In the House of Lords on 18th October 2021 Peers paid tribute to Sir David Amess MP, following his tragic murder. The Archbishop of York, Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, spoke of his friendship with Sir David during his time as Bishop of Chelmsford, how his faith motivated him, and of the need for more kindness in politics.
My Lords, on behalf of the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, the bishops of the Church of England and, I am sure, all Christian people and all people of good will, I am here to offer the family of Sir David Amess and the constituents of Southend West my condolences and the assurance of the prayers of the Church. I am very grateful for all that has been said thus far, and, certainly, we on these Benches wish to associate ourselves with those comments.
As was said, I considered David Amess a friend. Leigh-on-Sea is my home town. Southend—now the city of Southend—is where I grew up. This appalling murder happened in streets I know well, just around the corner from where my mum lives. It was characteristic of David, whom I got to know during my time as Bishop of Chelmsford, that, when I was appointed, he was one of the first people to congratulate me. When I was translated to York, it was the same. He thought this was another way of putting Southend on the map: a boy who went to a secondary modern school in Southend was now the 98th Archbishop of York. He was so pleased. Last time I saw him, he asked to have his photograph taken with me.
I reckon that, now Southend has been declared a city today, forget about a statue of Vera Lynn at Dover; we are going to put a statue of David Amess at the end of Southend pier. He was—and I know this from the work I did with him—a deeply committed constituency MP. He exemplified what that means. He knew the people he served, and in the constituency he was completely colour blind to political difference. He just served the people he had been elected to serve.
But I want to say this: hate cannot win. It may score many points and land many punches, but it cannot win, because, trusting no one, hate just ends up with endless divisions and suspicions, and, in the end, it just consumes itself. Sorry—I am going to go into sermon mode just for a moment, sisters and brothers. Love is always stronger; it is always more tenacious; its patient endurance draws us together. By love, I mean not just warm feelings of well-disposed good will but that deeply committed determination to get up each morning and live what you believe in, put the needs of others before yourself and recognise our common humanity. That is where the word “kindness” comes from: it is linked to the word “kin”. It means that we belong to each other; we serve the common good; we know that our best interests are absolutely interwoven with those of others, and they lead to those things, those values and that vision, that are worth living for.
This love is what we on these Benches see in Jesus Christ. It was that love and faith in Christ within the community of the Church that was the source and sustenance of David Amess’s vision and values. It was this that enabled him to reach across party-political divides, get on well with everyone and exhibit a good-humoured generosity and a kindness that is, sadly, often woefully lacking in public and political discourse today.
These same values, this same vision, are held in our democracy. They require us to listen and to love one another, especially those with whom we differ and disagree, and to attend to each other’s needs and serve the common good. They call us to speak kindly of each other, to think well of each other and to act generously. It is because Sir David Amess so exemplified those things, regardless of what his politics happened to be, that we are so easily able to come together and remember him, to esteem his contribution to public life and to mourn his death—but not be defeated by the hatred that killed him.
I will conclude with some words that I wrote in a newspaper yesterday about his faith:
“David Amess didn’t wear his faith on his sleeve. He wore it in his heart.”
That is the best place for faith because, when you wear it in your heart, it shapes everything.
On 25th May 2021 the former Archbishop of York, Rt Revd John Sentamu was introduced to the House of Lords to sit as an independent Crossbench Peer. He will sit under the title Lord Sentamu of Lindisfarne in the County of Northumberland and of Masooli in the Republic of Uganda.
12.08pm The right reverend and the right honourable John Tucker Mugabi Sentamu, having been created Baron Sentamu, of Lindisfarne in the County of Northumberland and of Masooli in the Republic of Uganda, was introduced and took the oath, supported by Baroness Hale of Richmond and Lord Popat, and signed an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct.
On Thursday 22nd October 2020 the Archbishop of York was reintroduced to the House of Lords. Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell had previously served as the Bishop of Chelmsford. Hansard records the event as follows:
Thursday 22 October 2020
The House met in a hybrid proceeding.
12.00 pm, Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of London.
