On 9th September 2022 the House of Lords met to hear tributes to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, whose death had been announced. The Bishop of Guildford paid tribute:
The Lord Bishop of Guildford: My Lords, I have been deeply moved by many of the contributions this afternoon and share all the sentiments that have been so eloquently expressed. It is a phrase used far too often, but yesterday was truly the end of an era—and a glorious era. Much has been spoken already of the Queen’s remarkable sense of service, emanating from her love for her nation and the Commonwealth, and from her deep faith in the Christ who came as one who serves. But alongside that were two further virtues, contained in another favoured Bible text from the outset of Her Majesty’s reign: the words of Moses to his successor, Joshua, when he exhorted the younger man to:
“Be strong and courageous … for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go”.
The Bishop of Guildford asked a question about gender-based violence during a debate on Rape: Criminal Prosecutions, on 28th June 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Guildford: My Lords, gender-based violence has been a major theme in our discussions across the Anglican Communion, from a wide range of cultures. Many international communities look to the United Kingdom to lead in this area, given the deeply traumatising effect that such violence can have—obviously on the victims but also on whole communities over generations.
The Bishop of Guildford asked the following question on 28th June 2022, during a debate on the Commonwealth:
The Lord Bishop of Guildford: My Lords, as the Minister knows extremely well, this week marks a brief lull between the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda last week and the International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief in London next week. Given the overlap between those two conferences, what progress has been made on this basic human right, not least given that three of the Commonwealth nations—India, Pakistan and Nigeria—are among the worst when it comes to protecting the rights, and even the lives, of Christians and those of other faiths and beliefs?
The Bishop of Guildford received the following written answer on 27th June 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Guildford asked Her Majesty’s Government:
in advance of the third anniversary of the publication of the Bishop of Truro’s Independent Review for the UK Foreign Secretary of Foreign and Commonwealth Office Support for Persecuted Christians, published on 4 July 2019, whether they intend to fulfil recommendation 22 of that report.
who will conduct the review of the progress made since the Bishop of Truro’s Independent Review for the UK Foreign Secretary of Foreign and Commonwealth Office Support for Persecuted Christians, published on 4 July 2019; what will be their terms of reference; and when the findings of this review will be published.
whether they intend to implement any of the recommendations of the Bishop of Truro’s Independent Review for the UK Foreign Secretary of Foreign and Commonwealth Office Support for Persecuted Christians, published on 4 July 2019, after 4 July this year.
On 11th May 2022 the Bishop of Guildford, Rt Revd Andrew Watson, made his maiden speech in the House of Lords, in a debate on the Queen’s Speech:
The Lord Bishop of Guildford (Maiden Speech): My Lords, it is a privilege to be making my maiden speech in this most important debate on Her Majesty’s gracious Speech. I thank noble Lords for their welcome this afternoon.
As I have taken my first infant steps as a Member of the House, I have been struck by the genuine warmth and friendliness that I have experienced from fellow Members, along with House officials and staff. I am equally impressed by the quality of the debate that I have witnessed and the probing but courteous spirit in which it has been exercised. I have also begun to connect with those involved in the area of freedom of religion and belief, in which I have a lifelong interest, and I applaud their efforts to advance these basic human rights around the globe.
On 3rd July 2014, the Conservative Peer Lord Trefgarne asked Her Majesty’s Government whether the Prime Minister is yet in a position to make a recommendation to Her Majesty the Queen in respect of a new Bishop for Guildford. The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, asked a supplementary question.
“Even if this crisis has cast a Cold War shadow over Europe, it is important that we remain in dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church. That is not always an easy task” – Bishop of St Albans.
On March 18th Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi moved ‘that this House takes note of the situation in Ukraine.’ The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Rev Alan Smith, spoke of the religious dimension to the crisis in Crimea between Russia and Ukraine:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans:
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for this debate and for her helpful setting out of the situation. We have heard some fascinating background regarding the very complex history behind the situation. My comments will focus on the religious dimension, which has not been drawn out very fully so far.
On 7th November 2013, Baroness Cox led a short debate on what assessment Her Majesty’s Government have made of the situation in Sudan, and the implications for citizens of the Republic of South Sudan. The Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, took part in the debate.
The Lord Bishop of Guildford: My Lords, I completely endorse what has been said so far in this discussion. I want to raise a rather different point, but equally I want to express my distress—and, indeed, my shared anger—about the humanitarian, agrarian and political disaster about which we have been speaking.
My rather different point is a question about the implications of further destabilisation of Sudan for the country’s international neighbours. I think that that is an important point. I visit Nigeria regularly, and I am due to fly out to Abuja on Sunday. Four years ago, I was able to go to the province of Maiduguri up in the north-east. I cannot go there now, at the moment anyway, because of the political situation. Maiduguri is a long, long way from Sudan—many miles away. Nevertheless, I believe that there is a connection. Continue reading “Bishop of Guildford warns of further destabilisation if situations in Sudan and South Sudan are not resolved”
“There are huge numbers of practising Christians in China, amounting to many tens of millions, although I agree that the exact figure is very hard to determine…. The Chinese Government have a close interest in how religion helps in building a harmonious society, now that communism is not the only player in China’s major global role.”
On 7th November 2013 the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, took part in Lord Dobbs take-note debate on the recent developments in the relationship between the United Kingdom and China. He focused on the long-standing relationship between the West and China, particularly in terms of the long history of Christianity in China. He noted contemporary initiatives to strengthen the relationship between the Church of England and the church in China, particularly the role of the Bishop of Birmingham as the Archbishop’s envoy to China.
The Lord Bishop of Guildford: My Lords, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Birmingham deeply regrets that he cannot be in his place today. He is the envoy of the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury in relation to China. I am sorry that he is not here speaking, and not only because I am speaking in his place.
We are hearing, and shall continue to hear, many fascinating things in this debate about China, not least from the two maiden speeches, to which we look forward. The importance of student academic exchanges, stressed by some noble Lords, particularly resonates with me. I declare an interest in the University of Surrey with its developing—indeed burgeoning—links with China. That is wonderful. Continue reading “Bishop of Guildford highlights long history of Christianity in China”
On 25th October 2013, the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, spoke in support of of Lord Lucas’ Equality (Titles) Bill, during its debate at Second Reading. He also highlighted the Church of England’s progress towards enabling women to become Bishops. The Bill received one day of Committee consideration, but did not receive Royal Assent.
The Lord Bishop of Guildford: My Lords, I am grateful for the courtesy of the House in allowing me to slip into the gap, as it were. I shall, I hope, be courteous in return by being very brief in so doing.
Members on this Bench have no direct interest in the content of the Bill, for obvious reasons. Nevertheless, I express support in principle and, indeed, in practice for the Bill before your Lordships’ House and hope to hear that the government Front Bench is also sympathetic. I will not rehearse what has already been said in the House in support of the Bill, which I fully agree with, but am sorely tempted to slip in an amendment to the effect that women bishops could be ordained in the Church of England.
Noble Lords: Hear, hear!
The Lord Bishop of Guildford: That would allow the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, to add bishops to her list.