Draft House of Lords Reform Bill - Joint Committee on the Draft House of Lords Reform Bill Contents

4  Appointments, Bishops and Ministers

15. Appointments
Relevant sections of the draft Bill: Clauses 16 - 25, and Schedules 4 and 5


225. The draft Bill proposes that 20 per cent of the reformed House of Lords should be appointed to "bring a non-party political perspective to the work carried out by the reformed House of Lords". The Committee considered the case for having an appointed element in a reformed House of Lords earlier in this report (section 6 above), and supported the Government's proposed 80:20 split.

226. An Appointments Commission, established on a statutory basis, would recommend members who would be appointed at the same time as elected members take their seats. The draft Bill proposes that a third of the total number of appointed members be appointed every five years, to match the staggered elections envisaged for elected members. The Appointments Commission would comprise seven Commissioners. While MPs and Minister would not be eligible for appointment as Commissioners, the Government propose no ban on former or current members of the House of Lords serving as Commissioners.

227. According to the draft Bill, when appointing members the Appointments Commission "must select persons for recommendation ... on merit on the basis of fair and open competition" and "in doing so it must take account of the principle that, although past or present party political activity or affiliation does not necessarily preclude selection, the role of an appointed member is to make a contribution to the work of the House of Lords which is not a party political contribution".[304]

228. While existing cross-bench peers will leave the House during the transitional period, it is to be assumed they could re-apply to the statutory Appointments Commission for membership in the reformed House.


229. The current House of Lords Appointments Commission is an independent, advisory, non-departmental public body established by the Prime Minister in May 2000. It has two functions. First, it recommends individuals for appointment as non-party members of the House of Lords. Secondly, it vets all nominations for life peerages, including those proposed by the UK political parties, for propriety. It has seven members, and operates on a five-year term.[305]

230. There was general agreement among witnesses that appointments to the House of Lords should be made by a statutory Appointments Commission. Those witnesses in favour of an wholly elected House who commented on this aspect of the draft Bill, such as Unlock Democracy, agreed that, should an appointed element be retained they, "would expect this process to be managed by an Appointments Commission rather than by political patronage".[306] Others agreed.[307] Those opposed to an elected chamber also supported the introduction of a statutory Appointments Commission,[308] often stating their support for the provisions included in Lord Steel of Aikwood's House of Lords Reform Bill, which at the time included provision for a statutory Appointments Commission.[309] Lord Howarth of Newport, also opposed to an elected upper House, explained why:

"The government are right also to include in their proposals the creation of a statutory Appointments Commission. For so long as there are to be appointed members of the second chamber a Statutory Appointments Commission will be needed. It is not respectable that the existing Appointments Commission (admirable though its work has been) should be the creature of Prime Ministerial patronage".[310]

231. We agree that the Appointments Commission should be placed on a statutory footing.

232. We support the establishment of a statutory Joint Committee of members of the two Houses to oversee the Appointments Commission, as proposed in the draft Bill. This Joint Committee should oversee the governance of the Commission in addition to the responsibilities set out for it in the draft Bill.

233. We support the Government's proposal that the Appointments Commission could appropriately include former and current members of the House of Lords, but not serving MPs or Ministers.


234. The White Paper stated that the Commission would "set its own criteria and process of appointment but it would be under a statutory duty to publish the criteria of appointment and the details of the appointments process".[311] Lord Jay of Ewelme, Chair of the House of Lords Appointments Commission, told us however that there might be certain criteria which it would be "useful to have on the face of the Bill," such as "political independence and the ability to make an effective contribution to the work of the House".[312] We consider below certain key criteria which could be placed on the face of the Bill to inform and guide the work of the Appointments Commission.

Independence of appointees

235. Questioned on the political independence of appointed Peers, Lord Jay was clear:

"The Commission's view is that you are appointing to the Cross Benches and that that should be for the length of period for which you are in the House. You are appointing people to the Cross Benches of the House of Lords, not as a way in to a party-political position".[313]

236. The Minister agreed with this position: "we set out the fact that we thought that the Members who were appointed should be non-party political. We are very clear in the legislation that anyone who has a party label should get elected. The role of the Appointments Commission should be to appoint those who effectively are Cross-Benchers, to use the current parlance".[314] He thought that such independence was helpful. He noted that "the Cross-Benchers bring a set of experiences where they are not necessarily guided by that party Whip. We felt that that was an advantage, given the different role that we see for the House of Lords".[315]

