Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks fails to speak out in Lords

Silence in the House from one of the world's most eloquent religious leaders

By Robyn Rosen, November 18, 2010
Lord Sacks: refused to comment

Lord Sacks: refused to comment

The Chief Rabbi has not made a single speech in the House of Lords since he became a peer more than a year ago, apart from his maiden speech.

Lord Sacks, one of the most eloquent religious leaders in the English-speaking world, was made a life peer on October 27 last year but, according to the politics website They Work For You, he has not spoken in the House since his uncontroversial maiden speech a month later.

In this time, there have been several debates on controversial topics, including Israel, the labelling of kosher meat and universal jurisdiction.

On October 20, 2010, in a question about Israel, Lib Dem peer Baroness Tonge asked what discussions the government had had with Israel over allegations of beatings, threats of rape and electric shocks on children in Israeli prisons.

On November 4, a discussion took place about universal jurisdiction. Baroness Deech said that that the "influence of the British government over Israel has diminished to a very low point, in part because of the apparent hostility attaching to the fact that Israeli officials are unlikely to be able to visit this country without fear of arrest".

In a debate in June about the Gaza flotilla, Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead called Israel's actions "untenable, callous and tragic" and Lord Phillips said that Israel had committed a "systemic humiliation and violence" towards Gazans.

On Nov-ember 1,
Seccombe asked about the government's plans to improve labelling of British foods.

Fellow peer Lord Kalms said: "There has been plenty of opportunities to speak. The last Chief Rabbi, the late Lord Jakobovits, spoke on many occasions and used the House as an excellent forum.

"Perhaps Chief Rabbi Sacks' honorary officers haven't encouraged him and are trying to ring-fence him, maybe for safety reasons.

"It is a forum that has been wasted and is a disappointment."

The Chief Rabbi declined to comment.

Last updated: 3:41pm, November 18 2010