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House of Lords 2021 / Photography by Roger Harris
World News

‘A matter for parliament’: Church of England responds to Sandi Toksvig’s House of Lords petition

by Kelly Valencia

The Church of England has defended the work of bishops in the House of Lords following the launch of a petition to remove them from parliament.

They say bishops make “a unique and non-party political contribution in Parliament” and speak “openly, and often forcefully, for those in the margins”.

On Friday, broadcaster and writer Sandi Toksvig, launched a petition to remove the 26 bishops who sit in Parliament as the Lords Spiritual, arguing the Church’s exemption from equality laws is "discriminatory" for women and the LGBT+ community.

The petition has so far gathered more than 40,000 signatures.

Both the archbishops of Canterbury and York together with other 21 bishops, form the Lords Spiritual.

A Church of England spokesperson told Premier: “The Bishops in the House of Lords make a unique and non-party political contribution in Parliament, rooted in the Church’s role as a Christian presence in every community in England.

“They don’t take a party line, or vote as a bloc; they are not appointed because of political connections and they are the only group in the Lords whose numbers are limited, who have a fixed retirement age and who, because of their own dioceses, effectively represent a specific area of the country.

“This enables them to fulfil a very special role in Parliament - providing a day-to-day ethical and faith perspective on legislation and other business, drawing from their faith and what they see and hear first-hand in parishes and other networks across the country and overseas.

“That enables them to speak openly, and often forcefully, for those on the margins - whether on the impact of the universal credit two-child limit, the treatment of refugees and prisoners, human rights at home and abroad, gambling reform and getting justice for the victims of the cladding scandal, for example.

“Questions about their future role are, and always will be, a matter for Parliament.”

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