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UK news in brief

23 September 2022

House of Lords official portrait

The Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith

The Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith

Dr Alan Smith to convene the Lords Spiritual

THE Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, has been appointed Convener of the Lords Spiritual by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Dr Smith succeeds the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, who has been Convener since 2015, and retires from his see, after 16 years there, in October (General Synod, 15 July). Dr Smith has entered the House of Lords in 2013 and has spoken in a range of debates since then. He said this week that its bishops offered “a voice not only for faith, but for those on the margins in communities we serve up and down the country through our parish networks”. Archbishop Welby said: “He is an excellent parliamentarian, and has built up a strong track record of pursuing just and important causes.”


National Trust to vote on banking with Barclays

THE National Trust has asked its 5.7 million members to vote on whether it should cease to bank with Barclays because the bank has continued to lend to, credit, and underwrite coal, oil, and gas companies since the Paris Accord. The online poll closes on 28 October, and the Trust is due to announce the result at its AGM on 5 November. Speaking on behalf of the members who proposed the vote, Drew James said this week that the resolution built on the Trust’s decision in 2019 to stop investing in fossil-fuel companies. “Since the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015, Barclays have given £137 billion in loans, credit, and underwriting to companies that extract or exploit coal, oil, and gas, mainly in the energy and power sectors. . . This renders Barclays unfit to be bankers for the National Trust.”


Scotland considers assisted-dying Bill

A BILL that is being brought to the Scottish Parliament to legalise assisted dying in the kingdom is “frankly dangerous” and doctors should be “caring for, not killing” patients, the director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office in Scotland, Anthony Horan, has said. The Office is an agency of the Scottish Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference. Mr Horan said this week that the final proposal for the Bill, tabled by Liam McArthur MSP, “risks undermining the provision of palliative care and undermining efforts to prevent suicide; it will make the most vulnerable people, including the elderly and disabled, feel like a burden, and its safeguards will prove futile. The current law is the safeguard. We should be caring for people, not killing them.” In a public consultation on the proposal, 76 per cent of more than 14,000 respondents supported assisted dying.


Study finds appetite for quality religious journalism

A GLOBAL study, launched yesterday, has found that 63 per cent of people around the world regard high-quality media coverage of faith and religion as important. The Global Faith and Media Study, which surveyed 9395 people and involved interviews with 30 journalists, concluded that reduced budgets and a “fear of getting it wrong” contributed to the marginalisation of religious coverage in newsrooms. The vice-president of the Faith and Media Initiative, Brooke Zaugg, said: “This ground-breaking global study on the attitudes of people, journalists, and editors toward coverage of faith and religion in media will be used as a springboard for positive change.”


UK should lead on climate compensation, says bishop

AN INTERNATIONAL fund should be created to compensate communities in developing countries for the “loss and damage” caused by climate change, the Bishop of Reading, the Rt Revd Olivia Graham, has said. In an article published on the Church Times website this week, she writes that, “as one of the biggest historic emitters”, the UK “must accept the responsibility for the destruction we are causing”. Developing countries, in contrast, have done least to cause climate change, and yet have been harmed “most acutely”. Bishop Graham voiced support for Loss and Damage Action Day, which took place yesterday. www.makepolluterspay.co.uk

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