On 6th May 2020 the Archbishop of York, Most Revd John Sentamu, led a debate in the House of Lords on the motion that the Lords “do consider the case for increasing income equality and sustainability in the light of the recent health emergency.” The Archbishop started the debate, and summed up afterwards, referring to many of the speeches made by other Members over the course of nearly three hours. Amongst the other speakers were the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishops of Durham and Derby. The entire debate can be read in Hansard here, and the Archbishop’s opening and closing speeches are reproduced below:
Income Equality and Sustainability: Motion to Consider
Moved by The Archbishop of York, That the Virtual Proceedings do consider the case for increasing income equality and sustainability in the light of the recent health emergency.
The Archbishop of York: My Lords, I am grateful to the Government Chief Whip and the usual channels for granting me this opportunity to move a Motion that is very dear to my heart—thank you. I commend Her Majesty’s Government for their rapid action in the current crisis and, through unprecedented public spending, working to protect jobs and avert millions of redundancies. It is in the light of this recent health emergency that I beseech your Lordships’ House to take note of the case for increasing income equality and sustainability.
Last Thursday, the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett of Manor Castle, opened a Question for Short Debate on Covid-19 and people living in poverty. I believe that what we are doing today has the potential to make a lasting difference. As Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, said:
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”
As long ago as 28 April 1909, Winston Churchill, then president of the Board of Trade, gave a speech in the other place in which he said:
“It is a serious national evil that any class of His Majesty’s subjects should receive less than a living wage in return for their utmost exertions.”—[Official Report, Commons, 28/4/1909; col. 388]
On 28th January 2020 the Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, asked a question she had tabled to Government, on support for looked after and adopted children. She and the Archbishop of York, Most Revd and Rt Hon John Sentamu, asked follow-up questions and the transcript is below:
Looked-after and Adopted Children Question
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to review support for children looked after by local authorities and those children who are adopted.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education (Lord Agnew of Oulton) (Con): My Lords, we are committed to undertake a review of the care system. We are already implementing substantial reforms to improve outcomes for this most vulnerable group of children and young people. Alongside the reforms, we are providing councils with an additional £1 billion for adult and children’s social care in every year of this Parliament. The review will allow us to go further in ensuring that children and young people have the support that they need. Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester and Archbishop of York ask Government about support for looked after and adopted children”
In the House of Lords on Monday 20th January 2020, Lord Foulkes asked a Private Notice Question, “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration is being given to relocating the House of Lords out of London”, following media reports that the Government was considering relocation of the House to York. The Bishop of Chelmsford (and Archbishop of York designate) Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, followed up –
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are urging voters to “honour the gift of truth” as they engage in political debate in the run-up to the General Election.
In a pastoral letter to the Church of England, Archbishops Justin Welby and Dr John Sentamu encourage people to play their part in the political process but – crucially – to “leave our echo chambers” to listen to those with different viewpoints.
The letter, which the archbishops hope will be shared in local churches during the campaign, calls on people to engage responsibly on social media and uphold the Christian values of truth, humility and love.
“As followers of Jesus Christ each of us is called to honour the gift of truth, both to speak it and to seek it,” they write.
On 31st October 2019 Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman answered questions from MPs for the last time as Second Church Estates Commissioner. Tributes were paid to her, and questions were answered on climate change, archbishops, reconciliation, telecommunications, thefts, women in prison, marriage, and digital evangelism. This was also the same day that the Speaker and his Chaplain were due to retire. A full transcript follows:
The right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—
Climate Change: Investment in Companies
Michael Tomlinson (Mid Dorset and North Poole) (Con): What progress the Church of England has made on holding the companies in which it invests to account on climate change. 
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Dame Caroline Spelman): Since this is my last set of oral questions, I would like to record my heartfelt thanks to my small team of staff, and especially my constituency secretary, who has faithfully served me for 20 out of 22 years. We often forget that our staff are on the frontline of much of the abuse that we receive, and I want to record my admiration for their fortitude. I also thank the amazing staff I have had to support me in this role, particularly Simon Stanley at Church House.
In tribute, Mr Speaker, I thank you for your kindness and courtesy—unfailingly so, and especially at times of personal duress. I single out your inspired choice of Speaker’s Chaplain, who has enriched the spiritual life of this place—but more of that later.
The Church of England Pensions Board has tabled a shareholder resolution ahead of the annual general meeting of BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, on 7 November this month. It asks BHP to suspend its membership of trade associations that are not lobbying in line with the climate change agreement. This is just the latest example of the Church Commissioners using their shareholder position to change company policy in line with the climate change agreement.