On 30th January 2020 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Bakewell, “that this House takes note of recent developments in the field of gene editing, and its status in scientific research around the world.” The Bishop of Carlisle, Rt Revd James Newcome, took part in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I add my own congratulations and gratitude to the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, on securing this timely and important debate. Unlike my noble friend Lord Patel and other noble Lords yet to speak, I am not a scientist. However, I have vivid memories of following the Human Genome Project with a mixture of excitement and awe as I realised its huge potential for good. I have been equally impressed by the many recent developments in gene editing, including the 100,000 Genomes Project and CRISPR-Cas9, which we have heard about, and their implications for the prevention or treatment of diseases such as cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and cancer. Continue reading “Bishop of Carlisle highlights ethical issues involved with gene editing”
“Not only children but adolescents and adults with Down’s syndrome live valued and valuable lives, contributing greatly to the welfare of those around them. All of this is undermined by the continued existence on our statute book of a law that, in effect, states that Down’s syndrome is a ground for abortion.” – Bishop of Bristol, 21/10/16
On the 21st October 2016 Conservative Peer Lord Shinkwin led a debate on the Second Reading of his Abortion (Disability Equality) Bill. The Bishop of Bristol, Rt Revd Mike Hill, spoke in support of the Bill.
The Lord Bishop of Bristol: My Lords, I too am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Shinkwin, for introducing this Bill. I understand that its focus is the principle of disability equality, not some underhand attempt to limit women’s access to abortion services. Noble Lords will, of course, have a variety of opinions on the ethics of abortion, but that is not, in principle, the focus of the Bill. It needs to be said that, in general, historically and indeed today, churches and other faith groups have always maintained a cautious approach to how the rights of women and the rights of the unborn child can somehow be maintained without, we hope, falling in to those who reside at the extremes of arguments around ethics on both sides of this debate. Continue reading “Bishop of Bristol supports Abortion (Disability Equality) Bill”
On 24th February 2015 the House of Lords considered a Motion to Approve the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Mitochondrial Donation) Regulations 2015, alongside a Motion from Lord Deben not to approve the Regulations but to set up a Joint Committee of Parliament to consider the issues in more detail.
The Bishop of Carlisle, Rt Rev James Newcome, spoke during the debate, setting out his own position and that of the Church of England on the question of Mitochondrial Donation (also known as ‘three parent babies’).
Earl Howe concluded the debate on behalf of the government. An extract from his remarks can also be found below.
Concluding the debate, Lord Deben put his amendment to a vote, which was defeated: Contents 48; Not-Contents 280. The Bishops of Carlisle, Ely, St Albans and Worcester voted in favour of the amendment by Lord Deben. The Bishop of Norwich voted against the amendment. The Bishop of Bristol abstained. Continue reading “Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Mitochondrial Donation) Regulations 2015 – speech by Bishop of Carlisle”
In Church Commissioners Question TIme on Thursday 29th January 2015, the Rt Hon. Sir Tony Baldry MP answered questions on the Archbishop of York’s Book ‘On Rock Or Sand’, Medical Ethics of Mitochondrial Transfer, the Anglican Communion, Financial Education, Women Bishops and Bats in Churches
Continue reading “Questions to the Church Commissioners on the Archbishop of York’s Book ‘On Rock Or Sand’, Medical Ethics, the Anglican Communion, Financial Eduation, Women Bishops and Bats”
On 16th January 2015, the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd James Newcome, and the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, spoke during the Committee Stage of Lord Falconer of Thoroton’s Assisted Dying Bill. Subjects debated included the terminology used in the text and title of the Bill, and clarifications of the relationship between patients and the medical practitioners required to treat them. The debate on the Bill was suspended at the end of the day. The Bill is unlikely to make further progress during the current Parliament. There were also two divisions on the Bill, and more details can be found here.
