Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bishop of Durham condemns Labour's 'microscopic, micro-managing rules and regulations'

Dr Tom Wright, the fourth most senior bishop in the Church, said he was not making a party political point.

But he was.

He spoke out during a talk at St James the Less church in Pimlico, central London, on Tuesday night.

Answering a question about his pastoral duties as a bishop and child protection, he replied:

“The last Government, and this isn’t a party political point it’s just a fact, produced more legislation from the Home Office in 13 years than the Home Office has produced in the previous 100 years and most of it is microscopic, micro-managing rules and regulations.

“This applies to businesses, to churches, hospitals all over the place, you can’t move. We are drowning in legislation. Rules and regulations are not the way to create a good, wise, human society but our last Government tried to do that.

“When it comes to child protection, we all have to fill in these forms again and again. I’ve done several of them – I’ve got one for the diocese but then there was a youth project in the diocese that was organised independently so I had to have another CRB check.

“We have people come to my office all the time, frankly wasting their time and my staff’s time in order that there be a paper trail for every single person just in case something happens and somebody has to sue somebody.

“Until all filing cabinets in the country get so full that they are over-flowing it looks like we are going to go on just doing this, and that is not the way to be responsible. That’s the way actually to avoid it, it’s a pseudo-responsibility and we need to learn character instead.”

What a pity he has left it until now to speak out, days after Labour's demise and just weeks before his own retirement.


Blogger English Viking said...

Better late than never?

27 May 2010 at 13:37  
Blogger Scrigg said...

He's quite a decent chap and far more inteligent than me. I am dissapointed that he never spoke out earlier though. It does make one wonder.

27 May 2010 at 13:51  
Anonymous Pageantmaster said...

I was there. Worth remembering that Bishop Wright was answering a specific question on his role as a bishop in relation to child protection and was an aside to explain some of the constraints bishops live with which means they have to stand back from a pastoral role where they may have a legal one. It did not come across as intended to be party polical, just an explanation of facts.

The thrust of his talk was on the role of Christian character or virtue on the development of a Christian with the aid of the Holy Spirit and how counter intuitive it appeared compared with the views of virtue of the time including that of Aristotle.

He went on to consider the positive effect that the development of these virtues could bring to the individual and to society. Perhaps a transcript or audio of his talk will appear. If so it is well worth listening to, or one can read his book 'Virtue Reborn' as I am - I would recommend it.

27 May 2010 at 14:23  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Dr Wright is a very great man, a great theologian, and a teacher of unparalleled gifts. His majesterial series of books on Christian Origins and the Question of God will leave a highly important influence well into the future.

Wright was the scholar whose ideas and writings came close to persuading Anthony Flew of the truth of Chrisitanity.

Everyone will do well to listen to what he says, which is never without careful thought and consideration. He is leaving his post as a bishop to take up a teaching position at St Andrews university.

Wright's politics are somewhat to the left of mine (and of most contributors to this blog, I suspect), so his criticisms of Labour's appalling nannying are particularly pointed. Nobody need have any doubt that he has said such things before, but perhaps they have not been as widely publicised.

27 May 2010 at 14:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace

Dr Wright said that: ‘We are drowning in legislation. Rules and regulations are not the way to create a good, wise, human society… ‘

Why have successive governments, and particularly New Labour, imposed more and more regulations?

Why can’t our politicians just pass an Act of Parliament headed ‘The Right to be Left Alone’?

Most of us will recall reading at school the historian AJP Taylor’s ‘History of England’ and marvelling at the freedom people in this land had before the World War I:

‘…a sensible, law-abiding Englishman could pass through life and hardly notice the existence of the state, beyond the post office and the policeman. He could live where he liked and as he liked. He had no official number or identity card.’

So what went wrong?

It is true that two world wars saw our liberties curtailed and Government bureaucrats abusing their powers. For example, some of the wiser posters here may recall the Crichel Down affair – the rightful owners won their land back from the government because they were not dependent on the government for assistance.

Take the philosopher Montaigne, he could bark back at the government because he provided for his own food and shelter – he was not dependent upon the State.

Our civil servants drilled by their university lecturers on the works of Hegel (the State is the ultimate reality) and then on Marx produced a class of ‘servant’ that changed the relation between Government and subjects. We became the Government’s pupils, employees and tenants: from cradle to grave.

What has become of us today?

