Bishop of Leicester speaks on constitutional reform, devolution, human rights and welfare in debate on Queen’s Speech

“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.

LeicesterThe 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”

Bishop of St Albans highlights role of churches in building peace and stability in Ukraine

“We need a more adequate humanitarian response to the human suffering resulting from the conflict, and to support and strengthen the efforts of the churches and faith communities of Ukraine for justice and peace.” – Bishop of St Albans, 24/3/15

On 24th March 2015 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, took part in a debate tabled by Lord Tugendhat “that this House takes note of the Report of the European Union Committee on The EU and Russia: before and beyond the crisis in Ukraine (6th Report, HL Paper 115)”.


Bishop of St AlbansThe Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I add my congratulations on the maiden speech of the noble Earl, Lord Oxford and Asquith, and I thank the noble Lord, Lord Tugendhat, for securing this debate, which provides a valuable space in which to explore the multifaceted and fast-changing situation in the region. The EU Committee’s report has opened a welcome opportunity to reassess the UK’s relationship with both Russia and Ukraine on a bilateral level and as part of the EU. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans highlights role of churches in building peace and stability in Ukraine”

Bishop of Coventry takes part in debate on the UK’s membership of the European Union

In the House of Lords on 25th November 2014, Labour Peer Lord Liddle led a take-note debate on the case for the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union. The Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, took part in the debate. In his remarks, he noted that a shift in focus from economic costs and benefits to the European Union’s role as an institution of peace and reconciliation is necessary for meaningful debate to take place on the UK’s place in the EU. He noted that reform was necessary, not least to rebalance the democratic deficit between national and supra-national governance. He noted that churches may be well placed to create safe and neutral spaces in which informed and serious debate on the UK’s place in Europe can take place.

13.10 Bishop of CoventryThe Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, for securing this debate, although I enter it with some trepidation in such company. I am constrained to do so by the story of Coventry, from where I come, and by the originating Christian contribution to the possibilities that some form of common life might have for Europe and, thereby, for the world. When in your daily life you see the scars of warfare upon a city, when you hear the testimony of those who lost homes and families on one night in November 1940, when each year you are joined by Germans in the commemoration of your city’s 500 dead, and when you join them as they remember their city’s thousands of dead, you know that peace counts and that reconciliation is indeed a precious gift, and you give thanks for the project which has had peace as its fundamental purpose. Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry takes part in debate on the UK’s membership of the European Union”

Bishop of Worcester calls for simplification of visa rules for Commonwealth countries

On 19th November 2014, Lord Lea of Crondall asked Her Majesty’s Government whether they have made any proposal to other European Union member states, either severally or collectively, which would limit (1) the right of United Kingdom citizens to live and work in other European Union member states, or (2) the parallel right of citizens of other European Union member states to live and work in the United Kingdom. The Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd John Inge, asked a supplementary question:

WorcesterThe Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, the Minister mentioned the reputation that this country has for hospitality. Is he aware of an associated issue: the difficulty that members of the Commonwealth face in obtaining a visa even to visit, let alone to work and live in this country, which seriously hampers a lot of very important overseas links with dioceses, including my own—so much so that my friends in Tanzania were unable to be present at my wife’s funeral earlier this year? Is that sort of impediment government policy and, if not, can he assure us that it will be addressed?

Lord Bates: We very much encourage people to come to this country, whether to study or to work. We want to encourage the best and the brightest to come to this country, as well as tourists; there are many people we want to encourage—but there is a difference between that and people who significantly abuse the system in coming here because of benefits.


Bishop of St Albans calls for pan-European strategy on immigration and asylum seekers

On 30th October 2014, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office, Lord Bates, repeated a Government statement concerning search and rescue for migrants and refugees. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question:

Bishop of St AlbansThe Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, it is clear that we are all deeply worried about this terrible situation. Just last weekend, a family drowned off our own coasts and the horror was felt right across our country. There were serious discussions about whether we needed more people on duty to look after them. There is a deep sense of worry where people put themselves in such danger. I do not think that any of us believe that people are putting their families at risk—sometimes, they are huge, extended families; one was reported earlier this week on television—thinking, “Oh, well, it does not matter if we are likely to drown because we might be saved”. That would seem to me incredible. Surely we need a much more coherent, pan-European strategy underlying the whole question of immigrants and asylum seekers, and we should try to get some agreement on how we can address it. However, I would lament us withdrawing from anything that would help people in such dire circumstances.