237. Several witnesses commented on the independence of cross-bench peers. Professor Gavin Phillipson supported a mixed chamber as he believed that appointed members would allow a degree of independence that might be difficult to achieve through elections alone.[316] Unlock Democracy, while in favour of a 100 per cent elected House, were adamant that "if you are going to have appointment ... let us have those people not as party people ... Party people should be elected through the electoral system".[317]

238. The Committee agrees that appointed members should be independent. One of the benefits that we see arising from the presence of independent cross-benchers is the effect that it has on debates. The inclusion of genuinely independent members ensures that speakers in debate do not simply make party political points, but have to make a persuasive argument that will appeal to the non-politically aligned. Damien Welfare agreed that "certainly there is an argument that, in a mixed elected and appointed House, that would still be the case and would be something that the Government would have to consider".[318] This is not to say that individuals who have previously been party politically active should be banned from appointment, but rather that such members should no longer have an recent overt party political affiliation which would influence their behaviour in the chamber.

Expertise and experience

239. In any project to reform the membership of the current House of Lords the problem will arise of how to replace the breadth of expertise and experience found amongst members of the present House, and in particular among cross-bench peers. Some witnesses argued that directly elected members would not possess the same level of expertise as the current appointed membership. For such witnesses an essential function of a 20 per cent appointed element would be to increase the overall expertise of a mainly elected House. Pauline Latham MP, for example, wrote:

"The House of Lords is currently made up of many specialists in the areas of academia, health, business, the services, and many, many more. With such specialist talent, it is highly unlikely that these people would be likely to stand for election".[319]

She added, however, her concern that were only 20 per cent of a reformed House appointed this would jeopardise the current level of expertise. Lord Maclennan of Rogart, while a supporter of an elected House, likewise thought that there would be an "inescapable loss" of expertise and experience with the removal of appointed members.[320] The Archbishops of Canterbury and York pointed to the expertise that appointments could bring but also to the breadth of civil society it could help to include in terms of the voluntary, community and charitable sectors.[321] A large number of other submissions concurred with this view of expertise and appointments.[322]

240. Others were less convinced that the appointment of cross-benchers was the only means to introduce expertise into a reformed House. The Minister thought that cross-benchers brought "a different perspective" to debates on legislation, but he was clear that expertise would be not be found solely on the cross-benches, stating bluntly that "in the generality, I just do not buy the argument that people who are prepared to seek election do not bring a lot of experience with them".[323] Others agreed.[324] Professor Hugh Bochel and his colleagues meanwhile stated that in the current House of Lords expertise was "patchy, may be deficient in a number of key policy areas, and as members are appointed for life, is in some cases a diminishing resource".[325]

241. Unlock Democracy wondered whether "expertise can more effectively be brought into the legislature though the appointment of special advisers to select committees or to committees to consider specific Bills rather than through full time membership of the second chamber". This would also ensure that the expertise was always relevant and up-to-date and that experts would not have to "choose between their existing careers and advising on legislation in their field".[326] Others proposed similar suggestions for including outside expertise in the legislative process.[327]

242. Lord Jay was clear that "it would be the job of the Appointments Commission to ensure that there was a sufficient range of expertise". He noted that the current House of Lords Appointments Commission had commissioned a study on the expertise available to the House and then "tried to make certain that we can fill those gaps, in so far as that is consistent with merit and so on". He thought that "that kind of work would be necessary under the Bill with 20% nominated .. It would be necessary to continue to try and make certain that there was a good diversity of skills".[328]

243. Evidence suggested that a 100 per cent elected House would be unlikely to attract the breadth and depth of expertise now present in the House of Lords. Outside expertise is of course already brought into the House's deliberations through the work of Select Committees—one obvious example being the work of this Joint Committee—but the evidence clearly shows that there is a role for appointed members to ensure that a range of necessary expertise is represented in the chamber.


