On 26th September 2019 the Minister of State, Department for Exiting the European Union, Lord Callanan, repeated a Government statement on the EU (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019. The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark, asked a follow-up question:
Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I too am grateful to the noble Lord for repeating the Statement and for making and underlining the commitment that the Government will obey the law. May I test that a little further? It seems to me that, in the current very fractious debate, what is needed is to respect the impartiality of those institutions upholding the constitution and the law. Will the Minister counsel his colleagues to use language that is appropriate and not excessive and that reflects respect for our institutions, the taking of personal responsibility and a degree of restraint? When Prayers are said by Bishops in this House, we pray every day for the well-being of all the estates in this realm. We all have a duty to make our own contribution towards that.
On 4th September 2019 the House of Lords considered a motion from the Leader of the Opposition to suspend the usual procedures for the taking of a Bill, in order to enable the House to take all stages of the European Union (Withdrawal) (Number 6) Bill 2017-19 on Thursday and Friday of that week.
A series of amendments were tabled to that motion by those objecting to that procedural change and those who disagreed with the Bill, which had been passed by MPs that day and would require Government to seek an extension of the Article 50 period for the UK to leave the EU.
A series of votes took place throughout the day and late into the night on the amendments tabled and also to bring an end to speeches by Members that were considered attempts to filibuster. A number of bishops took part in those votes, largely on the side of those Peers wishing to see the procedural changes made, and to ensure business could progress.
On 18th July 2019 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Cope of Berkeley (Con) asking Government “what assessment they have made of the government of the United States’ Peace to Prosperity economic plan for Palestine, published on 26 June”. The Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, spoke:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I add my congratulations to those already offered to the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, on this timely and important debate. As many of your Lordships may know, I generally visit the Holy Land twice a year. Each January, I accompany the Vatican’s Holy Land co-ordination group to the area as the sole Anglican bishop. I have experienced much Israeli and Palestinian hospitality down the years. I am only too well aware of the State of Israel’s just concerns for its security and its safeguarding of the holy places of Jerusalem, but I have witnessed Bethlehem walled in on three sides, Palestinian agricultural land divided and appropriated by military structures, and the acquisition of swathes of the West Bank and east Jerusalem for the settlement of Israel’s citizens and the exclusion of Palestine’s.
On 7th May 2019 Lord Dubs asked the Government “what their latest proposals are to reduce the use of plastics.”. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith and the Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, asked follow up questions:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, many consumers are now choosing to use biodegradable bags rather than plastic ones, believing these to be preferable, yet researchers from the University of Plymouth have shown that many of these bags are not in fact biodegradable. Will Her Majesty’s Government undertake to produce clear standards and guidelines so we can be sure that these are biodegradable and improve the environment, and that we are not misled?
On 12th March 2019 Baroness Pidding asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the case for ensuring that prisons are places of rehabilitation.” The Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, given the recent publication by the Ministry of Justice of figures showing a record level of the incidence of self-harm by prisoners, a record level of prisoner-on-prisoner assaults and a 29% rise in assaults on prison staff, will the Minister acknowledge that we need not only a major reduction in the size of the prison population but increases per capita in resources on a scale not yet contemplated by Her Majesty’s Government? This would give rehabilitation the priority that many now see as an absolute imperative. Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark calls on Government to provide more resources for prisoner rehabilitation”