Bishop of London responds to the Chilcot Report on the invasion of Iraq

“There is no doubt that someone who dwells on history can be somewhat tedious, but at the same time someone with a sense of destiny and no sense of history can be very dangerous.”- Bishop of London, 12/7/16

On 12th July 2016 the House of Lords debated a Government motion “That this House takes note of the Report of the Iraq Inquiry”. The Bishop of London, Rt Rev and Rt Hon Richard Chartres, spoke in the debate:

Bp London 131015The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, it is humbling to follow such a powerful and authoritative voice. I am also grateful to the Minister for the constructive way he introduced this debate and invited us to think about the lessons we can apply now. Sir John Chilcot recommends more thorough analysis before military action and a more collaborative approach to policy-making. I imagine that every one of your Lordships would probably agree that the case is well made, but politicians caught up in oppressive events, a rapidly changing situation and a 24/7 news environment, and with an ally who is losing patience, do not have much time for pondering decisions. Therefore—this echoes many of the remarks of the previous noble Lord—the culture and assumptions that leaders bring to the crisis are hugely significant. Continue reading “Bishop of London responds to the Chilcot Report on the invasion of Iraq”

Bishop of Portsmouth speaks on Strategic Defence and Security Review

On 3rd December, 2015 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Attlee “that this House takes note of the United Kingdom’s role in supporting international security and stability in the light of the strategic defence and security review.” The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate. His speech is below, alongside an extract from the Minister’s response.


BishPortsspeechtaxcredits

 Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, even before we reach the halfway point of this debate, a range of significant and important matters have been raised. Some merit much more substantial consideration—for example, international partnerships and relationships, the deliverability of counterterrorism and the cyberterrorism agendas, and the huge importance of diplomatic presence and influence. To these I add the projected development of the delegated model. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth speaks on Strategic Defence and Security Review”

Defence review – Bishop of Leeds responds

On 23rd November 2015 the House of Lords heard repeated the Government’s statement on the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow up question:

LeedsThe Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, would the Minister agree with me that some of the language we are using in this debate reflects an assumption that the world is binary and divided into allies and enemies? The reality is that allies become enemies, and enemies become allies. In any strategic approach to the future, could we be assured that that possibility will be taken into account? I worked on elements to do with Iraq in the 1980s, and we can see what happened in the 2000s.

Arms and resources that we sell to people who are rebels in Syria can then be used against us. Is that sort of strategic thinking about a non-binary, more eclectic world being taken into consideration?


Continue reading “Defence review – Bishop of Leeds responds”

Bishop of Portsmouth speaks about challenges of retention of armed forces reservists

On 22nd October 2015 Lord Freeman led a Lords debate “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the present and future strength of the reserves of the British Armed Forces.” The Bishop of Portsmouth spoke in the debate

14.04.09 Portsmouth maiden speech 2The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth:  My Lords, I share our gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Freeman, for this Question for Short Debate. The Whole Force Concept is journeying from theory to reality. It is a tricky journey, it seems to me, not because the Government set the wrong course five years ago but because of the scale and complexity of the task. It is true that many essential defence skills, and especially many essential national security skills, reside in the private sector as well as in the Armed Forces. To bring these together coherently and effectively requires both strategic direction and effective management. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth speaks about challenges of retention of armed forces reservists”

Bishop of Worcester asks Government about aid and protection for civilians in Iraq

On the 23rd and 24th September 2015 the Bishop of Worcester, Rt Revd John Inge, received answers to questions of Government about Iraq – on humanitarian aid, the impact of military action on civilians and support for building an inclusive state.


WorcesterThe Lord Bishop of Worcester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure humanitarian access to civilian communities in Iraq in need of aid who are caught up in the fighting.


Bishop of Portsmouth asks if UK defence has a credibility and capability gap

On 15th September 2015 the Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, took part in a short debate led by Earl Howe on ‘The Role and Capabilities of the UK Armed Forces, in the Light of Global and Domestic Threats to Stability and Security’. The Bishop spoke about the growing credibility and capability gaps in British defence structures. 

14.04.09 Portsmouth maiden speech 1The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, in welcoming this debate, I offer some comments addressing the subtext—as the noble Earl, Lord Howe, put it—and in particular the strategic defence and security review. I am very well aware of the range and depth of experience among your Lordships. I offer these comments without such knowledge and background but from deep admiration for those who serve in our Armed Forces, not least in the Royal Navy, for which you will understand my local pride. We all share a concern for the stability and security of our nation and our world. Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth asks if UK defence has a credibility and capability gap”

Bishop of Southwark calls on Government to invest in peacekeeping and post-conflict role of armed forces

On Wednesday 17th June 2015 the House of Lords debated a motion in the name of Lord Sterling of Plaistow “to ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they consider that the current defence budget is sufficient to enable the Armed Forces to meet the needs of the United Kingdom’s long-term foreign policy.” The Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, spoke in the debate, highlighting the need to resource conflict resolution and post-conflict stabilisation in Syria and other parts of the region.

Bp Southwark May 2015The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I too welcome this debate and thank the noble Lord, Lord Sterling, for securing it. With the strategic defence and security review we have an opportunity for a wider debate on the politics of defence that might help to reshape our understanding of the purpose and task of our Armed Forces. The fundamentals that have underpinned UK foreign policy and defence spending in the past will need to be adapted to the changed circumstances we face, especially in the Middle East and our European neighbourhood. Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark calls on Government to invest in peacekeeping and post-conflict role of armed forces”

Bishop of Coventry leads Lords debate on the 70th Anniversary of the Dresden Bombing

“I hope that we will be ready to proclaim afresh to the world that the story of our nations over the last 70 years proves that peace is possible and that friendship is better than enmity” – Bishop of Coventry 12/3/15

On 12th March 2015 the Bishop of Coventry, Rt Rev Christopher Cocksworth, led a debate in the House of Lords on the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Dresden. His opening speech can be seen below, along with the Minister’s response. The speeches of other members in the debate can be viewed on the UK Parliament website, here.

13.10 Bishop of Coventry

Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry leads Lords debate on the 70th Anniversary of the Dresden Bombing”

Peacekeeping, Reservists, Chaplaincy and the Armed Forces Covenant: Bishop of St Albans

 “I hope that as these covenants are rolled out, we can think about how we can draw in the voluntary sector to offer real and significant support to those who put themselves on the line in the defence of our country.” – Bishop of St Albans, 7/4/14

14.03 Bishop of St Albans

On 7th April 2014 Lord Dannatt tabled a question for short debate, ‘to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of whether they have sufficient manpower and the right balance of regular and reserve forces within the Armed Forces in order to meet the United Kingdom’s current national and international responsibilities and requirements’. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Rev Alan Smith, spoke: Continue reading “Peacekeeping, Reservists, Chaplaincy and the Armed Forces Covenant: Bishop of St Albans”

Votes: Defence Reform Bill

On 26th March two bishops took part in a Division on an amendment to the Government’s Defence Reform Bill, during its Report Stage in the House of Lords.

House of Lords Division Lobby
House of Lords Division Lobby

Continue reading “Votes: Defence Reform Bill”

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