On 16th May 2022 the Bishop of St Edmundsbury an Ipswich, Rt Revd Martin Seeley, gave his maiden speech in the House of Lords, in the debate on the Queen’s Speech.
The Lord Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich (Maiden Speech): It is a huge honour to be able to address your Lordships’ House today. I thank noble Lords for kind words and acts of welcome. I have been very struck by the kindness and warmth of the staff who work here and who have supported me in my early faltering steps. I regret that a bout of Covid last week prevented me attending at all, but I look forward to building a pattern of regular engagement in the work of this House.
I have had the joy and privilege of serving the people of the diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, which comprises most of the wonderful county of Suffolk, for the past seven years. I previously served in Scunthorpe, New York City, St Louis, Missouri, Westminster, the Isle of Dogs and Cambridge, and I simply reflect on the curious ways of the Church of England that I ended up serving a largely rural diocese.
On 10th March 2022 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered questions from MPs in the House of Commons, freedom of religion or belief overseas, family hubs, supporting Ukrainian refugees, affordable housing, the Queen’s platinum jubilee, and the Commissioners’ Scottish landholdings.
Global Summit: Freedom of Religion or Belief
Caroline Ansell (Eastbourne) (Con): What role the Church of England has in supporting the global summit to promote freedom of religion or belief, to be hosted by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in July 2022. (905957)
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Andrew Selous): The Church is making every effort to support that important summit to promote freedom of religion or belief. A debate was held on the lack of global religious freedom at last month’s General Synod and I am pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce), in her capacity as the Prime Minister’s special envoy for freedom of religion or belief, was able to brief Synod members on the huge cost of following Jesus in many parts of the world.
On 17th June 2021 MPs put questions to Andrew Selous MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner. Text of the oral and written answers is below.
Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con): Whether the Church of England plans to support online and in-person communal worship as covid-19 restrictions are lifted. (901321)
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Andrew Selous): The Church of England is strongly encouraging churches to support both in-person and online communal worship, and training has been given to thousands of clergy to enable this. It is up to local churches to decide how best to do this.
On 7th June 2021 the Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, made his final speech in the House of Lords before retirement, in the Second Reading debate on the Government’s Environment Bill:
The Lord Bishop of Salisbury (Valedictory Speech): My Lords, I have not been in the House in person since the first week of February. Sitting on the Front Bench earlier with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Lincoln, I found myself wondering whether both of us had misjudged the timing of our retirements. I have led on the environment for the Church of England for seven years and have been a Member of the House for six. It has been a privilege as well as a responsibility and I am grateful to noble Lords who have spoken kindly of what has been achieved; of course, it could never be enough.
With an eye towards retirement, I had thought that last year, 2020, would have provided a good conclusion, with the Lambeth Conference of Bishops from the Anglican Communion, COP 26 and this Environment Bill. All were postponed, so I find myself standing for the last time in this House without the prospect of being able to engage in the detailed scrutiny and revision that will make what is, in many ways, a good Bill better. Of course, my colleagues will contribute, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Oxford has already. I thank the Minister for meeting the Bishops in preparation for this debate.
On 25th May 2021 the Bishop of Blackburn asked a question about finding energy saving solutions for historic and educational buildings.
The Lord Bishop of Blackburn: My Lords, I am grateful for the Question and the Minister’s response. My question is about the outcome for the many heritage buildings and schools in this country, where the challenge is often the greatest. Will the Government do anything to make them part of the solution rather than the problem?
On 17th May 2021 the Bishop of Bristol spoke during the third day of debate in the House of Lords on the Queen’s Speech. She focused on the environment and the Government’s Environment Bill.
“My Lords, along with others in this House, I welcome the speeches of the noble Lords, Lord Coaker and Lord Morse. I remember making my own maiden speech in the debate on the Humble Address in 2019, though of course in rather different circumstances. When I gave that speech, we were looking ahead to 2020 as the year of climate action. Instead, the impact of Covid-19 has understandably been the focus of global activity. However, the situation for our planet is becoming more urgent, not less. With another year of action now lost because of Covid-19, we need meaningful global, national and local agreements on the climate and biodiversity issues more than ever before.
On 16th December the Bishop of St Albans received answers to two written questions on fly-tipping of electronic and hazardous waste:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park on 6 February (HL944), what progress they have made on the introduction of a mandatory electronic waste tracking system to combat fly tipping. [HL11049]
On 14th December during exchanges in the House of Lords on work of the Committee on Climate Change, the Bishop of Salisbury asked about tree planting targets:
The Lord Bishop of Salisbury [V]: My Lords, the Government have made a number of statements, which, with the 10-point plan and the upping of the nationally defined contributions to the Paris Agreement, are very welcome. The Government’s manifesto commits to planting 30,000 hectares of trees per year. That is a really key target to aim for in relation to the climate change committee’s report, but it is one that we have missed by 71% in the last year and consistently over previous years. I much admire the Prime Minister’s ambition, but how are the Government to ensure that performance exceeds or matches that ambition?
On 10th December the Bishop of Salisbury received a written answer to a question on a potential environmental governance gap after the end of the Brexit transition period:
The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what measures are in place (1) to prevent, and (2) to minimise the impact of, any environmental governance gap after 31 December. [HL10783]
On 19th November the Bishop of Salisbury asked a question he had tabled to Government, on fuel intensive businesses moving to net zero carbon emission. The exchanges are below, along with the follow-up questions from other Members:
Fossil Fuels: Business
The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the report by the Transition Pathway Initiative Management Quality and Carbon Performance of Energy Companies: September 2020, published on 7 October, what steps they plan to take to encourage fossil fuel intensive businesses to accelerate their move to net zero carbon emissions.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con): My Lords, the Government have schemes worth nearly £2 billion operating or in development to support our vital energy-intensive industries to decarbonise. These schemes include the industrial energy transformation fund to help companies to reduce their fuel bills and transition to low-carbon technologies, and the industrial decarbonisation challenge to support industry with the development of low-carbon technologies in industrial clusters.
The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: I thank the Minister for his Answer. There have been some welcome and notable commitments, particularly by European oil and gas companies, but overall, the sector is not moving fast enough to align with the Paris agreement. How does the Minister see the Government supporting companies to move faster and have consistent standards for reporting all emissions from scopes 1, 2 and 3 so companies demonstrate alignment clearly in their reporting?