Comments: Archbishops question case for elected House of Lords

By what possible right do unelected Anglican bishops claim to rule over non-Anglicans, including non-Anglican Christians?

I would like to hear from the former Vicar of Putney, Giles Fraser, in whose church the principles of democracy were first set out by Thomas Rainborough in 1647: "I think it's clear, that every man that is to live under a government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that government".

The Archbishops' argument against an elected house is thin. They say "We are concerned that the proposals in the Draft Bill may, by leading inevitably to a more assertive approach to conflict and disagreement with the Commons, make it harder for the institution as a whole to sustain the trust and confidence of the electorate".

BUT that description applies to the present House, which is stuffed with political appointees and disappointed ex-MPs and Whips.

Posted by Iain McLean at Friday, 11 November 2011 at 5:20pm GMT

Why should a wholly elected second chamber not work in this country when it works perfectly well in so many other democracies? For the Archbishops to ally themselves with the reactionaries is unfortunately typical and indeed the best reason for removing them from the second chamber altogether.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Friday, 11 November 2011 at 5:51pm GMT

"Archbishops question case for elected House of Lords"

And in other news "Turkeys don't vote for Christmas"

Posted by Laurence at Friday, 11 November 2011 at 6:42pm GMT

"The Archbishops of Canterbury and York question the rationale for a wholly or mainly elected House of Lords"

Fog in Channel, Continent Cut Off.

Posted by JCF at Friday, 11 November 2011 at 7:13pm GMT

Ah, I am so proud to be an American.

Posted by Lionel Deimel at Friday, 11 November 2011 at 7:32pm GMT

As an American, I am opposed to an elected House of Lords, just as I am opposed to all the other Americanizations (sorry, Americanisations) of our Mother Country. Next thing you know, they will allow sisters to inherit lordships and kingdoms ahead of their younger brothers.

If they want to be American states, England and Scotland and Wales and Cornwall and Ireland North (and South) should send in applications.
The United Kingdom should not try to do it by abolishing all the things that make it GREAT Britain.

An elected House of Lords is called a Senate. A disestablished Church of England is called a Protestant denomination.

Here, here Antidisestablishmentarianism! (What was said to be the longest word in the English language when I was a boy.)

Posted by Andrew at Friday, 11 November 2011 at 11:32pm GMT

You cannot serve both God and Caesar.

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 12 November 2011 at 3:02am GMT

Yeah, fully elected upper houses are so wonderful, just look at the US Senate. It's not dysfunctional at all.

Actually, I've been wondering why Brits think electing people to the House of Lords will make things better. As far as I can see it will only make things different, different benefits and different problems, and the major benefit I've seen folks talk about is making the HoL more "democratic", which is a relatively dubious benefit.

Posted by Jonathan at Saturday, 12 November 2011 at 6:23am GMT

I'm gobsmacked by how out of touch these prelates are with reality.

Personally, I question the case for the House of Lords at all - especially as the half-baked reforms under Blair have turned it from a mere historical anachronism into a bastardized version of the bastardized Canadian Senate.

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Saturday, 12 November 2011 at 6:40am GMT

I have some sympathy with the view that different is not necessarily better. There is no LOGICAL reason to have an elected Upper House, it is simply a choice based on a belief that the one person, one vote principle of direct election confers authority and validity. But, as our recent General Elections (indeed all of them since the early 60s I think) show, this principle is strongest if people vote, but when we get governments get elected by as little as 35% of the electorate then you get what is called a democratic deficit. If the populace can't be persuaded to vote for the House of Commons, why will they bother to vote for a chamber that will not have the final say?

However, parliamentary systems that have an hereditary element or an appointed element have clearly lost any real sense of popular validity. The monarchy retains it, at the moment. The Archbishops are daft not to recognise this and to go with it. I wonder it has not occurred to them that their voices might in fact be strengthened by being outside the House of Lords, and by a general loosening of the ties of Establishment (given that a wholesale disectablishment is a highly complicated thing to manage and is never going to be given the requisite parliamentary time).

Posted by JeremyP at Saturday, 12 November 2011 at 8:48am GMT

Bring back the Hereditary Peers - that's what I say! Debates in the Upper Chamber would be much more informed if the Earl of Grantham was once again allowed to take his seat. That's what this nation needs - a bit of class.

Posted by Father David at Saturday, 12 November 2011 at 9:17am GMT

"Whilst welcoming the Draft Bill’s proposals to provide continued places for bishops of the established Church in a partly appointed House, the Archbishops ask that the appointments process also have regard to increasing the presence of leaders of other denominations and faiths."

At least their Graces are admitting the need for a more democratic H. o. L. - pointing out the need for representation by other religious bodies - not only the C. of E.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 12 November 2011 at 10:22am GMT

New Zealand functions very well without a second chamber, and that is the nation which led the world in social reforms.

The Bishop's response is just a smoke screen to justify their own putrid position...with less than 2 percent of English people attending their so called national Church, and less than a third of new babies being baptized by it.

Posted by Robert ian Williams at Saturday, 12 November 2011 at 11:35am GMT

I'm just a Yank, so what do I know?
But it always seemed to me that the Lords had evolved into a place to dump MPs who had become too incompetent to function in a serious deliberative body & a "Supreme Court" when only the Law Lords would actually show up to hear the case. If ain't broke, don't fix it.
And as Jonathan points out, the elected Senate in the USA currently exists to prevent government -- as one of the characters in Chesterton's "The Man Who Was Thursday says: The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all.

Posted by Prior Aelred at Saturday, 12 November 2011 at 11:38am GMT

And what is their particular expertise I wonder? Stunts by Sentamu and messing up the Anglican Communion by Williams.

Posted by Tom at Saturday, 12 November 2011 at 1:55pm GMT
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