On 21st July 2022 the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, Rt Revd Paul Williams, delivered his maiden speech in the House of Lords during Lord Alton’s debate, “that this House takes note of (1) the impact of the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports on food insecurity in developing countries, and (2) its contribution to the danger of famine in (a) the Horn of Africa, and (b) East Africa.”
The Lord Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham (Maiden Speech): My Lords, I begin by thanking fellow Members for their gracious welcome and expressing my gratitude to the parliamentary staff and officers who have so kindly supported my introduction to the House.
It is an honour to make this maiden speech in such an important debate, which focuses so clearly on the needs of the most vulnerable: those affected by the sudden steep rise in global food prices resulting from Russia’s terrible war and blockade in Ukraine. I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Alton, both for bringing this debate to the House and for his long record of campaigning advocacy on behalf of those whose suffering is too often overlooked.
The Bishop of Leeds asked the following question on 7th July 2022, during Lords exchanges on the Prime Minister’s meeting with Alexander Lebedev:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, if I am right, the visit to Alexander Lebedev came in the wake of the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury, which involved two Russian agents bringing, effectively, a chemical weapon through Heathrow, a commercial airport. Can the Minister give any assurance it could not happen again, and what assessment have the Government made of that episode and the dangers it caused for potentially thousands of people?
On 4th July 2022 the House of Lords heard the repeat of a statement made by the Prime Minister in the Commons, on the Commonwealth Heads of Government, G7 and NATO meetings.
The Lord Bishop of Manchester: My Lords, we on these Benches support Her Majesty’s Government in their response to President Putin’s invasion, as I am sure will our General Synod which is debating the matter this weekend. Aggression must not be rewarded. My right reverend friend the Bishop of St Albans has previously assured this House that the Church stands ready to use its reach and connections to pave the way to a solution, and we also stand ready to use our extensive links to humanitarian organisations.
May I therefore ask the Minister to expand on what is being done to ensure UK aid support reaches all those who need it, particularly through the informal volunteer groups, which have so far received only 0.24%—less than £1 in every £400—of direct donations, and to consider how faith organisations, including the Church, can pay their full part?
On June 23rd 2022 MPs put questions in the House of Commons to the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP:
Persecution of Christians Overseas
Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
What steps the Church is taking to support the implementation of recommendations in the final report of the Bishop of Truro’s review on persecution of Christians overseas. (900659)
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Andrew Selous): The murder of 50 Catholics in church this month in Ondo state in Nigeria and the ongoing murders for alleged blasphemy are a stark reminder of why the Church of England stands foursquare behind the implementation of the Bishop of Truro’s review.
On 10th March 2022 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered questions from MPs in the House of Commons, freedom of religion or belief overseas, family hubs, supporting Ukrainian refugees, affordable housing, the Queen’s platinum jubilee, and the Commissioners’ Scottish landholdings.
Global Summit: Freedom of Religion or Belief
Caroline Ansell (Eastbourne) (Con): What role the Church of England has in supporting the global summit to promote freedom of religion or belief, to be hosted by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in July 2022. (905957)
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Andrew Selous): The Church is making every effort to support that important summit to promote freedom of religion or belief. A debate was held on the lack of global religious freedom at last month’s General Synod and I am pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce), in her capacity as the Prime Minister’s special envoy for freedom of religion or belief, was able to brief Synod members on the huge cost of following Jesus in many parts of the world.
On 19th May 2021 the Bishop of Leeds spoke in the House of Lords in the fifth and final day of debate on the Queen’s Speech. He focused on ethics, the EU and Russia.
My Lords, I am grateful to follow the Noble Lord Campbell and for the Noble Lady the Minister’s comprehensive and ambitious speech introducing this debate. I welcomed the Government’s Integrated Review as a necessary attempt to hold together the diverse interests, challenges and opportunities facing the UK in the future.
One of the things I learned in my early career as a linguist at GCHQ was that words and assumptions need to be interrogated as they can be used to obscure reality. For example, in our context, an increased “cap” on nuclear weapons tells us nothing about numbers that might actually be intended or the rationale for them.
So, I think it was remarkable that reference in the Review to the European Union was almost completely missing. Now, this had been widely predicted as it seems that, for the Government, any such reference might be heard as an ideological Remainer capitulation. Yet, the rationale for a tilt towards the Indo-Pacific only makes sense to a point: it is not just what we are “tilting towards” that matters, but also what we are “tilting away from” that has to be considered.
On 2nd and 3rd December 2020 the Bishops of St Albans, Coventry, Southwark and Leeds received written answers to seven questions about armed conflict, peace, reconstruction and religious and cultural sites in Nagorno Karabakh:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have received from the Armenian diaspora about (1) the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and (2) the ceasefire agreement brokered by the government of Russia. [HL10643]
On 20th July the Rt Revd Nick Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, received a written answer to a question on the Intelligence and Security Committee and publication of its report on Russia. The question was tabled before the reconstitution of the Committee.
The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: HL6521 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord True on 29 June (HL6029) and the remarks by the Home Secretary on 22 June that “appointments to the [Intelligence and Security] Committee are taking place and an announcement will be made in due course on when that will be coming forward” (HC Deb, col 1085), when they estimate they will be able to make the announcement about the appointment of the Intelligence and Security Committee; and what steps they are taking to ensure that the Committee is (1) appointed before Parliament adjourns for the summer recess, and (2) able to publish the report Russia, sent to the Prime Minister on 17 October 2019.
On 29th June the Rt Revd Nick Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, received a written answer to a question from Lord True on the redacted report of the Intelligence and Security Committee.
Lord Bishop of Salisbury: HL6029 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to facilitate the publication of the redacted report of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, Russia, sent to the Prime Minister on 17 October 2019.
On 19th April 2018 the House of Lords debated a Government motion “that this House takes note of the national security situation.” The Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, took part in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the Minister for bringing this debate forward at this pivotal time in our national security and foreign policy. It is a great honour to follow the noble Lord, Lord Owen, and other distinguished speakers with their panoramic perspectives. Given the timing of the debate, I shall offer some reflections on the Syrian situation, both the danger it represents for national security and the role it might play in recasting relations with Russia, even in the stressful times described so clearly by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Stirrup. Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry urges more effort on diplomatic solution to conflict in Syria”