Freedom of Religion or Belief — [Ms Karen Buck in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 4:09 pm on 1st March 2018.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 4:09 pm, 1st March 2018

Thank you for calling me to speak again, Sir David.

First of all, I thank all right hon. and hon. Members who have made the effort to come along today. Many others wanted to be here but, because of the weather conditions, they had to get home. Some are here because of the weather conditions—they could not get away. [Laughter.] No, that is not fair. They are here because they are interested, which is the main thing.

We have had some magnificent contributions to the debate. I will not give a summary of them, Sir David, because I would not have the time and you would not let me. However, I will just say that there were significant contributions from the hon. Members for Stirling (Stephen Kerr), for Mitcham and Morden (Siobhain McDonagh), for Congleton (Fiona Bruce), for West Dunbartonshire (Martin Docherty-Hughes), for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh), for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs Ellman), for Beckenham (Bob Stewart), for North Tyneside (Mary Glindon), for East Lothian (Martin Whitfield), for Leeds North East (Fabian Hamilton), and for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Martyn Day).

I thank the shadow Minister—the hon. Member for Leeds North East—for summing up so well. It is very hard to follow that act, but I thank him because he is a gentleman with passion.

I say to the Minister that we are very privileged in the all-party group on freedom of religion or belief. Some staff members are here today and the all-party group does so well because of the workers here in Parliament, and because of what they do for the group and stakeholders. Our communication with the Minister has been substantial and it is immensely appreciated by both us and our stakeholders. We recognise in the Minister a man—can I say this?—who has a passion for and interest in this issue. I am minded of a biblical story. I will not go into too much detail, Sir David, but I will just say to the Minister that we are here to “strengthen your arms” and hold them up, if I can use that analogy. Those who know the story—everyone here will—know that it is a very important one.

I will just say thanks again to everyone for contributing to the debate, and finish with a quick quotation from Scripture. It is from James 3:17-18:

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”

I will just say that everyone here today has made the voice of the voiceless heard in this House, and how well they have all done.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House
has considered freedom of religion or belief.

Sitting adjourned.