The Bishop of Oxford received the following written answers on 5th September 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford asked Her Majesty’s Government, further to their policy paper Ambitious, Safe, Responsible: Our approach to the delivery of AI enabled capability in Defence, published on 15 June, which says that “We do not rule out incorporating AI within weapon systems” and that real-time human supervision of such systems “may act as an unnecessary and inappropriate constraint on operational performance”, when this would be seen as a constraint; and whether they can provide assurance that the UK’s weapon systems will remain under human supervision at the point when any decision to take a human life is made.
The Bishop of Exeter received the following written answer on 26th May 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Exeter asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made, if any, of the UK’s naval capability in supporting British Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories in the South Pacific.
On 19th May 2021 the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke in the House of Lords on the fifth and final day of the debate on the Queen’s Speech.
My Lords, it is a privilege to speak in this debate on the Gracious Speech after the Noble Lord, Lord Hannay with his vast experience and knowledge, and I have learned much from his speech and agree with what he’s said.
The Integrated Review of Global Britain in a Competitive Age has much to be welcomed, including especially the thoughtfulness about the security implications of climate change, the strong commitment to Freedom of Religion and Belief and the commitment to restore the 0.7%. However, to speak of security, defence, development and foreign policy without a developed section on peacebuilding and peace-making, especially with competitors, is like speaking of the pandemic without mentioning vaccination.
On 25th November Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked the Government “further to the ratification by 50 countries of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, what plans they have to review their policies towards nuclear weapons.” The Bishop of St Albans asked a further question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, recently I and a number of other Bishops issued a public letter welcoming the important ratification of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Can the Minister comment on the moral inconsistency, whereby we have rightly taken a stand on outlawing cluster bombs and landmines but not outlawing nuclear weapons, which, as we know, are far more destructive when they are used? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans calls for nuclear weapon prohibition”
On 23rd November the House of Lords heard a Government statement on its integrated review of foreign, defence, security and development policy. The Bishop of Portsmouth asked a question:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth [V]: My Lords, I welcome this announcement, with its impact on jobs and industry, including in the diocese I serve. I note the welcome emphasis that the Government appear to give to defence and security. Will the Minister therefore recognise that previous defence reviews set out grand, strategic ambitions but were not backed by the necessary resources? Will she specifically confirm the Government’s commitment to providing those resources to match the ambitions of the review, and will she further recognise that as we wait for spending commitments on development aid and public sector pay, how much the Government propose in additional investment is an accurate barometer of what they consider to be most important? Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth welcomes integrated review of foreign, defence, security and development policy”
On 11th June 2019 Lord Robathan asked the Government “whether the Foreign Secretary’s speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet on 13 May represented a change in their policy on defence expenditure.” The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, as I am sure the noble Earl remembers, the Foreign Secretary, in his Guildhall speech, not only called for new capabilities and higher spending, but went on to set the point of these new capabilities when he said that,
“strength is the surest guarantee of peace”.
Furthermore, last week, in the D-day proclamation, 16 countries, including the United Kingdom, committed to,
“work together to resolve international tensions peacefully”.
Given those two aims, of strong defence as a sure base for peace and the proclamation, does the noble Earl agree that the formation of the joint reconciliation unit within the Stabilisation Unit in the Foreign Office is a major step forward, in that averting war through orchestrated means—including both hard and soft power—is much cheaper than fighting it?
On 15th May 2019, the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Horam, “That this House takes note of the Report from the European Union Committee Brexit: Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations (16th Report, HL Paper 132).” The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Dannatt, has just reminded us that none of us participating in this debate can forget that we will shortly mark the 75th anniversary of what must surely be the most defining day in Europe in living memory: D-day. That has special significance for the city of Portsmouth, and indeed the whole diocese I serve. As a result, we will have the pleasure—I think—of welcoming the President of the United States into our midst as part of the commemorations.
On 2nd April 2019 the House of Lords debated a Government motion “That this House takes note of the seventieth anniversary of the founding of NATO and its continuing role in the United Kingdom’s defence and security.” The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, it is as ever a pleasure to speak in your Lordships’ House, but today perhaps I feel the privilege especially. I cannot report that, 70 years ago, a Bishop contributed to this House’s debate on the founding of NATO. Without the personal, military, diplomatic or political experience to which the Minister alluded, I am grateful for the forbearance of your Lordships in listening to my contribution today.
On 6th March 2019 Lord West of Spithead asked the Government a question about contracts to build five Type 31e frigates. The Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Christopher Foster, asked a follow up question:
Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, will the Minister confirm that these frigates will be based in Portsmouth, and when a decision will be announced to this House? As the home of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth is the obvious home for these frigates, not least because the general purpose Type 23 frigates are currently based there. This decision would bring much support and give reassurance to the city, community and the diocese I serve. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth asks Government if new frigates will be built in Portsmouth”
On 14th December 2018 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, led a debate in the House of Lords on the Motion: “that this House takes note of the role of reconciliation in British foreign, defence and international development policy”. The Archbishop’s opening and closing speeches in the debate are below. The Bishop of Coventry also spoke in the debate and his speech can be seen here.
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I am grateful to the usual channels for permitting this debate; to the noble Lord, Lord Collins of Highbury, for responding on behalf of the Opposition; to the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice; and to the Minister, the noble Earl, Lord Howe, for their time and contributions today. My noble kinsman Lord Williams of Elvel said when I came into the House some years ago, “The wonderful thing about the House of Lords is that whatever you say, there will be a world expert listening to you”. Looking down the list of those who will contribute today, I am conscious of the expertise in the House, including a Nobel laureate, and I am greatly looking forward to hearing from noble Lords whose combined expertise and experience is sure to provide us with much to reflect on.