Exeter's Bishop Robert Atwell is ‘privileged’ to join Lords as he becomes one of 26 religious peers

    Wednesday, November 24th, 2021 10:39am

    By Ollie Heptinstall, Local Democracy Reporter

    Devon’s newest member of the House of Lords “never in a month of Sundays” thought he would enter parliament. The Bishop of Exeter, the Right Reverend Robert Atwell, has become one of the Lords Spiritual – the group of 26 Church of England bishops who, as well as having the same rights as other members, read prayers at the start of each day’s business.

    Devon’s newest member of the House of Lords “never in a month of Sundays” thought he would enter parliament.
    The Bishop of Exeter, the Right Reverend Robert Atwell, has become one of the Lords Spiritual – the group of 26 Church of England bishops who, as well as having the same rights as other members, read prayers at the start of each day’s business.
    Bishop Robert has led the Church of England in Devon since 2014. While that remains his main job, he said being a “voice for our wonderful county” at Westminster will be a “great privilege” despite not being something he ever expected.
    “I was born and brought up in Essex on the edge of east London and went to comprehensive school. If you’d asked me when I was doing my GCSEs that you’ll end up [in the Lords] I would have laughed in your face. Never in a month of Sundays.
    “Which is why it is a great privilege, and actually the extraordinary thing is in the little time – and it really is a little, all of a few days – that I’ve witnessed its workings, I’m amazed by the diversity of the membership of the Lords. The very good gender balance that is here, but also people of a real cross-section and including people of other faiths.”
    Bishop Robert said that climate change will be one of his priorities, and he encouraged the government to make the most of its presidency of the COP26 climate summit until next year’s COP27.
    “People think ‘well it’s all over now, Glasgow’s all over’ but no – it’s only just begun. The United Kingdom is in the chair for a whole year and then we hand over to Egypt, so this is a really important thing for the government to seize the opportunity and to be exercising real international leadership.
    “And, of course, if we’re going to have leadership then it’s important that our own nation should be walking the talk ourselves, and in the end that comes of course down to every single one of us.”
    The future of the unelected House of Lords has been the subject of much debate in the past few years. All three main parties promised reform in the 2010 general election, but planned changes set out in the coalition agreement were later dropped following backbench Tory opposition.
    While the bishop said it was “something for the people of Britain to decide,” he added that the role and makeup of the Lords means there is “a real sense of conversation here – people bringing their knowledge, their expertise and their experience from all different walks of life.”
    “That makes for a very rich mix which therefore I hope will distil some wisdom to the government as its legislators because, as you know, the House of Commons is the place of legislation – the purpose of the House of Lords is to be scrutinising it. And getting that balance right is really important.”
    He also defended the representation of other religions in the chamber, despite the only seats reserved for religious leaders in the Lords being for Church of England bishops.
    Referring to Sikh and Muslim members who sit in the Lords, Bishop Robert said: “Those faith communities are well and truly represented in the House of Lords. And certainly my experience, throughout my ministry, has been that members of faith communities have actually really valued the presence of the bishops in the House of Lords because it’s a sign that faith is taken seriously.”
    On his new role, he added it would also be a privilege “to speak particularly for rural communities and coastal communities who are often undervalued and unnoticed by national government, and if I contribute to their wellbeing in any way, it will be a great privilege and a joy for me.”

    More from Local News

    • Worried Christmas will cost the Earth? Recycle Devon Have Some Top Tips

      Many of us are planning to push the boat out this year and why not?  It’s been a difficult time and we’re looking forward to treating ourselves and others. But whether it’s meals, drinks or gifts, the costs – and the waste – can soon stack up. So if you’re concerned about Christmas expense and excess, you can still treat yourself and your family without it costing the earth. Up until 21st December, Recycle Devon’s “21 Day of Christmas” is sharing a range of daily tips and ideas to help families keep waste and costs to a minimum.

    • Cross-party vote to combat Devon’s housing crisis

      There was cross-party support for a range of measures to try to deal with the growing issue It comes as new figures show house price rises in some parts of Devon are among the highest in the country. At the same time the lack of affordable rental properties means key workers in care, health and education can’t fill job vacancies because they can’t find anywhere to live. And more and more long-term rental properties are being converted to short-term holiday lets or sold off to take advantage of rising prices.

