Bishops in the House of Lords have been urged to modernise their clothing and adopt a more casual appearance by dispensing with their customary robes.
Virginia Bottomley, a former Conservative cabinet minister, provided this recommendation to the bishops of the Church of England during the annual debate presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the upper chamber.
Baroness Bottomley of Nettlestone said: "I passionately want the Lords spiritual to remain but I do not think they enhance their prospects by looking like a Persil advertisement.
"I have spoken to virtually every bishop about removing the robes. You don't need to wear them.
"So long as the bishop saying prayers - officiating - is wearing a robe, you can then keep the Robing Room, but all the others really should modernise their attire and look more normal, even though in their dog collars and very attractive shirts.
"I have said this politely to so many Lords spiritual but now I have had to call upon the House to help in my campaign.”
In the House of Lords, Lord Spiritual bishops commonly choose to don a distinctive day dress, comprising a rochet and chimere. The chimere, comparable to an academic gown but without sleeves and open at the front, is complemented by the rochet—a white vestment worn underneath. The wristbands of the bishop's rochet are traditionally coordinated to match the colour of the chimere.