Lancashire Bishop uses House of Lords speech to urge Government to 'heed the north' and end inequality

A senior Lancashire clergyman has used his maiden speech in the House of Lords to urge Government to “heed the voice of the North”.

By Phil Cunnington
Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 3:45 pm
The Bishop of Blackburn, Rt Rev Julian Henderson, gives his maiden speech to the House of Lords. Picture courtesy:
The Bishop of Blackburn, Rt Rev Julian Henderson, gives his maiden speech to the House of Lords. Picture courtesy:

Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, the Bishop of Blackburn, highlighted the problems Blackpool faces with poverty and deprivation, saying Government needs to use its powers “with wisdom” to help end inequality.

He also praised the county of Lancashire for its diversity, beauty and achievements.

Bishop Julian was making his maiden speech in the House of Lords and said he was hoping “to speak in this House for the great people of the North”.

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Bishop of Blackburn Rt Rev Julian Henderson with the writ of summons elevating him to the House of Lords

Despite the ongoing limitations as a result of the pandemic, the Bishop was able to deliver his speech in person in the House of Lords chamber. Maiden speeches take place during debates already scheduled.

Bishop Julian initially gave the oath of allegiance and became one the 26 Church of England bishops in the House of Lords in February of this year.

In his maiden speech, which formed part of the Second Reading on the Trade Bill, Bishop Julian said: “I come first and foremost as a Christian and will seek opportunity to support the convictions and values foundational to our faith in Jesus Christ and to draw attention to those many today around the world who are persecuted for their faith in Him, and to advocate the right for all to enjoy freedom of speech and belief wherever they may live and to do so in peace.”

The Bishop spoke of the remarkable diversity of Lancashire’s communities; its achievements, past and present; the beauty of the landscape and the attraction for tourists – 18 million of whom visit Blackpool every year, for example.

The Bishop continued: “And yet Blackpool includes one of the most deprived wards in the country. And it is for that latter fact that I wish to speak in this debate, to urge the Government, if this bill grants them the powers they are seeking, to hear and heed the voice of the North.

“Talk of a Northern Powerhouse must not be allowed to fade away into the history books, but energise the commitment to improve the infrastructure and economy of the North.

“The impact of Covid 19 has only exacerbated and increased the inequality between rich and poor. Blackburn has an unemployment rate of almost six per cent, much higher than the national average and, according to a recent newspaper report, could be as much as 18 per cent when hidden unemployment is included.

“More than 11 per cent of the Blackpool population are claiming support through welfare payments, the highest in the country. It is statistics like these that require the powers granted by this bill to be exercised with wisdom, as new trade agreements are put in place for the post Brexit era.”

Speaking later, Bishop Julian added: “To be able to represent Lancashire today was a great an honour and privilege.

“Having spoken for the first time in the Lords I now look forward to continuing to be a new voice in Parliament for the County and, in particular, being able to engage in debates from a Christian perspective.”