    • Police launch Christmas drink drive campaign with free soft drinks for designated drivers

      The initiative runs from Wednesday 1 December 2021 to Saturday 1 January 2022 and is a modern approach to the annual Christmas campaign.  On the purchase of their first soft drink, drivers will be able to receive a voucher to have their second free of charge at participating venues.  During the month-long operation officers will be raising awareness of the inherent dangers involved in drink driving by encouraging people to take responsibility for their actions this Christmas. Breath tests will also be requested from all drivers who commit a moving road traffic offence, irrespective of wheth

    • Serious collision, Western Way Exeter - Police Appeal for Witnesses

      Police are investigating the circumstances that has led to a pedestrian being hospitalised following a collision in Exeter. At around 11:40pm on Wednesday 1 December, a collision occurred on Western Way, Inner-By-Pass in Exeter between a Red Ford Escort and a pedestrian. As a result of the collision, the pedestrian who is a woman in her 20’s was taken to Derriford hospital with serious leg injuries.

    • “You can make a difference to wildlife” Big Farmland Bird Count organisers tell the UK’s land managers ahead of 2022 event

      The UK’s farmers, gamekeepers and land managers are being urged to get involved in the GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count from 4 – 20 February 2022, and make a crucial difference to wildlife. “2021’s GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count was record-breaking, and we want to thank all those who took part. Now we are challenging the UK’s land managers to beat their own record and make 2022’s count bigger than ever,” said Dr Roger Draycott, organiser and head of advisory services at the GWCT.

    • Public Consultation is being held regarding the Proposed Plans to Restore the Royal Clarence Exeter

      ​​​​​​​Property developer Akkeron Group, on behalf of South West Lifestyle Brands, is launching a public consultation of its plans to restore Exeter’s Grade II listed Royal Clarence, which occupies an important site facing Exeter Cathedral. Proposals have been prepared following more than 12 months of detailed consultation with conservation architects, heritage consultants, Historic England, and Exeter City Council. The £17 million scheme proposes to restore the historic buildings original façade and exterior and would retain as much of the building’s history as possibleProposals have been p

    • Councillor apologises as Executive member tried to pull councillor away at meeting

      A spat at a Teignbridge council meeting which involved one member trying to drag another away has led to an apology two months after the event. In September, a full meeting of Teignbridge District Council descended into chaos in an incident involving Councillors Gary Taylor (Lib Dem, Dawlish South West) and Liam Mullone (Newton Says No, College) during a question on planning procedures.

    • Safety and environmental concerns cited by councillors as Controversial quarry rejected

      A highly controversial 100-acre quarry in Ottery St Mary has been refused by Devon County Council (DCC) following significant concerns surrounding the safety and environmental impact of the project. The decision will come as a delight for campaigners, a headache for the applicant and a surprise to many.  Council officers had recommended approval for the plans which would have seen up to 1.5 million tonnes of sand and gravel dug up at Straitgate Farm on Exeter Road over the course of 10 to 12 years.

    Christmas Advent Calendar 2021


    Tide Times

    Today's Weather

    • Exmouth

      Sunny intervals

      High: 7°C | Low: 3°C

    • Sidmouth

      Sunny intervals

      High: 8°C | Low: 4°C

    • Exeter

      Sunny intervals

      High: 8°C | Low: 4°C

    • Dawlish

      Sunny intervals

      High: 9°C | Low: 5°C

    What's On

    • Karaoke

      Karaoke at The Clinton Arms Every Saturday from 8pm with Dave Commer

      at The Cliton Arms
    • Roald Dahl's MATILDA THE MUSICAL JR.

      EXMOUTH YOUTH THEATRE is proud to present Roald Dahl's MATILDA THE MUSICAL JR. this December at Matthews Hall, Topsham. Rebellion is nigh in MATILDA JR., a gleefully witty ode to the the anarchy of childhood and the power of imagination! This story of a girl who dreams of a better life and the children she inspires will have audiences rooting for the "revolting children" who are out to teach the grown-ups a lesson. Packed with high-energy dance numbers and catchy songs, children and adults alike will be thrilled and delighted by MATILDA JR., the story of the special little girl with an extraordinary imagination. To find out more about EXMOUTH YOUTH THEATRE including how to join, visit www.exmouthyouththeatre.co.uk.

      at Matthews Hall
    • The Real Me

      The welcome come back gig of popular local band The Real Me at ETFC . Plenty of music from the Jam and mod era plus a sprinkle of pumped up Northern soul tunes The band will play after 8 pm. A great way to warm up for Xmas .

      at Exmouth Town Fc