Thinking Anglicans

public opinion surveys on bishops in the House of Lords

British Religion in Numbers reports on the survey behind the claim made by the Sun that

‘Six out of ten Brits think bishops should be booted out of the House of Lords after defeating plans to cap benefits at £26,000 a year.’

As BRIN explains, in Lords Spiritual:

The survey was undertaken online on 24 January 2012, among a sample of 749 adults aged 18 and over, and in the wake of the amendment to the Bill passed by the House of Lords the previous night, which had the effect of excluding child benefit from the £26,000 cap being proposed by the Government. Data tables have been posted at:

Read the full article for reference to an earlier (2010) survey on the same topic, and look in the comments for a further link to yet another recent survey, this one for the Sunday Times.

All this has some relevance to the forthcoming General Synod debate on a Private Member’s Motion on House of Lords Reform.

The briefing papers are here:

Tony Berry and April Alexander
Background Note by the Secretary General


  • evensongjunkie says:

    Alright! Right up there with our (U.S.) Republicans! Old men that just don’t have a clue….

  • Pat O'Neill says:

    Any decent statistician will tell you that on-line surveys aren’t worth the time it takes to read the results. Why? They are essentially “self-selecting”–the only people who respond to them are those with an interest in the questions, as opposed to true random surveys, where the respondents are chosen at random from among a statistically representative sample of the population. When surveys are done by legitimate polling organizations, they even allow for “non-responding” individuals, so that they maintain a truly representative sample.

  • One good reform would be to retire those Lords’ Spiritual (e.g. George Carey) from the House of Lords, who now have little to do with democratic reform in the context of national government, and who should be encouraged to remain silent.

  • cseitz says:

    ‘Six out of ten Brits think bishops should be booted out of the House of Lords after defeating plans to cap benefits at £26,000 a year’ — this appears to be an affirmation of Lord Carey’s position, not a rejection of it.

  • Lord Carey is no longer a Lord Spiritual; he now holds a Life Peerage, which is customarily granted to a retiring archbishop, Ron.

  • YouGov is a highly respected and respectable polling organisation, Pat. Take a look for example at this page

  • Pat O'Neill says:

    OK–my bad. I’m used to things here in the States where the big pollsters–Gallup and the like–never use on-line surveys.

  • Thanks, Simon, for that correction. It wouldn’t be a bad idea if retiring Archbishops were to quietly refuse the title of lord – either spiritual or secular. Continuing membership of the House of Lords does seem a bit anachronistic, especially in the sphere of ‘holy religion’.

  • Gerry Lynch says:

    As an ex-political pro, I can confirm that YouGov are an excellent pollster. I was very suspicious of its methodology when it emerged, but over the decade or so since they have proven a consistently reliable pollster.

  • cseitz says:

    Six out of ten Brits ‘reliably/excellently’ polled hold the same view as Lord Carey. Thanks for clarifying that.

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