The Diocesan Bishop for The Church of England in Lancashire is the newest member of the House of Lords and has thanked the many people across Lancashire who have sent good wishes.
Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, the Bishop of Blackburn, took up his seat as one of the ‘Lords Spiritual’ on February 6.
The Bishop becomes one of 26 Church of England bishops in the House of Lords. He continues as Diocesan Bishop, with Lords responsibilities now forming part of his ongoing workload.
Bishop Julian, pictured recently holding his ‘Writ of Summons’ for the Lords, said: “ I have been very touched by the prayers and good wishes for my introduction into the House of Lords. To be entrusted with this privilege and responsibility is an honour which I take very seriously.
“It will no doubt take some time to become used to the workings of the Lords, to learn how much time I should give to its agenda and what implications there are for us as a Diocese.
“I am looking forward to being a new voice for the County; to engaging in debates on matters of public interest from a Christian perspective and to joining other Lords Spiritual and Lords Temporal in holding the Government of the day to account.”
At an, as yet, unspecified date Bishop Julian will be invited to make his first address (or ‘maiden speech’) to the House.
That speech will form part of a wider debate on the date chosen, so Bishop Julian plans to wait until there is the right opportunity to allow him to speak first on topical matters related to Lancashire.
Subsequently, Bishop Julian will participate in a variety of debates as and when the opportunities arise. As one of the Lords Spiritual, from 2021 onward he will also take turns to be ‘duty Bishop’ in the House twice a year. One of the key tasks of the duty Bishop is the offering of prayers at the start of each Parliamentary sitting day. (The House cannot legally sit without a Lord Spiritual in place and prayers being said.)
Bishop Julian may also represent a particular ‘portfolio’ in due course; in other words, becoming an official spokesperson for the Lords Spiritual on a particular subject aligned to his own expertise and/or interests.
He commented: “While the agenda in the House of Lords will dictate when I give my maiden speech and speak on other matters, I would hope to be able to draw on my experience of being a Bishop in Lancashire and to speak on a variety of topics including rural affairs, homelessness, education, community cohesion, poverty, mental health matters and, of course, the importance of faith in today’s society.
"Lancashire has many vibrant and active faith communities and I hope to be a voice of support for all faiths; in particular the importance of respecting people of faith, their beliefs and their right to hold those beliefs in our free and democratic society.”
Amongst the many congratulations coming in for Bishop Julian have been many from Lancashire parishes, plus schools across the Diocese as well.
The Diocesan Board of Education also asked all schools to pray for Bishop Julian on the special day.
Alan Brindle, Headteacher of Heskin Pemberton's CofE Primary School, was one of many headteachers who responded to the prayer call saying: “This is wonderful news and an amazing honour. Please pass on our congratulations from everyone here at Heskin. Bishop Julian will be in our prayers.”
At the ceremony in the Lords Bishop Julian was supported by members of his family watching from the gallery, including his wife Heather; and on the floor of the House itself by current Lords Spiritual, the Bishops of Carlisle and St Albans.
28/01/2020, updated 11/02/2020