Once a week we have a family gathering to sort the rubbish into different coloured bins under the State’s recycling regime. Bins are to be micro-chipped so that the State can keeps its ever-watchful eye on us to ensure that we do in fact put waste food in one bin and plastic bottles in another. Poor Mrs Miggins, next-door neighbour, who gets terribly confused in her old-age about which waste goes into which bin: twice she has been threatened by State officials. Last weekend, despite not having a television, she bought a TV licence: terrified by the letters sent to her by the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation.

At night we sit under the twilight emitted by energy saving light-bulbs. Miss Jenny, who lives three doors away, is scared that an accident is waiting to happen: if one of those light bulbs break it will release high toxic amounts of mercury that will poison her young baby.

Young Sally and Joe are on a waiting list to join the Girl Guides and Boy Scouts respectively. But there is a shortage of volunteers as adults (with no criminal record) are refusing to submit to the State’s humiliating Criminal Records Bureau checks.

So Sally and Joe hang round the streets with their ‘gangs’. Adults are afraid of confronting their anti-social behaviour for fearing of being arrested by the police – so the police are called to address children’s behaviour (more resources, more costs, more taxes). At school Sally and Joe have been taught by their teachers about their rights. They believe teachers have a duty to fulfil their rights. Result: teachers are afraid of their own pupils.

Joe’s father placed some mustard on Joe’s tongue for misbehaviour. Result: Joe informed his teachers and an investigation was launched by social workers (more resources, more costs, more taxes).

And it goes on: layer after layer of regulations. No wonder the continentals think the British are mad.

27 May 2010 at 15:23  
Anonymous not a machine said...

What a pity he did wait so long ! it must be fairly evident to many in the church that nu Labour was not all it seemed , evangelical fervour it may have had , but in the end revealed as batting for athiesm .

What suckers many must feel now , as the bill for the champagne socialists club is presented for payment.

27 May 2010 at 15:57  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Mr Singh

We clash on matters of religion but I must congratulate you on a most excellent post 27 May 2010 15:23, both thoughtful and amusing.

27 May 2010 at 16:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A rational soul made noble in spirit, speaking on matters pertaining to the church.

Not political at all ;-)

27 May 2010 at 16:52  
Blogger Gnostic said...

So what took the time?

27 May 2010 at 17:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It could have said at a more propitious time perhaps, but it is better said than not.

A sound man it would seem.

27 May 2010 at 17:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So far as being political goes within the clergy, I find Clint Eastwoods film 'Changeling' has the perfect role model Pastor.

If there were more such as he, the Churches would indeed be filled to brimming, anyone never seen it before should get a copy.

His pulpit scene is a must!

27 May 2010 at 17:41  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Mr.Singh at 15.20 - excellent post!

Apropos TV Licence: I have one; but the dept' concerned keep sending me those self-same threatening letters; which naturally I ignore.....I am joyously awaiting the day when they demand entry!

Following a refusal, I shall expect my door (which needs replacing anyway) to be burst from its hinges, as a marauding hoard of mixed officials grapple said innocent citizen to the floor...hopefully occasioning sufficient damage to self, and door, to ensure my pension-fund remains healthy!

It is bad enough to be subject to the pettiness of government without having to put up with their incompetences too!

27 May 2010 at 17:59  
Blogger Laurence Boyce said...

"Rules and regulations are not the way to create a good, wise, human society."

Try telling that to the author of Leviticus.

27 May 2010 at 18:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In his heart, Tom was always an American-bashing, soft-left nulabour sort. Maybe it came with the territory in the northeast and all those ex-miners staring disconsolately at the Norh Sea. Tom's late conversion to whiggery is to be welcomed, even as he deserts the wasteland of NE England for the wasteland of eastern Scotland.
With him and Nazir-Ali gone,and Jones havinbg gone over to the dark (green) side, there are no evangelicals of note left on the bishops' bench in England.

27 May 2010 at 18:40  
Anonymous len said...

Laurence Boyce,
Interesting point,
The law was not laid down, set, or appointed for the morally upright. It was made for those who would transgress it.

27 May 2010 at 20:33  
Anonymous Voyager said...

A Supply Teacher is employed as an Agency Worker and has to pay for her own CRB check each time; and gets no paid vacation, no sick days, and is paid below LEA rates.

Living in a Socialist Republic like Britain one has to remember the aim is to prevent Individualism in favour of Collective Inertia

28 May 2010 at 11:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good that Bishop Tom finally had the courage to say the blindingly obvious. Bad that he and many church leaders, laid down and rolled over to the machinations of the worst government most of us have expereinced in our lifetimes. If he thinks CRB is bad, what about the 9 million plus whose details will be on a national database for the crime of wanting to work/help with children and vulnerable adults?

5 June 2010 at 22:20  

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