On 26th June 2017, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Alan Smith contributed to the Queen’s Speech debate on business, economic affairs, energy, transport, environment and agriculture. He focused on the impact of Brexit on agriculture and fishing, and on the environment, calling for legislation on clean air.
Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I will confine myself to a few comments on agriculture and the environment. In doing so, I need to declare my interest as president of the Rural Coalition.
As regards agriculture and food, Brexit poses one of the greatest challenges to future food production. The UK produces some of the highest-standard food in the world and, indeed, some of the finest food. In our negotiations, it will be crucial that we do not sacrifice food quality, animal welfare or environmental protection as part of those multi-sector trade agreements which will form the foundation of future international economic partnerships. Continue reading “Queen’s Speech 2017: Bishop of St Albans on farming, fishing and the environment”
On 26th June 2017, the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Paul Butler contributed to the Queen’s Speech debate on business, economic affairs, energy, transport, environment and agriculture. He argued for the importance of investment in the North-East of England and including all groups in discussions around Brexit, the Northern Powerhouse and the Industrial Strategy.
Bishop of Durham: My Lords, perhaps I may add my welcome from these Benches to the noble Lord in his role as Minister. I also look forward to hearing the maiden speeches of the noble Lords, Lord Colgrain and Lord Mountevans, which will be made during this debate.
Since arriving in Durham, I have been struck that life feels more precarious for many in the north-east than it does elsewhere. There are lots of reasons for hope, not least the social regeneration in my home town of Bishop Auckland, but the sense of precariousness persists due to deep structural disadvantages that the region has faced for decades, even centuries. It is against this backdrop that some of the changes to welfare in the last Parliament felt particularly acute and remain of very deep concern. It is also against this backdrop that the uncertainty of the Brexit negotiation is felt. Continue reading “Queen’s Speech 2017: Bishop of Durham highlights opportunities and risks facing north east”
On 22nd June 2017 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd & Rt Hon Justin Welby, spoke during the first day’s debate on the Queen’s Speech. The Archbishop spoke of the need for the UK’s approach to foreign affairs and Brexit to be informed by values that in turn ” spring from values lived clearly and coherently at home”. The full text is below, with excerpts from the speeches of others in response.
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I welcome the outward-looking emphasis in the speeches made so far, especially in the Minister’s speech and in that of the noble Lord, Lord Collins. What makes this such an exceptional time is that for perhaps only the second or third time in a couple of centuries, we find ourselves needing, as we come to Brexit, to redefine our whole approach to foreign policy and our place in the world. It should be a principal place, not only defined primarily by GDP, although that is important, or by military adequacy, although that is essential, as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, set out just now, but by respect internationally for our values, vision and determination and our capacity to deliver those things we promise. Continue reading “Queen’s Speech 2017: Brexit and foreign policy must be underpinned by shared values, says Archbishop”
On 21st June 2017 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II opened Parliament. Amongst those members in attendance were the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishops of Birmingham, Durham, Newcastle, Oxford, St Albans, Southwark and Winchester.
This picture was taken of the Lords Spiritual in the Bishops’ Robing Room, in their formal State Opening robes, prior to entering the Lords Chamber.:
On 25th May 2016 the House of Lords held its fifth day of debate the Queen’s Speech. During the debate the Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, gave her maiden speech, becoming the second female bishop to speak in the House of Lords. As well as introducing herself to the House she addressed the Government’s life chances strategy, and regional growth in the North. Her speech is below in full, alongside responses from Peers.
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, the theological understanding of grace is of the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done to deserve it. In these early days in your Lordships’ House, it is grace that I have experienced—wonderful kindness and a warmth of welcome from your Lordships, the staff and all who work in this place. It has been entirely undeserved but a truly heart-warming experience. It will be no surprise to your Lordships that one of the loveliest and warmest welcomes came from the late Lord Walton—a fine and godly man, and a distinguished son of the north-east.
I grew up in the 1950s on a large London overspill council estate. In those large sprawling estates there were precious few community facilities and the school I attended had two classes of 45 children in each year group. The life chances of many growing up on that estate were very limited. Out of the 90 children in my year group, only 10 went to grammar school.
On 24th May 2016 the Bishop of St Albns, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the third day of debate on the Queen’s Speech. The Bishop focused on human rights issues, including the proposed new Bill of Rights, prison reform, counter-extremism and investigatory powers.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, in response to Her Majesty’s gracious Speech I will make just a few points on the subject of human rights, rights which from my perspective arise from the inherent and God-given dignity of every human being. In 1213, St Albans Cathedral was the setting for the first meeting of the bishops and barons which was to lead, two years later, to the sealing of Magna Carta, the 800th anniversary of which we celebrated just last year as a foundational document in the history of human rights.
However, the proposals for a British Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act make me question whether the celebrations last June were something of a missed opportunity.
On 24th May 2016 the Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff spoke during the third day of debate on the Queen’s Speech. In his capacity as lead bishop for prisons, the Bishop welcomed the proposals outlined by Government for prison reform.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I don my hat as bishop to Her Majesty’s prisons and will therefore limit my contribution to the debate on the gracious Speech to those matters which were about prisons and to the proposed prisons and court reform Bill. Like many other noble Lords, I welcome much that appears to be there and the seriousness of the ambition for change, and what I detect to be the quite marked change in the tone and language which is being used.
As for language, the Secretary of State is fond of quoting a Mr Osborne—perhaps not that Mr Osborne, because they seem to be on opposite sides of various debates, but the words of a Mr Osborne who, in 1914, was the warden of Sing Sing prison in New York. He is quoted as expressing his aspiration to turn it from a scrapheap to a repair shop. That quotation carries quite a lot, but in rather different language, the Roman Catholic Church in this country said something similar in a document in 2004 when it spoke of prisons having the potential to be places of redemption. Speaking from these Benches, I find it interesting that the Secretary of State uses quite freely what we would recognise as theological language of redemption and restoration when expressing his aspirations for what will happen in prisons. If he is serious about that, and about redemption and restoration being at the heart of the prison system, my interest is certainly piqued and my support is lurking there waiting to be given.