Bishop of Chelmsford asks Government not to relocate House of Lords to York

In the House of Lords on Monday 20th January 2020, Lord Foulkes asked a Private Notice Question, “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration is being given to relocating the House of Lords out of London”, following media reports that the Government was considering relocation of the House to York. The Bishop of Chelmsford (and Archbishop of York designate) Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, followed up –

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Bishop of Worcester asks Government to work with citizens’ assemblies on plans for democratic reform

worcesterOn 14th January 2020 Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle asked the Government “what plans the Constitution, Democracy and Rights Commission has to engage with civil society”.  The Bishop of Worcester, Rt Revd John Inge, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, I have seen the disillusionment to which the Minister refers. Given that no plans have yet been made for exactly how the commission will work, as well as the success of citizens’ assemblies in Ireland and France in rebuilding trust in democratic institutions, might the Minister think it a good idea to involve such citizens’ assemblies in the commission’s work? Continue reading “Bishop of Worcester asks Government to work with citizens’ assemblies on plans for democratic reform”

Bishop of Coventry asks about democratic process in South Sudan

180416 CoventryOn 6th August 2019 the Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, received a written answer from Government, in reply to a question about South Sudan:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: HL17388 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the upcoming deadline for forming South Sudan’s Transitional Government, what steps they are taking to encourage the parties and regional powers in that region to (1) unify security forces, and 2) clarify, with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, Dr Riek Machar’s freedom to travel back to South Sudan.

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Bishop of Newcastle – abuse and threats toward MPs unacceptable and risk to democracy

The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, following the Prime Minister’s Statement in the other place this afternoon, it is clear that we remain in a place of deep uncertainty. We are still asked to note the two dates of 12 April and 22 May, signifying that there are at least two, probably more, very different directions we might still take as a country.

I shall not focus on the choices before us, but I note that, whether by intention or default, we will make a choice—a choice will be made—and, beyond that choice, we have to live together. We are experiencing a time of extraordinary turbulence and toxicity in our political life, and it is how we navigate and respond to that turbulence and toxicity now and in future that I shall address in the remainder of the time available to me this afternoon.

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Bishop of Southwark – challenges to parliamentary democracy posed by referendums

On 19th July Lord Higgins led a debate on the motion, “That this House takes note of the impact on parliamentary democracy in the United Kingdom of the use of referendums.” The Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, on securing the debate, which, as others have observed, is timely. A man who secured a silver medal in the 440 yards relay in the Commonwealth Games in 1950 knows how to pace himself. I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Pickles, on his maiden speech with all its fascinating revelations. I look forward to the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, shortly.

Of course, I acknowledge that the United Kingdom cherishes a parliamentary democracy. That key point, and all that flows from it, has been powerfully argued by the noble Lord, Lord Higgins. It is the genius of this country that over time we have made use of ancient yet enduring institutions and constantly evolving constitutional practices to serve a thoroughly modern society. The Church was present in the counsels that predated Parliament and the estates that first gathered here. It has witnessed both the supremacy of the other place and the extension of the franchise. We are being looked down upon in stone effigy by those who witnessed Magna Carta, including two archbishops. Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark – challenges to parliamentary democracy posed by referendums”

Bishop of Leeds – liberal international order not a natural given or inevitable right

On 19th January 2017 Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Bruce of Bennachie led a debate “that this House takes note of challenges to the liberal international order posed by the development of populism and nationalism around the world.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate:

leeds-20117-bThe Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to have a debate like this, which allows us to identify some of the more philosophical dynamics at play in contemporary political developments. The excellent Library note for this debate makes it clear that language matters, and that definition of terms is not incidental. Populism is clearly more than a movement of people who listen only to the facts that support the prejudices that they have already nurtured, but it can exploit assertive language in such a way as to obscure truth. This is what I wish to focus on here. Whereas others will discuss the importance of a rules-based international order, I want to say something about language in a post-truth or post-factual world, and pose a couple of questions about the assumptions we make regarding history. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds – liberal international order not a natural given or inevitable right”

Bishop of Derby – populist politics is best understood as a mood, not a movement

On 19th January 2017 Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Bruce of Bennachie led a debate “that this House takes note of challenges to the liberal international order posed by the development of populism and nationalism around the world.” The Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, spoke in the debate:

derby-19117The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I too thank the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, for introducing this very important debate. I am not a professional politician, but I invite the House to look at the challenge and at the issues behind the case framed, very articulately, by the noble Lord.

First, I want to argue that populism is not a movement but a moment. One of the writers in the briefing for today talked about a thin ideology. It is not a detailed movement, as the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, said; it is a moment. Nietzsche, in the aptly named The Birth of Tragedy, talked about psychological bonding creating a headless movement—it is an expression of feeling, concern or anger, but it is headless. It is like a mood in the background and is really difficult to deal with. Just like President-elect Trump’s tweeting, it is technological chatter, but very difficult to deal with. It is a mood and not a movement. Those of us charged with a political task therefore have quite a challenge to know what we are getting hold of and how to react. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby – populist politics is best understood as a mood, not a movement”