Lord Bates: I understand the right reverend Prelate’s point. I should make the point again for the benefit of the House that we are not withdrawing from anything; this was something for which the Italian Government had responsibility, and they have decided to phase it out. The right reverend Prelate is absolutely right that more needs to be done to establish a co-ordinated approach, which was indeed the purpose of the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on this specific issue held on 9 and 10 October. One of the outcomes of that meeting was Operation Triton, which we have pledged resources to, in addition to all the other things that we are trying to do to help in the countries from which these people are fleeing for their lives.


Bishop of Carlisle leads tributes to departing Leader of the House of Lords

On 15th July, tributes were offered to the out-going Leader of the House of Lords, the Lord Hill of Oareford, following his nomination as the United Kingdom’s candidate to the European Commission. The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd James Newcome, led the tributes on behalf of the Lords Spiritual.

14.06.09 Bishop of CarlisleThe Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I associate those of us on these Benches with the generous comments from around the House about the noble Lord, Lord Hill. My colleagues have been grateful for the support, the wisdom and the guidance of the noble Lord and his office for the Lords spiritual to enable our contribution to the work of the House to match the high levels of all other parts of the House. He also did a wonderful job as Education Minister and he has been a good friend to the Church and to the Lords Spiritual. Continue reading “Bishop of Carlisle leads tributes to departing Leader of the House of Lords”

Bishop of St Albans asks Government for update on international climate agreements (Written Question)

On 17th June 2014, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, received an answer to a written question on climate change.

Climate ChangeBishop of St Albans

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made in securing a deal on the European Union’s 2030 climate change reduction package, in advance of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): The European Council in March 2014 discussed the 2030 climate and energy framework and agreed to make a final decision on the Framework no later than October this year.

The UK believes that the EU should urgently adopt a domestic emissions reduction target for 2030 of at least 40% on 1990 levels, moving to 50% in the context of an ambitious global climate agreement.

I am determined to continue working closely and intensively with all my colleagues in Europe to ensure that the EU is in a position to play a leading role at the Ban Ki-Moon Climate Summit in September.


Archbishop of York urges European co-operation in response to crisis in Central African Republic

On 16th January 2014, Baroness Berridge asked Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to the failure of the transition government and the growing crisis in the Central African Republic.

Archbishop of YorkThe Most Revd and Rt Hon John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, asked a supplementary question:

The Archbishop of York: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the scale of the crisis is very large? I am grateful for what the Government are doing in response to this particular crisis, but will they use their offices in the European Union to make sure that all nations take part in dealing with this rather appalling situation? I am not confident that the African Union actually has the capacity to deal with the situation, much as it is on the ground. I hope the Minister can give us some comfort by confirming that the Government are talking to our European allies to ensure that whatever is needed is provided. Otherwise, we will end up with genocide and pictures on our television screens that will make all our stomachs churn day by day.

Continue reading “Archbishop of York urges European co-operation in response to crisis in Central African Republic”

Bishop of Worcester speaks in debate on Middle East Peace Process

“I would describe myself as a pro-Palestinian Zionist, wholeheartedly committed to the right of Israel to exist securely, and equally committed to the right of the Palestinian people to a viable state in which they can flourish. Reaching that is crucial to a wider Middle East peace settlement.” – The Bishop of Worcester

WorcesterOn 14th January 2014, the Bishop of Worcester took part in a debate on what role the European Union is currently playing in efforts to reach a wider Middle East peace settlement. He focused his comments on new EU guidelines on Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Continue reading “Bishop of Worcester speaks in debate on Middle East Peace Process”

Bishops of Derby and Wakefield seek clarification on UK’s position on EU Justice and Home Affairs measures

On 14th October 2013, the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, and the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, both received answers to written questions on the European Union’s Justice and Home Affairs Measures.

Bishop of DerbyThe Lord Bishop of Derby: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord McNally on 29 August (WA 318), what guarantees they sought from other member states, prior to their decision of 9 July to opt out of 130 European Union Justice and Home Affairs measures, that the United Kingdom would be able to opt back in to various police and justice measures.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Protocol 36 does not provide for guarantees to be obtained from Member States and no Member State would have been able to have given such a guarantee. We therefore did not seek any such guarantees from Member States. However, the issue has been discussed in meetings with our EU counterparts at both Ministerial and official level.

However, Protocol 36 to the Treaties places an obligation on the UK and the Union institutions to, “…seek to re-establish the widest possible measure of participation of the United Kingdom in the acquis of the Union in the area of freedom, security and justice without seriously affecting practical operability of the various parts thereof, while respecting their coherence”. Given this, we are confident that we will be able to reach agreement on a sensible final package of measures that the UK will formally apply to rejoin.

Final agreement is subject to approval by the Council in the case of Schengen measures and the Commission for all others. Continue reading “Bishops of Derby and Wakefield seek clarification on UK’s position on EU Justice and Home Affairs measures”

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