Archbishop of Canterbury leads debate on reconciliation in British foreign, defence and international development policy

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.

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Bishop of Coventry speaks on peacebuilding and reconciliation

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 Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Chruistopher Cocksworth also spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, I am grateful to follow the moving tribute from the noble Lord, Lord Elton, to the Coptic Orthodox Church. I join him in that. I join others in thanking the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury for his ground-breaking speech. I pay tribute to his deep commitment to reconciliation on multiple levels.

Like the most reverend Primate, I have been shaped by the Coventry story, with its profound narrative of both the human propensity towards disruption of relationships, with the danger, destruction and death that ensues, and the power of hope to prevail over even the darkest forces—a hope built on the restorative capacity of reconciliation, a virtue that needs to be operative even during war, preparing the way for peace.

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Bishop of Chelmsford calls for UK to act against ‘moral, lethal extravagance’ of nuclear weapons

On 28th January 2018,  Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer hosted a debate in the House of Lords “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the outcome of the United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading to Their Total Elimination.” The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, I too thank the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, for bringing this timely and important debate. One of my predecessors, H A Wilson, Bishop of Chelmsford from 1929 to 1950, only ever made one speech in the House of Lords. Prelates nowadays tend to have more to say. This may or may not be a good development.

Shortly after the Second World War a Motion was before this House on the subject of nuclear weapons. Drawing on Christian just war theory, he rose and spoke about how the use of nuclear weapons broke one of the few conventions that civilisation had succeeded in setting up to mitigate the brutalities of war. In his memoirs he recalls how the speech was received:

“Nobody took the slightest notice. I sat down in dead silence and I was conscious that all the noble Lords considered that I had made an ass of myself. Well, probably I had, but the ass’s burden no longer included an uneasy conscience”. Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford calls for UK to act against ‘moral, lethal extravagance’ of nuclear weapons”

Bishop of Portsmouth joins calls for a full defence review

On Thursday 19th January 2018 Lord Sterling of Plaistow led a debate on the Lords on his motion “To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to conduct a full defence review, in the light of the capability of the Armed Forces to meet global defence needs.” The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, I confide in you. Priests— even bishops, perhaps particularly so—are inclined to repeat themselves. I imagine noble Lords might have noticed. I have heard it said that we ​have only one sermon in us and just dress the message up differently each Sunday. I will be repeating my message today, and I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Sterling, for the opportunity to do so. I am just as grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Howe, for listening to my repetition with the grace, care and attention that we all appreciate.

My message is that I applaud the Government’s ambition for defence, which is about British power for good in the world—but as things stand, I doubt that we have the capability, or the defence budget to deliver the capability, to meet that ambition. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth joins calls for a full defence review”

Bishop of Leeds calls for honesty and transparency over UK’s defence capabilities

On Monday 15th January 2018 the House of Lords heard the repeat of a Government statement on the National Security Capability Review. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, would the Minister agree with me that it is important in any public statement that the people of this country are properly apprised of the fact that, if we say yes to and prioritise some elements of our defence capability, we are inevitably saying no to others, and that we are given a proper appraisal of what our capability actually is? In this country, particularly in some of our newspapers, we still hear statements that imply almost that Britannia still rules the waves. Our rhetoric and prioritising ought to match the reality of the situation in which we find ourselves. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds calls for honesty and transparency over UK’s defence capabilities”

Budget – Bishop of Portsmouth points to great silence on social care

On 4th December 2017 the House of Lords debated the Chancellor’s 2017 Autumn Budget Statement. The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate, focusing on the lack of news on social care and on defence, and calling on Government to take further action on Universal Credit:

Last week’s Budget was characterised by a great silence on two issues, and that silence too hides, I suspect, feverish activity and fevered discussions on social care and defence.

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Bishop of Coventry: Britain has moral responsibility for long-term reconstruction, if involved in conflict

On 23rd November 2017 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Soley, “That this House takes note of the case for maintaining United Kingdom defence forces at a sufficient level to contribute to global peace, stability and security.” The Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, I join others in commending the noble Lord, Lord Soley, for securing this debate and for framing it in this way. He made it clear that UK defence forces exist not only for the protection and promotion of immediate British interests but to contribute to global peace, stability and security. The scale of that task has obvious implications for the size of the defence budget and its distribution. Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry: Britain has moral responsibility for long-term reconstruction, if involved in conflict”