The Bishop of Leeds asked a question about the importance of following international law on 2nd November 2022, during a debate following a government statement on national security:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I really welcome the Statement and the very full answers that the Minister has given. It is very encouraging. However, when the Statement refers to protection that defends our democratic institutions, it is not just external threats: there are internal threats that weaken our defences, such as putting draft legislation into Parliament that threatens to breach international law. If we uphold the rule of law, we cannot continue to do that.
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The Lord Bishop of Leeds asked a question about security breaches during a debate on use of private mobile telephones and email accounts by ministers on Wednesday 2nd November 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I sympathise over the complexity of this matter, particularly given the technological developments, but there is the question of principle, which does not particularly relate to the recent cases cited. Several decades ago, when I was at GCHQ, the slightest security misdemeanour meant that you lost your job. Does that principle—that making a serious security error has consequences and a simple apology will not do—still apply? I cannot think of another circumstance in which an apology would have sufficed.
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The Bishop of St Albans spoke in a debate on security challenges relating to China, on 14th July 2022:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I have spoken on numerous occasions about the ongoing tragedy in Xinjiang province. I have also spoken on various occasions about the worrying issues of surveillance and hacking of businesses and individuals in this country. It is very helpful to hear other noble Lords picking up on some of them. However, in the very limited time I have, I want to make a few comments building on some of those made by the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, about China’s relationship with the Commonwealth. In particular, I want to focus on the soft power which maintains strong international bonds, bolsters our influence in the world and commends our western culture, rooted in an understanding which draws on Christian tradition.
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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?
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On 3rd December 2020 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill 2020 at its Committee Stage. The Bishop of Durham had co-sponsored two amendments aimed at restricting or regulating the use of children as covert agents. The Bishop of Carlisle spoke in his place, in support of the amendments. As is usual practice they were withdrawn after debate and may be returned to at a later stage:
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I speak in support of Amendment 43, in the names of my right reverend friend the Bishop of Durham, the noble Lord, Lord Young, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Chakrabarti and Lady Bull, and Amendment 60, in the names of the noble Baronesses, Lady Young and Lady Hamwee, and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark. As we have heard, both concern the treatment of children.
We should not for a moment underestimate some of the evils in our society that the Government and the forces of law and order are tasked with confronting. Some of those evils involve the abuse of children and vulnerable people, including, as we know, the scourge of county lines drug gangs, sexual predators and traffickers. It does not take much imagination to see how, as a result of this, there is a periodic temptation to use children as covert assets. We must clearly guard against that temptation; as we have already been reminded, our first duty must be to the care and well-being of children. This applies all the more to children who find themselves in vulnerable and harmful situations, such as those used and abused by criminal gangs.
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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.
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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.
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On 15th May 2019, the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Horam, “That this House takes note of the Report from the European Union Committee Brexit: Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations (16th Report, HL Paper 132).” The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Dannatt, has just reminded us that none of us participating in this debate can forget that we will shortly mark the 75th anniversary of what must surely be the most defining day in Europe in living memory: D-day. That has special significance for the city of Portsmouth, and indeed the whole diocese I serve. As a result, we will have the pleasure—I think—of welcoming the President of the United States into our midst as part of the commemorations.
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On 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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On 17th & 20th September 2018 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received written answers from Government to three questions on countering extremism policy:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans:
(i) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the joint statement published by Prevent Watch on 27 July about the Commission for Countering Extremism’s “evidence drive”; and how they intend to respond to the concerns raised in the statement.
(ii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what weight will be given to academic evidence reviewed as part of the Commission for Countering Extremism’s evidence drive compared to evidence from other sources.
(iii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will conduct an independent review of how the Prevent programme is currently operating before placing any additional responsibilities on local authorities as recommended by the Joint Committee on Human Rights in its report, Counter-Extremism, published on 20 July 2016 (HL Paper 39), and since; and if not, why not.
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