In the House of Lords on 14th January 2021 the Bishop of St Albans received written answers to questions on vaccines for developing countries and the situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia while the Bishop of Durham received answers to questions on the recent updated report by the Child Poverty Action Group and the Church of England on Poverty in the pandemic.
Meanwhile in the Chamber, the Bishop of Birmingham raised the issue of devolution in England with the Government during Lord Young’s Oral question about the formation of a Constitution, Democracy and Human Rights Commission. Text below:
Continue reading “Vaccines for developing world, poverty in the pandemic, devolution and Ethiopia “
On the 30th October 2018 the Rt Revd Christine Hardman, Bishop of Newcastle, spoke in support of the Newcastle Upon Tyne, North Tyneside and Northumberland Combined Authority (Establishment and Functions) Order 2018.
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, I welcome this proposal for a North of Tyne combined authority. I was present when the minded-to agreement was signed and there was a real sense of purposeful energy around the room. I agree with my noble friends Lord Beecham and Lord Shipley who talked about the level of investment that this combined authority will pull in; it is good, but very modest. I hope that nobody, including the Minister, will feel that this is anything like a sufficient answer to the critical lack of investment in the north-east. This development is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a proper level of investment in the north-east economy. Continue reading “Bishop of Newcastle supports creation of North of Tyne Combined Authority”
On 17th October 2018 Lord Wallace of Saltaire asked Her Majesty’s Government ‘whether they will respond to the One Yorkshire proposals for devolution to a Combined Yorkshire Authority.’ The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, we take the point about the Sheffield city region, but it leaves the rest of Yorkshire wondering where it fits in, and when this will improve for it. We have failing rail infrastructure. In Yorkshire, we have almost total, widespread support for the One Yorkshire devolution deal. A report produced by the Institute for Government has referred to Yorkshire as,
“the hole in the northern powerhouse”.
Although delighted that Sheffield might thrive, the rest of Yorkshire wonders what will happen to it. We are falling behind Manchester and Liverpool in our ability to flex in the economics of the country. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds highlights support for One Yorkshire devolution deal”
On 21st March 2018, Peers debated the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill on its ninth day at Committee Stage. The Archbishop of York, the Most Revd John Sentamu, spoke during debate on an amendment relating to the powers of devolved assemblies. It can be read in the wider context of the debate here
On 8th December 2015 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Scotland Bill at Committee stage. The Bishop of Chester, Rt Revd Peter Forster, spoke during debate on amendments to the Bill from Lord Norton of Louth and Lord Forsyth of Drumlean.
The amendment from Lord Norton proposed the removal from the Bill of two new clauses to be added to the 1998 Scotland Act, namely:
(1) The Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government are a permanent part of the United Kingdom’s constitutional arrangements.
(2) The purpose of this section is, with due regard to the other provisions of this Act, to signify the commitment of the Parliament and Government of the United Kingdom.
Lord Forsyth’s amendment sought to change the wording of (1) so that it instead read
(1) The Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government are recognised as a permanent part of the United Kingdom’s constitutional arrangements.
The Bishop argued against both amendments on the grounds that they conflicted with settled political reality and would send unwelcome signals. The amendments were withdrawn after debate.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, it is always dodgy for bishops to speak about Scottish matters. The kirk has sometimes considered the possibility of introducing bishops but the one condition it has always applied is that they must not be like English bishops—they must be quite different.
