Bishop of Worcester asks about returning ancient sacred tabots held in the British Museum to Ethiopia

On 30th March 2022 the Bishop of Worcester asked a question in support of returning ancient sacred tabots held in the British Museum to Ethiopia.

The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, apart from the way in which these artefacts were obtained, and the responsibility of the British Museum and its independence, I wonder whether the Minister would agree that what sets these artefacts apart, as he has intimated, from any others in the British Museum and other museums across our land, is that they are sacred. As such, they relate to a living faith—the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Whereas these tabots mean very little to anyone here except as stones of limited historical value, and no one is able to see them anyway, they are of profound religious significance in Ethiopia. Would not the Minister agree that they should therefore be returned to those who understand them to be holy and will cherish them as such?

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Bishop of St Albans asks about Armenian historical sites

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answers on 23rd March 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 7 March (HL6312), what assessment they have made as to whether the process of Albanization is occurring in relation to (1) churches, and (2) monasteries, in (a) Nagorno-Karabakh, and (b) the surrounding regions, retaken by Azerbaijan.

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Bishop of St Albans asks about sale of ancient artefacts from Tigray, Ethiopia

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 21st March 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to investigate the sale in the UK of ancient artefacts stolen from Ethiopia’s Tigray region as part of the ongoing conflict in that area.

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Bishop of St Albans asks about protection of cultural heritage in Armenian sites located in Azerbaijan

The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answers on 7th March 2022:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the formation of the government of Azerbaijan’s working group to remove traces of Armenian heritage from Armenian churches.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con): The UK Government has and will continue to urge both parties to protect the cultural heritage of all sites in the region and are deeply concerned by reports that both parties have destroyed cultural heritage. We will continue to raise our concerns with the respective governments and urge them to allow UNESCO unrestricted access to the region.

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Bishop of St Albans asks Government about performing music during Covid-19

On 1 July Lord Berkeley of Knighton asked Her Majesty’s Government “what is their response to reports that orchestras and cultural venues are facing permanent closure as a result of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, asked a follow up question focusing on performing music during Covid-19.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, it is not just the performance venues that are suffering but many churches and halls rented out for rehearsal space. Will the Minister update the House on the progress of research undertaken into singing and playing woodwind and brass instruments, to see how these activities might be safely undertaken while minimising the risk of spreading Covid-19?

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Bishop of Worcester raises concern about devaluing of arts, culture and religion in education system

On 3rd March 2020 The Earl of Clancarty asked the Government “what steps they are taking to improve the provision of arts and cultural services at (1) local, and (2) regional, level.” The Bishop of Worcester, Rt Revd John Inge, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, while the provision of arts and cultural services by local authorities is clearly crucial to our society’s well-being, does the Minister share the frustration felt by many of us at the increasingly utilitarian approach taken by schools and further and higher education, which often devalues arts and culture at a time when we know less about what skills will be required in the workplace of the future but we know that the sort of broad vision provided by arts and culture—and, perhaps, religion—will be invaluable? Continue reading “Bishop of Worcester raises concern about devaluing of arts, culture and religion in education system”

Bishop of Coventry on the place of theatre in upcoming Coventry City of Culture celebrations

Coventry171122 bOn 11th June 2019 the Earl of Glasgow led a short debate on the question to Government, “what assessment they have made of the operation of the theatre market in (1) London, and (2) elsewhere in the United Kingdom; and what steps they are taking to ensure that theatre is accessible to as wide an audience as possible.” The Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Dr Christopher John Cocksworth, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, even though the Arts Council analysis of theatre in England reveals how the Midlands is underserved in theatre, I speak from a diocese that has international, national, regional and local treasures, and from a city that will be the UK’s City of Culture in 2021.

The million or so people of Coventry and Warwickshire are rich in creativity and are reaching out for the sort of accessibility that is the intention of the noble Earl, Lord Glasgow, whom I thank for securing this important debate and for his wide-ranging introductory speech. I am very glad to speak in this debate, not least because I am the only speaker in costume today—fittingly dressed.

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Bishop of Leeds seeks Government assurances over future of Bradford’s National Media Museum

LeedsOn 25th April 2016 Lord Stevenson of Balmacara asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the closures of regional museums, particularly in the North of England, and the impact of those closures on the United Kingdom’s creative industry and on the educational services provided to local schools and colleges.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, if the rhetoric about the northern powerhouse is to have any reality behind it, it has to include access to culture and cultural developments. In the light of that, will the Minister give an assurance that the sword of Damocles hanging over the National Media Museum in Bradford might at last be lifted? Sometimes up there it feels as if London is saying, “Out, damned spot!”. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds seeks Government assurances over future of Bradford’s National Media Museum”

Bishop of Portsmouth calls on UK Government to ratify Hague Convention for Protection of Cultural Property in Armed Conflict

On 14th January 2016 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Andrews “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their plan for ratifying the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict”. The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate:

14.04.09 Portsmouth maiden speech 1The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, I add my thanks to the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, for this debate and for the very important Question that she asks of the Government Front Bench. In June 2015, the Ministry of Defence answered a Written Question, as we have heard, on the timetable for ratifying the Hague convention. A Minister stated:

“The Government believes that protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict is a priority and remains committed to that task”.

She confirmed the,

“plan to introduce legislation to ratify the Convention”,

as we know,

“as soon as Parliamentary time allows”.

The Answer continued with a reassurance:

“Respect for cultural property is already upheld across the Armed Forces and they currently act within the spirit of the 1954 Convention. This respect is incorporated into military law”.

I wholeheartedly welcome that commitment and ask the Minister if she can recognise both the embarrassment of the present and lengthy delay in ratification, which successive Governments since 2008 have pledged to end, and the compelling practical, cultural and humanitarian reasons for speedy rectification of this inordinate delay. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth calls on UK Government to ratify Hague Convention for Protection of Cultural Property in Armed Conflict”

Bishop of Norwich speaks in support of the BBC

“The BBC has plenty of the faults to be found in all large institutions, including government departments. It has a capacity to waste money on IT projects, but no more so than successive Governments. It can be complacent and bureaucratic, but so can the Church of England and the trade unions. What seems to irritate its opponents is its very success.” – Bishop of Norwich, 14/7/15

14.06.12 Bishop of Norwich

On 14th July 2015 the House of Lords debated the future of the BBC. The Bishop of Norwich, Rt Revd Graham James, a former member of the House of Lords Communications Committee, spoke supportively of the BBC, including its integral role in promoting British values. 

The Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, it seems odd that a Government so keen to promote British values in our schools appear intent on reducing the capacity of a world-renowned British institution. The BBC is increasingly referred to as though it were part of the public sector. It is not. It is an organisation financed not from the public purse but by those who use it. The fact that many of them are also taxpayers is no more relevant than the fact that those who pay their energy bills are also taxpayers. Perhaps the winter fuel allowance will now be transferred to the energy companies. The logic seems impeccable given the precedent established last week.

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