The House of Lords

Bishop Donald in the House of Lords

The Bishop of Peterborough

Bishop Donald joined the House of Lords in February 2014.

He became one of 26 bishops in the House, who are seen as representing all faith communities and their wider geographical community. He shares, with other bishops, a particular responsibility for being a Church of England spokesperson on prisons and criminal justice, as well as farming and rural affairs.

Reflecting on the role of the Bishops in the Lords, Bishop Donald says: “God is interested in the whole of life. The Kingdom is not just what happens in church, it’s much bigger than that. Bishops speak from a politically neutral position to try and bring the principles of Christianity to every area of life.”

You can read Bishop Donald's spoken contributions to the House of Lords via the UK Parliament website. Speaches form 2017 onwards can be read below.

Proceedings of the House can be viewed live online at

Speech on the proposed merger of the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office 

Bishop Donald took part in a virtual House of Lords debate on 18 June 2020 regarding the proposed merger of the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office.

Bishop Donald’s contribution was as follows:

My Lords, I thank the Leader of the House for answering questions on this matter. On these Benches, we affirm the Government’s right to organise themselves as they think best for the common good. We look forward to greater integration between foreign and development policy and values, and we warmly commend the continued 0.7% commitment. I am grateful to have heard the noble Baroness’s assurance (Baroness Evans, Leader of the House of Lords) that the Government will remain committed to the OECD DAC rules (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee)– it would be lovely to have that repeated. Can we have another assurance that the Government will preserve the primary focus of UK aid as poverty reduction?

You can watch Bishop Donald’s speech (and the response from Baroness Evans) here.

A transcript of the full debate, including Bishop Donald’s speech, can be found here.

Speech on war widows’ pension debate 

Bishop Donald was in the House of Lords on 25th February 2020, and took part in a debate regarding war widows’ pensions. The debate regarded the rights of war widows to payments after they have remarried.

Bishop Donald’s contribution was as follows:

"My Lords, does the noble Baroness (referring to Baroness Goldie, Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence) agree that the scandal of this situation is that it applies only in cases where the incident that caused death occurred between April 1973 and April 2005? Those widowed because of an incident before 1973 or after 2005 do not lose their benefit if they remarry. That is complete nonsense and shameful. Should it not be put right? Furthermore, the noble Baroness has described this payment as a benefit. Can we not describe it instead as compensation? Should not war widows’ pensions be called ‘war widows’ compensation’ so that widows are not subject to this sort of withdrawal?"

A video of Bishop Donald’s speech can be found here.

A transcript of the full debate, including Bishop Donald’s speech, can be found here.

Speech as part of development debate 

“We are called to be gentle with the earth, kind to it in the same way that we are called to be kind and gentle with one another.”

Bishop Donald said these words in a House of Lords debate on 4th November 2019. The House was discussing how the UK can support poorer countries in development which does not harm the environment.

Bishop Donald gave examples from Israel and Rwanda, and called for small-scale projects to be supported as well as larger ones.

A video of Bishop Donald’s speech can be found here.

A transcript of the full debate, including Bishop Donald’s speech, can be found here.

Speech on the effectiveness of the government's Apprenticeship Levy

Bishop Donald is in attendance in the House of Lords this week (Monday 25th to Friday 29th June 2018) representing the Diocese of Peterborough in Parliament. As the designated Duty Bishop, he is also opening proceedings each day by leading the House in prayer.

On Monday, he took part in a debate on the effectiveness of the Apprenticeship Levy introduced by the government in April, which aims to raise £3 billion a year in order to fund the introduction of 3 million apprentices nationwide by 2020.

In response to Viscount Younger of Leckie, Bishop Donald asked: “My Lords, is the Minister aware that for small businesses and voluntary organisations, the process of drawing up the standards is very complicated and time-consuming, that there is little guidance on this and no financial help for it from government, and that since the levy was introduced, the grant for apprenticeships has fallen from £6,000 for an 18-year-old to £2,500 – so the YMCA tells me? That makes it unviable for the YMCA to offer apprenticeships.”

In response, Viscount Younger of Leckie said: “I understand what the right reverend Prelate says. However, we have increased the funding for providers, particularly on the non-levy side. I hope that he can be reassured that small businesses are being helped by our encouraging better providers for them.”

Speech on the former Bishop of Chichester, George Bell

On Monday 22 January 2018 Bishop Donald took part in a debate on the anonymity of dead individuals against whom criminal allegations have been made. In reference to allegations made against the former Bishop of Chichester, George Bell, Bishop Donald said:

“My Lords, this has been a very difficult case, but Bishop Bell is not the only person whose reputation has been severely damaged by such accusations – some are dead and some still alive. I urge the Minister and the Government to take very seriously the call for a major review of anonymity. In all cases where the complainant has a right to be anonymous, there seems to be a case for the respondent also to be anonymous – and in cases until there is overwhelming evidence to suggest guilt, it seems reasonable for people’s reputations not to be damaged in this public way.”

Speech on Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill

On Friday 26 January 2018 the Bishop spoke regarding the ‘Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill’. This was the second reading of the Bill in the House of Lords, and was raised by Baroness O’Loan, who stated that the Bill was designed to “afford protection to those in healthcare who object on grounds of conscience to being asked to participate in end-of-life treatment” – particularly in relation to abortion.

This is what Bishop Donald contributed to the debate:

“My Lords: yesterday, the River Restaurant downstairs helped us to celebrate Burns Night all day. I thoroughly enjoyed the Scotch broth at lunchtime, but I resisted the main course as I was eating out in the evening. I even resisted the whisky bread-and-butter pudding. The main course which I resisted was vegetarian haggis – celebrating Robert Burns in a way that respected the consciences of those who do not want to eat meat. That is a very proper and good thing to do. There is no legal requirement to provide vegetarian haggis, but it was welcome to many and I think that I would have enjoyed it.

Speech on mental health

On 29th June 2017 the Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, spoke during the final day’s debate on the Queen’s Speech, highlighting the need for a more effective approach to delivery of mental health services.  

Here is the full text from the speech.