On 5th February 2020 the House of Lords debated the Government’s Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill at its Second Reading. The Bishop of Carlisle, Rt Revd James Newcome, spoke in the debate and his remarks are below. He highlighted several problems with the Bill, which he said would create more difficulties than it was intended to resolve.
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I am greatly looking forward to the maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Hunt of Bethnal Green, and I welcome her to this House, which I am sure will benefit greatly from her expertise, campaigning zeal and commitment to debates on justice and equality.
Let me begin by saying that I appreciate the motivation behind the Government’s Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill. As we have already heard, they want to make divorce less complicated, less acrimonious and less harmful. Who could possibly argue with that? I like the revised terminology that the Bill suggests, and I agree that, at first sight, this looks like a sensible response to shortcomings in a process that is currently unsatisfactory and often seems to lack transparency or fairness.
However, this deceptively simple piece of legislation actually creates more difficulties than it resolves. One has to do with the nature of marriage itself and our commitment to it as a society—I shall confine my comments to marriage rather than civil partnership.
Continue reading “Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill ‘creates more difficulties than it resolves’ – Bishop of Carlisle”
On 25th July 2019 the Leader of the House of Lords (Baroness Evans of Bowes Park) repeated a statement made in the House of Commons by the new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I welcome the repetition of the Statement. We on these Benches wish to express our thanks to the Chief Whip, the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, and to Mr Evans. We tend to turn over numbers rather more regularly than your Lordships and have always been very well welcomed. We are deeply grateful and will miss them both very much indeed. I say that on behalf of all Members of these Benches—including the ones in disguise [indicates Lord McFall, sitting beside].
To move away from Brexit for a moment, the Statement talks powerfully about ambitions for education, tackling crime, social care and health, and about increasing funding for them very significantly.
All that will of course be most welcome—if it comes. The issue, though, is that money does not do it all. In all those areas, the impact of households and families in their many diverse forms today is crucial. Social care is best handled—most effectively and affectionately—from within the home.
Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury responds to statement by new Prime Minister, stresses importance of support for families”
On 15th December 2017 the House of Lords debated the Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill [HL], a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Baroness Hamwee. The Bishop of Carlisle, Rt Revd James Newcome, spoke in support of the Bill:
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I too am most grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. I am delighted that this debate is about families, which is an apt topic as Christmas approaches. I am not speaking of the nostalgic image of a nuclear family around a groaning table; the Christian table is plainer but more welcoming and inclusive, a table around which all are welcome.
Round the table gathers a family. Our country has for so long and so rightly emphasised the family as a—perhaps the—key building block of society. At the present time we seek urgently for social integration, a society where shared values and shared culture bind us all into an ethos of mutuality which naturally, organically, squeezes out extremisms, violence, injustices and hate. Continue reading “Bishop of Carlisle supports Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill”
On 14th December 2017 Lord Bird asked Her Majesty’s Government “what plans they have to address the root causes of poverty and disadvantage in the United Kingdom.” In the short debate on the question, the Bishop of Carlisle, Rt Revd James Newcome, spoke about the importance of stable family life as an antidote to the causes of poverty.
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Bird, for securing this debate. As we have just heard, poverty cannot be measured simply in economic terms. It affects every area of a person’s life and, as a recent Demos report put it:
“The first step towards tackling poverty is understanding it better”.
Where better to begin than with its causes, about which I would like to make just two observations? Continue reading “Bishop of Carlisle – strong, stable family relationships help to address root causes of poverty and disadvantage”
On 2nd November 2017 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Farmer, “That this House takes note of A Manifesto to Strengthen Families, published on 6 September.” The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Steven Croft, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I warmly welcome the report and I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Farmer, and others involved. I find myself liking it more each time I read it. Its very modesty is its virtue, for a small number of strategic changes can make an immense difference. I speak from a background of nine years as a vicar in outer estate parishes in Halifax, in very poor communities, and seven years before my previous appointment as Bishop of Sheffield serving again some of the most impoverished regions in the country. Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford speaks in debate on strengthening families”
On 5th April 2017, Baroness Tyler of Enfield asked Her Majesty’s Government what progress they are making in assessing the bids submitted by local authorities for the Department for Work and Pensions Local Family Offer programme funding for relationship support services; and when local authorities which have submitted bids will be notified of the outcome. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question about collaboration with grass-roots organisations.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans My Lords, perhaps I may build on the response just given by the Minister. The Government can only do so much and we certainly need to see joined-up thinking and action if we are going to help these families.What are Her Majesty’s Government doing to ensure that when local authorities bid for funding for the local family offers, they are working collaboratively with grass-roots organisations—charities, churches and so on—which are already seeking to build up relationship capacity in families? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about working with grassroots organisations to deliver relationships support”
On the 11 February 2016 the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke during the second reading debate on the Government’s Armed Forces Bill. He highlighted the work of the Church of England to support the military covenant, the need to support service families and the significant work of military chaplains.
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, by happy coincidence, this debate takes place almost exactly on the anniversary of the signing of the Armed Forces corporate covenant by the right reverend Primates the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. There has been excellent work with the Minister in developing the impact of that covenant, and it is a pleasure to mark that anniversary today and anticipate the maiden speeches this afternoon.
This Bill properly clarifies the obligations and responsibilities of those serving in the Armed Forces and strengthens provision for maintaining good order and handling any instances of indiscipline with proper regard for justice. These provisions and the contributions that we have heard already remind us, although they are often technical, that individuals in our Armed Forces serve, and occasionally offend, in situations of stress and danger.The House will not be surprised therefore if I briefly draw attention to the importance—and I hope the Minister in summing up can confirm this—that we should all give to the areas of pastoral and family support for those who volunteer to serve us and the nation in this way in the Armed Forces, even when their behaviour falls below highest standards. Continue reading “Armed Forces Bill: Bishop of Portsmouth highlights support for service families and work of military chaplains”
On 26th January 2016 Baroness Lister of Burtersett asked Her Majesty’s Government “what impact the Family Test has had on policy-making.” The Archbishop of York, Most Revd & Rt Hon John Sentamu, asked a follow up question:
The Archbishop of York: My Lords, I hope that the family test recognises that poor families come in different shapes and sizes and that there is no intention of pushing a particular policy, of which we saw a little in China. Margaret and I had two children of our own and then fostered two children who came to us at the ages of eight and one and a half. They are now working adults. Had this family test been around, I would have been worried, as Ruth is, because that child would have found it very difficult. Will the Minister assure us that when the family test comes, common sense will prevail, not numbers? Continue reading “Archbishop of York urges Government not to slant policy against larger families”
On 26th January 2016 Baroness Lister of Burtersett asked Her Majesty’s Government “what impact the Family Test has had on policy-making”. The Bishop of Worcester, Rt Revd John Inge, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, I have not consulted their Graces the most reverend Primates the Archbishops, but I feel confident in saying that we on these Benches welcome the thrust of the life-chances strategy, which the Prime Minister outlined in a recent speech. We believe, as does the Prime Minister, that the family is the best anti-poverty measure ever invented—invented by God, in fact, although the Prime Minister did not add that. The increase in funding for relationship support is welcome, but could the Minister indicate how the priorities articulated in the family test might shape the development of the life-chances strategy as it is published and implemented in due course? Continue reading “Bishop of Worcester asks how Government’s family test will shape its life chances strategy”