On 9th September 2022 the House of Lords met to hear tributes to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, whose death had been announced. The Bishop of St Albans paid tribute:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I join in with the tributes to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth for the extraordinary reign we have observed, for which we pay tribute today.
Like many noble Lords, I too have my anecdotes. I remember going up to stay in Sandringham for the weekend. Coming from a farming background, I had expressed interest in her racehorses and she was very keen to show them to me, so I was summoned outside. There was a Range Rover there, and she came out very brusquely and shouted across to me, “Jump in, Bishop; I’m driving”. She set off at a rate of knots, and I was holding on for dear life. She taught me a great deal about prayer at that point, which is perhaps why she was called Defender of the Faith.
The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 5th September 2022:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked Her Majesty’s Government when they last had contact with Shaun Pinner, currently being held by the Donetsk People’s Republic; what assessment they have made of his health; and what conversations are ongoing concerning his release.
On 21st July 2022 the House of Lords debated the impact of the blockade of Ukrainian ports on food insecurity in developing countries. The Bishop of St Albans spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Alton, for his brilliant introduction to this debate. I also welcome my colleague, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, and congratulate him on his maiden speech. I know he has huge experience to offer to this House and will be drawing not least on the huge successes and, indeed, some of the challenges of the east Midlands, where he is based. We look forward to hearing much more from him.
Next Tuesday we will start the next Lambeth Conference. Hundreds of bishops are gathering from all round the world. They are flying into this country as we speak, including many bishops from the whole of Africa and parts of Asia, and we are going to be meeting many of these people who, in their dioceses, are facing the famine that is now ahead of us. We hope that will be an opportunity to get first-hand reports of what the challenges are and how we might be able to try to respond, to alleviate some of the terrible suffering facing our world and particularly the Horn of Africa.
The Bishop of St Albans asked the following question on 21st July 2022:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked: My Lords, it is right that we think about the effect on human beings, but these high temperatures have a huge effect on our agricultural sector, particularly on livestock. Extreme heat reduces milk yields from cattle, for example, and reduces fertility and increases the number of miscarriages.
What work is being done by government scientists to prepare our agriculture industry if this continues, and what advice is being given in the short term to help our first-class British agriculture sector adapt and continue to provide the food as it does so well?
The Bishop of St Albans asked the following question on Sri Lanka’s relationship with China, on 21st July 2022:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked: whether Her Majesty’s Government agree with those commentators who believe that part of the issue has been an overclose relationship between the ruling family and China? Does the Minister also agree that this is a wake-up call to those countries which are now being courted by China? What else can Her Majesty’s Government do to increase our soft power among the Commonwealth at this time when people are vying for power in this volatile part of the world?
The Bishop of St Albans asked the following question during a debate on the Gambling white paper on 20th July 2022:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I declare my interest as a vice-president of Peers for Gambling Reform. We should be shocked at the statistics that the noble Lord, Lord Foster, gave—60,000 young people not just gambling but addicted to gambling.
How many children who should not be gambling at all are caught up in this? This is damaging lives and families every day of the year. Surely we need to take some firm action, such as addressing this ubiquitous advertising on sports occasions which is normalising gambling instead of encouraging people simply to participate and enjoy sport for its own sake. When will the Government take some action on this?
The Bishop of Carlisle spoke in a debate on the Schools Bill in its second day of Report Stage, on 18th July 2022, in support of amendments on home schooling and the home school register. His speech is below, followed by those of other peers:
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, I speak on behalf of my right reverend friend the Bishop of St. Albans, who has two amendments in his name,
Amendments 66 and 94. His name is also listed on Amendments 65 and 66A, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas.
Amendments 65, 66 and 66A continue to take issue with the proposals for details of the means by which a child is being educated to be included on the register. Amendment 66 would replace this with a determination of suitability, and provide for visits by the local authority for determining that suitability to be recorded. However, further to communication with the Department for Education and the Minister, we understand that their interpretation of the word “means” does not relate to the educational content or methods of home educating but simply to the providers of the education, since separate rules for registration will pertain to out-of-school education. We have been informed that this framework will be set out in the future statutory guidance. This is a much more positive interpretation than had previously been supposed, but if this is the interpretation I am not sure why it could not have been contained within the primary legislation rather than prescribed at a later date. Amendment 66A, from the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, would naturally resolve that problem.
On 15th July 2022, the Climate and Ecology Bill, a Private Member’s Bill, was considered at Second Reading in the House of Lords. The Bishop of St Albans spoke in the debate – his speech is below, along with contributions from other peers:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I too thank the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, for this Bill. I know he has made many contributions about diversity in the past. I seem to remember that red squirrels are something we have discussed on a number of occasions, and I am glad he still works on that.
This debate is taking place at a crucial moment in our country’s battle against climate change. Despite the circumstances that have led to a change of Prime Minister, there was at least genuine confidence in the urgency and seriousness with which he was approaching the issue of climate change—he spoke out on a number of occasions. Therefore, it seems all the more extraordinary that, in the current events going on, we are hearing virtually nothing from candidates who want to be the next Prime Minister about this vital area. It is as if the only thing that matters is taxation. Taxation is important for all sorts of reasons, but where are the prophetic voices speaking about where we must be for the sake of vital future generations?