Bishop of Rochester highlights needs of vulnerable women prisoners

17.10 RochesterOn 25th July 2019 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Farmer (Con) that the House “takes note of the needs of women in the criminal justice system”. The Bishop of Rochester contributed to the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Farmer, for obtaining this debate and for his unstinting efforts in this area, not least the welcome emphasis in his most recent report on relationships, which he expounded so clearly when introducing this debate.

I am sorry that the right reverend Prelates the Bishop of Gloucester and the Bishop of Newcastle are not in their places today, because they both take a very close and informed interest in the issues around women in the criminal justice system. However, I have visited a good number of women’s prisons over the last few years and, in making those visits, I have been both shocked and inspired.

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Bishop of Rochester welcomes Bill on victims of crime and reporting abuse

RochesterOn 19th July 2019 the House of Lords debated at Second Reading the Victims of Crime (Rights, Entitlements, and Notification of Child Sexual Abuse) Bill, a private member’s bill introduced by Baroness Brinton. The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, for bringing forward this Bill and applaud the intention to give a stronger statutory position for victims of crime, especially in relation to the code and the role of the commissioner. The noble Baroness spoke of the “dignity and respect” with which we should treat the victims of crime. In my capacity as Bishop to Her Majesty’s Prisons, I often find myself in conversations about treating with dignity and respect the perpetrators of crime. It seems obvious that we should accord at least the same to victims of crime. In the context of this debate, I am proud that my diocese has become the first English diocese formally to sign a partnership arrangement with the White Ribbon campaign in relation to male violence against women and recruiting of champions. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester welcomes Bill on victims of crime and reporting abuse”

Bishop of Rochester supports Bill on status of EEA Nationals in UK

17.10 Rochester3On 19th July 2019 the House of Lords debated at Second Reading the EEA Nationals (Indefinite Leave to Remain) Bill, introduced by Lord Oates. The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, some hundred yards down the road from my cathedral in Rochester there is an establishment known variously as La Providence or the French Hospital. It is an alms house-type foundation established for those of Huguenot descent. After it was bombed out of its previous premises in the 1940s, a predecessor of mine, the late Bishop Christopher Chavasse, who was himself connected with that community, found premises for it in Rochester—and that is where it remains. That building, which I walk past several times a week, is for me a kind of visual reminder of the spirit of generous welcome shown to that earlier generation of European migrants.

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Bishop of Rochester – national conversation with unifying narrative needed to overcome toxic public debate

On 9th May 2019 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Harris of Haringey, “to move that this House regrets the conduct, and toxicity, of debate in public life; of the divisions in society which result from that; and calls on Her Majesty’s Government to take steps to address such divisions.” The Bishop of Rochester spoke in the debate and a transcript is below. The Bishop of Leeds also spoke in the debate and his speech can be read here:

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I join other noble Lords in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Harris, for bringing forward this debate and for his characteristically robust, thoughtful, clear and evidenced introduction. I also thank other noble Lords for their contributions. I look forward to reading in the Official Report what the noble Lord, Lord Parekh, has just said, because there is a lot to reflect on.

Others have spoken from these Benches in recent months on this and related matters, referencing a number of scenarios which have given rise to language and expression that cause hurt and offence and do no credit to our public life. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leeds will, I understand, speak later in this debate about the power and importance of language in our public discourse. My contribution, which I hope will be brief, is to raise a question about one part of the context in which such harmful, toxic, destructive and even violent expression may come to flourish.

The phrase attributed to Aristotle about nature abhorring a vacuum has many applications. I suggest that one of the reasons for this flourishing of destructive and harmful conduct and debate may be that these things are rushing in to fill a vacuum.

Bishop of Rochester suggests shared learning forum to improve diversity in public appointments

On 9th May 2019 Lord Holmes of Richmond asked the Government “what steps they are taking to increase diversity in public appointments”. The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I am conscious that these Benches may not embody everyone’s image of diversity. None the less, I was pleased to lead the final stages of the process by which these Benches were opened to women as well as men, although none of them is here today. I have also been chairing for the last five years a process within the Church where we are tasked with increasing the proportion of BME people in senior roles in the life of the Church. We have made some modest progress, though there is lots still to do. Nevertheless, we have learned that while legislation and processes are important, as has been indicated, so are culture, attitudes and bias. I wonder whether the Government might welcome some kind of forum within which quasi-public bodies might engage with public bodies so that we can share our learning on these matters. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester suggests shared learning forum to improve diversity in public appointments”

Bishop of Rochester welcomes protective security funding for places of worship

17.10 RochesterOn 7th May 2019 Baroness Williams of Trafford repeated a Statement by the Home Secretary on protective security funding for places of worship. The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, responded to the statement: 

The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I too am very grateful to the Minister for repeating the Statement from the other place. From these Benches, I welcome it and echo some of the things that have already been said by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, not least about the wider context, although I recognise that this Statement has a limited focus.

The Minister has already observed the tragic events in Christchurch, Sri Lanka and San Diego. It seems to me that one of the learnings from those events is the impossibility of predicting where, or even when, a dreadful event might occur. With that in mind, I am particularly grateful for the broadening of the eligibility criteria in relation to potential grants from the fund, whereby it is now not necessary for places of worship to have experienced an incident of hate crime in order to make an application. That is an important loosening around the unpredictability of where things might occur.

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Bishop of Rochester highlights scandal of working homeless

On 20th December 2018 the Government responded to an urgent question on homelessness. The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, asked a further question, about people who are working but who are homeless: Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester highlights scandal of working homeless”