On 26th June 2017, the Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Rev Christopher Foster, contributed to the Queen’s Speech debate on business, economic affairs, energy, transport, environment and agriculture. He used his speech to implore the government to use this parliamentary session to do more for those in his diocese and around the country.
Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, the Prime Minister has spoken of the awful events of recent weeks as signs of a society not at ease with itself. Yet amidst the tragedy and the pain, we see hope and the victory of hope. We have seen a remarkable depth of love and shared resolve, especially between faiths. We have been deeply moved by how people have responded to evil with generosity, openness and humility. I was struck by the force and feeling with which the Prime Minister used that last word in the debate in the other place on the gracious Speech. Humility is not a term frequently associated with politicians by the public. True, circumstances have left the Government with little choice but to take the humbler part, but that is no reason for cynicism. Continue reading
On 7th April 2017 the Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, received three written answers from Government about levels of child poverty, the two-child limit and benefit support:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of the impact of the recent increase in inflation on the number of children in poverty; and what plans they have for protecting low income families against the rising cost of basic essentials.Continue reading
On 7th March 2017 the House of Lords considered the Government’s EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill at Third Reading. A vote was called on a Liberal Democrat motion that the Bill should not pass.Six Lords Spiritual took part in the vote. Continue reading
On 7th March 2017 the House of Lords considered the Government’s EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill at Report. A vote was called on a cross-party amendment to give parliament an approval vote on a negotiated Brexit deal. Ten bishops took part. Continue reading
On 18th January 2016, the House of Lords considered the Government’s Higher Education and Research Bill in Committee. The Bishop of Portsmouth spoke to propose an amendment on behalf of the Bishop of Ely about giving special consideration for those with disabilities within the criteria for approving and reviewing student protection plans. The amendment was withdrawn after the debate, following encouragement from the Minister that the issue deserved greater inspection. Below is his speech and a section of the Minister’s reply.
The Lord the Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, my colleague and right reverend friend the Bishop of Ely is unable to be in his place, but has asked me to bring before your Lordships Amendment 134A. I and he welcome the Minister’s assurances thus far for disabled students. It is very welcome that he intends to publish guidance to ensure that higher education institutions are best able to fulfil their duties to disabled students.
On the 12th January Lord Robertson of Port Ellen hosted a debate “that this House takes note of the future capability of the United Kingdom’s armed forces in the current international situation”. The Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Christopher Foster, highlighted the need for a new Strategic Defence and Security Review, alongside recognition of new partnership and leadership roles.
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, agree with it or not, Brexit was a decision to determine our own path. This debate requires us to consider critically whether we have the capacity to determine our own strategic path in the realm of defence and security. The extent of our global reach must reflect our economic and strategic interests as well as our security and military concerns in these changing times, which now make these considerations, as one analyst has put it, “supercharged”.
My anxiety is that there is a gap, if not sometimes a gulf, between rhetoric about our concerns and ambitions on the one hand and our constrained capability on the other.
On the 9th January 2017, the Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, led a short debate in the Lords, to ask the Government “what is their assessment of the role of the Armed Forces Covenant in ensuring that those who serve or who have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, are treated with fairness and respect.” Earl Howe, the Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence, responded on behalf of the Government. Both their speeches are reproduced below in full. The speeches of other Members in the debate can be read here.
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, it is both a privilege and a responsibility to ask this Question and open this debate on the impact of the Armed Forces covenant. It is a privilege because, despite my day job, opportunities to talk about good news do not occur as often as you might think, and a responsibility because it is clear that there is work to be done as service personnel and their families still suffer disadvantage and do not always receive the consideration that they need. Continue reading