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Reforming the House of Lords

Ekklesia has a press release, Bishops urged to play leading role in reform of House of Lords.

The religion and society think-tank Ekklesia has today teamed up with democracy campaign Power2010 in an initiative to urge Church of England bishops to take a lead in reforming the House of Lords.

Local churches and others are being encouraged to contact bishops, and ask them to continue in their support for the ‘bottom up’ campaign to reinvigorate democracy, which saw 100,000 votes cast, many in support of a reformed Second Chamber.

Several bishops have previously spoken favourably about Power2010, which aimed to identify five key political reforms.

A public vote, which finished on 22 February 2010, saw an all elected second chamber supported as the third most popular reform…

And a further article is titled Come on board for Lords reform, bishops urged.

From today, people are able to email all the bishops with a fully customisable message set up through the Power2010 website: http://www.power2010.org.uk/faith Hundreds have done so already, say organisers.

(At the time of writing this article, over 16,000 emails have been sent.)

From the Power2010 blog, there is Join our call for Bishops to back reform of the Lords.

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Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

While appreciating the initiative of Power 2010 asking the Bishops to help in the Reform of the House of Lords, one wonders whether it is Bishops within the House that need to be reformed. If the recent actions of +Winchester are any indication, the sooner Anglican Bishops are no longer seated in the House of Lords, the better for both Church and People.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

I’m not conversant with the issues involved in potential reform of the House of Lords, but I take cheer in the fact that, if the British House of Lords were to be reformed, then it may, just may, be possible, to reform the Canadian Senate that is modeled on the House of Lords. The Canadian upper chamber is unelected and cannot do more than hold up legislation; but many of us here would like to see an elected Senate, or failing that, abolition of the Senate. Its sole purpose at present is that it is an appointed chamber and an… Read more »

Diego
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There is no need whatsoever to reform the House of Lords from ‘bottom up’. The general public should be rather reminded of the good things that have come out of the Lords and to which the Commons were opposed… (E.g. the bishops talking about Fathers for Justice or the depenalization of homosexuality. In fact, in this last case it was the bishops who raised awareness on the problem and campaigned for the depenalization which lead to the report.) Also, creating another Commons would be pointless. It is not a question of more representation. Moreover, two entirely elective chambers and no… Read more »

Andrew
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Andrew

Watch what you ask for. Look at the clowns in the elected US Senate.

Malcolm+
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Ironically, Rod, recent changes to the Lords over the past decade or so have actually made it MORE like the Canadian Senate (or, as I prefer to call it, the festering pustule on the arse-end of Canadian democracy). The significant differences between the Lords as it is and our Senate are: – the inclusion of the 26 Lords Spiritual, – the inclusion of some number of hereditary peers (elected from among all the hereditary peers). The former is the effect of establishment. The latter means that there are some number of Lords whose membership in the chamber is not dependent… Read more »

toby forward
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Andrew, I don’t know about the composition of the US Senate, but take heart. However many clowns you elect, you always have the opportunity to replace them at the next election. The clowns in the House of Lords are there until they die, with the exception of the Clowns Spiritual who stay until they retire from their dioceses. We have no opportunity to say they’re no good and we want rid of them.

Simon Barrow
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Ron, you write “one wonders whether it is Bishops within the House that need to be reformed.” Have a read of the whole press release, you’ll see that this is precisely what the deal is about! But rather than just moaning at the bishops, or indeed the House of Lords, this initiative is aiming to engage them positively in re-thinking their own role and participating in the long-overdue reshaping of democratic institutions. The initial aim was ten thousand letters. That was doubled in one day. I doubt that the bishops in the Lords have ever received so much correspondence! Please… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Yes, Malcolm the Harper government has had to eat a lot of crow with regard to the Senate. My point was that if there is serious conversation in the U.K. about reform of the Lords, then it holds out hope that the deadlock in Canada with regard to a constitutional amendment might also be possible. Speaking of Lords Spiritual, it brings me to a topic closer to home, and that is reform of the structure of the Canadian Church. There is a proposal going to our next General Synod to change the role of the Primate. All indications are that… Read more »

evensongjunkie (formerly cbfh)
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evensongjunkie (formerly cbfh)

“The clowns in the House of Lords are there until they die,…” They don’t have a mandatory retirement age? I believe our (TEC) bishops cannot vote in the House of Bishops after a certain age. Over here in Yankee-land, we have the every six year circus and the every two year circus (oh, what the hey, consider it continuous) for the U. S. Senate and House respectively. Now that we’ve got the right to have unlimited funding from LLC’s, corporations and labor unions to influence these elections, I know my stock in marketing media is going to do very well.… Read more »

toby forward
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evensongjunkie,
sorry if I wasn’t clear. The Lords Temporal are there until they die (perhaps, unless the cleaners notice, even beyond then sometimes), the Lords Spiritual leave at 70 at the latest, although brain death seems to be no barrier to continuing in office.

Malcolm+
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Rod, I”m not familiar with the proposals. Are they online anywhere?

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Malcolm, there is an article on The Journal site, but it is a fuzzy article. The byline is that the Task Group is “not keen to change primacy model” i.e. move the primacy office back into a sitting diocesan bishop like days of yore, but then when you read the article, clearly there is a plan to entrench the “expectation” that the Primate be in dioceses. Its the slippery slope argument. Once you increase the role and profile of an office, authority is not far behind. The office of General Secretary of GS seems to have become much less of… Read more »

Andrew
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Andrew

The clowns in the US Senate (as I inelegantly called them) by virtue of being there, attract huge lobbyist and other money. It is very hard to remove a sitting senator unless they are conspicuously incompetent or corrupt. Boxer is far to the left of the average Californian, as was Kennedy in Massachusetts, proved (perhaps) by the election of a Republican when Ted Kennedy finally left for another place (not sure it was Heaven). Same thing can be said for right wing Republicans, and even for moderates (Feinstein, who is a very good senator.) So I would warn my fellow… Read more »

Anthony Hughes
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Anthony Hughes

To whom it may concern: It is very unfortunate, in my belief, that a large majority of persons feel that an elected House of Lords is a constitutional neccessity, or will serve a better purpose than the Lords do at present. Many seem to forget the point and purpose of the Lords – it is to be an independent, impartial, expert, and meticulous check on Government legislation. What Mr. Blair and his colleagues did in 1999 goes against all parliamentary logic. The removal of many lay peers in the pursuit of “democracy” is unfounded and without substance. In its place,… Read more »

Matt
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Matt

Step One: Retain current arrangements for Hereditaries and Bishops. Automatically grant a life-peerage to all members of the supreme court ; who become entitled to sit in the Lords (as ‘Law Lords’) upon their retirement from the court. Step Two: A Bill placing a limit on the total number of peers there can be (whether sitting in the Lords or not), at any one time. I suggest 1750 people. Step Three: The Life Peers to select 25% of their numbers to sit in the Lords (the remaining ‘pool’ of Life Peers could, like the pool of Hereditaries, be voted back… Read more »