On 20th May 2020, Lord Collins of Highbury asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the response of international institutions to the impact of COVID-19 on refugee camps”. The Archbishop of Canterbury asked a follow-up question:
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, the Minister will be aware of the Global Humanitarian Response Plan published by the UN and updated this month, which emphasises “The importance of involving and supporting local organizations … given the key role they are playing in this crisis.” In all areas where the world’s 70 million displaced people gather, faith groups and especially churches are often the only remaining organisations with reach from grass roots to leaders, but they are often ignored by international and relief agencies. In many cases, shortage of money and logistics hamper food distribution. What steps are the Government taking to ensure that faith-based local groups are fully involved by all international agencies in all aspects of relief, reconciliation and moral and spiritual support?
On the 7th January the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke during the second day of debate on the Queen’s Speech, on the topics of child poverty, climate change sustainable development and immigration:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, initially I want to note how little reference there is in the gracious Speech to the needs of children, except in the realm of education. There is nothing about children’s first 1,000 days, nor any firm commitment to tackle the iniquity of child poverty. How we treat children speaks volumes for where our priorities lie. Could the Minister please comment on this omission?
On 4th November 2019 Baroness Jenkin of Kennington moved a motion that the House take note of the Government’s “international development work to promote the sustainable use of natural resources and prevent biodiversity loss”. The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, contributed to the debate:
Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, I too welcome this debate and the Prime Minister’s commitment to increased spending in this area. I also take note of, and agree with, the slight fear and concern of the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, that some of the money for this important work will be taken out of what ought to be spent on the relief of poverty and direct aid.
Three weeks ago I was in Israel, leading a pilgrimage looking at many of the sites mentioned in the Bible. One thing I came across that I had not seen there before but which was pointed out to me by various people was the fallow field—fields kept idle for a year to let the earth rest. I learned in geography lessons in my state county primary school around 1960 or 1961 that it was an important principle not only to rotate crops but to let the earth rest—in other words, not to squeeze everything out of it. I later discovered that this is part of the biblical teaching about the sabbath: not just that people and animals are to rest but that the earth also needs rest and recreation. That is why some farmers in Israel still practise that principle.
On 4th July 2018 Lord Curry of Kirkharle led a debate in the House of Lords, “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to address the current humanitarian crisis in South Sudan and to support the delivery of a lasting peace settlement and longer term economic and social development.” The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I too am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Curry, for bringing forward this debate, I apologise to your Lordships for scurrying in slightly late at the beginning, having been taken short, as it were, by the rapidity of the previous business.
A year or more ago, I was passing through Nairobi airport, dressed not quite like this but recognisably as a bishop. A gentleman also clad in a purple shirt was approaching down a corridor. Both of us having time to spare before our flights, we fell into conversation. My new friend was a bishop from South Sudan and was on his way home after a meeting of Church leaders from across Africa—from places of conflict and from places that were recipients of refugees from those conflict areas. Our conversation was one that will stick in my mind for the rest of my life, I suspect, as he shared with me the reality of existence in his diocese. He and his colleagues had been discussing the Church’s role in peacemaking and reconciliation in those settings.
On the 23rd January 2018 Lord Bruce of Bennachie asked the Government “how much Official Development Assistance they will spend on supporting sustainable public services and good governance in sub-Saharan Africa over the next two years.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a follow up question about the recent instability in Burundi.
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, given both the recent political instability and the current consultation on reforming the constitution in Burundi, and the forced displacement of more than 400,000 people, how do the Government intend to support sustainable public service through ODA in countries such as Burundi where conflict is preventing the basic functions of governance? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks government about development aid to Burundi”
On Thursday 18th January 2018 Lord Suri ask Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the recommendations of the report of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Freedom of Religion and Belief, Article 18: From Rhetoric to Reality.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a follow-up question: