Monday, March 15, 2010

Time for bishops to leave the House of Lords

Britain is second only to Iran in giving established religion so much power in the constitution. Twenty-six male Anglican bishops sit in the House of Lords (the second chamber) as a matter of right and vote on legislation. This gives a particular religious voice power as a matter of right rather than merit. This is clearly unacceptable, and most people in the country, and indeed most Christians in this country think so.

I'm a supporter of Power2010, that has gathered five clear ideas (gathered from the grassroots) to reform British politics. One of these is to replace the House of Lords with an elected second chamber. The time for this is clearly overdue. I'd encourage you to write the Anglican bishops to ask them to support this democratic move. 50,000 people already have. It would be wonderful if the bishops could stand up for democracy and voluntarily give up their power for the sake of democracy - what a wonderfully powerful Christian witness that would be.


Blogger Unitalian said...

I agree with the bishops, BUT I am sceptical of democratic reform - ironically I fear it could lead to a democratic deficit - and feel quite strongly it should retain its title, The House of Lords!

Tradition - cultural identity - is important, it gives people a sense of belonging, and I don't like the way institutions regularly come under attack in the name of "modernity" - a kind of iconoclasm that alienates people.

I don't want a "senate" full of more political place men and women on the public purse, voting along party lines. We already have that with Europe.

Over the past 40 years or so, there has been a process which has surely and steadily distanced the people from the democratic process - politics has become a career, not a vocation, and the independent voice is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Boring politics suits the powerful - a public disinterested and disengaged is a malleable one. We should therefore think carefully before overhauling a system that has served us reasonably well for almost a thousand years.

8:17 am  
Blogger Andrew Bethune said...

Members of the House of Lords should be elected by the people. Being placed there by favour of a monarch or Prime Minister or because your ancestor was so favoured is not acceptable in a modern democracy.

Having official reprentatives of the main church of only one part of the UK is not acceptable either.

I have to ask, why are there no church representatives from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland in the Lords.

If bishops want to stand as candidates, well and good, but they shouldn't be in the Lords by reason of their office.

11:29 am  
Blogger Yewtree said...

I was one of the 50,000 who wrote to the bishops.

I think the House of Lords should have rotating membership, selected on the same basis as the jury system, with members serving for 3 years.

12:09 pm  

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