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Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body

Volume 679: debated on Thursday 10 September 2020

The right hon. Member for East Hampshire, representing the Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body, was asked—

Church Commissioners

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

Overseas Aid and Development

What (a) steps the Church of England is taking and (b) recent discussions the Church of England has had with the Government on overseas aid and development. (905882)

The pandemic has worsened poverty and hunger in many developing countries. In response, the Archbishop of Canterbury has launched the Together In Unity Appeal to help vulnerable communities across the Anglican communion. The Church is in regular contact with Ministers and envoys to discuss a range of development and freedom of religion and belief issues.

I very much welcome the Church’s work in this area. Does the Church share my view that the merger of the Foreign Office with the Department for International Development must not lead to the UK abandoning its commitment to the 0.7% target, and that every penny counted against that target should genuinely be spent on aid and development purposes?

Yes, absolutely. The Church is pleased that the Government have publicly committed both to spending 0.7% of gross national income on aid and to maintaining the OECD definition of overseas development assistance.

Racial Discrimination

If he will publish an update on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s steps to tackle racial discrimination in the Church of England. (905884)

In July, both archbishops launched an anti-racism taskforce to assess progress in implementing past recommendations to the Church in this area. The report will be concluded before the end of the year, and then an archbishops’ commission will be formed to produce recommendations for action on combating racism.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s proactive approach over the summer to address the Church’s issue with racial inequality was welcome. He also commented that the Church was still deeply institutionally racist. Does the hon. Member believe, as I do, that there is a need to address in more depth the history of the Church’s involvement in the slave trade and beyond?

Although the Church has issued a formal apology for slavery and both archbishops undertook a public act of repentance, the Church does still need to be deeply mindful of its involvement in slavery and its more recent completely shameful treatment of Windrush generation migrants, who were, in some appalling cases, asked not to come to Church of England services. We ask forgiveness from those who we have treated so badly.

In order to allow the safe exit of hon. Members participating in this item of business and the safe arrival of those participating next, I am briefly suspending the House.

Sitting suspended.