of Durham speaks during debate on Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill”