23 June 2000
A response on behalf of the Church of England to the Report of the Royal Commission on House of Lords Reform has been submitted to Government by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York today (Friday 23 June).
The submission offers a broad welcome to the Report of the Commission chaired by Lord Wakeham, including its proposals for a partly elected Second Chamber, for separating the peerage from the honours system and for an independent appointments body.
The submission also welcomes the principle, advanced by the Church of England in its own evidence to the Wakeham Commission, that a wider range of denominations and faiths should have a voice in the Second Chamber.
At the same time, the submission opposes a recommendation that a standard 15-year
term should apply to members of the new House, including Church of England Bishops.
The submission points out that, given the ex-officio status of bishops in the House of Lords, the period of service would generally be considerably shorter than 15 years.
The submission argues that, on the assumption that the main thrust of the Royal Commission's approach is implemented, a minimum of 20 Bishops should have places in the Second Chamber in order to offer effective parliamentary service. Fewer than this number would mean that a diminished range of experience and skills would be represented and could result in bishops facing a conflict between their diocesan and parliamentary responsibilities.
The submission says an adjustment of proposed Church of England numbers should not be at the expense of other denominations and faiths, whose own presence should be increased in proportion.