Sheppard departs with job demand

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The Independent Online
The Bishop of Liverpool, scourge of successive Conservative administrations, called on the Labour government to demonstrate the political will to create policies leading to full employment.

The Right Rev David Sheppard, addressing the Church of England's General Synod for the last time before he retires in September, also warned that an emphasis on improving education was meaningless unless job opportunities were created for school leavers.

The Synod at York was debating an ecumenical report, Unemployment and the Future of Work, which was published during the election campaign in April. The report, which attacked complacency about the "evil" of unemployment, was widely interpreted as a rallying cry of support for the Labour Party by church leaders.

Dr Sheppard, who chaired the working party behind the report, said: "It has persuaded me that there can be enough good work for everyone. But there is a proviso, and that's that there is the political will. That's the rub, for of course there will be a cost. But we already know that there is a cost, in human despair, in the waste of God-given gifts, and in the price of benefits and ill-health and crime."

Elaine Appelbee, vice-chairman of the Synod's Board of Social Responsibility, said there were as yet no signs that the Government was inclined to implement the report's recommendations.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, in his closing address, paid tribute to Dr Sheppard, the Church of England's most prominent and outspoken liberal. He said that the bishop, a former England cricketer who has served Liverpool for 22 years, was "one of the great prophets of the Church", and, "the scourge of all those who hold the comforting belief that excessive privilege and affluence are somehow an inevitable and essential part of the natural order".

Delegates approved the unemployment report almost unanimously.

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