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Bishops in the House of Lords - petition delivered

December 9, 2011 4:00 PM

HSLD's petition against bishops in the House of Lords has been delivered to key LibDem MPs and Peers.

Over 200 signatures were collected from members and supporters in just two weeks.

Toby Keynes, Chair of HSLD, said "The Archbishop of Canterbury has already made it clear that his bishops will be defending their privileged position as lawmakers vigorously. In September our party conference decided by an overwhelming majority that the bishops should have no place in a reformed House of Lords. It is time to end the historical anomaly that representatives of one religious institution can decide the laws by which citizens of all faiths and of none must live. As our MPs and peers challenge the bishops' place in the Lords, we will ensure that they know they have our support, and that our party's policy is dear to the heart of many Liberal Democrats."

The petition reads:

"We, the undersigned, believe that there should be no bishops sitting in the reformed House of Lords, in line with the Liberal Democrat policy that no seats in Parliament should be reserved for any group or individual on the basis of their beliefs, religious or otherwise.

"The UK parliament is the only democratic country that gives seats in its legislature to religious representatives as of right and we believe that this is unfair, unequal and undemocratic. The government's current proposals give even more privileges to Church of England Bishops than they currently have, and create an independent and largely unaccountable group of individuals inside the second chamber. We believe this is inappropriate and unacceptable in the legislature of a modern democracy. We urge those dealing with this bill to remove this provision from it at the earliest opportunity."

The petition has been submitted to

  • Baroness Ros Scott, Lord Tyler and John Thurso MP, the Liberal Democrats on the Draft House of Lords Reform Bill Select Committee;
  • Norman Lamb MP, Assistant Government Whip in the House of Commons;
  • Mark Williams MP, who will be playing a leading role in steering the Reform Bill through the Commons.