On the 25th February 2016 the House of Lords voted on an amendment to the Government’s Scotland Bill. The Bishops of Bristol and Chester took part.
On 8th December 2015 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Scotland Bill at Committee stage. The Bishop of Chester, Rt Revd Peter Forster, spoke during debate on amendments to the Bill from Lord Norton of Louth and Lord Forsyth of Drumlean.
The amendment from Lord Norton proposed the removal from the Bill of two new clauses to be added to the 1998 Scotland Act, namely:
(1) The Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government are a permanent part of the United Kingdom’s constitutional arrangements.
(2) The purpose of this section is, with due regard to the other provisions of this Act, to signify the commitment of the Parliament and Government of the United Kingdom.
Lord Forsyth’s amendment sought to change the wording of (1) so that it instead read
(1) The Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government are recognised as a permanent part of the United Kingdom’s constitutional arrangements.
The Bishop argued against both amendments on the grounds that they conflicted with settled political reality and would send unwelcome signals. The amendments were withdrawn after debate.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, it is always dodgy for bishops to speak about Scottish matters. The kirk has sometimes considered the possibility of introducing bishops but the one condition it has always applied is that they must not be like English bishops—they must be quite different.
I have some credentials inasmuch as I have had a close association with Scotland for 40 years, since I went to Edinburgh as a student. I have had a house in Scotland for 30 years, I have two Scottish degrees and one Scottish wife, who has kept my feet on the ground over the years. I shall also retire to Scotland shortly, and very much look forward to doing so. Continue reading “Bishop of Chester supports measure in Scotland Bill stating permanence of Scottish Parliament and Government”