Labour peer and distinguished supporter of Humanism
Lord Peston founded the economics department at Queen Mary College, London, and advised various government departments and Labour Secretaries of State from the 1960s through to the 1990s. He remains an Emeritus Professor of Economics at the College.
He is an active member of the Parliamentary Humanist Group. He has spoken in the Lords on faith schools (2002), and in July 2001 was one of the signatories to a letter, published in The Independentand also sent to the Cabinet, which urged the Government to reconsider its support for the expansion of maintained religious schools. He asked a question on the teaching of creationism in 2005, describing himself as someone “who regards all religious belief as failing to meet even the most elementary epistemological and deontological criteria”.
He opposed the religious hatred clause in the Terrorism Bill (2001), signed Early Day Motions supporting voluntary euthanasia and a Darwin Day holiday, and has spoken against religious broadcasting (2006) and questioned the privileged position of “faith communities”:
“Lord Peston asked Her Majesty’s Government: Why a committee has been set up to consult ‘faith communities’ on policy making, while non-religious people are not similarly consulted.” (Extract from Hansard, 22 October 2003).