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”