An Asian Christian woman living in London blogging about the everyday issues of religion

Monday, 23 January 2012

Bishops in Welfare Reform

Bishops sitting in the House of Lords tonight have put up a super fight for the rights of children in the vote on the Welfare Reform Bill. The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer, is receiving a lot of attention particularly because he has been most vocal about the level of inequality suffered by children living in poverty. The following is an extract from the Guardian blog:

"This amendment is about children, who cannot directly speak for themselves. One of my roles is to speak up for those who have no voice, and that fits in with my own Christian commitment. Christianity is deeply concerned with the way in which we treat others in our society and especially those in most need. And I would also say that from the beginning of the discussion about how to cope with the financial crisis and what cuts we needed to apply, I've always been clear that cuts should be borne by those who can bear them, not by those who cannot."

On the austerity agenda more widely, he says "I believe that the government and parliament have been in a very difficult position in terms of reacting to the crisis and therefore establishing the cuts. I do not doubt that cuts are necessary, but I believe as I said that they should be borne by those that can bear them".

"I think that we need to be very careful in a whole range of areas, of which welfare reform is one, health and social care would be another, issues concerned with legal aid would be another - to make sure that those who most need the provisions which we give as a nation are able to access them."

Whatever you think about the rights and wrongs of having church of England bishops revise legislation, there's no doubt that with John Packer, we're getting our money's worth.


  1. Like you I've been watching this issue closely and wondered just how far the bishops would be prepared to go. To my surprise, they stuck to their guns and one again the government have been defeated.
    In the end I've no doubt that this Bill will be pushed through successfully, but at least the church is for once sticking its head over the parapet.
    There will always be criticism of their "interference", in matters of state, but they're damned if they do and damned if they don't.
    I for one, think this is or should be very much the business of the church.
    If not, what is their role?

  2. The Church cannot win when it comes to public opinion but, thank God, it isn't there to win popular votes but is there to do the right thing.