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An MP’s defence of bishops in the House of Lords

Our columnist Maggie Hall wrote to her MP, Maria Caulfield, about Bishops in the House of Lords and this is the response she got:

Dear Maggie

Thank you for your email. While I note your concerns, I believe it is important that Parliament continues to reflect and acknowledge our Christian heritage and history.

The continuing place of Anglican Bishops in the Lords reflects our enduring constitutional arrangement, with an established Church of England and its Supreme Governor as Monarch and Head of State. This relationship between the Crown, Parliament and the Church has evolved over centuries and underpins the fabric of our nation.

The Lords Spiritual bring an important independent voice and spiritual insight to the work of the Upper House and, while they make no claims to direct representation, seek to be a voice for all people of faith, not just Christians. The presence of the Church of England in every community in England gives Bishops personal access to a very wide spread of civil organisation and experience.

Their personal contribution to the work of the House of Lords therefore draws not on partisan policy but on that direct experience, as well as engagement generally with questions of ethics, morality, and faith.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Best Wishes,


Maria Caulfield MP

Member of Parliament for Lewes

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

We'd love to hear your comments!

Photo credit: The photo of Maria Caulfield MP shown in the thumbnail image is an official portrait by Chris McAndrew, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. File:Official portrait of Maria Caulfield crop 1.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

79 views3 comments


Neil Lucock
Neil Lucock
May 01

The problem with the bishops is that their inclusion may have seemed sensible when the rule was created, but the practice hasn't kept up with society. With attendance at CofE churches very low and less than 50% of the population identifying as Christian (and even fewer actually attending churches), the inclusion of the Bishops is now ridiculous. I'd argue that Bishops have very little expertise in ethics or morals, look at their behaviour in the clerical child abuse cover-ups. They might know what it says in the bible, but try asking them if they agree that someone could be punished for the sins of another person and they'll try their best to avoid undermining the religious basis for the cruxifiction.


Eric Hayman
Eric Hayman
Apr 01

" I believe it is important that Parliament continues to reflect and acknowledge our Christian heritage and history."

When do heritage and history begin? Christianity began when a disaffected Judaist invented his own religion. Surely there should be at least one rabbi in the House of Lords.

And with the ever-increasing proportion of Hindus and Muslims in the UK, why no purohitas or mullahs?

And - of course - why no Humanist representation?

Replying to

There are plenty of humanists in the House of Lords such as Joan Bakewell and Alf Dubs. Jonathan Sacks the (late) chief rabbi was a peer, but apparently not his current successor Ephraim Mirvis. There are plenty of peers from different faiths and lack of faith, but they are not there as of right - unlike the 26 bishops with guaranteed seats.

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