Bishop of Coventry asks about conflict in Ethiopia and Tigray

The Bishop of Coventry received the following written answers on 1st November 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry asked His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the two-year conflict in Ethiopia on the (1) nutritional status, (2) mortality rates, and (3) educational standards, of children in Tigray.

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Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill: Bishop of Coventry speaks in support of amendments

On 31st October 2022, the House of Lords debated the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill in the committee stage. The Bishop of Coventry spoke in the debate in support of various amendments, with reference to use of religious and spiritual spaces:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, I support Amendments 5 to 7 in particular. I shall follow on from the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Mann, because I had similar concerns about unintended consequences. I wonder whether your Lordships would mind me sharing some rambling thoughts that have come through my mind. I was not going to, but the reference by the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, to nothing before 1680—I think it was 1680—strengthened me.

In many countries in Europe, today is Reformation Day. I happened to be in Dresden yesterday, where you cannot help but see the statue of Martin Luther, which I was admiring. That is not irrelevant to these discussions. The history of academic freedom in Europe—freedom of expression and of religion—will have different views about the Reformation, but I cannot help celebrating the fact that, 500 years later, the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation said that they agreed over the doctrine of justification by faith, which was the great thing that divided the Churches at that time. As this fascinating debate has continued, I could not help thinking that, if there had not been a suppression of academic freedom at the time, there may not have been that great bust-up, which caused a lot of tearing to society and Church. I simply share that to reinforce that which we are all committed to—academic freedom and freedom of speech—and to recognise that institutions did not always get it right. Certainly, the Church has not.

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Bishop of Coventry asks about conscientious objectors in Azerbaijan

The Bishop of Coventry received the following written answer on 24th October 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry asked His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the treatment of conscientious objectors by the authorities in Azerbaijan; and what representations they have made to the government of Azerbaijan about the introduction of a civilian alternative to military service on the grounds of conscience.

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Bishop of Coventry asks about sustainable development and support for sub-Saharan Africa

The Bishop of Coventry asked a question about the UN Sustainable Development Goals on 13th October 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, the latest Goalkeepers report from the Gates Foundation finds that we need to speed up the pace of our progress by five times if we are to stand any chance of meeting the goals. Mindful of the noble Lord’s earlier answers, does he agree with the report’s emphasis on providing to sub-Saharan Africa and other low-income regions the necessary support and investment in agricultural R&D to provide for innovative inventions such as drought-resistant maize and short-duration rice?

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Bishop of Coventry asks about aid budget in relation to the conflict in Ukraine

The Bishop of Coventry asked a question regarding responses to the annexation of Ukrainian territories by Russia during a debate on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine on 12th October 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, I look forward to the forthcoming public vote at the United Nations General Assembly condemning Russian annexation of the four Ukrainian territories and, I understand, calling for a negotiated settlement. That will pass easily but, despite these recent indiscriminate attacks, as the Secretary-General described them, it looks likely that there will be a large number of abstentions from the majority of the developing world. Can the Minister say why so many countries remain non-aligned and what steps are being taken to address their concerns? In that context, would she accept that, with so many developing countries feeling the impact of the war, the Government should not look to balance their own books by cutting the aid budget further?

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Northern Ireland Protocol Bill: Bishop of Coventry raises concerns about trust in the UK

The Bishop of Coventry spoke in a debate on the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill on 11th October 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the noble Lord, Lord Ricketts. I have no experience of living with the protocol and no expertise in the technicalities of the Bill. However, reflecting on it has sent me to Hannah Arendt’s seminal analysis of the human condition.

Arendt spoke of the unpredictability of human life that arises from, as she put it, the “basic unreliability” of human beings,

“who can never guarantee today who they will be tomorrow”;

this applies also to their successors. The remedy for unpredictability and unreliability, Arendt contended, is the faculty of promise making. Promises provide the stability that enables common life to be established and maintained in an uncertain future. As the wisdom of age-old liturgy puts it, they should be not entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but soberly and after serious thought.

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Bishop of Coventry asks about impact of potential Russian use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine

On 11th October 2022, The Bishop of Coventry asked a question concerning potential use of nuclear weapons by Russia in Ukraine and the impact this would have on the future spread of nuclear weapons:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, what is the Government’s assessment of the impact of the present threat and the potential use of tactical nuclear weapons on the wider non-proliferation regime? What measures are they taking to strengthen the long-term resilience of that regime, together with the Article 6 commitments of the NPT?

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Bishop of Coventry asks about Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the Transcaucasus region

The Bishop of Coventry received the following written answers on 10th October 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry asked His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the clashes along the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan which began on 12 September; and what representations they have made to the governments of those countries in relation to (1) the exercise of restraint, and (2) the observation of agreements which ended the 2020 Nagorno–Karabakh war.

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The Bishop of Coventry pays tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

On 10th September 2022 the House of Lords met to hear tributes to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, whose death had been announced. The Bishop of Coventry paid tribute:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, it is a great honour to follow the noble Lord, Lord Triesman. I will offer some words of tribute on behalf of the people of Coventry and Warwickshire, especially to express our great thanks for the Queen’s part in the renewal of Coventry after its wartime destruction and its discovery of a new identity, aspiring to be a city of peace and reconciliation.

A few days after the worst of the bombing of Coventry, the Queen’s father stood in the ruins of the cathedral and wept. In 1956 the young Queen laid the foundation stone of the new cathedral—a new cathedral for a new Queen, in an ancient city now being rebuilt for a modern age, in a nation finding its place on the international stage in a new Europe and a new world. In 1962, 60 years ago this year, the Queen—herself a consecrated monarch, of course—returned to Coventry for the consecration of the new cathedral. There was hope in the air, and Coventry became a national symbol of the traumas of war, with all its suffering still evident in the ruins, and the possibilities of peace built on reconciliation rising from the ashes of the past into the simple grandeur of the new cathedral. What better person than Queen Elizabeth to lay the foundation stone of a new future and to see a building, a people, a nation consecrated to serve the ways of peace?

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Bishop of Coventry asks about special educational needs

The Bishop of Coventry received the following written answer on 5th September 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry asked Her Majesty’s Government what further consultation opportunities they will provide for those involved in the education of SEND students within further education colleges to inform the development of policy following the SEND green paper consultation.

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