On 9th December 2013, the Bishop of Truro spoke in favour of Lord McColl’s amendment to the Government’s Children and Families Bill, during its Report Stage. The amendment sought to create child trafficking guardians for children who may have been victims of human trafficking. The amendment was later voted on – see here for more details.
The Lord Bishop of Truro: My Lords, I support the amendment and declare an interest as chairman of the Children’s Society. The noble Lord, Lord McColl, has already mentioned the report, Still at Risk, published jointly by the Children’s Society and the Refugee Council.
On 6th December 2013, the Bishop of Derby spoke during the Second Reading of Baroness Howe’s Online Safety Bill. He drew a parallel with the need for a change of culture in the banking industry, arguing for a change of culture in the entertainment industry away from violence, extremism and exploitation.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, thank and congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, for and on her persistence in steering us in what I think we all see is the right direction. Much has been said, so I will just pick up a couple of themes and will then pursue a particular point and ask the Minister about. Noble Lords have referred to the Prime Minister’s speeches on this area. If you read those speeches, part of their rationale is because he wants to put the family at the centre of a stable society. The family is about a web of mutual relationships—it is about mutuality, not about exploitation. That is the issue that we have to get hold of very clearly. We have heard from many noble Lords about how pornography is exploitative in every way. We have heard about its harmful effects on young people especially, about understandings of sex, how boys are led to see that sex is about having power over women, and how girls are led to see that sex is about performing in a certain kind of way. It causes very damaging ideas about body image. We heard from the noble Lord, Lord Alton, about the objectification of women and violence against women.
On 6th December 2013, the Bishop of Chester spoke during the Second Reading of Baroness Howe’s Online Safety Bill. Speaking in support of the Bill and strengthening legal protections for children, he argued that the regulation of the internet was a question that couldn’t be avoided. An approach based on self-regulation only would not be sufficient. He noted that the danger in the information age was that we do not see beyond the information itself to the higher realities of knowledge and wisdom that that abundance of information should seek to serve. The Bishop of Derby also spoke during the debate.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, it will not surprise the House to learn that I support the Bill, and I add my words of gratitude to the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, for her energy and persistence in bringing it forward. The Bill deals with an important aspect of child protection in relation to violent, abusive and, especially, pornographic material. In speaking mainly about pornography, I make it clear that I do not think that the issues around pornography in our society relate only to children. Indeed, I have a Motion for balloted debate which would look at the wider issues and the impact of pornography on our society. I hope that the House will have a chance to explore those rather difficult issues at some point before too long.
On 26th and 27th November 2013, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon. Justin Welby, the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Michael Perham, and the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, took part in divisions on the Government’s Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill, during its Report Stage.
Labour Peer Lord Eatwell moved amendment 21, before clause 14, to insert the new clause Professional Standards. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Gloucester voted ‘content’. No bishop voted ‘not content’.
There were: Contents: 222 / Not Contents: 217 / Result: Government Defeat
On 26th and 27th November 2013, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, took part in both sittings of the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill’s Report Stage.
On the first day of the Report Stage, he spoke about the need for the new ring-fencing structures to be supported by a ‘second reserve power’ which would give the regulator the power to fully separate all banks in the industry if one or more banks were gaming the new rules. He led a group of amendments on behalf of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, which would institute a rigorous licensing regime for significant bank employees who are not senior management. He also spoke about the need for specific measures to be developed to ensure that banks and their employees complied with anti-money laundering laws.
The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke twice during the second and final day of Report Stage. He spoke in support of Amendment 164, tabled by Lord Phillips of Sudbury, which would require a review to be undertaken into the current exemptions some banks and similar institutions enjoy from the Gaming Acts, on transactions which could be understood as gambling. He suggested that a review should examine what impact he current situation has on the culture in these institutions. He also led the debate on the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards’ amendment on leverage ratios. He highlighted the important role that the leverage ratio plays in the ‘tool-kit’ available to the Bank of England, and warmly welcomed the Government’s announcement that the Bank of England would undertake a review into its powers to set the leverage ratio and make recommendations on what further powers it may need.
