Bishop of Chelmsford says digital world needs children’s best interests at heart

On 7th November 2017, the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Best, ‘That this House takes note of the Report from the Communications Committee, Growing up with the internet.’ The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, who serves on the Communications Committee, spoke in the debate. His speech is below, and was also reported in the Telegraph and Mail newspapers.

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, it is a great joy to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron. I support the amendments she is pioneering through the House. They are extremely important. It is also a great honour, and a great education, to serve on the Select ​Committee on Communications. As other members of it have said, I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Best, for the admirable and skilful way he led us through this. I welcome the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, as our new chair.

So much in this report is critical to the sort of world we want to live in, the well-being of our nation, our public life and particularly our children. In his opening speech the noble Lord, Lord Best, outlined disturbingly well the challenges and dangers. Although I welcome the initial responses we have heard from the Government, much more still needs to be done to join all this up and make sure the needs of the child are put at the centre. Among the many important recommendations we offer, I draw attention to just two, because they are important in themselves and illustrate the larger, central point of our report—that government must take up the challenge to ensure that all those who work in the digital world work together to support the needs of children in an integrated and overarching response. Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford says digital world needs children’s best interests at heart”

Bishop of Chelmsford – Channel 4 should stay public, must invest more in diversity, programmes for children

On 17th October 2017 the House of Lords debated a Report from the Lords Communications Committee, A privatised future for Channel 4? (1st Report, Session 2016–17, HL Paper 17). The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, a member of the Committee, spoke in the debate. He focused on the need for proper diversity in public service broadcasting and for Channel 4 to invest more in programmes for children and young people. He also joined others in resisting calls for privatisation and questioned the logic of relocation from London:

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, I, too, am a member of the House of Lords Communications Committee. We normally meet on a Tuesday afternoon, so it is nice to have our meeting through the medium of this debate, in which members past and present can speak to each other. I thank other noble Lords for joining in as well. I also want to pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Best, for the wise and winsome way he chaired the committee for three years and, in particular, for helping us to produce this report, which we dare to think has made a bit of a difference.

To put it simply, there is nothing quite like Channel 4. I realise that some people may think that bishops arrive fully formed, like ships in full sail, from a production line over the river at Lambeth, but all of us have other lives both past and present. In my early 20s ​I worked for several years in the film industry and saw at first hand the huge boost that was made to British film by Channel 4. Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford – Channel 4 should stay public, must invest more in diversity, programmes for children”

Bishop of Chelmsford says decent affordable housing is key to stable, secure communities

On 12th October 2017 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Smith of Leigh, “That this House takes note of the impact of Her Majesty’s Government’s policies on the availability and affordability of housing.” 

Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, the Bishop of Chelmsford, spoke in the debate, highlighting the importance for stable and secure communities of decent affordable housing. He said that London “is in danger of becoming a city where teachers, nurses, social workers and even Christian ministers can no longer afford to live”.

Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford says decent affordable housing is key to stable, secure communities”

Bishop of Chelmsford questions plan to set legal age of consent at 13 for giving personal information online

On 10th October 2017 the Bishop of Chelmsford spoke during the Second Reading debate of the Government’s Data Protection Bill. He questioned the part setting the age of consent at 13 for giving personal information online in exchange for products and services, suggesting there needed to be more consultation on this.

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Jay, for enabling us to discuss the EU data protection package alongside the Data Protection Bill, but I will address my comments to the Bill.

Although I also welcome the rights and protections for children that the Bill offers, not least the right to be forgotten, there is one very important point of detail where reconsideration is urgently needed, which has already been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, namely the age of consent for children to give their personal information away online in exchange for products and services without a parent or guardian needing to give their permission. Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford questions plan to set legal age of consent at 13 for giving personal information online”

Bishop of Chelmsford responds to Government statement on race disparity audit

On 10th October 2017 a Government statement about the new race disparity audit was repeated in the House of Lords, the Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, responded to the statement: 

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, although, let me be clear, the Church of England has nothing to teach anyone else on this subject—our record is not a good one—in the diocese of Chelmsford, where I serve, which includes the east London boroughs, which ​have some of the most diverse communities in Europe, we have found that of course there is racism and xenophobia but there is also what has been explained to me as unconscious bias.

It is not quite the same as racism; it is those things which prevent us from seeing each other as clearly as we need to. Both in the Church of England generally and in the diocese where I serve, we have done a lot of training over the past couple of years to help people to see their own unconscious bias towards people, and this is already bearing fruit in the church context with black and global majority people coming forward into positions. I wondered whether the Government had looked at that both for us and in wider society to try to move the debate on beyond the binary thing of, “Somebody is a racist or they are not”. Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford responds to Government statement on race disparity audit”

Bishops raise concern about cutbacks to local authority welfare assistance schemes

Seven bishops signed a letter to the Guardian newspaper, printed on 14th September 2017, voicing concern about cutbacks to local authority welfare assistance schemes. Four of the signatories were Lords Spiritual:

Local welfare assistance schemes are a vital lifeline for people who find themselves in a crisis and without basic essentials, such as food, electricity, or a working oven. It is therefore very worrying that most of these schemes have been cut back considerably in recent years and that 26 local councils have now closed them altogether, including in many areas that we represent (English councils’ local welfare schemes in ‘meltdown’, 12 September). Continue reading “Bishops raise concern about cutbacks to local authority welfare assistance schemes”

Bishop of Chelmsford praises Government work on modern slavery; urges partnership with churches

On 11th July 2017 in response to a Government statement on the G20 in Hamburg, the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell asked a question about the Government’s approach to human trafficking, highlighting church initiatives.

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Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords I thank the noble Baroness for the Statement and the Government’s continued commitment to tackling modern-day slavery. I am particularly grateful for the commitment to cultivate a radically new global and co-ordinated approach to this problem, which traps 46 million people in conditions that deprive them of their God-given dignity. Can the Minister give an assurance that they will put the victim at the centre of this new global approach and that it will enlist the support and help of the Churches’ global networks, which are already beginning to mobilise through the Santa Martha group and the Clewer initiative to condemn this abomination, which Pope Francis has rightly called a crime against humanity?

Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford praises Government work on modern slavery; urges partnership with churches”