244. We asked whether the Appointments Commission should take pains to appoint a diverse range of members. Lord Jay suggested that "I think that you would want to try to ensure that there was a reasonable balance of diversity in the broadest sense in the 20 names that you were proposing for appointment—diversity in terms of ethnic background and gender throughout the United Kingdom".[329] When asked whether the Appointments Commission should try to appoint members to correct gender or ethnic imbalances amongst elected members, however, Lord Jay felt that "you would just have to look at the appointed only".[330]

245. Other witnesses agreed that diversity was an issue that an Appointments Commission should focus on.[331] Lord Howarth of Newport observed that the appointed House of Lords "already has a better gender balance than the Commons, and a statutory Appointments Commission, tasked to make progress on this, would be well placed to do so".[332] Some witnesses supported more stringent requirements: the Hansard Society, the Fawcett Society, the Electoral Reform Society and others argued that it should be a statutory requirement of the Appointments Commission to appoint equal numbers of men and women.[333]

246. We heard specific evidence on the issue of whether the Appointments Commission should promote religious diversity in a reformed House. Among others,[334] Theos and the Archbishops of Canterbury and York argued that the Appointments Commission's criteria should include a focus on religious diversity to ensure that a range of faiths were represented in the upper House.[335] The Minister told us that "it would be perfectly open to the Appointments Commission to take into account the faith diversity of the country, in the same way as it is able to now, when thinking about whom it appointed".[336] Lord Jay stressed, however, that an Appointments Commission should make appointments "on merit and to be looking at the range of expertise that the House clearly needed, rather than by quotas".[337]

247. Lord Jay stated that he was "very conscious of geographic imbalance" in the current house;[338] an issue which the Minister described more strongly as a "massive skewing of representation towards London and the south-east and slight overrepresentation in Scotland, with massive underrepresentation in all the other parts of the United Kingdom".[339] The Committee note that, should elected members be elected on a regional basis, this would obviously cease to be an issue among the 80 per cent elected element of a reformed House.

248. We consider that the values set out above—independence, expertise and experience, and diversity—should form a core around which the Appointments Commission should construct its criteria for appointing members to the House of Lords. While we recognise that the Appointments Commission should apply its criteria independently, we believe that it is appropriate that Parliament should have the final say on the criteria devised by the Appointments Commission, and the guidance it produces on how it will apply those criteria.

249. We consider that there would be merit in placing on the face of the Bill certain broad criteria to which the Appointments Commission "should have regard" when recommending individuals for appointment. We recommend that these should be:

  • an absence of recent overt party political affiliation;
  • the ability and willingness to contribute effectively to the work of the House;
  • the diversity of the United Kingdom, in the broadest sense;
  • inclusion of the major faiths; and,
  • integrity and standards in public life.

250. Variations of the Appointment Commission's criteria, or guidance produced under them, should be subject to parliamentary approval through the super-affirmative procedure.


251. We questioned Lord Jay on the effect of requiring appointed members to perform a full-time role in the House. He replied:

"this in a way goes to the heart of it. The nature of the expertise of people who would come to the House if it were as proposed in the Bill would be different from what it is now. Some people who would now choose to apply would not choose to apply, while some people having looked closely at the terms of reference will conclude that it is not possible to be a full-time Member of a reformed House of Lords and continue to do other things as well".[340]

adding that:

"if you are appointing people with a degree of expertise to a full-time House, how are they going to maintain that expertise when they do not have the time that they now have to pursue other interests and bring the expertise thus gained into the work of the House of Lords?".[341]

252. Lord Jay told us that his "own view is that the Cross-Bench Peers in an 80:20 elected House should be full-time and not part-time" because if they were part-time "there will be a very great distinction between the elected Members and the appointed Members".[342]

253. Other witnesses took a different view however.[343] The Clerk of the Parliaments did not see any practical difficulties arising from a House containing both full-time and part-time members, noting that "we already have members who devote different portions of their time to their membership. That seems to work ... I would certainly not accept that it has to be full-time".[344]

254. The Deputy Prime Minister acknowledged that it was a "finely balanced argument"[345] noting that:

"On the one hand, if one is going to confer a democratic mandate on elected Members of the House of Lords, in order to reciprocate the confidence the people have invested in you, you should be applying yourself full time to the job of scrutinising and revising Government legislation. There is a very powerful argument that says that, precisely in order to retain that independence of spirit and objectivity of mind and thought, not only is it worth having people elected, particularly under the STV system where they are freer of party strictures, but there might be a case for allowing them to continue to do other things so they have one leg in politics, if you like, and one leg in the real world".[346]

255. We consider that the advantages of having part-time appointed members (the maintenance of professional expertise and the ability to attract individuals who would not want to commit to a full-time role) outweigh the possible disadvantage (that it might result in a two-tier House). We recommend therefore that appointed members should not have to commit to the same level of activity as elected members of the reformed House of Lords. The pay implications of this decision are discussed at section 19 below.


