THINKING ANGLICANS

Lords reform postponed: "bishops safe"

The Deputy Prime Minister announced this week that the the Government does not intend to proceed with Lords reform in this parliament.

The Church of England then issued this Statement from the Bishop of Leicester on the House of Lords Reform Bill.

All this is reported today in the Church Times (sadly subscription only) under the headline Bishops safe as Lords Bill dropped.

David Pocklington has written at Law and Religion UK about Parliamentary Reform and the Bishops. He includes the following comment:

Perhaps instead of proclaiming ‘Bishops safe, as Clegg drops Lords’ Bill’, the headline in the Church Times should have read ‘Bishops miss opportunity to reorganize strategically’.

Earlier, Frank Cranmer had written Parliament: plans for House of Lords reform abandoned and now he has added Bishops in the Lords: a non-English perspective.

The British Humanist Association which has opposed bishops in the Lords consistently reported it this way: Government abandons House of Lords reform.

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FeriaIain McLeanFather Ron SmithJCF Recent comment authors
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Iain McLean
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Iain McLean

No the bishops are not safe. To use one of these fashionable numbered lists: 1 The Lords is not fit for purpose. it is vastly over size and stuffed with party donors and ex-Whips. About 1/4 of its members are ex-MPs. As Walter Bagehot said 150 years ago, “the cure for reverence for the house of Lords is to go and listen to it”. Which I have, during the debates on civil partnerships on religious premises. 1.1 Now that reform has been abandoned the pressure to add yet more party donors and ex-Whips will become irresistible. Instead of an unfit… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

Can imagine that when Our Lord called the Twelve, he ever expected them to devolve into “bishops safe”? }-/

Feria
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Feria

Dear Iain, ‘The bishops cannot claim that they represent religion. They represent one religion in one of the four constituents of the UK’ The religion they represent, uniquely in the UK, submits to parliamentary oversight of its doctrines, liturgy and ecclesiology. In return for this extraordinary level of democratic accountability, I think it’s perfectly fair and morally sound that the Church of England gets its extraordinary seats in the House of Lords, and its extraordinary automatic access to registered charity status without having to pass any further public benefit test. As I understand it, both the Society of Friends and… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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The whole business of Bishops in the House of Lords is unique to the Church of England. There would need to be agreement of both parties – Church and Parliament – to discontinue the arrangement. It is up to the Church of England to consider whether the present arrangement is both equitable and just.

Thank goodness other Churches of the Communion are not tied to the political party of the hour.

Iain McLean
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Iain McLean

Feria: not quite correct. Scotland came in by treaty in 1707. One term was that the English not interfere in the church of Scotland (violated 1712, rectified 1874). S of F was exempted from Anglican monopoly of marriage in 1753, other denoms not till 1830s. See my “what’s wrong with the british constitution?” OUP 2010 excuse iPhone typing

Feria
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Feria

Thanks Iain. I’ll look out for a copy of your book.

I was thinking a little further back than the Act of Union: for the Church of Scotland, to the differing Scottish and English outcomes of the Westminster Assembly; and for the Society of Friends, to the breakdown of the 1688 BCP revision process.