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Church Commissioners

Volume 745: debated on Thursday 22 February 2024

The hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—

World Watch List

9. What steps the Church is taking to support Anglican churches in countries listed in the World Watch List 2024. (901574)

Through the sister Churches of our communion and our linked missionary societies, the Church of England continues to provide both prayerful support and practical assistance to all parts of the Anglican communion where freedom of religion or belief is threatened or impaired. The Church works with our Government, other Governments around the world, and multilateral bodies such as the United Nations to advocate forcefully for freedom of religion or belief.

Following the implementation of much of the groundbreaking Truro review, the UK is now seen as a global leader on religious freedom. However, sadly, persecution is exponentially increasing across the world, so we need to embed that work. Does my hon. Friend agree that, like Governments, religious leaders need to commit to strategic thinking, structural change and the provision of additional resources if together we are to effectively tackle this global scourge?

Indeed I do. On embedding that work, it is good news that my hon. Friend’s International Freedom of Religion or Belief Bill had a successful Second Reading in this House on 26 January, and that it goes to Committee in April. I am glad that the Bill is strongly supported by the Foreign Secretary, and that the Bishop of Winchester has offered to take it forward in the other place; of course, he was the person who wrote the original report. However, my hon. Friend’s challenge is fair. As our Government step up on this global challenge, the Church of England and the Anglican communion need to as well. I will pass her remarks back to Lambeth Palace.

That completes the questions, but I would like to answer Sir Charles. The security of all Members really matters. It is taken very seriously in this House. Work is ongoing, and I am having serious conversations about what we do going forward. I can tell you that we have some of the best people working on it, and I would like to thank them for what they do.