On 20th June 2019 Lord Bird led a debate in the House of Lords on the motion “that this House takes note of the case for better protecting and representing the interests of future generations in policy-making.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate, and his speech is below. The speech of the Bishop of Oxford in the same debate can be seen here.
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bird, for bringing this debate to us. Despite wanting to say one or two things, I hope to listen and to learn from the wisdom of others. This debate is particularly pertinent at a time when phrases such as “the will of the people” are being bandied around, without specifying which people. If we are going to take this seriously, it must include people who are not people yet: future generations. Too often that term is used as a static term. It references the past. It does not create any vision for the future. It takes today seriously at the expense of tomorrow.
On 19th June 2019 a Government statement on new plans to help people dealing with problem debt was repeated in the House of Lords. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, welcomed the statement and asked a follow-up question:
Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I welcome this Statement, and thank the Minister for repeating it. I also want to note the work that the Church of England and the Children’s Society have done promoting these matters. I am particularly pleased that public and utilities debt is to be included in this, but—taking advice from Donald Tusk, who said “Don’t waste the extension”—can the Minister say who will ensure that plans are put in place for sustainable debt resolution? It was said that debtors will have to seek professional advice. How will that be ensured, so that we do not simply prolong the problem of debt where it will be exacerbated? Secondly—and I am sorry if I missed this in the Statement—when might we expect the new regulations to be published?
On 19th June 2019 Baroness Janke asked the Government “what steps they are taking to address the findings of the report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, published on 22 May”. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow-up question:
Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, if the success is so great, why are so many schools in my diocese having to feed children, and why does almost every parish contribute to food banks?
On 6th June 2019 the House of Lords debated and approved the Church Representation and Ministers Measure. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, introduced the Measure:
Moved by The Lord Bishop of Leeds, That this House do direct that, in accordance with the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919, the Church Representation and Ministers Measure be presented to Her Majesty for the Royal Assent.
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, it was 100 years ago this week that your Lordships’ House gave a Second Reading to the National Assembly of the Church of England (Powers) Bill. Speaking in support of the Bill, Lord Parmoor said:
“If this Bill is passed, for the first time the laity of the Church will have a recognised and substantive position in the corporate expression of church life … The very object of the Bill is to give an effective part to a large number of Church men, earnest and eager to do their best for the Church and who cannot have an effective influence at the present time. That is why I, as a layman, have laboured for this Bill”.—[Official Report, 3/6/1919; cols. 1028-29.]
The Bill was passed and became the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919. It devolved legislative power to the Church Assembly, which has since become the General Synod. It is pursuant to Section 4 of the 1919 Act that this Motion is before the House today.
On 6th June 2019 Baroness Cox asked the Government “what assessment they have made of recent events in Sudan, following attacks against protestors by Sudanese security forces.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I was in Khartoum in January. I too pay tribute to the ambassador, whose communication on social media has been superb, despite internet problems. The other country involved is Egypt, which seems to have a vested interest in not putting too much pressure on Sudan. Can the Minister say anything about our conversations with Egypt and its influence over events in Sudan?
On 6th June 2019 the House of Lords debated a Motion from Lord Faulkner of Worcester, “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to the report of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heritage Rail, Engaging the Next Generation: Young People and Heritage Railways.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, while congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, on securing this debate, I must confess to some surprise at standing to speak in it. I have little knowledge or experience of heritage railways, despite having had such a beast going through the village where I was for eight years a vicar in Rothley in Leicestershire and now having several in the diocese of Leeds. I am not proud of my ignorance, but engineering never quite got me; I guess I was more of a media studies man. I fully accept that this probably makes me a rarity among clergy in the Church of England, but I do see the import of this report and fully endorse what this debate seeks to achieve.