The Bishop of Birmingham has called for more support for soldiers injured in conflicts such as Afghanistan, as he delivered his maiden speech to the House of Lords.
The Right Reverend David Urquhart, who joined the House of Lords last month, also highlighted Birmingham’s diverse community and the region’s cultural and economic importance.
He delivered his first speech in Parliament as peers were debating the Government’s strategic defence review.
The Bishop said: “Birmingham supplies the superb medical treatment at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine in the brand-new Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
“Here, survivors of the most severe wounds are cared for in numbers that increased from 261 battle injuries in 2008 to 467 in 2009.”
Many injured personnel needed “a lifetime of support and care”, he said.
Bishop David said he backed calls from the British Medical Association and MPs “arguing strongly for full, continuing help for these servants of freedom.
“May we, whatever we do in this review, ensure that they be fully supported both by government and the local community throughout their lives.”
He added: “Birmingham has been intimately involved in defence and security for centuries. We have experience of every aspect of today’s debate - a vigorous, patriotic history, with jobs dependent on the defence industry, recruits to the Armed Forces, weekly evidence of the ambulance helicopter flying over my house with the latest stretchered amputee from Camp Bastion, and a population from all over the world with huge knowledge of, and opinions about, our international relations.”
The Bishop told peers that Birmingham had three universities, a range of cultural institutions and a thriving professional sector.
But it also faced challenges such as unemployment and poor housing, he said.
“However, perhaps uniquely in the context of this debate, we have a faith leaders’ group drawing together the six great religions of the city in a friendship that enables us to understand some of the tensions and great difficulties that are faced not just in our own communities but around the world.”
While there were many examples of faith communities forming strong links, good relations could not be taken for granted, he said.
“What is now labelled being neighbourly or faithfully interactive requires huge intentional effort.”