On 7th January 2020 Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, repeated a Government statement on Middle East security. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, would the Minister agree that the “Thought for the Day” by the Bishop of Loughborough this morning on BBC Radio 4, available on the Sounds app, shone an important light on this matter? She came to this country as an Iranian refugee following the murder of her brother, and what she was pointing to was that in the context of the immediate crisis we must not lose sight of the fact that Iran has a very rich and long history as a seat of civilisation, and that we should not tar the entire country and culture with one brush.
On 19th October 2019 Parliament sat on a Saturday for the first time in 37 years. The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Evans of Bowes Park) moved a motion to take note of Brexit, and repeated the Prime Minister’s statement on the deal he had negotiated with the EU. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, commented about issues of trust and humility:
Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I have ditched the speech that I intended to give because of what I have heard. I particularly want to reinforce the speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge. His warnings are prescient, although his conclusion reminded me of that of the General Synod on writing liturgy. It was unanimous that there should be only one form of the Lord’s prayer in our new liturgies. Everyone agreed; we ended up with three.
The “how” is a very difficult question.
From what we heard in the Statement earlier, it seems that the question at the root of all of this stuff is trust. Trust cannot be commanded, even by a Prime Minister; it has to be earned.
We have had three years or more of either learning to trust or becoming suspicious about trust, and that goes across the country. We heard in the Statement that we have been half-hearted in our commitment to the EU. We have not just been half-hearted. We have been told lies and there has been gross misrepresentation, including from the current Prime Minister when he was a journalist in Brussels.
Propagated through the media, these lies have been allowed to go on and have formed the way that we see and understand Europe, ourselves and our role. That raises a question about trust.
On 15th October 2019 the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Baroness Barran, repeated a Government statement about racism in football. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow-up question:
On 6th September 2019 the House of Lords considered the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill at its Committee, Report and 3rd Reading stages. Three bishops voted against an amendment to the Bill that was tabled by Conservative Peer Lord True, which would have delayed the implementation of the Act until after a General Election had been held.Continue reading “Vote – European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill”
On 5th September 2019 the House of Lords considered the European Union (Withdrawal) (Number 6) Bill at its Second Reading. It had been passed by the House of Commons the previous day despite Government opposition. Its effect would be to require the Prime Minister to request an extension of the Article 50 period beyond the current 31st October Brexit deadline, should the Prime Minister not have agreed a withdrawal deal or Parliament voted for no deal, by the 19th October. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, it is already evident in some of the terms of this conversation—of this debate—that we have to get away from this binary thinking about leave or remain. They were terms that pertained to the referendum in 2016 where the question was “what”. Where we have got stuck is on the question of “how”. You do not need a degree in logic or philosophy to recognise that they are different questions. The Members of the other place and of this House trying to take their obligations seriously under the constitution to serve the people of this country means that we have got to this sort of impasse. It is not because of negligence, or because of waging ongoing campaigns from three years ago. I deeply resent the constant insinuation that if you voted remain then you remain a remainer and anything you do has to be suspected as being a plot to ensure that we remain. Many people in this House who voted remain have gone on to say that the referendum result was to leave and we have to move on to the question of how to do that but with the responsibility to look to the interests of our country. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds calls for end to binary leave/remain labels in Brexit debate and focus on values to shape shared future”
On 4th September 2019 the House of Lords considered a motion from the Leader of the Opposition to suspend the usual procedures for the taking of a Bill, in order to enable the House to take all stages of the European Union (Withdrawal) (Number 6) Bill 2017-19 on Thursday and Friday of that week.
A series of amendments were tabled to that motion by those objecting to that procedural change and those who disagreed with the Bill, which had been passed by MPs that day and would require Government to seek an extension of the Article 50 period for the UK to leave the EU.
A series of votes took place throughout the day and late into the night on the amendments tabled and also to bring an end to speeches by Members that were considered attempts to filibuster. A number of bishops took part in those votes, largely on the side of those Peers wishing to see the procedural changes made, and to ensure business could progress.
On 4th September 2019 the House of Lords voted on a series of amendments to a Motion from the Leader of the Opposition to suspend the usual procedures for the taking of a Bill, in order to enable the House to take all stages of the European Union (Withdrawal) (Number 6) Bill 2017-19 on Thursday and Friday of that week. Conservative Peer Lord True moved an amendment to the Motion to oppose the suspension of the usual rules for consideration. The Bishop of Leeds contributed to the debate:
Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I strongly endorse what the noble Lord has said. It seems to me that we have to be realistic. I speak as a Lord Spiritual with an obligation to engage in what was called “high politics” earlier, as a Member of this House, noting that the Lords Spiritual cannot be whipped and that we are not a party.
It seems to me that we have to be realistic and say that this prorogation has been disingenuously propagated as being just a little extension to recess, when we know that it is of a completely different order.