Votes: EU (Future Relationship) Bill

On 30th December 2020 the House of Lords considered the Government’s European Union (Future Relationship) Bill at all stages. Three votes were held on the Bill, in which bishops took part:

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EU (Future Relationship) Bill: Bishop of Southwark welcomes deal, stresses interdependence of people and nations

On 30th December 2020 the House of Lords considered all stages of the Government’s European Union (Future Relationship) Bill. The Bishop of Southwark spoke at Second Reading:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I am glad to follow the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Brockwell, and agree with much of what he said. I congratulate Her Majesty’s Government on achieving a negotiated outcome with the European Union. In doing so, I pay tribute not only to the Prime Minister but to the negotiating team, which bore a weighty burden, the Civil Service support that provided them with necessary expertise and, last but not least, the chief negotiator the noble Lord, Lord Frost.

The wider debate requires a candid and truthful recognition of what has been a complex process, including an explicit acknowledgement that a successful negotiation requires significant compromise. Such truthful recognition makes for good civil discourse. This will be further helped by more accurate language about the good and less good aspects of the package and appropriate scrutiny of detail—sadly not possible today. I hope that the public debate is less about the intangibles of rhetoric and more about the true and honest cost of the investment, outreach and spiritual renewal needed if we are to flourish as a nation state, going forward.

My final point begins with comments from the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams of Oystermouth, recently retired from this House, who, early in the pandemic, spoke of what has become a much wider perception that our lives are bound together with those of every human being on this planet. That, he said, poses “the biggest moral questions”. A more positive focus on our continuing interdependence, not least with other European nations but more widely—globally—would be welcome and herald the future partnerships that are so essential to our national well-being.

Therefore, I hope that, as we consider the Bill and continue the shared endeavour that is our proud national story, we recognise that people and institutions flourish best under relational frameworks and that individualism, freed of obligation or collective provision, will ultimately fail. We are still in the season of Christmas, and the birth of a saviour transcends all national boundaries with a message of peace and good will to all people.

Bishop of Southwark raises housing needs of asylum seekers with disabilities

On 17th December the Bishop of Southwark asked a question during exchanges in the House of Lords on the standard of supported accommodation for those seeking asylum:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark [V]: My Lords, in the light of the recent ruling by the High Court of Justice in London against the Secretary of State, what steps have Her Majesty’s Government taken to review the way in which the Home Office houses asylum seekers with disabilities in order to comply with the judgment of the High Court? The delays in providing accommodation in the cases before the court range from 45 days to nine months.

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Bishop of Southwark asks Government about Covid vaccinations for prison inmates and staff

On 16th December the Bishop of Southwark asked a question in the House of Lords during exchanges following a question about prisoners with Covid-19:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark [V]: Your Lordships will have heard me mention that there are five prison establishments located within my diocese. In respect of one of them, will the noble Baroness join me in paying tribute to the governor of Her Majesty’s Prison Wandsworth, Graham Barrett, who was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his sterling efforts during the Covid pandemic in keeping infection rates so low in the jail—and indeed to all Prison Service staff recognised in this way for achieving so much in such challenging circumstances?
As the noble Baroness is aware from the previous supplementary question, out-of-cell activity in many establishments is now limited to one hour or less in 24. Can she assure the House that such provision will not slip beyond the 24-hour period into longer periods of confinement, which happens when the 24-hour period is variable?
Will any priority be given to rolling out the vaccine to inmates and staff?

 

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Bishop of Southwark asks about support for arts supply chain affected by covid-19

On 15th December the Bishop of Southwark asked a question during exchanges on the the impact of Covid-19 on the cultural and arts sectors:

The Lord Bishop of Southwark [V]: My Lords, will the Minister please comment on what is being done to support the huge supply chain of talent, materials and suppliers for live events and performances?
As the Minister is doubtless aware, there are decades of expertise within these sectors, which also support film production, television and festivals—everything from catering to lighting, scenery, special effects, equipment hire, publicity and venue hire. These are all in danger of being wiped out and will be extremely difficult to re-establish if businesses and freelancers are not supported at this stage.

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Bishops asks about cluster munition use, protection of refugees, cultural and religious sites in Nagorno Karabakh

On 7th December written answers were published to questions from the Bishops of Coventry, Leeds and Southwark on the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh:

Nagorno Karabakh: Cluster Munitions
The Lord Bishop of Leeds:  To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the use, if any, of cluster munitions during the recent conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. [HL10621]

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Bishops asks aboujt conflict, peace, reconstruction in Nagorno Karabakh

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]

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Votes: UK Internal Market Bill

On 9th November 2020 the House of Lords debated and voted on the Government’s UK Internal Market Bill during its Committee stage. A cross-party group of Peers, including the Bishop of Leeds, had tabled motions that all the clauses of Part 5 of the Bill, which covered Northern Ireland, international law, and executive powers,  should not remain in the Bill. These successfully passed by large majorities across two votes. Nine bishops took part in the votes. Continue reading “Votes: UK Internal Market Bill”

Immigration Bill: Bishop of Southwark supports Dubs amendment on child refugees and family reunion

On 10th November the House of Lords considered the Government’s Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill.  Lord Dubs pressed again an amendment on child refugees and family reunion, his earlier amendment to the Bill having been rejected in a vote in the House of Commons. The Bishop of Southwark spoke in support of the amendment. Lord Dubs did not press it to a vote, accepting some concessions from the Government in its place.

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I speak in favour of the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Dubs. In doing so, I speak not only on my account but also in place of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, who is locked down in the north-east and therefore, because of the procedures for consideration of Commons amendments, is unable to speak on this amendment, although that had been very much his intention.

Family life and kin relationships are vital in many parts of the world to ensure survival. Even in the UK, family means the difference between misery, destitution and poor mental health and a life where, even in the most difficult circumstances, there is practical care, support and love. Thus, I, too, welcome the Government’s steps towards ensuring safe and legal routes, including the commitment in case of a no-deal Brexit, to pursue bilateral negotiations on arrangements for family reunion, which I trust they will seek to ensure are equivalent to the Dublin regulations. I welcome the Minister’s commitments and await with interest her further comments following what the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, just said.

However, a step in the right direction is not the end of the journey. Continue reading “Immigration Bill: Bishop of Southwark supports Dubs amendment on child refugees and family reunion”

Votes: Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

On 21st October 2020 three votes were held on the Government’s Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill. Members of the Lords were asked to agree with the decisions of the Commons to reject amendments they had passed to the Bill, or to propose further amendments in lieu of them. Several bishops took part:
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