The House of Lords held four debates yesterday (Tuesday 29 May) before the recess break for the Whitsun and Jubilee bank holidays. The first question for short debate covered the role and contribution of faith communities in Britain and the Commonwealth during the Queen's reign.
Lord Sacks (Crossbench), Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, paid tribute to the Queen. He said that she had guided the nation through 'one of its most challenging transitions into a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-faith society'.
The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke of how 'our political and legal history in this country has become what is as a direct result of a long conversation with the Jewish and Christian intellectual world'. He went on to welcome the work of 'the Department for International Development on protocols for partnership with faith organisations in the field of aid and development' adding: 'The potential here is enormous, and I encourage the government to do all they can to work with the grain of this increasing sharing of our vision for international justice and wellbeing.'
Other members to contribute to the debate included Lord Bilimoria (Crossbench) of Parsi Zoroastrian descent, Baroness Neuberger (Crossbench) Britain's second female Rabbi and Lord Singh of Wimbledon (Crossbench) a practising Sikh and former adviser to the Commission of Racial Equality.
Responding on behalf of the government was Baroness Hanham (Conservative), Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government.