Bishops must stay in the Lords, MPs and peers say

 
House of Lords generic image Ministers want to cut the number of peers

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A committee of MPs and peers has decided that bishops should remain members of a reformed House of Lords.

The recommendation is almost certain to be accepted by the government, which is due to publish its plans for a largely elected second chamber in May.

The Joint Committee on House of Lord Reform says, however, that the number of bishops in the Lords should be reduced from 26 to 12.

Some critics say they should be removed from an entirely elected chamber.

But the committee decided that the Church of England should keep its almost-unbroken 700-year-old place in Parliament. (Bishops were excluded from the Lords in 1642, until that was reversed by the Clergy Act of 1661.)

This is in line with what ministers are thinking and will almost certainly form part of the Lords Reform bill, which will be set out in the Queen's Speech in May.

The bishops - known as "Lords Spiritual" - courted controversy recently when one of them led opposition to plans to include child benefit in a cap on welfare payments to families.

 

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  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 146.

    What I can't tollerate about this debate is way in which the 4th largest UK religion is constantly ignored. Yes, we Jedi want at least 2 seats in The Lords as our right. Did the MP's give us any consideration during their deliberations? There's just 6 weeks to go until May the Fourth!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 145.

    An elected second chamber? No thanks! Just another bunch of useless politicians in grey suits. Failed MP wannabes who can't get a real job.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 144.

    @126: Whether the Lords Spiritual represent you has nothing to do with your nationality, religious beliefs or whether they were elected. Don't be small minded enough to believe that only someone of the same race and creed as you can possibly represent you.

    There are plenty of people in this country of all races, creeds, elected (MPs) and non-elected (Judges) who do good work for the public.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 143.

    I think there is a place for Bishops in the Lords - Britain may no longer be particularly Christian, but much of our culture is still based on Christian values. Bishops have a vested interest in making sure this remains at the heart of the laws that the Commons make. Though I don't agree with their doctrine I value their (often quite erudite) opinions.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 142.

    The Bible as the basic text book for Christians demonstrates repeatedly the separation between religious leadership and political leadership, Should not the examples of Christian living in the shape of the Bishops therefore relinquish political office in favour of their own tenets

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 141.

    That's what we need a group of law makers relying on advice from their invisible friend!

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 140.

    It is illegal to discriminate against women and gay people. Yet the Church of England bans such people from being bishops.
    Therefore what Clegg and Cameron and this committee is proposing is that 12 seats be reserved for male straight men, who are homophobic and misogynistic, which is outrageous.
    ALL seats in parliament should be elected. How many members of this committee are CoE members?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 139.

    As only 2% of the UK population are practising Christians, surely the bishops should make up 2% of the lords. No more.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 138.

    @ 102.James Froggatt

    Alleluia. The bishops hunger after righteousness. Alleluia.

    Alleluia. The satanists are cast down and perplexed. Alleluia

    Rejoice, I say again rejoice in the Lord for this decision.

    I'm hoping this is a joke, otherwise maybe you should consider therapy !

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 137.

    131.mat
    I like another posters suggestion of the upper house being made up of elected proffesionals, from industry, healthcare, education etc
    --
    Excellent idea.
    Plus stop interference from the Commons in trying to flood the Lords with pro-Government lackies.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 136.

    Aah yes, Multi-cultural Britain eh. You just can't beat it can you..

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 135.

    It all depends on what you want. If you want to fill the Lords with a representative sample of people who have risen to the top of an array of different trades, keep a few Bishops but add in leaders of other faiths as well. If it's just going to be a second bunch of self-serving politicians, there for what they personally get out of it, don't bother.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 134.

    @ 117. NobodyCaresAnymore

    I've heard some hilarious arguements for religion, but that one is my new favourite.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 133.

    I always thought it was just the repressive, undemocratic countries of the Middle East that were ruled along religious lines. To find out that Britain is just as backward is really embarrassing.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 132.

    The presence of the Anglican (not Catholic, mind) bishops in the House of Lords gives Christians a privileged position in our society. As far as I understand it Christianity is not about privilege. Quite the reverse.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 131.

    It's time we moved on - we still don't live in a true democracy, and this is further proof of that - I like another posters suggestion of the upper house being made up of elected proffesionals, from industry, healthcare, education etc - these would be the people best placed to scrutinise the mountains of laws each government always feels compelled to pass...maybe it would slow the commons down.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 130.

    Let the bishops in, nothing more fun than argy-bargy between politicians and religious leaders.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 129.

    We cannot possibly condemn the undemocratic clerics running Iran's government and then keep these unelected CofE "mullahs" in our own. And what of the other religions? Would it be OK to have the Catholic Church having a say in how our country is governed, or radical Muslim clerics? How about the Scientologists or the representatives of any of this country's many and varied religions?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 128.

    Whilst the House of Lords does need reform, I think it's important and useful to have a chamber of unelected members who are there much of the time because they are the best in their field.
    Making the whole system elected will make the Lords even more party political and less effective. It's not undemocratic because the Lords cannot stop legislation going through, just delay it and suggest change

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 127.

    Bishops are often learn-ed men --but not women-- with kindness in their hearts and an understanding of society -- I would argue here that they understood more than many MPs. As such they can bring a positive force to the second chamber. However, they should be capable of performing this function without open affiliation to a religion.

 

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