29 Dec 2008

UK bishops critical of govt policies

7:10 am on 29 December 2008

Five Anglican bishops have criticised the Labour government in Britain, questioning the morality of its economic policies.

In interviews in the Sunday Telegraph, the bishops of Durham, Winchester, Hulme, Manchester and Carlisle said Britain is suffering from family breakdown, an addiction to debt, and a growing gap between rich and poor.

The BBC reports they also accused the government of being morally suspect by encouraging people already in debt to spend more, in order to revive the economy.

The Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, accused ministers of making promises that had later "vanished into thin air".

The Bishop of Manchester, Nigel McCulloch, earlier used his Christmas Day sermon to warn that society was facing an inevitable come-uppance for its "buy now, pay later" culture.

However, Labour MP Sir Stuart Bell, who represents the Church in the Commons, said the comments were "nonsense".

Last week, the Archbishop of Canterbury publicly attacked the government.

Dr Rowan Williams said Gordon Brown's plans to spend more in order to tackle the recession were like an "addict returning to the drug". He suggested the economy had been going in the wrong direction for decades.