Friday, November 02, 2007

Faith appointments to the Lords

The Prime Minister has just responded to a petition:

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to remove the unelected bishops from the House of Lords."

Details of Petition:

"The number of people attending church declines year on year and those with a religious belief are probably now in a minority. The Church of England retains this archaic right which is both anachronistic and anti-democratic. The right should be removed."
The response (emphasis added):
The Government remains committed to completing House of Lords reform and will enact the will of the House of Commons in developing reforms for a substantially or fully elected House of Lords. The Government's White Paper, House of Lords: Reform, (February 2007, CM7027) proposed reducing the number of Bishops in a reformed House in discussion with the Church of England. It added that it would be impossible, in a fully elected House, to see how representation of the Church of England could continue. The Government has made plain it is committed to maintaining the establishment of the Church of England as long as the Church wishes it.

The Government believes in the principle of a more representative House of Lords to reflect the make-up of the United Kingdom, including representatives of other faith communities and those of none. Over the coming months, the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor will continue to lead the cross-party talks on House of Lords reform with a view to bringing a comprehensive reform package, which will include the issue of the Bishops in a substantially elected House.
Far from removing clerical appointments to the second chamber, this reads as though the government intends to expand them to include representatives of other religions.

Of course, that's right and inevitable if the Church of England continues to send bishops to the House of Lords. You can't discriminate in favour of just one religion. This was the point behind this petition (which only gained 675 signatures).

An attachment to an appointed, undemocratic, clerical element in our system of government is about as extreme a right wing position as it is possible to imagine. Labour has become the Ancien RĂ©gime.

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