On 7th September 2022, the House of Lords discussed the recent ministerial changes, with particular reference to the new Leader of the House of Lords, Lord True, and the outgoing Leader, Baroness Evans of Bowes Park. The Bishop of Oxford made the following speech:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, it is a joy to listen to these tributes. I associate myself with them and, on behalf of the Lords spiritual, add our thanks and appreciation to the noble Baroness for her service over this last six years. It is a happy thing that so many of my colleagues are also here to join in that tribute. It has been my privilege to serve in this House through the whole of the noble Baroness’s tenure. I believe that she has brought the gifts of stability and acuity to her leadership and that the House has functioned well in that time. So far as I can judge, she has increased the respect in which this House is held in the wider nation and country.
On 25th May 2021 the former Archbishop of York, Rt Revd John Sentamu was introduced to the House of Lords to sit as an independent Crossbench Peer. He will sit under the title Lord Sentamu of Lindisfarne in the County of Northumberland and of Masooli in the Republic of Uganda.
12.08pm The right reverend and the right honourable John Tucker Mugabi Sentamu, having been created Baron Sentamu, of Lindisfarne in the County of Northumberland and of Masooli in the Republic of Uganda, was introduced and took the oath, supported by Baroness Hale of Richmond and Lord Popat, and signed an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct.
On 20th May 2021 the House of Lords debated the changes made to its working procedures as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The Bishop of Birmingham, as convenor of the Lords Spiritual, spoke about the effect on the Bishops’ Benches and more widely in the country.
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I share, from these Benches, our gratitude for all those who have worked so hard, with agility and rapidity, both the staff that serve the House and those who manage the business of the House, in a very challenging and, in fact, a unique time, as has been referred to several times already.
The noble Earl, Lord Howe, said that every aspect of life has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Even churches have become hybrid. Families have been separated and have kept in touch by Zoom. Employers and employees are now negotiating home and back-to-work settings. Online parents’ evenings at schools have become more popular than ever. As has been said already, I join those who are at a moment of learning lessons from what has happened to us, unexpected and unprepared, over the past 15 months. This great disruption means that we will face further change, not just here but in society as a whole.
The decisions we have to make are about what to keep that has been beneficial, or surprisingly new and advantageous, and what to go back to, as what works well for our purpose today. We do so in the context of an uncertain journey ahead, on the road map, and also with the priority to keep everyone safe and well in this terrible time of virus, as I believe we have tried to do in this House.
On 12th May 2021 tributes were paid in the House of Lords to Lord Fowler, the retiring Lord Speaker. The Bishop of Durham spoke on behalf of the Lords Spiritual:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: It is my privilege to pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, from the Spiritual Benches. I start with a specific reflection from these Benches on our leading of Prayers at the start of each day. The noble Lord was consistently considerate and courteous, taking the time to personally thank the duty Bishop for their prayers on each occasion. It was a small, kind gesture that meant more than he may have realised.
We all know of the noble Lord’s long-term, ongoing dedication and perseverance in addressing HIV. His patient persistence is admirable and notable. As he continues with this commendable work, as a UN ambassador, we trust he will further help it move forward. As it happens, this morning, before we began business, I was on a call with Christian Aid, for Christian Aid Week, with people from Kenya who were reflecting not only on climate change but the ongoing impact of AIDS in their country. It is work that needs to continue.
On 7th December the House of Lords voted on a Motion to approve a Report on the conduct of Lord Maginnis, a Member of the House. A vote for approval would also require the suspension of the Member. The Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop of Manchester took part:
On 14th July Lord Young of Cookham asked Her Majesty’s Government “whether they plan to relocate the House of Lords to York.” The Rt Revd David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham, asked a follow up question focusing on the relocation of the House of Lords.
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: Does the Minister agree that, whether temporarily or permanently, it is better, in a bicameral system, as the noble Lord, Lord Lang, alluded to, for the two Houses to be placed together? In terms of reaching the people, would he also commend the Lord Speaker’s outreach programme to bring civic duties and understanding to schools as a good way of communicating? By the way, when this was last talked about here, the incoming Archbishop of York offered his garden, which is extensive, as a place. May I humbly suggest that there is a nearer alternative in Birmingham?
On 21st April 2020 the House of Lords began to sit virtually for the first time, using online facilities to enable its procedures to continue during the period of social distancing caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The House of Commons also combined virtual and physical proceedings, with some MPs present and others using technology to participate.
In the Commons Chamber physical proceedings began as usual with prayers, read in person by the Speaker’s Chaplain. In the House of Lords the Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, began the first ever virtual sitting by reading prayers for those taking part in online proceedings, using a modified form of the usual Prayers for Parliament. She did so in her capacity as duty bishop for the week. Continue reading “Bishop of Newcastle leads prayers in first virtual sitting of House of Lords”