256. Earlier in this report (section 12 above) the Committee recommended that elected members should be subject to a minimum attendance requirement, with members who failed to attend over 50 per cent of sittings days in a session being forced to stand for re-election. Such a mechanism would not be appropriate for appointed members, particularly if they do not have to commit to a full-time role in the House. We believe, however, that there should be some mechanism to remove appointed members who fail to contribute as expected to the work of the House.

257. To ensure that there is a mechanism to remove appointed members who fail to contribute to the work of the House as expected, we recommend that appointments made by the Commission should be for an initial term of five years, with the expectation of reappointment up to the maximum limit of an elected term.

258. The Committee expect that the Appointments Commission will use its discretion to decide what they consider to be an appropriate "contribution to the work of the House," and that such a definition will be published.

259. Finally, the Committee note that appointed members wishing to leave the House at the end of a five-year period could do so by giving notice to the Appointments Commission that they did not wish to be reappointed.

16. Appointed Ministers
Relevant section of the draft Bill: Clause 34

260. For many years, Prime Ministers have used grants of peerages to appoint individuals from outside the political mainstream as Ministers of the Crown. It is a convention that Ministers of the Crown should be members either of the House of Commons or the House of Lords, and Clause 34 of the draft Bill enables Her Majesty The Queen to appoint ministerial members of the House of Lords on the advice of the Prime Minister. Their membership of the House ceases when they cease to be a Minister. Accordingly, the writ of summons previously issued has no further effect.

261. In Clause 34 of the draft Bill, Subsection (7) confers on the Prime Minister wide-ranging power by order to make provision about the appointment, number, disqualification and payment (including allowances) of ministerial members, and about the circumstances in which they cease to be a ministerial member. It also allows for persons who are or have been ministerial members to be disqualified from being another kind of member of the House (e.g. from seeking election).

262. The Government propose that Ministers may also be drawn from elected members of the House of Lords and from transitional members during the transitional period. No reason is given on the face of the Bill why appointed members could not also be ministers.[347]

263. Most witnesses who contributed views on this part of the Bill favoured these provisions, including Lord Adonis and Lord Carter of Barnes (both of whom were appointed with a view to serving as ministers). Some were concerned that the Prime Minister's power to appoint ministerial members of the House of Lords gave him or her the power to alter the party balance in a reformed House, which could be decisive if one side had a narrow majority.[348] Lord Adonis argued that a limit on ministerial appointments should be imposed: "Being realistic, what flexibility does a Prime Minister need? They are not realistically going to want to appoint more than about five, unless the objective was to sway the balance of parties in the Lords, I would have thought".[349]

264. Another suggested solution to this issue was that ministerial members of the House of Lords might be denied the right to vote; they would simply speak, and represent their departments in the Upper House. We acknowledge the argument that a Minister of the Crown unable to vote for a Bill which he was responsible might be disappointed but by what logic should he be permitted to vote on other matters? Another proposed solution was that a reformed House of Lords should not contain any Ministers of the Crown at all, but that ministers should have the ability to address the House. This would preserve a degree of accountability, while also distinguishing the reformed House from the Commons.[350] Such an arrangement would present certain practical difficulties—for example, Ministers would be unable to move Government amendments to Bills which would clearly be absurd.

265. There was support for the notion that Members appointed to the reformed House as Ministers of the Crown should cease to belong to the House when they cease to hold ministerial office. Lord Adonis, for example, stated that "if the second Chamber were wholly elected or 80% elected, with the non-elected Members as the Cross-Benchers, the sole legitimacy of that person being in the Lords would be their possession of ministerial office, so the argument for their membership ceasing when their ministerial office ceases is logically and democratically very strong".[351] This would prevent the House from becoming too large, and emphasise the particular purpose of specially-appointed ministers in the House of Lords.

266. We recommend that a reformed House of Lords should continue to contain Ministers of the Crown to represent the Government. In a fully-elected House, there should be no power to appoint additional members to carry out ministerial roles.

