Bishop of Derby speaks on importance of employment opportunities for women and girls in developing countries


On 26th January 2017 Lord Loomba led a short debate in the Lords, “to ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the report published by Oxfam on wealth disparity, what steps they are taking to ensure that women and girls in the developing world are equipped with the right employment skills.” The Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, spoke in the debate:

derby-19117The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Loomba, and congratulate him on the splendid work that his foundation does in targeting widows, who are some of the most vulnerable people. I also congratulate Oxfam on producing such a helpful report. Many noble Lords have spoken about the issues. I want to stress the fact that this is not just about inequality and discrimination; the report shows that they are both growing. That growth is the context in which we look at this debate. Continue reading

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: participants in Fit for Work Scheme are assets with gifts and contributions to make



On 19 October 2016 Lord Luce led a short debate in the House of Lords on a question: “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made with the Fit for Work scheme in enabling those with long-term health problems like chronic pain to return to or stay in work.” The Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, made a speech:

Derby 191115cThe Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Luce, for introducing this debate with his characteristic mastery of the territory, context and issues.

I shall look at the progress of the Fit for Work scheme. As the noble Baroness, Lady Thomas, hinted, there has been a lot of negativity. I remember that when it was first introduced the press called it a test about whether people were fit for work. There have been pilots and a lot of chunter about the slow development of the rollout. We need to remember that it is a huge shift for the medical professional, employers and employees, and we need to encourage the Government to look carefully at the rollout to see what can be learned as it unfolds. As the noble Lord, Lord Fink, mentioned, there may be issues about how small businesses can access this opportunity. Continue reading

Bishop of Derby discusses committee report on sexual violence in conflict


Derby 191115cOn 10th October 2016, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne moved the motion “that this House takes note of the Report from the Sexual Violence in Conflict Committee (Session 2015–16, HL Paper 123).” The Bishop of Derby, the Rt. Revd. Alastair Redfern, who was a member of the Committee, spoke in the debate.

The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, served on the committee, and it was a great privilege to be part of it. I pay tribute to the expert chairmanship of the noble Baroness, Lady Nicholson. We were, to put it mildly, a diverse group, but she held us together, and we produced a report that will be significant as a foundation, as other noble Lords have said. I also offer my congratulations to the Minister, who leads by great example, as seen not just at the recent meeting at the UN in September but in all kinds of ways. She has been an encouragement and a force for the right direction within government, and I am very grateful for that contribution. I also pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Hague, for his PSV initiative. I had the privilege of being present at the summit in 2014, which has created a momentum that we need to learn from and develop. I will pick up the theme mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Hague, of the significance of important Governments making a public stand. In doing that, I will also speak as a faith community leader. Continue reading

Bishop of Derby speaks about importance to democracy of charities, trade unions and civil society


Derby 191115cOn 8th September 2016 Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town led a debate in the Lords: “That this House takes note of the role that charities, trade unions and civil society groupings play in a democracy, including the provision of advice and information to government, and of the case for regulating lobbying activities, including those undertaken by business and private interests.”

The Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Dr Alistair Redfern contributed to the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, want to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, and I want, in the nicest possible way, to take for granted what she said, because it was very important and I agree with it absolutely. I want to invite us to look at the last three words, “in a democracy”, as a very important context for this discussion and debate, not least for the role of charities, trade unions and civil society.

Democracy works through two very important elements. One, of course, is the offer of ideas and suggestions about what to do to best order society. It is about answers to problems. The lobbying industry and the contribution that charities make to that, as the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries, and the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths, and others have shown, is very important—

“From our experience, here is the answer to this kind of question”. Continue reading

Bishop of Derby speaks on tackling poverty and powerlessness


On 14th July 2016 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Bird, “That this House takes note of the case for tackling the causes of poverty in the United Kingdom”. The Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, spoke in the debate and his remarks are below. The Bishop of St Albans’ speech in the same debate can be seen here.

Derby 191115cThe Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Bird, for introducing this important issue of tackling the causes of poverty. We learn from the briefing notes that the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, makes it clear in her textbook that it is almost impossible to define poverty. That is part of the complexity with which we have to wrestle because, as poverty is relative, it is very hard to design appropriate responses.

In my trade, we have two phrases: we talk about the poor and about the poor in spirit. The word for spirit means power, and I want to look at to what extent to be poor and in poverty means to be lacking in power—the kind of power that allows you to feel good about yourself and to have security of work, security of a living place and security of contributing to society. How do we bless people with a sense of power over their lives, for themselves and those around them, and to make a contribution to society? Continue reading

Modern Slavery (Transparency in Supply Chains) Bill [HL] – speech by Bishop of Derby


On 8th July 2016 the House of Lords considered the Modern Slavery (Transparency in Supply Chains) Bill [HL],  a Private Members’ Bill from Baroness Young of Hornsey. The Bishop of Derby spoke in the debate:

Derby 191115cThe Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I too thank and congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Young, and support these suggestions. I declare an interest in that I am the chairman of the advisory panel to the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and am therefore, among other things, quite heavily involved in some of these issues.

My first point is that the Modern Slavery Act recognised very clearly the importance of information, which gives power. If you hide information, people get the wrong kind of power to behave badly. Besides trying to press companies to behave well and have good practices, we need to remind ourselves that this is not simply to fight on behalf of victims—although that is of course the priority—but to fight against serious organised crime, which in itself is a very successful business model that is expanding all the time, as we speak. It is therefore in the interests of proper companies to help us all to push back against criminal business behaviour, which has these appalling human consequences and is also enormously damaging to the health of our economy and the well-being of business more generally. Continue reading