On 12th January 2022, the House of Lords debated a report from the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee: Democracy Denied? The urgent need to rebalance power between Parliament and the Executive. The Bishop of St Albans spoke in support of the report’s recommendations on legislation and regulatory powers:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, as has already been noted by other speakers in this debate, delegated legislation is indeed a necessary part of the process, but I echo the concerns about the increasing use of skeleton legislation, Henry VIII powers, disguised legislation and tertiary legislation. I support these two excellent reports that look at how we might limit the use of delegated legislation and address the culture that is now taking it for granted. Both committees highlighted very valid concern about the transfer of power from Parliament, with clear democratic oversight and public scrutiny, to instead ruling by Executive edict.
The past few years have been turbulent times, although probably if anybody looked back over any decade in the life of this nation they would see that there have always been turbulent things happening. Therefore, I guess it is easy to understand why the Executive may need to respond in unusual and challenging circumstances with delegated authority. However, it is absolutely crucial that this is done sparingly and in a transparent manner. The Government’s response to the pandemic is the classic example of this. Of course, there are times when a national emergency will demand that we fast-track legislation, or grant broad delegated powers, but those should be exceptional and rare cases. The Government must always recognise the importance and value of parliamentary scrutiny. What is concerning, as is brilliantly highlighted in these reports, is that the Government’s widening use of delegated legislation is not limited to emergencies but is now being used routinely.
Continue reading ““Democracy Denied” Report: Bishop of St Albans speaks in support of recommendations”
On 6th May 2020 the Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, received a written answer on the mass arrests of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong:
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: HL3685 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of China regarding the mass arrests of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong on 18 April.
Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry raises arrests of democracy activists in Hong Kong”
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 –
Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford asks Government not to relocate House of Lords to York”
On 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”
On 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.
Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry asks about democratic process in South Sudan”
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”
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:
The 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”
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:
The 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”
“My opinion is that we should let the polling industry do its best. I would categorise it more in the realm of entertainment than science. It is helpful, people enjoy it and it is useful but we need a sense of proportion.” – Bishop of Derby, 18/6/15
On Thursday 18th June 2015 the Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Alastair Redfern took part in a Lords debate tabled by Lord Lipsey, to ask the Government “whether they plan to regulate the opinion-polling industry.” He said:
The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I want to look at opinion poll industry regulation in a general way, rather than focusing on a particular case, as the noble Lords, Lord Lipsey and Lord McColl, have done.
In the spirit of the Motion I am going to offer an opinion. My first point is about opinion itself. Opinion is, by definition, fragile and changeable. It is lite—that is L-I-T-E, for Hansard—and that is very different from attitudes and prejudices, which are firm and more long-standing. We live in a time of opinion, when people just tweet things without much thought—bang, out goes the view. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby: Opinion polls ‘more in the realm of entertainment than science’”