267. We agree that the Prime Minister should be able to appoint a small number of additional members to a hybrid (part-elected, part-appointed) House as Ministers of the Crown. We believe that these members should have the right to sit, but not to vote, in a reformed House.

268. We acknowledge that the appointment of ministers to the Lords is a significant power of patronage. We have recommended that such appointees should not vote. Were the Government not to accept this recommendation, however, we would recommend that the number of additional ministerial appointments should be limited, to no more than five at any one time. This limit should be on the face of the Bill.

269. We also agree that Members appointed to the House of Lords specifically as Ministers of the Crown should cease to be Members on the termination of their ministerial appointment. This reflects the special circumstances under which they come to be Members.

270. The House of Lords Appointments Commission should vet the individuals appointed as Ministers of the Crown for probity. In this capacity, it should act only as an advisory body to the Prime Minister. It should not have the power of veto over ministerial appointments.

17 Lords Spiritual
Relevant sections of the draft Bill: Clauses 26 - 33

271. Lords Spiritual have been a part of the legislature since Parliament's earliest meetings. Under the current arrangements, 26 bishops of the Church of England sit in the House of Lords. Five sit ex officio: the Church's two primates, the Archbishop of Canterbury (Primate of All England) and the Archbishop of York (Primate of England); and the three diocesan bishops of the "great sees", the Bishops of London, Durham and Winchester. Of the remaining 37 eligible diocesan bishops (the Bishops of Sodor and Man, and Gibraltar in Europe are ineligible for service in the House of Lords), the 21 most senior by length of service[352] also sit in the Lords.

272. The United Kingdom's other established church, the Church of Scotland, is not formally represented in the House of Lords. No other faith leaders sit ex officio.


273. The draft Bill would preserve the presence in a reformed House of the two Archbishops and the Bishops of London, Durham and Winchester, for as long as the incumbents hold their offices. In addition, the draft Bill provides for the presence of a decreasing number of "ordinary Lords Spiritual" to sit alongside those five "named Lords Spiritual" in a reformed House. For the first transitional period, the draft Bill provides that there shall be 16 ordinary Lords Spiritual; for the second, 11; and for all subsequent electoral periods, there shall be seven ordinary Lords Spiritual. These Lords Spiritual will be selected by the Church of England in "whatever way it considers appropriate", except that during transition they must be drawn from the existing group of Lords Spiritual prior to commencement of each transitional period. In subsequent periods, they may be selected before or during the period in question. After the two transitional periods, the Church of England may select new ordinary Lords Spiritual to replace those who ceased to be eligible for membership of the reformed House.

274. The Lords Spiritual, unlike the Lords Temporal, are not Peers but Lords of Parliament. Their historic status means that they sit in the reformed House on a different basis from other members. Currently, bishops sit in the House of Lords by virtue of their being serving office holders within the Church of England. They attend as their episcopal duties allow and a rota system ensures that there is always at least one bishop in the House each day, to read prayers at the start of the day's business. They are also subject to the Church's terms and conditions on remuneration and discipline. The Government's White Paper and draft Bill recognises that bishops would continue to sit in a reformed House on a different basis and not as full time salaried members. In the transitional period, and in a fully reformed chamber, the Government proposes that bishops would not be entitled to a salary or pension in the reformed House of Lords but would continue to receive allowances set by IPSA; they would be exempt from the tax deeming provision; they would be subject to the disqualification provision; and they would not be subject to the serious offence provision and those on expulsion and suspension—as it is expected that such members would be subject to the disciplinary procedures established by the Church of England.[353]


275. The Government's argument for retaining the bishops in a hybrid House is that "there should continue to be a role for the established Church".[354] In his evidence to us the Minister elaborated that "because our proposal is for a mainly elected House with appointed Members, we thought it sensible to keep a role for the established Church in England given where we start from. I think that there is a fair degree of consensus among other faiths that they want that faith representation to continue, so that is why we have proposed it".[355] The Minister went on to say that "It is for the Lords Spiritual to make the case for remaining in the House of Lords".[356]

