Bishop of Leeds asks Government about rural bus services

On 4th June 2019 Baroness Randerson asked the Government “what plans they have to encourage more people to use bus services.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, can the Minister expand on what she said about rural access? There is no point trying to encourage people to use buses where there are none. In parts of my diocese in the north of Yorkshire, to suggest that there may be increased funding or increased conversations does not change the fact that many people are isolated. Buses and transport need to be part of a holistic, integrated rural strategy that sees the various matters interconnected.

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Bishop of Leeds calls for leadership by example to counter ‘toxic public debate’

On 9th May 2019 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Harris of Haringey, “to move that this House regrets the conduct, and toxicity, of debate in public life; of the divisions in society which result from that; and calls on Her Majesty’s Government to take steps to address such divisions.” The Bishop of Leeds spoke in the debate and a transcript is below. The Bishop of Rochester also spoke in the debate and his speech can be read here:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Harris, for securing this debate and for the clarity of his and other speeches. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Patten, that if such a cast were assembled, some of the people who need to be there simply would not turn up. If they did, they would see it as their job to disrupt it, so I suspect it will be more complex.

We still admire Benjamin Disraeli for telling Parliament that half the Cabinet were asses and, on being ordered to withdraw the comment, responding, “Mr Speaker, I withdraw. Half the cabinet are not asses”. Political invective is not new and it must have a place in a free society, but words matter. I speak as a former professional linguist. Language is never neutral, and the ad hominem abuse we increasingly witness now simply encourages wider public expression of violent hatred. It is incrementally corrosive.

If the conduct of debate in public life has become toxic, it is only because it has been in the interests of some people to allow it to be so. I have already spoken in this House of the corruption of the public discourse and the consequences of normalising lying and misrepresentation. I add that reducing people to categories might reinforce tribal identity, but it demonises and dehumanises everyone else. As Viktor Klemperer recognised from 1930s Germany, a million repetitions of single words, idioms, and sentence structures or slanders become unconsciously assumed to be normal. Think of Rwanda and “cockroaches”.

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Bishop of Leeds responds to Government statement on Sri Lanka

On 24th April 2019 Baroness Goldie repeated a Statement  by the Foreign Secretary on Sri Lanka. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, responded to the statement: 

18.12.05 Leeds Brexit deal debateThe Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, my diocese, the diocese of Leeds, has had a link with Sri Lanka for nearly 40 years and I am in daily contact with the church out there. I urge the Minister and the Foreign Office to take seriously the difference between ethnic and religious strife, because we cannot always draw a straight line from people being of different religious practice or conviction to particular actions. The civil war, for example, was much more complex than is sometimes represented outside Sri Lanka. What has happened in the last few days is very different; it is international. We need to understand more about the impact on the Muslim community in Sri Lanka, as it has not been a pleasant experience for them. It is not quite as simple as we sometimes think, and I would urge caution in the way that we represent the current issue. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds responds to Government statement on Sri Lanka”

Bishop of Leeds asks Government about vision for future of Europe

On 24th April 2019 Lord Robathan asked the Government “whether the United Kingdom will participate in the European parliamentary elections next month; and what preparations are being made.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow up question:

18.12.05 Leeds Brexit deal debateThe Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, whether the election goes ahead or not, is it not clear that the Government need to have some vision that goes beyond the EU for the future of Europe, of which the UK remains a part in a post-Brexit world? If so, is this vision being developed so that it can be articulated?

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Bishop of Leeds appeals for more welcoming language on EU citizens in UK

On 16th January 2019 Lord Greaves asked the Government “what support they are giving to citizens of European Union countries who have been resident in the United Kingdom since before the United Kingdom joined the European Economic Community.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow-up question: 

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, is it possible that the language could be changed? I spoke to a German woman who has been here for 67 years and finds the language of “You may be allowed to stay” quite difficult, as opposed to “You belong”, when she has children and grandchildren, she has been a taxpayer and all that. This goes deeper than simply being allowed to stay. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds appeals for more welcoming language on EU citizens in UK”

Bishop of Leeds asks Government about impact of US sanctions on Iran and migration

On 17th, 20th & 21st December 2018 the Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, received written answers to three questions about US sanctions on Iran and migration from Iran. 

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many Iranian citizens made asylum applications in (1) 2015, (2) 2016, (3) 2017, and (4) 2018; and how many applications have been granted.

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Bishop of Leeds repeats call for more honest language in response to Prime Minister’s EU Council statement

On 17th December 2018 the Leader of the House of Lords repeated a statement made in the House of Commons by the Prime Minister, about the EU Council meeting. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, responded:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, would the Leader of the House agree with me that the language of the Statement is not helpful? It says:

“But let us not risk the jobs, services and security of the people whom we serve”.

​It is a fact that Brexit, of itself and the process we have gone through, has already done that. To say “Let us not further risk” might be more accurate. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds repeats call for more honest language in response to Prime Minister’s EU Council statement”