On Tuesday 9th October 2018 the House of Lords debated the Government’s Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill. The Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, spoke in the debate to seek assurances on freedom of thought and expression:
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, first I too want to say how much I am looking forward to the maiden speeches of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Garnier, and the noble Lord, Lord Tyrie. The noble Lord, Lord Tyrie, will be well acquainted with these Benches, having worked closely with my most reverend brother the Archbishop of Canterbury on the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, which the noble Lord so ably chaired.
In opening this debate, the Minister spoke powerfully and movingly about the terrible consequences of terror, the effect on people’s lives, the suffering that is lifelong for people. It is in this context that I broadly welcome the Bill. I certainly recognise the difficulty of drafting and steering this kind of legislation. It is to walk something of a tightrope, as described by the noble Lord, Lord Marks. The current national security situation is complex, as is seen so sharply in our news headlines this morning. At Second Reading, I would like us to stay alert to that tightrope we walk, to proportionality and, perhaps especially, to the danger of unintended consequences. Continue reading “Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill – Bishop of Newcastle raises freedom of religion and expression”
On 9th July 2018 Baroness Williams of Trafford repeated a Statement updating the House on the Amesbury incident which the Home Secretary had previously made in the Commons. The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, responded to the Statement:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, as it happens, over the weekend I was talking to a member of the clergy who is a resident of Salisbury. I simply asked her how it feels, and she said, “Grim and deeply disturbing”, because of the second occurrence. She said that people were just beginning to come out of this and now they do not know how to react. She was talking about community life, businesses and so on. In exploring support for businesses, does the Minister understand that this feels like a double hit for people in Salisbury, and that community encouragement and up-building is needed, not simply economic support? I ask this largely in the name of my noble friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Salisbury. Continue reading “Bishop of Durham says support for community in Salisbury and Amesbury as important as support for local economy”
On 27th June 2018 Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked an Oral Question in the House of Lords: ‘To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in pursuit of their anti-terrorism strategy, they will require preaching in mosques and teaching in madrassas in England and Wales to be monitored for hate speech against non-Muslims.’ The Archbishop of York, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu, followed up with a point about collective responsibility for resisting terrorism:
The Archbishop of York: My Lords, does the Minister agree that pursuing anti-terrorism is the business not just of the Government but of all citizens of the United Kingdom? Therefore, if noble Lords do not mind an African saying, when two elephants fight, or make love, the grass gets hurt—what will not work is either side of the House thinking that it is doing a better job than the other. All of us are involved in trying to resist terrorism; it does not matter where it comes from. It is the duty of every citizen to pursue that particular reality. I lived in Uganda at one time when Idi Amin could just pick on anybody; it did not matter who you were or what you believed. What is critical, when we as citizens of the nation do not assist in the whole question of overcoming terrorism, is that it would be a mistake to think that it is purely an Islamic question. Continue reading “Archbishop of York highlights importance of collective responsibility in resisting terrorism”
On 5th December 2017 a Government statement was repeated in the House of Lords about David Anderson’s report on recent terrorist attacks in London and Manchester. The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, from these Benches I very much welcome the Statement and the sentiments in it, particularly its focus on the direct victims. However, there are also indirect victims of such attacks—those who are made to feel more afraid simply to go about their daily lives. That includes a lot of people, not least many in our Muslim communities. Does the noble Earl agree that, as a result of these attacks, it is very important to do all we can to increase the feeling of safety among those in Muslim communities, seeing them not just as people who must be targeted for information but as people who are part of our wider community and whom we must cherish and care for, helping them to feel safe and welcome? This includes not just community policing but many other areas of work with them, and it includes a very strong focus on dealing with right-wing extremism, which would threaten those communities. Continue reading “Bishop of Peterborough says response to terror attacks must include making Muslim communities feel safe and welcome”
On 18th July 2017 the Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, received written answers from Government to questions about blasphemy laws and violent extremism in Indonesia.
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to assist the government of Indonesia in strengthening Indonesia’s resilience to violent extremism. Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry asks Government about violent extremism and blasphemy laws in Indonesia”
On Thursday 23rd March 2017 the House of Lords paid tribute to those who had been killed and injured, and to first responders, during the previous day’s terror attack in Westminster. The House also heard a repeat of the statement given in the House of Commons by the Prime Minister. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby spoke of the “deep values” in British society that give us the strength to persevere:
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I associate myself with the thanks and tributes paid today, and especially our prayers and thoughts for PC Keith Palmer and for his family. I also acknowledge the work of so many members of the public who pitched in and did what they needed to do when faced with things for which they had never been trained or prepared. Continue reading “Archbishop responds to terror attack on Westminster”
On 13th July 2016 the House of Lords debated a Government motion “That this House takes note of the Government’s assessment in the 2015 National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review that the United Kingdom’s continuous at sea nuclear deterrent should be maintained.” The Bishop of Chester, Rt Revd Peter Forster, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, the issue before the other place is the procurement of four new submarines, but it is not unreasonable at this time to contribute to our ongoing reflection upon why we have a nuclear deterrent at all. It is often said that countries and armies tend to prepare to fight the war that was fought 50 or more years ago without noticing how the world has changed, not least technology. Indeed, our recollection of the Battle of the Somme—when infantry charged machine guns—brings that rather vividly to mind. Continue reading “Bishop of Chester questions case for renewal of Trident nuclear deterrent”