On 6th December 2016, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke to a question he had tabled to ask the Government “what assessment they have made of the rise in the number of children and young people being treated for self-harm.” Lord Prior of Brampton responded for the Government. The Bishops’ follow-up question and those of Peers are reproduced below.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the rise in the number of children and young people being treated for self-harm.
Lord Prior of Brampton My Lords, the Government are aware of the appalling rise in self-harm in children and young people and the misery this reflects. The Government are also acutely aware that self-harm is a leading indicator of risk of suicide and recognise that much more needs to be done to address this issue.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans
I thank the Minister for his reply. The research from the World Health Organization shows that around 20% of British 15 year-olds report some sort of self-harm. In the past five years, research shows that hospital admissions associated with self-harm have gone up by nearly 93% among girls and 45% among boys. Having recently visited the outstanding charity selfharmUK
, in Luton in my diocese, I have seen what a concerted and systematic approach to this problem can have on a very difficult issue, and we need something similar at a national level. Will Her Majesty’s Government commit to publishing guidelines for schools and colleges about preventing and responding to self-harm?
On 5th September 2016 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP, answered a written question from Graham Allen MP about the Church of England’s response to a report on abuse at Kendall House, Gravesend.
Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North): To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, whether the Church of England plans to respond to the report by Professor Sue Proctor on abuse at Kendall House, Gravesend, published in July 2016. Continue reading “Church Commissioners Written Answer: Children in Care”
On 30th June 2016 Lord Lexden led a debate in the House of Lords, “That this House takes note of the case for introducing statutory guidelines relating to the investigation of cases of historical child sex abuse.” During the debate Lord Lexden raised the case of Bishop George Bell, as did Lord Carey and a number of other Peers. The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, responded to the points made by those Peers about the Bell case and his speech is reproduced below, with extracts from the frontbench responses. All speeches made in the debate can be read here.
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Lexden, for bringing this debate before us and for the considered and careful way in which people have made their contributions. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, that this House has an important part to play in setting our moral compass on the issues we are discussing.
I wish to make it clear that I and the Church of England welcome the introduction of some statutory guidelines for responding to historic allegations. As we in the Church are acutely aware, this is a difficult and sensitive area, so responding well to such allegations is extremely important. If there was statutory guidance on such cases, it would be easier to respond well and consistently. That said, we are all aware that the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse may make relevant recommendations, and it might be that the Government wish to wait for them before issuing guidance in this area.
The noble Lords, Lord Lexden and Lord Dear, the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Carey, and others have raised the specific case of Bishop George Bell, and I want to reflect briefly on it. Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford calls for statutory guidelines on historic abuse allegations, responds to concerns about George Bell case”
On 14th March 2016 Lord Lexden asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they are taking to ensure that the police, social services and other agencies work together effectively to protect vulnerable children from sexual abuse.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I declare my interests in relation to safeguarding for the Church of England, in which connection I shall be at the Goddard inquiry on Wednesday morning. Will the Minister agree that prevention must stay at the top of the agenda for all agencies, both statutory and voluntary, in responding to the crime of child sexual abuse and, in so doing, recognise that potentially every single child is vulnerable and that grooming must be one area of concern? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham says prevention must stay at top of agenda for those tackling child abuse”
On the 29th February 2016 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP, answered three written questions from Rt Hon Frank Field MP regarding the deceased former Bishop of Chichester, George Bell.
Frank Field: To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, whether the settlement the Church Commissioners made to the complainant against George Bell was made directly in relation to allegations against Bell, or on the basis that a complaint made under a subsequent Bishop, was not handled in a way which would be expected today. Continue reading “Church Commissioners: Bishop George Bell”
On 28th January 2016 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, moved a motion that the House of Lords approve the Church of England’s Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure. Peers gave approval to the Measure, following a short debate – the full transcript of which is below.
Moved by The Lord Bishop of Durham
That this House do direct that, in accordance with the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919, the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure be presented to Her Majesty for the Royal Assent.
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure is set in the context of our commitment, as the Church of England, to keep becoming a safer church. The Measure itself is only one part of all the work that we are undertaking. The Measure is before your Lordships because the church believes it needs to improve its statutory arrangements: first, to prevent the abuse of children and adults at risk within the church community; and, secondly, to deal effectively with those in authority within the church who seek to harm children and vulnerable adults. Continue reading “Lords approves CofE Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure – Bishop of Durham leads debate”
On the 5th November 2015 the Rt Revd Peter Forster, the Bishop of Chester, hosted a debate in the House of Lords “That this House takes note of the impact of pornography on society.” The full text of his speeches opening and closing the debate are below, as is the speech from the Government Minister in reply. The Bishops’ speech can also be watched online here. The Bishop of Bristol also spoke in the debate and his remarks can be seen here.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, your Lordships may feel that they have sometimes listened to a speech from these Benches and thought that the speaker is not entirely familiar with the subject. There is, of course, an old adage that generally the Bishop speaks and generally the Bishop speaks generally. I shall avoid an echo of the confessional, but I can say that my first-hand knowledge of pornography is very limited. Of the range of vices available to me, I have been tempted by most, but not in any significant way by pornography. If the statistics are to be believed, that makes me a rather unusual, if not exotic, creature.
Pornography is a very widespread feature of western society, especially since the advent of the internet age. In my ministry I have come across addiction to pornography as a factor in individual marriage breakdown. As a Bishop, I have had two of my clergy prosecuted for downloading child sexual abuse images, usually called child pornography. Both these priests were given custodial sentences and both are unlikely ever again to exercise the Christian ministry for which they were trained. Continue reading “Bishop of Chester leads Lords debate on the impact of pornography on society”