276. The continued presence of bishops of the Church of England received substantial support. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York quoted a speech delivered by the Archbishop of York in 2007 which summed up their position as follows: "The Lords Spiritual remind Parliament of the Queen's coronation oath and of that occasion when the divine law was acknowledged as the source of all law. We do not see ourselves as representatives, but as connectors with the people and parishes of England. Ours is a sacred trust—to remind your Lordships' House of the common law of this nation, in which true religion, virtue, morals and law are always intermingled; they have never been separated".[357] The bishops, they went on to say, spoke for that substantial part of civic society represented by the Church of England, other Christian denominations and other faiths. The Lords Spiritual were increasingly engaged in the day to day work of the House and its committees, though as independent Lords of Parliament rather than as formal "representatives of the Church of England" or a "Bishops Party". They acted as a voice for all faiths and the presence of the established Church in Parliament was valued by other faith leaders.[358] In his oral evidence the Archbishop of Canterbury emphasised how bishops, through their parishes, had "personal access to a very wide spread of civil organisation and experience—perhaps wider than is enjoyed by many comparable public figures. 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. Bishops know every church in their diocese. They know the communities they serve—and they serve far more people than church attendance in a narrow sense represents".[359]

277. Other faith leaders—significantly from the two other Abrahamic religions—supported these premises. The Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, argued that the House of Lords should be a place for "covenantal conversations".[360] The Muslim Council of Britain opposed the reduction in the number of bishops from 26 to 12 because it further reduced the "voice for the spiritual and moral dimension in formulating new law or influencing public policy".[361] Theos viewed the presence of the bishops as "ecclesiologically and theologically appropriate to the Church of England, since its place is founded both on the historical and symbolic link between church and state, and on the substantive contribution that the bishops have been able to make over time".[362]

278. Other witnesses saw things differently. Professors Simon Hix and Iain Mclean said the "position of bishops in an elected House is anomalous, whether that House is 100 per cent or 80 per cent elected" and that they would be "by far the largest interest group among the non-elected members".[363] Some contended that reserved places were unfair on other churches of the UK. Donald Shell said that the bishops' presence in the House of Lords "is widely perceived as anomalous because they represent one Church from only one of the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom."[364]

279. Others claimed it was unfair to reserve places for only one religion. Professor Hugh Bochel and his colleagues said that "in the contemporary world, including where there are significant questions of representation and fairness, it appears hard to defend such a proposition." They added "The white paper does not provide any rationale for this, and again it would seem to conflict with the fundamental democratic principle which is claimed to underpin the reforms."[365] Similarly, Democratic Audit said the "proposed continued presence of Anglican bishops in a reformed second chamber by implication discriminates against other religious faiths, since no such provision is made for them—or indeed for individuals avowedly of no faith".[366] The Electoral Reform Society said it did not believe "it is acceptable for one denomination to receive such representation" and that reserved seats for the bishops should be removed.[367] The British Humanist Association and the National Secular Society argued in favour of a secular state in opposing reserved seats for Church of England bishops.[368] The All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group said that reserved places for Bishops would "undermine the legitimacy of the reform by reserving a set number of places for one branch of one religion, all of whom would be men".[369]


280. A number of witnesses expressed views on the connection between the presence of the bishops in the Lords and the establishment of the Anglican Church in England. Donald Shell put it clearly: "It is been argued that removing bishops from the House is tantamount to disestablishing the Church of England. But this is mistaken view". He argued that there "are many different strands to 'Establishment' and these have frequently been adjusted in the past; removing bishops from the House would be a further such adjustment. There are many models for an established church which can certainly continue to exist without the presence of bishops in Parliament".[370]

281. But a number of witnesses thought that while the removal of the Lords Spiritual would not spell the immediate end of the establishment of the Church of England, it would seriously undermine it, call into question the future of the established relationship and send a strong negative signal about the place of Christianity—and religion more generally—in British public life. Thus the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote, "The established status of the Church would not be at an end if the Lords Spiritual no longer had a place in parliament but its character would be significantly changed and weakened".[371]

282. Others took this view. Sir Stuart Bell MP believed that the "removal of Bishops by the creation of a wholly-elected second chamber will be detrimental to the Church-State relationship, shall weaken the established Church, and shall lead to further calls for an ending to establishment".[372] Penny Mordaunt MP felt that removing the Lords Spiritual from the House of Lords "would be an attack on the very heart of the constitution".[373] The Bishop of Worcester (not a member of the House of Lords) wrote that the complete removal of bishops "would also be likely to trigger a wider debate about the future of Establishment and send unhelpful signs about the place of religious voices in the public square".[374]


