Civil Partnership, Marriage and Deaths (Registration etc.) Bill – Bishop of Chelmsford responds to amendments on marriage

On 1st February 2019 the House of Lords considered in Committee a Private Member’s Bill, the Civil Partnership, Marriage and Deaths (Registration etc) Bill. This Bill incorporated provisions on marriage registration that the Bishop of St Albans had successfully piloted through the Lords in his own Private Member’s Bill in 2018. It included extra provision relating to registration of stillborn children, and civil partnerships for opposite sex couples. 

The Bishop of Chelmsford spoke during debate on two amendments to the Bill. The first, briefly, on an amendment from the Bill’s sponsor Lady Hodgson, to enable the conversion of civil partnerships to marriage, and vice-versa, through the introduction of Regulations that could amend primary legislation, including Church of England Measures. The amendment was passed after debate.

The second on a probing amendment from Labour Peers, which was withdrawn after debate, to remove the provisions in the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 that give legal security to the Church of England and Church in Wales in setting and maintaining their doctrinal position on marriage.  The Bishop’s speech on that, and the responses of other Members including the Government front bench, the Bill’s sponsor and the amendment’s sponsor are below: Continue reading “Civil Partnership, Marriage and Deaths (Registration etc.) Bill – Bishop of Chelmsford responds to amendments on marriage”

We need to build communities as well as social housing – Bishop of Chelmsford

On 31st January 2019 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Whitty, “that this House takes note of the case for a long-term commitment to increased provision of social housing to help to reduce housing costs, homelessness and housing benefit expenditure.” The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, spoke in the debate:

Continue reading “We need to build communities as well as social housing – Bishop of Chelmsford”

Bishop of Chelmsford – why the Internet needs regulation

On 17th January 2019 Baroness Kidron led a debate in the House of Lords on the motion “that this House takes note of the relationship between the use of digital technology and the health and well-being of children and young people.” The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, an unregulated digital environment is causing moral decay. There is no time to reiterate the various harms that are being caused, but they are deep-seated, corrosive and pervasive. Just last week I was at a school in Essex talking to 7 to 11 year-olds about their use of a game called TikTok. All of them were using it. The lower age limit for using it is 13. As the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, pointed out, the digital world assumes that all users are equal and all users are adults, whereas in fact one-third of users worldwide are children. Therefore, their health, well-being and development require us to ensure that the internet, and the many ways that children access it, are as safe as they can be. This has usually meant creating special safe places for children or safety options that can be activated. Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford – why the Internet needs regulation”

Bishop of Chelmsford asks Government about internet safety

On Monday 3rd December 2018 Baroness Benjamin asked Her Majesty’s Government “what financial and other resources will be available to the UK Council for Internet Safety.” The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, may I extend this question a little further? This is such an important issue and our generation will be judged on it as the internet and digital age takes over. Noble Lords will know those clever algorithms that are so good at selling us things—if we buy one thing they will try to sell us something else. Those could be turned towards the interests of internet safety by advancing something called safety by design. What consideration are the Government giving to much more forward-thinking legislation not just to support bodies such as the Council for Internet Safety, but to introduce measures to make our inhabiting of the digital world safer and more creative? Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford asks Government about internet safety”

Bishop of Chelmsford – Budget is missed opportunity for environment

On 13th November 2018 the House of Lords debated the Chancellor’s Budget Statement. The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, spoke in the debate to highlight concerns about the environment, the two-child limit and fixed odds betting terminals.  

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, for many on these Benches there are measures to welcome in this Budget: for instance, the decision to increase the work allowances within universal credit for families with children and people with disabilities, as other noble Lords have mentioned. This goes a substantial way towards reversing the cuts announced in 2015. Likewise, the announcement of measures to aid the transition to universal credit, worth £1 billion over five years, is also welcome, as is the additional and non-repayable run-on support for new claimants to help people manage during the five-week waiting period before their first payment. However, I am disappointed that the run-on support does not cover the child elements of universal credit. Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford – Budget is missed opportunity for environment”

Bishop of Chelmsford calls for UK to act against ‘moral, lethal extravagance’ of nuclear weapons

On 28th January 2018,  Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer hosted a debate in the House of Lords “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the outcome of the United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading to Their Total Elimination.” The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, I too thank the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, for bringing this timely and important debate. One of my predecessors, H A Wilson, Bishop of Chelmsford from 1929 to 1950, only ever made one speech in the House of Lords. Prelates nowadays tend to have more to say. This may or may not be a good development.

Shortly after the Second World War a Motion was before this House on the subject of nuclear weapons. Drawing on Christian just war theory, he rose and spoke about how the use of nuclear weapons broke one of the few conventions that civilisation had succeeded in setting up to mitigate the brutalities of war. In his memoirs he recalls how the speech was received:

“Nobody took the slightest notice. I sat down in dead silence and I was conscious that all the noble Lords considered that I had made an ass of myself. Well, probably I had, but the ass’s burden no longer included an uneasy conscience”. Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford calls for UK to act against ‘moral, lethal extravagance’ of nuclear weapons”

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”