On 26th June 2019 Lord Bird asked the Government, “by what means, if at all, they require public bodies to act, and to demonstrate how they act, in a manner which seeks to ensure that the needs of the present generation are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Steven Croft, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, it has been a real privilege today—as the noble Lord, Lord Bird, mentioned—to spend time with some of the 16,000 people, many of them young, representing all faiths and none, who have come to say to Parliament that the time is now on climate change. I very much support the proposal from the noble Lord, Lord Bird. Does the Minister agree that the issues of climate change, both in the material sense and the perceived sense—public opinion—are absolutely the pressing priority for the future generation? Following the commendable adoption of the net zero by 2050 target, will the Minister share with the House what the Government’s next three priorities are in combating climate change?
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On 20th June 2019 Lord Bird led a debate in the House of Lords on the motion “that this House takes note of the case for better protecting and representing the interests of future generations in policy-making.” The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Steven Croft, spoke in the debate, and his speech is below. The speech of the Bishop of Leeds in the same debate can be seen here.
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I too welcome this debate and thank the noble Lord, Lord Bird, very warmly for bringing it. I welcome his proposals. As the noble Lord, Lord Layard, said, the foundation is a moral and ethical case. That moral case has shifted in recent years because of the realisation of the effects of the Anthropocene era. Humanity’s effect on the environment means that the interests of not just the next generation but every generation beyond that need to be protected in our policy-making and debate.
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On 27th February 2019 the House of Lords debated the Government’s EU Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration. The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Stephen Croft, spoke in the debate. His full speech is below:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I always rise to speak in this Chamber with some fear and trepidation but never more so than today: not only because of the expertise, passion and conviction in this Chamber but also the jeopardy in which we find ourselves as a nation and a Parliament. My journey through the Brexit process is that for seven years until the referendum year, I was the bishop in Sheffield and south Yorkshire, where some of the communities voted by almost 70% to leave the European Union. I moved shortly afterwards to the diocese of Oxford, where the three counties, by and large, are significantly in favour of remain.
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On 25th February 2019 the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Steven Croft, responded to a Ministerial statement on Government proposals for draft regulations and guidance for relationships education, relationships and sex education, and health education. The Bishop welcomed aspects of the draft guidelines and asked about the provisions to teach about online safety:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I thank the Minister for the repetition of the Statement and for the guidelines. The Church of England’s chief education officer has in particular welcomed the stronger impetus on teaching faith perspectives relevant to people of all faiths and none, irrespective of the kind of school that they attend, which is key to combating religious prejudice. I underline the concerns raised by noble Lords about resourcing.
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On 21st November 2018 the House of Lords considered amendments to the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill [HL]. Two bishops took part in a vote on an amendment from Baroness Barker:
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On 19th November 2018, Lord Clement-Jones tabled a Motion ‘That this House takes note of the Report from the Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence AI in the UK: ready, willing and able? (HL Paper 100).’ The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Steven Croft, served on the committee that produced the report and he spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, it was a pleasure to serve as part of your Lordships’ Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence, and an education. I join others in paying tribute to the expertise and skill of our chair, the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, and our excellent staff and advisers.
At the beginning of my engagement with AI, what kept me awake at night was the prospect of what AI might mean for the distant future: the advent of conscious machines, killer robots and artificial general intelligence. We are probably more than a generation away from those risks. But what kept me awake as the inquiry got under way—it really did—were the possibilities and risks of AI in the present.
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