Bishop’s betting Bill given First Reading
A BETTING Bill tabled by the Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, which could mean that licences for gambling machines are more easily refused, has received its First Reading in the House of Lords. His Betting Licences Bill (Category B2 Gaming Machines), seeks to protect vulnerable people, and was entered into the Lords’ private members’ ballot, last month. It relates to fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs): electronic gaming machines, found in pubs and betting shops, on which players bet on the outcome of simulated games and events. “I have no opposition to safe and legal betting on British high streets, but I am seriously concerned by the increasing number of people whose lives have been destroyed by FOBTs,” Dr Smith said this week.
MPs back Christian Aid tax campaign
CHRISTIAN AID has called on MPs to support a change in the law that would help countries to spot tax abuse by multinationals, and take action to collect more of the billions they are owed. The move, backed by 23 Conservative, Labour, SNP, and Liberal Democrat MPs, would require firms to publish more information about their finances in every country in which they operate. Toby Quantrill, a tax-justice specialist at Christian Aid, said: “This reform could help to ensure more funding for services that keep people alive and thriving in the developing world.” The charity is one of several organisations to have signed a letter in support of the UK’s foreign-aid spending — currently 0.7 per cent of national income.
Teachers to be rewarded with survival kits
THE Archbishop of York Youth Trust has launched an initiative, Heroes in our Schools, to recognise and reward the work of teachers in the UK. The Youth Trust is to reward teachers, nominated by their pupils, from six primary schools in York, with “teacher survival kits”, to include tea, coffee, biscuits, and encouraging messages. The contents have been donated by York Coffee Emporium, Lush, and Taylors of Harrogate. The Archbishop, Dr Sentamu, whose recent pilgrimage inspired the initiative, said: “I salute all teachers: they are definitely heroes in our schools.”
CARE: ‘Online pornography destroys childhoods’
ONLINE pornography is destroying childhoods, the Christian charity CARE has warned. A new survey by Middlesex University, jointly commissioned by the NSPCC and the Children’s Commissioner for England, suggests that more than half (53 per cent) of 11- to 16-year-olds have seen graphic porn content online, and 94 per cent of the 1001 children surveyed had viewed adult content by the age of 14. The chief executive of CARE, Nola Leach, said: “This new survey is both shocking and hugely alarming. The fight to protect childhood innocence has reached a critical juncture. We cannot sit back and allow the rising generation of children to be robbed of their childhoods because of a largely unregulated porn industry.”
Course launches website to inspire activism
THE Christian learning programme Workshop has launched a new website offering the content of its courses, and theological and spiritual resources, worldwide. It has been holding courses in centres around the UK for 30 years. The Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Christopher Foster, praised the “integrity and courage” of its founder, Noel Moules, who created the material. Mr Moules said that Workshop was “Jesus-centred, scripture-serious, values-focused, inclusive, empowering, and committed to inspiring activism”. www.workshop.org.uk