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Bishop of Birmingham defends role of Church in the House of Lords

by Tola Mbakwe

Those sitting in the Lords have been urged to consider retirement as Baroness Evans of Bowes Park warned there was widespread concern about the size of the Lords and "what has been perceived as a never ending increase in numbers".

Lord Evans pointed to fears about the impact of the House of Lords' reputation of having more than 800 members and wants to reduce them to 600.

In a debate in which 100 speakers were due to have their say Bishop David argued against the idea of slashing bishops in the House, saying the number of bishops in the Lords had been fixed at 26 for almost two centuries.

"I think it's fair to say that any problems of overcrowding experienced in the House are not generally caused by too many bishops filling the lobbies or blocking the gangways," he said.

However, former Bishop of Oxford Lord Harries of Pentregarth said the size of the House did bring it into "disrepute" and reforms were urgently needed to give it "more credibility".

As well as proposing the number of peers should be cut to 600 and then capped at that level, parties have been asked to sign up to a "two out, one in" system to hit the new level in just over a decade.

Under the committee's recommendations, which would not require legislation, new peers would serve a maximum of 15 years and then retire.

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