On 31st October 2019 Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman answered questions from MPs for the last time as Second Church Estates Commissioner. Tributes were paid to her, and questions were answered on climate change, archbishops, reconciliation, telecommunications, thefts, women in prison, marriage, and digital evangelism. This was also the same day that the Speaker and his Chaplain were due to retire. A full transcript follows:
The right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—
Climate Change: Investment in Companies
Michael Tomlinson (Mid Dorset and North Poole) (Con): What progress the Church of England has made on holding the companies in which it invests to account on climate change. 
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Dame Caroline Spelman): Since this is my last set of oral questions, I would like to record my heartfelt thanks to my small team of staff, and especially my constituency secretary, who has faithfully served me for 20 out of 22 years. We often forget that our staff are on the frontline of much of the abuse that we receive, and I want to record my admiration for their fortitude. I also thank the amazing staff I have had to support me in this role, particularly Simon Stanley at Church House.
In tribute, Mr Speaker, I thank you for your kindness and courtesy—unfailingly so, and especially at times of personal duress. I single out your inspired choice of Speaker’s Chaplain, who has enriched the spiritual life of this place—but more of that later.
The Church of England Pensions Board has tabled a shareholder resolution ahead of the annual general meeting of BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, on 7 November this month. It asks BHP to suspend its membership of trade associations that are not lobbying in line with the climate change agreement. This is just the latest example of the Church Commissioners using their shareholder position to change company policy in line with the climate change agreement.
Continue reading “Church Commissioner Questions: Tributes, climate change, archbishops, reconciliation, telecommunications, thefts, women in prison, marriage, digital evangelism”
On 25th September 2019 the Leader of the House of Lords repeated a statement from the Prime Minister on Brexit and the judgement of the Supreme Court on prorogation. The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, contributed to the debate:
Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, speaking on behalf of these Benches, I struggle to have to say that I was shocked as I listened to the repeat of the Statement. I could not believe that I was hearing it, from someone who knows that the nation is deeply divided and needs to find ways of working together. We need humility, repentance when necessary and an approach that listens carefully to the views of others rather than simply “Attack, attack, attack”. The Leader was not in the House earlier when my most reverend friend the Archbishop of Canterbury was here, but I encourage her to read his comments about the need for reconciliation—to find a different way forward to work together that is good for the nation. In one sense I am simply adding to the mood of the House as a whole, but I come at it from a very different point of view; I am not part of a political party and I have no axe to grind. I simply want to reflect that this was terrible. It was shocking. It is not worthy. I am sorry.
Continue reading “Bishop of Durham ‘”shocked” by Prime Minister’s Brexit statement”
On 11th June 2019 Lord Robathan asked the Government “whether the Foreign Secretary’s speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet on 13 May represented a change in their policy on defence expenditure.” The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, as I am sure the noble Earl remembers, the Foreign Secretary, in his Guildhall speech, not only called for new capabilities and higher spending, but went on to set the point of these new capabilities when he said that,
“strength is the surest guarantee of peace”.
Furthermore, last week, in the D-day proclamation, 16 countries, including the United Kingdom, committed to,
“work together to resolve international tensions peacefully”.
Given those two aims, of strong defence as a sure base for peace and the proclamation, does the noble Earl agree that the formation of the joint reconciliation unit within the Stabilisation Unit in the Foreign Office is a major step forward, in that averting war through orchestrated means—including both hard and soft power—is much cheaper than fighting it?
Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury encourages Government to invest in peaceful resolution to conflict”
On 14th December 2018 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, led a debate in the House of Lords on the Motion: “that this House takes note of the role of reconciliation in British foreign, defence and international development policy”. The Archbishop’s opening and closing speeches in the debate are below. The Bishop of Coventry also spoke in the debate and his speech can be seen here.
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I am grateful to the usual channels for permitting this debate; to the noble Lord, Lord Collins of Highbury, for responding on behalf of the Opposition; to the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice; and to the Minister, the noble Earl, Lord Howe, for their time and contributions today. My noble kinsman Lord Williams of Elvel said when I came into the House some years ago, “The wonderful thing about the House of Lords is that whatever you say, there will be a world expert listening to you”. Looking down the list of those who will contribute today, I am conscious of the expertise in the House, including a Nobel laureate, and I am greatly looking forward to hearing from noble Lords whose combined expertise and experience is sure to provide us with much to reflect on.
Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury leads debate on reconciliation in British foreign, defence and international development policy”
On 14th December 2018 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, led a debate in the House of Lords on the Motion: “that this House takes note of the role of reconciliation in British foreign, defence and international development policy”. The Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Chruistopher Cocksworth also spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, I am grateful to follow the moving tribute from the noble Lord, Lord Elton, to the Coptic Orthodox Church. I join him in that. I join others in thanking the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury for his ground-breaking speech. I pay tribute to his deep commitment to reconciliation on multiple levels.
Like the most reverend Primate, I have been shaped by the Coventry story, with its profound narrative of both the human propensity towards disruption of relationships, with the danger, destruction and death that ensues, and the power of hope to prevail over even the darkest forces—a hope built on the restorative capacity of reconciliation, a virtue that needs to be operative even during war, preparing the way for peace.
Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry speaks on peacebuilding and reconciliation”
On 5th September 2017, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Dame Caroline Spelman took part in a Westminster Hall debate on Coventry’s bid to be the 2021 City of Culture, citing the impact of the Cathedral in the life of the city.
Dame Caroline Spelman (Meriden) (Con): I congratulate the hon. Member for Coventry South (Mr Cunningham) on securing this debate. It is exciting for all of us to know that Coventry has made the shortlist and is now in a five-way race to win this title. I declare my interest in that part of my constituency is covered by the diocese of Coventry, so I have many reasons to visit the city on a regular basis.
Continue reading “Second Church Estates Commissioner champions Coventry bid to be 2021 City of Culture”
On the 20th and 21st April 2016 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, received three written answers to questions he had tabled to Government about peace-building and reconciliation in Burundi. This followed his recent visit to the country.
The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to support the President of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa, in his efforts to mediate in Burundi.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: The UK strongly supports the East African Community-led dialogue; it is crucial to finding a sustainable political solution in Burundi. We welcome their decision to appoint the former President of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa, as Facilitator of the Burundi Dialogue. Continue reading “Archbishop asks Government about peace-building and reconciliation in Burundi”
“I hope that we will be ready to proclaim afresh to the world that the story of our nations over the last 70 years proves that peace is possible and that friendship is better than enmity” – Bishop of Coventry 12/3/15
On 12th March 2015 the Bishop of Coventry, Rt Rev Christopher Cocksworth, led a debate in the House of Lords on the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Dresden. His opening speech can be seen below, along with the Minister’s response. The speeches of other members in the debate can be viewed on the UK Parliament website, here.
Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry leads Lords debate on the 70th Anniversary of the Dresden Bombing”
“I hope that in this debate we will see how the different strands of soft and hard power can be better combined, and there can be a clearer sense of the narrative which sustains this wonderful country which has in the past given so much to the world when at its best, and has the potential to give even more if the advantages of our history, the skills of our institutions and the courage of our people are combined with a clear aim in view.”
On 5th December 2014, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, led a debate in the House of Lords to take note of the role of soft power and non-military responses to conflict prevention. In his opening speech, he reflected on the UK’s role in the wider world and the soft power assets it has at its disposal – the diplomatic services, the BBC, the British Council, the Commonwealth, overseas development assistance and the Church, particularly through relationships with the Anglican Communion. He spoke of the need to better understand ourselves, so as to be more effective in projecting the values and influence of the UK overseas. He also noted that the next Strategic Defence and Security Review needed to reflect the central relationship between soft and hard power, and called for more joined-up working across Government to ensure this was the case. Following his opening speech, twenty-six other members of the House contributed to the debate, including the Bishop of Derby, whose remarks can be read here. The Archbishop closed with his reflections on the topics discussed in the course of the debate. Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury leads House of Lords debate on conflict prevention”
In the House of Lords on 25th November 2014, Labour Peer Lord Liddle led a take-note debate on the case for the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union. The Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, took part in the debate. In his remarks, he noted that a shift in focus from economic costs and benefits to the European Union’s role as an institution of peace and reconciliation is necessary for meaningful debate to take place on the UK’s place in the EU. He noted that reform was necessary, not least to rebalance the democratic deficit between national and supra-national governance. He noted that churches may be well placed to create safe and neutral spaces in which informed and serious debate on the UK’s place in Europe can take place.
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, for securing this debate, although I enter it with some trepidation in such company. I am constrained to do so by the story of Coventry, from where I come, and by the originating Christian contribution to the possibilities that some form of common life might have for Europe and, thereby, for the world. When in your daily life you see the scars of warfare upon a city, when you hear the testimony of those who lost homes and families on one night in November 1940, when each year you are joined by Germans in the commemoration of your city’s 500 dead, and when you join them as they remember their city’s thousands of dead, you know that peace counts and that reconciliation is indeed a precious gift, and you give thanks for the project which has had peace as its fundamental purpose. Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry takes part in debate on the UK’s membership of the European Union”