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?
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about performing music during Covid-19”
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”
On 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.
Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry on the place of theatre in upcoming Coventry City of Culture celebrations”
On 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”
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:
The 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”
“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
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.
Continue reading “Bishop of Norwich speaks in support of the BBC”
“No other country in Europe has less financial support from the taxpayer for ecclesiastical heritage than England—which, ironically, has an established church” – Bishop of Norwich, 12/6/14
On 12th June Lord Cormack led a debate in the House of Lords on the subject ‘That this House takes note of the importance of the English parish church.’ The Bishop of Norwich spoke in the debate, about the community and financial value of parish churches, their heritage importance and current financial pressures. Lord Ahmad responded for the Government. Their speeches are reproduced in full below. The Bishop’s speech can also be viewed at ParliamentLive.TV and a useful summary of the debate can be found on the Law & Religion UK website, here.
The Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, we are meant to declare our interests in this House, but I think that standing here dressed like this is probably a visual declaration. Noble Lords will not be surprised to learn that I believe that the Motion tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, to take note of the importance of our parish churches, is one that I am happy to endorse. It applies in Wales and Scotland as well, of course, although I need to be a bit careful of the Presbyterian conscience and not presume any authority north of the border. Continue reading “House of Lords debates ‘the importance of the English Parish Church’”
I want to draw attention briefly to a remarkable cultural development—the renewal of our cathedrals where, I hope and pray, the first female diocesan bishops will be enthroned – Bishop of Norwich, 11/6/14
On 11th June 2014, in the eighth contribution to the debate on the Queen’s Speech from the Lords Spiritual, the Bishop of Norwich, Rt Rev Graham James, focused on constitutional and heritage issues. The Bishop spoke of his hope that female bishops would soon be able to join the Bench of Bishops in the House of Lords, and highlighted the cultural and economic impact of cathedrals in the life of the country.
The Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, the Scottish referendum means that we face constitutional change, or the possibility of it, on a massive scale. I recall someone remarking that constitutional change in Britain is a bit like unpicking a ball of wool—once it unravels, it is hard to stop without creating a knotty mess. That is neither an argument against constitutional change nor against knitting but it does call for a good pattern to follow.
“Britain has a wonderful tradition of musical performance and singing. We play a little part in that with our heritage of music in our cathedrals, collegiate institutions and some parish churches. It is there that many of these young people discover not only that they have a voice but how to train it.” – Bishop of St Albans
In the House of Lords on 20th March 2014 Baroness Andrews tabled a question for short debate: “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what proposals they have to promote the role of the creative skills sector in the United Kingdom economy.”
The Bishop of St Albans spoke of the role of education in fostering creative skills and the ongoing place of churches and cathedrals in encouraging music, arts and craft. Continue reading “The role of the church and education in promoting creative skills – speech by Bishop of St Albans”
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, for securing this debate and I pay tribute to the wonderful work that he has done in this area over many years, as I do to the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, who has similarly done wonderful work. I claim no particular expertise, although I am passionate about the arts—perhaps that is something to do with the fact that it is sometimes said that many clergy are failed actors. Continue reading “The Bishop of Worcester speaks on arts and culture in the ‘current financial climate’”