On 20th November 2013, the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, took part in the Committee Stage of the Government’s Children and Families Bill. He spoke in favour of amendments to the Bill that would ban smoking in cars when children are present, and also in relation to measures to standardise the packaging of cigarettes.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, I will speak very briefly. Over the years I have been attracted by most vices, but never to smoking, so in the circumstances it is easy to speak against it. I will add that it is not just a domestic issue. The noble Lord says that he has an interest in BAT. What astonishes me is the way in which the growing awareness in this country of the dangers of smoking seems to be so slowly taken up in the developing world. We have a moral need, not only in relation to our own children but to the developing world, to make clear the dangers of smoking. It really is a global issue. It behoves particularly the wealthier countries—not least if the interests of big business are engaged, as undoubtedly they are, or those of the Exchequer—to give a proper lead. I think these amendments do just that.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): …The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester rightly suggested that this is a global issue. I agree. We are, however, considered to be a leader in tobacco control internationally. The World Health Organisation has assessed us to be number one in Europe in this area, and through the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control we share this good practice as much as we can…
On 19th November 2013, the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, took part in the Report Stage of the Government’s Energy Bill. He spoke in support of a Government amendment regarding the power to modify energy supply licences in domestic supply contracts. The amendment was agreed to.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, I welcome this amendment, which began its life, I think, in an interchange between the noble Baroness and me in Grand Committee. She has pretty much supplied everything that I asked for then, and I am very pleased. The only point that I will make now is that the Government rightly want to make it easy for consumers to switch suppliers. That is a good thing and it is very helpful that this information will be made available one way or another on bills. However, it needs to be made available consistently, in the same form, by different suppliers, so that if you are comparing a bill from one supplier with a bill from another, the information is supplied in the same form on each bill. The noble Baroness did not quite make that point in what she said. I hope that she can assure us that these costs will be disclosed—either voluntarily or by the exercise of the power that she is taking—not only transparently but consistently and comparably by different suppliers. Continue reading “Bishop of Chester welcomes Government amendment to Energy Bill”
On 11th November 2013, the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, took part in the Committee Stage of the Government’s Children and Families Bill. He spoke in favour of two amendments – one of the duty of schools to promote the academic, spiritual, cultural, mental and physical development of children and the second on the welfare of children who are asylum seekers. Neither amendment was put to a division of the House.
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I also would like to speak briefly in support of Amendment 233, which was so ably and vividly introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones. I have a particular responsibility in the Church of England for education, so I am pleased to be able to bring that authority and support, as it were, on behalf of all the schools that I represent. This is a small but important and crucial piece of work. Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford supports amendments to Children and Families Bill”
“No one is an individual—that is a modern myth. Each human being is a person who is who they are because of their relationships with others. Crime is when relationships go wrong or are handled destructively. Human beings are formed through relationships” – Bishop of Derby, 8.11.13
On 8th November 2013, the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, took part in the debate on the Second Reading of Lord Dholakia’s Age of Criminal Responsibility Bill, which sought to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12. The Bishop focused his remarks on the challenges associated with treating children as entirely individual and independent units, and the associated need of providing safe and positive spaces in which children can develop socially – particularly focusing on the need for strong family units. The Bill did not progress any further than its Second Reading.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, for introducing this topic and I heartily endorse all that the noble Earl has said. This is a very complex issue, and we are having this debate in a national context in which public opinion wants justice to be seen to be done. A strong scapegoating mentality exists which indicates that there is also a high level of anxiety in society. The key people to be scapegoated tend to be criminals and immigrants. We have to take that part of the context seriously in having this debate. A second context, as we have heard, is the UN recommendation on the rights of the child, that the age of criminal responsibility should be at least 12. Many countries, as we have heard, go even higher than that. A third context is that there are suggestions, as there is in Ireland, of raising the age to 12, but of allowing some flexibility in dealing with serious crimes. So this is a very complex issue in an anxious society which is nervous about seeming to give positive signals to bad behaviour and social deviancy. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby supports raising age of criminal responsibility”