Thank you to all those who contacted me about reserved seats for Church of England Bishops in the House of Lords.

This issue was discussed by MPs in a Westminster Hall debate on 6 July 2023. At the debate, the Cabinet Office Minister said the Government’s view is that the current system in the House of Lords will continue to serve us well into the future. He did not offer support for an elected second chamber.

Bishops make up 3% of the House of Lords. They are not a homogenous group, but represent a diversity of opinion within the church and a range of political views. Whether or not we choose to have them as part of our legislature in the future, I recognise the contribution they make to Parliament and thank them for their service.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishop of London produced a briefing paper in 2021 which said that there was widespread consensus across the current Lords Spiritual that reform of the House of Lords was “inevitable”. It suggested elements of reform may include a reduction in their numbers.

More widely, I acknowledge that the House of Lords does a lot of hard work, and many Peers are experts in their fields. However, I recognise the case for reform and believe the House of Lords is not sustainable at its current size of almost 800 Members.

I would therefore like to see a wider conversation about our entire democracy. I believe this should include a new, properly accountable second chamber that truly represents people across the UK, where expertise is strengthened by democratic mandate.

We must look at how we transfer power from Westminster to the British people.

Reforms to our system need to ensure that the constitutional limits on government power are obeyed, and that power is truly shared, giving voice to the different nations and regions of the UK. People, communities and businesses could do so much more for their areas, but are being held back by a system that hoards power in Westminster. We must build something new instead.

Palace of Westminster against a sunset sky
Palace of Westminster against a sunset sky
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