283. Irrespective of the continued presence of the Church of England bishops, many witnesses spoke of the desirability of having other faiths represented in the House too, ad personam rather than ex officio.[375] There was also a presumption that the Appointments Commission should see this as part of their remit.[376] Some argued for no specific faith representation.[377]

284. Some witnesses addressed the difficulty in identifying suitable representations from faiths with no priestly hierarchy. [378] But the Muslim Council of Britain countered this by saying that it would not be difficult to identify suitable candidates, at least from the main minority faith communities as identified in the National Census (Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh): "... All major religious communities have well developed national representative bodies which can provide the link. MCB would be pleased to present specific proposals in this regard for our community".[379]


285. As we have seen, the draft Bill exempts bishops in the reformed House from the disciplinary provisions applicable to other members, because bishops would be subject to the disciplinary provisions of the Church of England. They would also be exempt from the tax deeming provision that they are deemed to be ordinarily resident and domiciled in the United Kingdom. But as the Archbishop of Canterbury admitted to us in oral evidence "the number of Lords spiritual who are building us vast tax fortunes in the Cayman Islands is quite small—it may even be vanishingly small".[380] The Archbishops of Canterbury and York maintained therefore "that the Lords Spiritual should be subject to the same disqualification provisions as other members of the reformed House of Lords" and did not see the exemptions as necessary. "We did not seek them and unless there are legal or constitutional reasons of which we are not aware, we believe that the Lords Spiritual should be in the same position as other members of the House on these matters."[381]


286. The Bill in its draft form prescribes five of the twelve bishops who will eventually sit in a reformed House: the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and the Bishops of London, Durham and Winchester. The other seven diocesan bishops are to be chosen by the Church as "ordinary Lords Spiritual". But with a reduction in the number of bishops, greater flexibility might be afforded were there to be fewer "named" bishops in the Bill. Indeed the Archbishop of Canterbury's written evidence makes this very point, doubting "whether continuing with the arrangement of five reserved places for the occupants of the senior sees would still be right for a Bishop's Bench less than half its former size". One possibility, wrote the Archbishop, was for the named bishops to be confined to the two Archbishops and the Bishop of London—all of whom are Privy Counsellors—but the wider Church would need to come to a view before making representations to the Government on this. [382]


287. The transitional arrangements for bishops provide in Clause 28(4) of the draft Bill that a person can only be selected as an ordinary Lords Spiritual for the first and second transitional period if he was already a Lord Spiritual in the period preceding it. In the event of the Church of England successfully promoting a Measure to enable the ordination of women bishops, the Archbishop of Canterbury argued that clause 28(4) would prevent the Church from "fast-tracking" any women bishops into the House of Lords, were any to be appointed. [383] In his written evidence the Archbishop said that there was in any event a case for giving the Church the broadest possible choice from among its diocesan bishops" sooner than 2025. This would require the removal of Clause 28(4) and clarification that Clause 28(1) referred to all diocesan bishops and not just existing Lords Spiritual. [384]


288. The Committee agrees that, in a fully elected House, there should be no reserved places for bishops.

289. The Committee agrees, on a majority, that bishops should continue to retain ex officio seats in the reformed House of Lords.

290. The Committee agrees, on a majority, with the Government's proposal that the number of reserved seats for bishops be set at 12 in a reformed House.

291. The Committee recommends that the Appointments Commission consider faith as part of the diversity criterion we recommend at paragraph 249.

292. The Committee recommends that the exemption of bishops from the disciplinary provisions be removed, as requested by the Archbishops.

293. The Committee recommends that any approach to the Government by the Church to modify the provision on the named bishops be looked upon favourably.

294. The Committee recommends that Clause 28(4) be left out of the Bill so as to allow greater flexibility in transition arrangements so that any women bishops and the wider pool of diocesan bishops can be eligible for appointment in the second transitional parliament.

