Archbishop of York – EU environmental regulations have grown into a jungle

On 22nd January 2019 the House of Lords considered a motion to approve the Floods and Water (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. The Archbishop of York, Most Revd John Sentamu, asked a question of the Minister:

The Archbishop of York: The Minister has been very clear about the benefits of regulation, particularly for the environment, which, as he said, were brought about through sheer hard work, campaigning and persuading other people. Nevertheless, does he agree that EU regulations have grown into a jungle that has become very difficult to penetrate?

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Votes: EU Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration

On 14th January 2019 the House of Lords voted to pass a ‘Motion to Regret’ the Government’s EU Withdrawal Agreement, tabled by the Leader of the Opposition Baroness Smith of Basildon. Five bishops voted, and whilst the Archbishop of Canterbury attended and spoke in the debate, he abstained in the vote. 

House of Lords Division Lobby

Baroness Smith of Basildon moved ‘That this House, while noting that it is for the House of Commons to determine the matter, considers that a no deal outcome to negotiations under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union must be emphatically rejected, and regrets that withdrawal from the European Union on the terms set out in the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration laid before Parliament would damage the future economic prosperity, internal security and global influence of the United Kingdom.

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Bishop of Leeds speaks in debate on EU Withdrawal Agreement

On 5th December 2018 the House of Lords debated a motion to take note of the Government’s EU Withdrawal Agreement, alongside an Opposition motion to regret it. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I wish that I could pack as much into a single speech as the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, but I defy the challenge.

It is perhaps not a bad idea at this stage in the debate just to take a step back and to remember what the point of all this is. I was doing “Thought for the Day” on Radio 4 this morning and picked up on three words from the title of a Theos think-tank report on resilience in the north-east of England—people, place and purpose. They are three words that offer us a lens through which to see what all this is about. I endorse what the most reverend Primate said this morning in his speech.

Whatever the ultimate outcome, one of the legacies of the Brexit process thus far is, as I have said before, a corruption of public discourse, polarisation between people and communities, and a too frequent reduction of the polity to the merely economic. People are now too often categorised as either Punch or Judy; argument and nuance are dismissed in favour of emotive ad hominem judgment.

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Archbishop of Canterbury speaks on EU Withdrawal Agreement

On 5th December 2018 the House of Lords debated a motion to take note of the Government’s EU Withdrawal Agreement, alongside an Opposition ‘motion to regret’. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, spoke in the debate, emphasising the importance of reconciliation and for the poorest in society to be protected should there be an economic downturn. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, of the choice of psalms that form part of our daily prayers in the Lords, we have Psalm 46, which we heard today,

“The nations rage, the kingdoms totter”,

and Psalm 121, which we will doubtless hear tomorrow,

“I lift up my eyes to the hills …

My help comes from the Lord,

who made heaven and earth”.

Eyes need to be lifted now more than ever, and that is a gift of this House, perhaps more than others. It is a skill and a calling here.

The withdrawal agreement and the political declaration are essentially political more than economic; the debate has moved on from the referendum campaign, which was the other way round. Another change, as we know particularly since yesterday evening, is that the great decisions are now left firmly in the hands of Parliament—as is right.

The decision on this agreement and consequent legislation is thus about not just the immediate politics but national policy and identity, and our future place in the world and how we develop it. It is long term: it is for the child born yesterday and not just for parliamentarians today. The decision must be made in the interests of those who will be here for the long term. In the midst of political struggle, that is a very hard thing to do, but it is the calling of Parliament and one to which it has risen in equal crises in the past. Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury speaks on EU Withdrawal Agreement”

Bishop of Leeds warns of ‘dishonest language and rhetoric’ in Brexit debate

Leeds 300418 bOn 23rd July 2018 the Government held a debate ‘To move that this House takes note of the preparations and negotiations connected with the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union.’ The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate:

The Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, other noble Lords will be addressing the details, which leaves me to take a step back to look at culture. At the committee stage of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill I spoke about matters such as the corruption of the public discourse, asking that we in this House do not lose sight of the end to which Brexit is supposed to be the means. ​I tried to pose the existential questions of who we think we are and for whom we are doing what we are doing. However, the debate has coarsened, the ideological divide deepened and poor use of language worsened. What I have to say has nothing to do with leave or remain but where we are now and what shape we might be in in the future.

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Bishop of Chester asks government about EU plans for managing migrants and refugees

Chester 301017On 2nd July 2018 Baroness Evans of Bowes Park repeated a Statement on the European Council that had been made by the Prime Minister earlier that day in the House of Commons. The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster, asked a question about regional disembarkation platforms, which are proposed centres for dealing with migrants and refugees seeking to enter the EU:

The Bishop of Chester: Can the noble Baroness tell the House more about the proposed regional disembarkation platforms? How would they operate and where would they be likely to be established? Continue reading “Bishop of Chester asks government about EU plans for managing migrants and refugees”

Vote: EU (Withdrawal) Bill

On 18th June 2018 the EU (Withdrawal) Bill returned to the House of Lords for consideration of the Commons amendments. Viscount Hailsham tabled an amendment on a  ‘meaningful vote’ for MPs in a no-deal scenario. The Bishops of Durham, Lincoln and Worcester voted on the amendment: Continue reading “Vote: EU (Withdrawal) Bill”