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 As is usual practice they were withdrawn after debate and may be returned to at a later stage: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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On 5th September 2015 a Government statement on the nerve agent attack in Salisbury was repeated in the House of Lords. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, will the Minister be able to comment on a question that hangs over all this—why the Skripals and why now? It is a matter of timing. Can a statement be made on that at some point because clearly there is a story behind it? My main concern is that we have heard this afternoon that a nerve agent—a chemical weapon—was brought through a civilian airport. I cannot even get a tube of toothpaste through, yet they managed to bring this through and then leave it behind rather indiscriminately, if that is what happened. What are the implications for airport security? Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds asks about airport security in light of Salisbury nerve agent poisoning”
On the 10th July 2017, the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell spoke in Baroness Vere of Norbiton’s debate: That this House takes note of the current security situation in the United Kingdom. The Bishop used his speech to argue for a view of security that focused on cultivating harmonious relationships as well as prevention.
Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, building on that, I will try to be a little hopeful. I too thank the Government for the opportunity to discuss these matters. First, we need to acknowledge that in the light of these horrors we are right to identify security as a primary aim of government. In a debate such as this, we also need to make sure that we pay proper tribute to our Armed Forces, police, prison staff and many others who daily face danger and harm—and of course, as we know, who even lay down their lives, such as PC Keith Palmer.
Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford – for better national security invest in wells as well as walls.”