304   Cm 8077, page 47 Back

305   Q 379; http://lordsappointments.independent.gov.uk  Back

306   Unlock Democracy, Democratic Audit Back

307   Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, Professor Gavin Phillipson, Professors Simon Hix and Iain McLean , Lord Wright of Richmond et al. Back

308   Campaign for an Effective Second Chamber, Jonathan Boot, Christopher Hartigan, Ken Batty, Sir Stuart Bell MP, Lord Higgins, Lord Luce, Lord Cobbold, Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Peter Riddell, Professor Sir John Baker QC  Back

309   These provisions were removed from Lord Steel of Aikwood's Bill during its report stage in the House of Lords. Back

310   Lord Howarth of Newport. See also Penny Mordaunt MP  Back

311   Cm 8077, page 18 Back

312   Q 380 Back

313   Q 401 Back

314   Q 75 Back

315   Q 4 Back

316   Professor Gavin Phillipson  Back

317   Q 352 Back

318   Q 571 Back

319   Pauline Latham MP Back

320   Lord Maclennan of Rogart Back

321   Archbishops of Canterbury and York Back

322   Sir Stuart Bell MP, Jonathan Boot, Christopher Hartigan, Michael Keatinge OBE, Lord Lipsey, Ken Batty, The Bishop of Worcester, Nadhim Zahawi MP, Lord Howarth of Newport, Joseph Corina, Dr Martin Wright, Lord Rowe-Beddoe, Campaign for an Effective Second Chamber, Lord Grenfell, Lord Low of Dalston, Jesse Norman MP, Lord Higgins, James Hand, Professors Simon Hix and Iain McLean, Donald Shell, Muslim Council of Britain, Professor Gavin Phillipson, Damien Welfare and the Campaign for a Democratic Upper House, Cecilie Rezutka, James Moore, Conor Burns MP Back

323   Q 81 Back

324   Lord Dubs , Unlock Democracy (Q 377) Back

325   Professor Hugh Bochel, Dr Andrew Defty, and Jane Kirkpatrick  Back

326   Unlock Democracy Back

327   Professor Hugh Bochel at al., Electoral Reform Society, Liam Finn, Lord McLennan of Rogart  Back

328   Q 386 Back

329   Q 395 Back

330   Q 395 Back

331   David Le Grice. A similar approach was also taken by St Philip's Centre Back

332   Lord Howarth of Newport Back

333   Hansard Society, Fawcett Society, Electoral Reform Society, Counting Women In, Cecilie Rezutka Back

334   Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe  Back

335   Theos, Archbishops of Canterbury and York. See also Cecilie Rezutka Back

336   Q 39 Back

337   Q 396 Back

338   Q 397 Back

339   Q 19 Back

340   Q 393 Back

341   Q 398 Back

342   Q 388. See also Unlock Democracy (Q 344)  Back

343   David Howarth (Q 230), Professor Sir John Baker QC (Q 230), Dr Alan Renwick (Q 201),Muslim Council of Britain Back

344   QQ 633, 636 Back

345   Q 757 Back

346   Q 758 Back

347   Cm 8077 Back

348   For example, Q 230 Back

349   Q 485 Back

350   Q 343 Back

351   Q 465 Back

352   As diocesan bishops, not in a specific see. Back

353   Cm 8077, page 23 Back

354   Cm 8077, page 22 Back

355   Q 35 Back

356   Q 40 Back

357   HL Deb col 580 Session 2006-07 Back

358   Archbishops of Canterbury and York Back

359   Q 428 Back

360   Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks Back

361   Muslim Council of Britain. See also Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe Back

362   Theos Back

363   Professors Simon Hix and Iain McLean Back

364   Donald Shell. See also Lord Goodhart Back

365   Professor Hugh Bochel, Dr Andrew Defty and Jane Kirkpatrick Back

366   Democratic Audit Back

367   Electoral Reform Society Back

368   British Humanist Association (Q 455), National Secular Society Back

369   All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group Back

370   Donald Shell Back

371   Archbishops of Canterbury and York. See also Q 443 Back

372   Sir Stuart Bell MP Back

373   Penny Mordaunt MP Back

374   The Bishop of Worcester Back

375   Jonathan Sacks, Zoroastrian Trust Funds, Law Society of Scotland, Damien Welfare and the Campaign for a Democratic Upper House, Archbishops of Canterbury and York Back

376   Professors Simon Hix and Iain McLean, Theos Back

377   Professor Dawn Oliver (Q 162), Democratic Audit, All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group, National Secular Society, Alice Onwordi Back

378   Mr Mark Harper MP (Q 35); National Secular Society Back

379   Muslim Council of Britain  Back

380   Q 451 Back

381   Archbishops of Canterbury and York Back

382   Ibid. Back

383   Q 446 Back

384   Archbishops of Canterbury and York Back

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Prepared 23 April 2012