I have some credentials inasmuch as I have had a close association with Scotland for 40 years, since I went to Edinburgh as a student. I have had a house in Scotland for 30 years, I have two Scottish degrees and one Scottish wife, who has kept my feet on the ground over the years. I shall also retire to Scotland shortly, and very much look forward to doing so. Continue reading “Bishop of Chester supports measure in Scotland Bill stating permanence of Scottish Parliament and Government”
On 24th November 2015 Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty’s Government “what proposals they have for strengthening the role and powers of town and parish councils, particularly as part of the northern powerhouse.” The Bishop of St Albans asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the northern powerhouse has great potential to bring social and economic benefit to many people, but it is fundamental from the very start that we embed it in the rural communities. Micro-businesses employing fewer than 10 people make a very significant contribution to the rural economy, yet previous approaches to regional development tended to ignore or sideline the rural dimension of it. Will the noble Lord the Minister assure the House that, with the northern powerhouse and other devolved areas, there will be a specific, focused and relevant approach to providing resources for small rural businesses? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about support for rural small businesses”
“The test of the success of this and future Budgets for a country living within its means will be the growing number of households that are equipped and completely free to earn the means to live.” Bishop of Birmingham 21/07/15
On the 21st July 2015 the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, responded to the Budget Statement, during a debate in the House of Lords. The Bishop called for an inclusive capitalism and questioned Lord O’Neill the Commercial Secretary for the Treasury about the impact of the changes to working age benefits. The Bishop also spoke about the need to improve productivity via energising the local economy alongside investing in infrastructure, skills, training and apprenticeships.
Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham responds to the Budget”
On the 8th June 2015 Peers debated the Government’s Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill at its Second Reading. The Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, spoke in the debate. He raised the potential for inequality arising from urban areas being prioritised over rural ones, the changing role of London and the reality of people’s growing involvement in local politics. The text of his speech is below:
The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, thank the Minister for her very clear introduction to the Bill and for showing us how it can be a creative, flexible way into the future. It ticks many of the boxes that we are concerned about today: localism, devolution, inclusivity, electoral accountability and enabling growth. I will make three very short points and ask three questions of the Minister. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby on the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill”
“A no vote on the EU would hasten the demise of the Union and lead within a generation to a rump nation shorn of Scotland and of membership of the EU and without strategic influence internationally.”- Bishop of Leicester, 1/6/15
On 1st June 2015 the Bishop of Leicester, Rt Rev Tim Stevens, spoke in the debate on the Queen’s Speech, on constitutional, human rights, local government, devolution and welfare reform issues. The full text of his speech is below and it can also be watched online here.
The Lord Bishop of Leicester: My Lords, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, has reminded us, the Prime Minister has offered us what he calls,
“a clear programme for working people, social justice, and bringing our country together—put simply, a One Nation Queen’s Speech from a One Nation Government”.
It is therefore clearly our responsibility to evaluate the Government’s programme against that yardstick, and to measure the gracious Speech on its potential for national unity and social justice, at every point. Continue reading “Bishop of Leicester speaks on constitutional reform, devolution, human rights and welfare in debate on Queen’s Speech”
“To regard the English-Scottish relationship as simply the primary and maximal example of broader devolved relationships in the UK would be to invite a repetition of recent errors of judgment.”
On 29th October 2014, the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, took part in a House of Lords debate on devolution following the Scottish referendum, led by Baroness Stowell of Beeston. The Bishop reflected on his own experiences of studying and living in Scotland, and the relationship between England and Scotland. He urged caution in how politicians and the public approach matters of devolution and nationhood, noting that the post-referendum landscape was a good opportunity to renew the Union, whilst respecting cultural differences and political realities.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, bishops need to tread warily when discussing matters Scottish. Although I am thoroughly English by birth and background, I can, I think, claim rather closer connections with Scotland than some whom I observe wearing the kilt at the Chester Caledonian Association dinners which I regularly attend.
Let me explain. I have a Scottish wife—my one and only wife, I hasten to add—and two Scottish degrees, all three from Edinburgh. I trained for ordination in Scotland as somebody sponsored by the Scottish Episcopal Church, and I have owned a house in Scotland for 25 years and will happily retire there in a few years’ time. I am Anglican co-chair of the current Church of England-Church of Scotland ecumenical conversations. So tread I shall, if nevertheless warily. If I have learnt one thing in my discussions with the Church of Scotland, it is that were the Kirk ever to contemplate having bishops, which remains, I think, doubtful, they would need to be very different from English bishops to be acceptable. Continue reading “Bishop of Chester takes part in debate on devolution and the Scottish referendum”