On 9th July 2019 Lord Kennedy of Southwark asked the Government “what is their response to the report by The Children’s Society, Counting Lives: responding to children who are criminally exploited, published on 5 July”. The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, following up on that last question, the grooming patterns of children and young people, whether for sexual exploitation or criminal exploitation, are almost exactly the same. It took us ages to achieve a proper definition of exploitation of children in the sex industry. We should not make the same mistake again. It seems that what we need to do, and I ask the Government to consider this, is create a legally binding definition of child criminal exploitation that makes it absolutely clear that the vast majority of these children, some as young as 10 years old, are victims.
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On 27th June 2019 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Paddick, “That this House takes note of the impact of government policy on knife crime”. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I too am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, for obtaining this debate and for his excellent analysis of some of the causes and, indeed, the work that has been done on how we might address them, which is a holistic approach. I am also delighted that a number of experts in policing are speaking in this debate. I come to this with little knowledge of that, but I have knowledge through the 136 schools in my diocese—I have been to two this week—and in many of the urban areas across Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, which seek to bring together groups of young people to reflect on how this can be addressed.
This debate looks at the impact of government policies on serious youth violence. As the causes are many and varied, we need to look at a wide range of different issues. We are all aware that access to lethal weapons has escalated and intensified conflict. Demonstrably, when the year to March 2018 represented the highest number of knife homicides in England and Wales since 1946, it is all too clear to us that it is too easy to obtain weapons, notwithstanding the Offensive Weapons Act 2019. Indeed, from previous problems, for example acid attacks, we are aware that simply removing one way of attacking other people does not necessarily immediately solve a problem. I am therefore delighted that government action in reducing weapon accessibility has had some success, with Operation Sceptre taking some 10,000 knives off the streets. Yet piecemeal approaches will never be enough.
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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 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 Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate, and his speech is below. The speech of the Bishop of Oxford in the same debate can be seen here.
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bird, for bringing this debate to us. Despite wanting to say one or two things, I hope to listen and to learn from the wisdom of others. This debate is particularly pertinent at a time when phrases such as “the will of the people” are being bandied around, without specifying which people. If we are going to take this seriously, it must include people who are not people yet: future generations. Too often that term is used as a static term. It references the past. It does not create any vision for the future. It takes today seriously at the expense of tomorrow.
Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds says we must act on the views on young people, if we are to ask for them”
On 20th June 2019 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a question he had tabled to Government on serious youth violence:
The Lord Bishop of St Alban: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to address youth violence.
Baroness Barran (Con): My Lords, with the leave of the House, before I respond to the right reverend Prelate I am sure that the Chamber will join me in feeling profound regret at the recent tragic events and note that our thoughts are with the families of those who have been affected on our streets. The Government are taking steps to address all aspects of youth violence, from prevention to enforcement. Diverting young people away from crime is at the heart of our approach, which is why we are investing more than £220 million in early intervention schemes to steer children and young people away from serious violence.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, last weekend at least four people were killed through serious violence on the streets of the capital, and on Tuesday a young person in Luton, in my own diocese, was stabbed more than 20 times. Among all those who are trying to work on this problem, the churches have been involved, and indeed one church has produced a public statue of a phoenix made from 500 knives that had been reclaimed through a knife amnesty—a question of turning swords into ploughshares. Can the Minister tell us whether Her Majesty’s Government have made an assessment of the effectiveness of weapons amnesties in reducing the number of weapons on the streets, and whether more such initiatives are being planned?
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On 11th June 2019 the Earl of Glasgow led a short debate on the question to Government, “what assessment they have made of the operation of the theatre market in (1) London, and (2) elsewhere in the United Kingdom; and what steps they are taking to ensure that theatre is accessible to as wide an audience as possible.” The Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Dr Christopher John Cocksworth, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, even though the Arts Council analysis of theatre in England reveals how the Midlands is underserved in theatre, I speak from a diocese that has international, national, regional and local treasures, and from a city that will be the UK’s City of Culture in 2021.
The million or so people of Coventry and Warwickshire are rich in creativity and are reaching out for the sort of accessibility that is the intention of the noble Earl, Lord Glasgow, whom I thank for securing this important debate and for his wide-ranging introductory speech. I am very glad to speak in this debate, not least because I am the only speaker in costume today—fittingly dressed.
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