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First online input from public for Lords debate

The Church of England will be at the heart of a new system of debating in the House of Lords beginning today, when members of the public have been invited to have their say in an online forum.  The Bishop of Oxford will deliver his maiden speech during the debate on the value of good parenting.

Lord Northbourne, the crossbench peer who tabled the debate answered questions online on Tuesday, as part of the joint initiative between BBC Democracy Live and the House of Lords.  As well as a summary of the points made in the online forum being given to members of the Lords in advance, the public will also be able to view the debate live through the BBC's Democracy Live website.

The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, in his maiden speech, will address some of these issues as part of his new role as Chair of the Church of England's Board of Education and National Society Council.

The debate is expected to focus on the importance of early interventions in children's lives, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Bishop John will underline the importance of early intervention and point to the Church's longstanding work in this and other social policy areas.  He is also expected to refer to recent research including Frank Field's report on Poverty and Life Chances as well as aspects of last week's Education Bill.

This pilot initiative, aimed at encouraging greater public awareness of the work of the House of Lords and initiated by the Lords Information Committee, will be assessed in terms of how useful it has been to Members in informing the debate, and to the public in encouraging engagement with and participation in the work of the House.

The work of the Bishops in the House of Lords is communicated both through the parliamentary pages of the Church of England website, and through the dedicated Twitter feed twitter.com/churchstate, which gives updates on speeches and questions from bishops in the Lords and is maintained by the Parliamentary Unit at Church House.

Notes
Comments and Lord Northbourne's responses can be seen at http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/haveyoursay/2011/01/how_important_is_good_parentin.html

There are 26 bishops - Lords spiritual - in the House of Lords including the two Archbishops http://www.churchofengland.org/our-views/the-church-in-parliament.aspx

Poverty and Life Chances by Frank Field http://povertyreview.independent.gov.uk/

Background on the Bishop of Oxford

http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2011/01/youtube-psalm-reading.aspx

http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2010/10/pr8510.aspx