Continue reading “Bishops take part in Committee Stage of Assisted Dying Bill”
On 16th December 2014, Baroness Knight of Collingtree asked Her Majesty’s Government what action they intend to take following the First Reading of the Abortion (Sex-Selection) Bill in the House of Commons on 4 November. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans:
My Lords, given that many are concerned that we may not be protecting the most vulnerable in our society in this area, we need to understand the full extent of sex-selection abortion in this country, if indeed it is taking place. We need to collect and collate data. In the light of that, will the Minister tell the House what Her Majesty’s Government are doing to require the registration of the gender of foetuses using forms such as HSA4 or something similar so that we can actually have the evidence?
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans calls for more evidence to be collected to assist in prevention of sex-selection abortion”
On 5th December 2014, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, received answers to two written questions on the topic of sex-selective abortion.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they intend to ensure greater accuracy in gathering gender-correlated abortion statistics.[HL3171]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): Sex of the fetus is not recorded on the HSA4 forms submitted to the Chief Medical Officer; the gender of the fetus is not known for most abortions.
The Department’s latest analysis of birth ratios data published in May found no evidence of sex selection taking place in the United Kingdom. However, we will continue to monitor birth ratios and consider any other evidence that comes to light. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans – Sex-Selective Abortion (Written Answers)”
On 7th November 2014, the House of Lords held the Committee Stage of Lord Falconer of Thoroton’s Assisted Dying Bill. The Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Mike Hill, spoke to two amendments that he sponsored and co-sponsored. The amendments sought to strengthen the decision-making process surrounding the application and ingestion of the drugs that would be used to enable someone to commit suicide. Following a short debate on the amendments, Lord Falconer agreed to bring back amendments at Report Stage dealing with the period of time between application and ingestion. However, he did not agree to make further changes to his Bill, as he claimed that the Bishop’s concerns were dealt with elsewhere in the Bill.The Bishop did not press his amendments to a vote.
The Lord Bishop of Bristol: My Lords, I may not be the only one who is a bit confused about what is happening. I stand to speak in support of Amendment 12 tabled by my noble friend Lord McColl, but I would like to address noble Lords’ attention to Amendment 77, which stands in my name. I rather hoped it might have been grouped with Amendment 85, but they stand separately grouped now. I would like to reserve the right to come back to Amendment 85 at a later occasion and I hope a later occasion will occur for that to happen.
Amendment 77 deals with something slightly different. Quite rightly, most of our debate today has focused on the decision to apply for assisted suicide and to sign the declaration. However, it is fair to say that the request for assistance with suicide involves two different and discrete decisions: first, there is the decision to apply for it, and then there is the decision to ingest fatal drugs. The Bill makes it clear that there has to be a minimum of 14 days between the application and the actual ingestion of the drugs, except in the case of somebody who is given a prognosis of a month or less and then the time lag reduces to six days. Continue reading “Bishop of Bristol takes part in debate on Assisted Dying Bill”
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.
Continue reading “Abortion on grounds of gender or disability: Bishop of Leicester raises concerns”
The Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Mike Hill spoke during Baroness Jay’s question for short debate assessing the Director of Public Prosecutions Guidelines for prosecution for assisted suicide. The Bishop highlighted number of cases which have been inspected by the DPP and the need to prevent the original intention of legislation gradually slipping into a very different definition and drew attention to the case of Belgium where the law to allow assisted suicide has been recently extended to include terminally ill children. Lord Faulks responded to the debate for the Government and made no new legislativee commitments.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they continue to be satisfied with the Director of Public Prosecutions’ Guidelines on prosecution for assisted suicide.
The Lord Bishop of Bristol: My Lords, I add my own voice of gratitude to the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, for introducing the debate tonight. The DPP’s guidelines rightly give a central place to compassion in this vexed area. After more than 150 cases have been actively inspected by the DPP, it should now be clear to all that where a suffering patient wishes freely and without coercion to end their life, their family or friends who, motivated wholly by compassion, assist him or her to do so will not be prosecuted. There are many reasons for not moving beyond that legal position as some other countries have, but I shall refer to just one. Continue reading “Assisted Suicide Debate – Bishop of Bristol Warns Against Change in the Law”