A senior bishop is calling for stricter social media regulations to stop teenagers watching pornography.

Reverend Stephen Cottrell, 59, from Leigh, told the House of Commons that although he viewed pornography himself at the age of 15, “so much more and so much worse are available today”.

He called for social media companies to take responsibility for the “damaging” materials they allow to circulate.

He said: “The government must take up the challenge to ensure that all those who work in the digital world work together to support the needs of the children.

“It is simply no good for Facebook and others to shrug their shoulders and say that they are just a platform upon which others stand, and they can’t take responsibility for content and the consequences of that content.

“Because if they wished or if we made them, they could be a ticket inspector of that platform.”

Some of the examples he raised were age verification, the removal of upsetting content.

The bishop was sharing his concerns about smartphones making materials more accessible when he told the House of Lords how, at 15 he worked in a woodyard and would look at the “sleazy” magazines left in the canteen by his colleagues.

He said: “I was a normal 15-year-old boy, and I expect most normal 15-year-old boys would have done the same thing.

“But now, it should be of huge moral concern to our nation that those images and so much more and so much worse besides are available today in the pocket of every 15-year-old boy.”

He called for ‘sustained leadership” from Government at the very highest level.

Stephen Cottrell, who was a pupil at Belfairs School, has been Bishop of Chelmsford since 2010.