Bishop of Gloucester – crucial to work with young people on internet and social media reforms

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 Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, spoke in the debate, which was also reported in the Telegraph newspaper.

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, like other noble Lords, I am very grateful to the Select Committee for this report, and I agree with so much that has been said already. So many young people today source their identities from social media and internet advertising, which has resulted in low self-esteem and poor mental health. Over the last 18 months or so, I have been spearheading a campaign called Liedentity, which is focused around body image and challenging the lie that our value comes from our physical appearance. Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester – crucial to work with young people on internet and social media reforms”

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 St Albans asks Government about regulation of online gambling

On 20th September 2017 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received written answers to two questions about the regulation of online gambling:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans:

(i) To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to regulate the use of electronic data by betting firms and their affiliates to target online advertising at specific groups.

(ii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to incorporate a review of online gambling into the Triennial Review of Gaming Machine Stake and Prize Limits. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about regulation of online gambling”

Bishop of St Albans on how digital access and understanding can help deal with social exclusion

On 7th September 2017 Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho led a debate “That this House takes note of the case for improved digital understanding at all levels of United Kingdom society.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, took part:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I add my thanks to the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox, for tabling today’s debate. As well as the powerful economic reasons for improving digital understanding, there are also some very important social reasons why we need to look at this key area. As our lives move increasingly online, we risk leaving those at the margins and without digital understanding even further behind. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans on how digital access and understanding can help deal with social exclusion”

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about broadband in rural areas

On 11th July 2017, Rt Rev. Alan Smith, the Bishop of St Albans, asked Her Majesty’s Government “what proportion of the Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund is expected to be available to support the provision of superfast broadband in hard to reach rural areas.” The full exchange is below, along with the follow-up questions asked by other Members:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Lord Ashton of Hyde) (Con): My Lords, the digital infrastructure investment fund aims to support industry investment in full fibre networks, which are the next generation of digital infrastructure. The Government are committing £400 million, which will be at least matched by private sector investments on the same terms. It will be up to the selected managers of the fund themselves to make investments.

Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about broadband in rural areas”

Digital Economy Bill: Bishops argue against relaxation of blocking powers on online pornography

On the 20th March 2017, the House of Lords debated a Government amendment to the Digital Economy Bill at its Report Stage, on access to online pornography. Original Government proposals were that the threshold of censorship and prohibition should be as consistent as possible for material distributed online and offline. In a new amendment the Government offered a revised approach, with a higher threshold for prohibiting material online alongside a focus on age verification measures. The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, and the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, spoke against the amendment, arguing to keep the original approach. The amendment was however agreed without a vote. The Bishops’ speeches are below, with an extract of the Minister’s reply. The full text of the debate on the amendments can be read in Hansard, here.


leeds-20117-bLord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, it seems odd in a society such as ours that we are even thinking about how to give access to violent pornography or trying to mitigate it in some way. It seems clear to me is that most of us sitting in this House probably have less idea of how online digital communications work than a five year-old. Children—my grandchildren’s generation—are very adept and almost intuit how to do this stuff. Continue reading “Digital Economy Bill: Bishops argue against relaxation of blocking powers on online pornography”

Church Commissioner Questions – wi-fi, art, South Sudan, House of Bishops’ Report, building repairs

spelman-190117bOn 2nd March 2017 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered oral and written questions in the House of Commons, covering wi-fi in churches, art exhibitions in churches, the Anglican Church in South Sudan, the House of Bishops’ Report on Human Sexuality, and church building repairs. A full transcript follows:

Continue reading “Church Commissioner Questions – wi-fi, art, South Sudan, House of Bishops’ Report, building repairs”