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Our Bishop in the House of Lords

by Michael Ford last modified 11 Mar, 2020 05:24 PM

Bishop Nicholas was on duty throughout the week, reading prayers at the start of each sitting day.

Our Bishop in the House of Lords

Photo courtesy

He spoke in Committee on the Government’s Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill in support favour of amendments to provide support for marriage counselling services, such as Relate.

He was one of over 30 speakers in a debate 'That this House takes note of the role of the BBC and public service broadcasting in the United Kingdom’s economy and creative culture.'

About the BBC, Bishop Nicholas said:

"I will focus on 3 words to make my points: ‘British’, ‘Broadcasting’ and ‘Corporation’.

“The Minister is right that the BBC must do more to reflect the country’s genuine diversity of thought and experience, but the BBC also shapes British identity; it does not just reflect it. It is a really subtle relationship, which goes both ways.

“In terms of the importance of public service in a country that has grown more secular, as well as more plural, the level of religious illiteracy and the lack of religious grammar is very significant for [religious] public service broadcasting.

He also quoted the motto on the BBC's coat of arms -'Nation shall speak peace unto nation', and said:

"That, of course, is an adaptation of the prophet Micah, and that is where the roots of this lie. You cannot just cut off the institution from the roots that have informed it. We are grateful for the religious broadcasting that takes place, particularly on local radio and Radios 2 and 4 on Sunday mornings, reaching audiences who otherwise would not be reached. This helps to build relationships between faith communities. It is not just a Christian monopoly, because religious broadcasting has developed."

He added:

"[Broadcasting] is not just narrowcasting, which happens so much through social media and can be deeply influenced, in ways unseen, from outside."

As Bishop of Salisbury, he particularly wanted to ask why we do not have the report on Russian interference in our election and referendum processes. He said:

"That is of huge significance in terms of how easy it is to influence narrowcasting through social media. The BBC does a really good job of broadcasting critical debate that is robust and helps to establish, over time, an element of truth otherwise not there.

"Corporations need cherishing. This is about the body, an institution. In our time, we are not good at cherishing institutions and we need to do it in a way that upholds the body of the institution for the sake of the country. This is not one of those bodies that needs to be dealt with by disruption and discontinuity. It needs to be cherished, and the Government need to know that we want the BBC to be safe in their hands."

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