Bishop of Leeds asks Government to stress test all scenario outcomes for Gibraltar in leaving the EU

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Leeds160620On 21st March 2017, Lord Boswell of Aynho asked Her Majesty’s Government what their response is to the Report from the European Union Committee Brexit: Gibraltar (13th Report, HL Paper 116). The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate, asking whether the Government were stress testing the outcomes of leaving the European Union on Gibraltar.

The Lord Bishop of Leeds My Lords, I endorse all that has been said so eloquently. The report is excellent, but for me it raises a number of questions. The main one concerns the fact that throughout the referendum campaign, and subsequently, we have repeatedly heard statements such as, “We will get a good deal”, and, “We will do this and we will do that”, when in fact we do not hold the power in a lot of this—it will have to be negotiated. Despite urging that we get the best for Gibraltar, I want to be assured that the Government are stress-testing all the scenarios, including the worst-case ones. We owe it to the people of Gibraltar to do that because it was not done in preparation for the referendum itself. Continue reading

Bishop of Chester responds to Government statement on EU Court ruling on religious symbols

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On 15th March a Government statement was repeated in the House of Lords on the EU Court of Justice Ruling on Religious Signs. The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, responded to the statement.

The Lord the Bishop of Chester: My Lords, given that there have been some very obvious differences between the UK and some continental countries in this area, does the Minister agree that the general approach in the UK of welcoming religious and cultural diversity must mean that welcoming its reasonable manifestation within the overall rhythms of British culture has stood us well in the past and will do so in the future, notwithstanding this court judgment?

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Votes: EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – ping pong

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On 13th March 2017, the House of Lords considered the Government’s EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill during ping pong, after the Commons had refused to accept amendments from the House of Lords. A vote was held on two amendments tabled by the Liberal Democrats to reinstate previously accepted amendments on the status of EU nationals and on parliamentary scrutiny. Five Lords Spiritual took part.  Continue reading

EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill: Archbishop of York speaks to amendment on Parliamentary Scrutiny

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On Monday 13th March, the House of Lords considered the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, which had been returned to it by the House of Commons during a parliamentary process known as ‘ping pong’. MPs had rejected an amendment passed by the Lords  to ensure Parliamentary scrutiny of any final EU negotiated deal.  The Liberal Democrats tabled a further amendment to disagree with the Commons in its decision. The Archbishop of York, the Rt Hon and Most Rev Dr John Sentamu, spoke in favour of agreeing with the Commons (so opposing the amendment, which was later defeated during a vote).

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The Archbishop of York: I shall not detain noble Lords long, but in response to the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, who always speaks with such clarity and grace, I must say that the problem with the amendment is with subsection (4). If the Prime Minister does not get an agreement, whatever she does she has to have the rule of Parliament. She will bring it to Parliament, but the problem is this, if I understand it right—that triggering Article 50 is an irreversible act. Continue reading

EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill: Archbishop of York speaks to amendment on EU Nationals

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york-170117On Monday 13th March, the House of Lords considered the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, which had been returned to it by the House of Commons during a parliamentary process known as ‘ping pong’. MPs had rejected an amendment passed by the Lords  to make protection of EU/EAA nationals a priority in the Brexit negotiation process.  The Liberal Democrats tabled a further amendment to disagree with the Commons in its decision. The Archbishop of York, the Rt Hon and Most Rev Dr John Sentamu, spoke in favour of agreeing with the Commons (so opposing the amendment, which was later defeated during a vote).


The Archbishop of York: My Lords, I have been listening to what people have said and do not want to repeat anything. However, some of us objected to the amendments not because we lacked sympathy, understanding or compassion. We did it simply because we thought there was a confusion of process with substance. Continue reading

Votes: EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – that the Bill should not proceed

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On 7th March 2017 the House of Lords considered the Government’s EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill at Third Reading. A vote was called on a Liberal Democrat motion that the Bill should not pass.Six Lords Spiritual took part in the vote. 
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EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill: Archbishop of York speaks on amendment about Northern Ireland impact

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york-170117-bOn Tuesday 7th March 2017, the House of Lords considered the Government’s EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill at Report stage and Third Reading. Labour Peer Lord Hain moved Amendment 5, seeking to ensure the Prime Minister give an undertaking to support the right of Northern Irish people to claim Irish citizenship as per the Belfast Agreement in negotiations following the triggering of Article 50. The Archbishop of York, the Most Revd and Rt Hon John Sentamu welcomed the probing amendment for raising awareness of the issue.

The Archbishop of York My Lords, it is a real delight to follow the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames. When he was Archbishop of Armagh he invited me endless times to visit Northern Ireland, even during the terrible Troubles. As a result we ended up spending a lot of holidays in that particular part of Ireland. It is a very beautiful, wonderful place. The noble Lords, Lord Hain and Lord Reid, spoke with insight. I would like to follow in their footsteps on this wonderful probing amendment that the noble Lord, Lord Hain, says he is not going to put to a vote. Continue reading