Today the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group (APPHG) held its inaugural meeting following the general election, elected officers to direct the trajectory of the Group for the year ahead, and launched a new report on the subject of religion in Parliament.
The APPHG re-elected Crispin Blunt MP and Baroness Bakewell as Chair and Co-Chair of the Group. The following officers were also elected as Vice Chairs of the Group: Clive Lewis MP, Tommy Sheppard MP, Jeff Smith MP, Lord Warner of Brockley, Lord Taverne of Pimlico, Lord Garel-Jones of Watford, Baroness Burt of Solihull, and Viscount Ridley. Baroness Massey of Darwen was elected as Secretary and Lord Dubs as Treasurer.
It also voted to formally approve the release of Time for Reflection: A report of the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group on religion or belief in the UK Parliament, which was prepared by the APPHG in the last Parliament and calls for a major rebalancing of the relationship between religion and state in the UK Parliament.
Following the election of officers, Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson summarised the successes of the APPHG in the last year, including members’ interventions on humanist marriage, helping transform the Home Office’s treatment of non-religious asylum seekers, and helping bring about legal abortion and same-sex marriage reform in Northern Ireland.
The meeting then heard from Cordelia Tucker O’Sullivan, primary author of Time for Reflection, who delivered an overview including of its recommendations, and from Dr Bob Morris from the University College London Constitutional Unit (although speaking in a private capacity) who welcomed the report and discussed wider considerations around Lords reform. Baroness Burt shared her moving perspective of facing religious discrimination in Parliament, having experienced this on both sides of the House as an MP and member of the House of Lords, and highlighted issues including the need to repeal the automatic rights for 26 bishops to sit in the House of Lords and for inclusive pastoral support for all in the UK Parliament. Following the speakers, APPHG members engaged in lively debate about the way forward which will inform the Group’s activities on this subject in the year ahead.
Humanists UK Director of Policy and Public Affairs Richy Thompson said:
‘The All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group is full of brilliant and dedicated Parliamentarians, and we are proud to once again act as Secretariat to this group, as we have for over sixty years.
‘The APPHG is already off to a flying start having already launched its report on reforming the place of religion or belief in Parliament. We look forward to supporting non-religious and other MPs and peers to take action on our core issues, including ensuring Parliament is inclusive of all regardless of religion or belief, campaigning for legally recognised humanist marriages in England and Wales, and pressing for much-needed assisted dying reform in the year ahead.’
For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Press Manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group is a cross-party group of Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords of all the main parties, including members from the Crossbenches in the Lords. The Group has grown rapidly, from its first beginnings in the 1960s and now has over 110. The Group is not part of Humanists UK, but Humanists UK provides the secretariat for the Group.
Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.