The Diocesan Bishop for The Church of England in Lancashire has just completed a busy period at the House of Lords, following his appointment last year as one of the 26 ‘Lords Spiritual’.
Rt Rev Julian Henderson spoke in a number of debates in a House of Lords chamber, which was busier than on the first two occasions he attended due to the lifting of many Covid restrictions.
In addition, as ‘Duty Bishop’ he also led prayers in the Chamber at the start of each day.
POLICE, CRIME, SENTENCING AND COURTS BILL
The Second Reading of this important Bill took place. Amongst other aspects, the Bill seeks to make provision about collaboration between authorities to prevent and reduce serious violence and to make provision about sentencing, detention, release, management and rehabilitation of offenders.
Bishop Julian chose to highlight a key element he felt was lacking – involvement of faith communities in the consultation process.
He said: “There is an absence of almost any reference to the work of faith communities in several key areas in the Bill … this huge army of volunteers is present and active in nearly all communities.
“The consultation on plans to prevent and reduce serious violence needs to add in faith communities to those already named: education, prison and youth custody. Faith communities are a local source of knowledge and experience.
Bishop Julian gave the example of an incidence of homicide where he said: “The faith sector will most definitely have been caught up in the support and care for family members thereafter, when they conduct a funeral and offer bereavement care.”
The Bishop added faith communities were also involved in various ways regarding rehabilitation of offenders; the referral of offenders; the remand of young people and the management of sex offenders.
“Massive investment is made by all faith communities and specific charities in serving the people most affected by this Bill and that ought to be recognised and included,” he added.
CARBON NEUTRAL TARGETS AND BEHAVIOUR CHANGE
Bishop Julian also contributed to this debate and chose to highlight the need to ensure ‘levelling up’ between the north and south continues to be top of the agenda; in this case in relation to public transport. He linked this to behaviour change and the need to consider and support the poorest 10% in setting future expectations.
Bishop Julian said: “Public transport in the North of the country remains inadequate, particularly between the big cities and most especially for those on low incomes who need it most. It is essential that funding per head on transport infrastructure is, to use Her Majesty’s Government’s own phrase, levelled up.
“How can people be expected to change their behaviour if the opportunity is not given to them to do so?
Without proper and fair investment in greener ways to travel, reliance on road travel will only increase, especially after the pandemic which still impacts numbers who use our trains, trams and buses.
The Bishop added: “When discussing the role behaviour change can play in helping us towards net zero carbon emissions, it is essential that any expectations are aspirational but also realistic.
“It is my fear that the poorest 10% will be not just left behind, but left feeling like they are part of the problem when they would much rather be part of the solution.”