18 November 2009

Churches encourage politicians to prioritise the common good

On the occasion of the State Opening of Parliament, three British Churches are reminding politicians that they still have a duty to work for the benefit of all people.

With a general election looming, political parties are already focusing on their campaigns. But the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church have expressed concern that many of the proposals they welcome in the Queen's Speech may not become law because time is running short.

Speaking on behalf of the Churches, David Bradwell, Public Issues Policy Adviser, said: "Now more than ever we need politicians to work for the common good, and not let party politics and the imminent election distract them from the important work that is before them. I hope they have the courage to do what is right, even if it is not universally popular."

The Churches highlighted key issues in the Queen's Speech such as the Bribery Bill, which will criminalise the bribery of foreign officials in order to get business, and the Cluster Munitions Bill, which the churches are urging the Government to make further progress on. They consider the Constitutional Renewal Bill as an important step towards greater accountability in politics. The three Churches have also urged policy makers to focus their concern on those who made little out of the good economic years so that the public services they rely on are not cut in the bad years.

"As the General Election approaches, it is a good time for churches to think about how they can engage with politics and build relationships with politicians," added David. "Many churches hold hustings meetings during election campaigns, but the election should be seen as the start of a relationship with an MP, and not the end of it. We have a duty to hold politicians accountable for their policies and promises."

Local churches may also be interested to follow the Flood and Water Management Bill, which might be amended to allow community organisations a discount on water rate tariffs.

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