Abortion (Disability Equality) Bill: Bishop of Durham backs review of impact on disabled children, families and carers


On 27th January 2017 Lord Shinkwin’s Abortion (Disability Equality) Bill was considered in Committee in the House of Lords. An amendment from Baroness Massey of Darwen, requiring the Secretary of State to review “the impact of this Act on disabled children, their families and carers, and the provision of support services” was debated and accepted. The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, supported the amendment and the overall purpose of the Bill:

durham-230117The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I was unable to be present at Second Reading but my noble friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bristol spoke on this matter, welcoming the Bill, and I add my support. I also welcome the amendment because I believe that, as others have already said, such a review would be very helpful. Continue reading

Bishop of Durham speaks of Brexit uncertainty for families with EU citizens in UK


On 26th January 2017 Labour Peer Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town led a debate on a Motion “That this House takes note of the impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union and potential withdrawal from the single market on the rights of European Union citizens living in this country and the United Kingdom’s future economic requirements.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, spoke in the debate:

durham-230117The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, for introducing this debate. At the outset, I will take the opportunity to thank the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, for his participation in ongoing conversations with the Church of England around these issues and for the time he has taken in hearing our concerns. Continue reading

Higher Education and Research Bill: Bishop of Durham supports amendment on student finance for resettled refugees


On the 25th January 2017, the Bishop of Durham, Rt. Revd. Paul Butler, co-sponsored an amendment to the Higher Education and Research Bill, which would ‘allow all refugees resettled to the UK…to access student finance and home fees.’ The amendment was led by Lord Dubs and Viscount Younger of Leckie responded on behalf of the Government. The amendment was withdrawn after debate.

durham-230117The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, it is my privilege to have added my name to this amendment. My favourite Christmas card of the past year came from a refugee from Burundi. Last summer, when I visited Burundi, I accessed the rector of the university that she had had to flee and arranged for her qualifications from that university to be released and forwarded to her in this country so that she could commence university, which she will do in September this year. It was a huge relief to her because without that piece of paper she would have had to return and undertake A-levels. In her Christmas card she not only thanked me, but said that it was being able to access higher education straightaway that made her feel welcome and wanted, and that we believed in integrating her into our country. Continue reading

Bishop of Durham questions Government on unaccompanied child migrants in Europe


durham-230117-b On the 25th January 2017 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a question to the Government on the floor of the House of Lords about unaccompanied child migrants in Europe. His question, the response and full series of follow-up questions from Peers is reproduced below.

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of recent analysis by UNICEF of the growth in the number of unaccompanied child migrants to Italy, what measures they are taking under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 to relocate child refugees from Italy to the United Kingdom. Continue reading

Bishop of Durham calls for more joined-up approach to tackling child poverty


durham-230117On 24th January 2017 Baroness Lister of Burtersett asked the Government “why they have abolished the Child Poverty Unit which was sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Education and HM Treasury.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I know the Minister will agree that no child chooses to live in poverty, so when a child is hungry or lives in poor housing, will the Minister and the Government recognise that these are our children, as a society, and that that means we must have good joined-up structures which tackle these issues? Does he also recognise that the abolition of the CPU does not hint at good joined-up structures? Continue reading

Bishop of Durham asks about UK representative in Burundi


durham-230117On the 24th January 2017, the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, received answers to written questions about UK representation in Burundi.

Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have for a permanent representative in Burundi.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office operates a permanent British Embassy Office in the Burundian capital Bujumbura. The non-resident British Ambassador to Burundi is based in Kigali, Rwanda.

(via Parliament.uk)

Higher Education and Research Bill: Bishop of Durham supports amendment on Archbishop of Canterbury’s historic role in conferring degrees


On the 23rd January 2017, the Bishop of Durham, the Rt. Revd. Paul Butler, spoke to an amendment to the Higher Education and Research Bill, which would protect the Archbishop of Canterbury’s historic right to confer degrees. The amendment was tabled by the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt. Revd. Christopher Foster, who was unable to attend the debate. Viscount Younger of Leckie responded on behalf of the Government:


The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, my friend the right reverend prelate the Bishop of Portsmouth is unable to be in his place this evening, but in his place I bring before your Lordships Amendment 268A. I endorse all the general comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Murphy of Torfaen, about the Cathedrals Group of universities. While I am not armed with the expertise, his amendments appear to make sense for the particular purpose.

I am sure that almost all noble Lords in the Committee are aware that the Archbishop of Canterbury has possessed the power to confer degrees since the Ecclesiastical Licences Act 1533. Certainly the landscape of higher education has changed in the almost 500 years since then, when the only other English degree-awarding institutions were Oxford and Cambridge. The Higher Education and Research Bill that we are rightly considering so carefully is very welcome in recognising that changing landscape and legislating to ensure that the sector continues to evolve as successfully as it has done so far. Continue reading