On 6th November 2014, the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, took part in a debate in the House of Lords on women facing homelessness, domestic violence and social exclusion, led by Labour Peer Baroness King of Bow. The Bishop focused his remarks on tackling domestic violence, highlighting the need for closer co-ordination between faith groups and local and national government, increasing the availability and quality of training for key institutions such as the police, and asked the Minister to update the House on progress made on the Government’s violence against women strategy and its obligations under international treaties.
The Lord Bishop of Leicester: My Lords, as this debate progresses the seriousness and critical nature of this subject is dawning on all of us. I share with other noble Lords a gratitude to the noble Baroness, Lady King, for bringing it to our attention with such eloquence and passion. We all look forward to the maiden speeches of the noble Baroness, Lady Rebuck, and the noble Lord, Lord Farmer, this morning.
Although there are profound links between the three subjects before us, I intend to concentrate on the issue of women facing domestic violence. I do so with considerable caution, even trepidation, because of the horrific stories that have already been brought to our attention, but also as a man who represents a hierarchical position in a patriarchal ecclesiastical institution. Nevertheless, I dare to speak, for three reasons. First, because of the extremely disturbing statistics which others have referred to: an estimated 7% of all women experience domestic violence, according to the 2011-12 figures, equivalent to some 1.2 million victims. There were 88,000 domestic violence cases referred to the Crown Prosecution Service that year, of which more than 64% reached a decision to charge, leading to more than 52,000 convictions. Even more disturbing are the 2013 figures, which indicate that on average 155 women and 103 children were turned away from refuges every day, at the most dangerous and vulnerable moment for them. They were then, of course, faced with returning to an abusive partner. Continue reading “Bishop of Leicester calls for closer co-ordination between faith groups and Government to tackle domestic abuse”
In the House of Commons on 1 July 2014, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, the Rt Hon St Tony Baldry MP, took part in oral questions to the Secretary of State for Justice. He asked a supplementary question on the commemoration of King Richard III, which was answered by the Minister of State, the Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP.
King Richard III
Sir Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con): As the Minister said, Richard III was the King of all England, not just of York or Yorkshire. Is he aware that the Dean and Chapter of Leicester Cathedral see it as their responsibility to rebury the remains of King Richard and to commemorate his memory on behalf of the whole nation, and not just for Leicester or York?
Simon Hughes: I have every confidence that the Dean and Chapter of Leicester cathedral will do that job for the nation. I understand that they intend to apply for an extension so that it may be done in the spring of next year. I believe that it will be a great credit to Leicester and will bring great joy to the people of Leicestershire that a King of England is buried in their county.
..without some risk, innovation and courage in this area, local government will continue to be starved not only of cash but of the civic talent it desperately needs – Bishop of Leicester, 5/6/14
On 5th June 2014 in the first of the responses from the Bishops’ Benches to the Queen’s Speech, Rt Rev Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester focused on the need for revitalisation of local government. Citing political disconnect and the pledge in the Queen’s Speech to deliver a fairer society, the Bishop called for a creative reinvigoration of the relationship between central and local government, not least in the areas of health and social care. He cited Leicester’s plans for the reinterment of Richard III as an example of good local partnerships that also help create a sense of shared local identity.
The Lord Bishop of Leicester:My Lords, I want to take the opportunity of this debate to raise some questions about the balance of power between London and the regions in our country today. The gracious Speech emphasised the new financial powers to be implemented for the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales. While this is welcome, it highlights even more acutely the need for urgent action to address the very different environment for local government in England, in spite of what the Minister briefly said to us about resourcing local economic partnerships.
On 3rd April 2014 the Bishop of Leicester, Rt Rev Tim Stevens, spoke during a short debate in the Lords on abortion, tabled by Baroness Knight of Collingtree. The debate title was: “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they intend to take to investigate reported law breaking by those carrying out terminations of pregnancies.” The Bishop said:
The Lord Bishop of Leicester:My Lords, whatever our differing positions on the ethics of abortion, it must be a matter of widespread concern if there is the appearance of a long-standing gap between the spirit of the Abortion Act and the interpretation of the law. This is a matter of particular interest to many in the churches because of a theological commitment to the sanctity of human life, including potential human life.
In the House of Lords on 1st April 2014 Lord Young of Norwood Green asked Her Majesty’s Government ‘what plans they have to mark the 15-year anniversary of the minimum wage, which took effect on 1 April 1999.’ The Bishop of Leicester asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Leicester: My Lords, in view of what the Minister has said about there being much work to do on the living wage, does he agree that a good way to mark this anniversary would be to commission an independent inquiry into the actual effects of raising the minimum wage to the living wage for everyone?Continue reading “Living Wage Call by the Bishop of Leicester”
The Bishop of Leicester spoke during Report Stage of the Immigration Bill, speaking in favour of Baroness Lister’s Amendment 21. The amendment sought to reduce the threshold at which a child becomes a material factor in a parents’ immigration case from seven to four years. The amendment was not moved, with the Minister giving assurances that the Bill would not have a negative impact on the safeguarding or welfare of children in the United Kingdom.
The Lord Bishop of Leicester: My Lords, I want just to assure your Lordships that as the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, suggested, I support Amendment 21 in spirit. I also support it in practice. It seems that the arguments, from any understanding of child development, are clearly overwhelming. I speak as a former chair of the Children’s Society and as a member of the commission that published the A Good Childhood report on behalf of the Children’s Society some four or five years ago, which was based on the evidence of more than 20,000 children, many of them very young children. They made it very clear, even at the age of five or six, that friendships were an absolutely primary part of their understanding of their well-being. This is documented and spelt out in that report, as indeed it is in many other more academic reports. I would be happy to support this amendment as it stands or even if it is reduced to fewer years. On the basis of any understanding of child development, the argument for a cut-off period of four years seems overwhelming. I hope the Minister will be able to respond positively to the amendment.
Lord Wallace of Tankerness: …The noble Baroness, Lady Lister, talked about her experience of losing friends at the age of four, and that was echoed by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester, but let us face it: many parents move with their children around the country or out of the country for work or other temporary purposes, and the family leaves to return home or move elsewhere. When a family comes to the United Kingdom for a temporary purpose, they cannot and should not expect to settle permanently in the UK, and should not be able to do so unless they meet the rules for doing so. It is essential that the public interest in controlling immigration and protecting the public be properly weighed in the balance, even when children are involved. We believe that Clause 18 strikes the right balance in this regard…
“I am sure, as are others, that this cannot be the end of the reform process for another generation.” – Bishop of Leicester
On 28th March 2014 the House of Lords debated a Bill that sought to enable Peers to retire their membership of the House, enforce retirement for non-attenders and expel those convicted of serious offences. This Private Member’s Bill, sponsored by Lord Steel and Dan Byles MP, was given widespread support during its Second Reading debate, including by the Bishop of Leicester.
On Tuesday 25th March 2014 Stephen Geoffrey Cottrell, Lord Bishop of Chelmsford, was introduced and took the oath, supported by the Bishop of Chester and the Bishop of Leicester, and signed an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct.