Staggering 95% support bishops losing guaranteed seats in House of Lords

Labour would aim to abolish the House of Lords says Starmer readers have overwhelmingly joined calls for bishops to have their automatic seats in the House of Lords removed, a new poll has found.

Leading a Parliamentary debate last week, SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said that Anglican bishops should no longer have a guaranteed role in Parliament, claiming that the Church of England’s role in politics gives “democracy a bad name”.

He told the PA News Agency: “I don’t seek to exclude people of faith from Parliament, I just say they shouldn’t have a special privileged section where they and only they inhabit this bunch of seats.”

Some 26 seats in the upper chamber are reserved for Church of England bishops, including two for the archbishops of Canterbury and York.

During the debate, Conservative MP Chris Loder claimed that it was “damaging” for clergymen to be involved in political debates.

READ MORE: MP calls for bishops to lose seats in Lords after clashes with government

In response, ran a poll from 10am on Friday, July 7, to 2.30pm on Monday, July 10, asking readers: “Should bishops lose their automatic seats in the upper chamber?”

Overall, 9,569 votes were cast, with a staggering 95 percent (9,069 people) answering “yes” they should. Whereas five percent (453 people) said “no” and a further 47 people said they did not know.

Hundreds of comments were left below the accompanying article as readers debated the future of bishops in the House of Lords.

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The predominant argument shared by readers was in favour of bishops losing their automatic seats, with username Fedupcitizen writing: “Yes, they should be removed immediately. Religion has no place in politics.”

Similarly, username ROB.1.N said: “The Church has no business being involved in politics or our governance. Get them out of the House of Lords.”

Another, username whateveryousay, said: “Absolutely right to withdraw clergy from interfering in the business of government.”

And username 54bombay added: “Government and religion have to be separate now in the 21st century.”

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Speaking in the Westminster Hall debate, Labour MP Neil Coyle said he would be “disappointed” if bishops were not participating in political debate.

A Church of England spokesperson said that bishops serving in the House of Lords provide “an independent, non-partisan voice in parliamentary debates, bringing an ethical and spiritual perspective that is also informed by their roles as key figures in local civil society”.

Cabinet Office minister Alex Burghart said that reforming the House of Lords to remove bishops was “not something that the Government will be engaging in”.

Other readers commented that the entire upper chamber needed to be reformed. Username Bumpy Grollix said: “The House of Lords badly needs reform, firstly to limit its numbers to a max of 150, and all of them subject to being elected by us!”

And username feenixnites added: “The lords should be abolished full stop. Having unelected religious leaders there is a farce and one of the reasons why it needs to be abolished.”

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