Ooh, er, bishop

A Lord Spiritual, not in the House
I am not an atheist or a rabid religion basher like our good friend Dr Dawkins. In fact, like Martin Rees I am very fond of the Church of England. But I am afraid I wholeheartedly disagree with the idea, apparently supported by all the main political parties, that the reformed House of Lords should retain a built-in set of bishops.

The main argument seem to be that there have always been 'Lords Spiritual', ever since the House of Lords was founded over 700 years ago. So what? Until it was banned there had always been dog fighting and bear baiting. Tradition is only a useful argument when it has some bearing on morale or makes a good profit, which hardly seems to be the case here.

It's not that I think bishops should be excluded from the House. I'd be happy to see them there. I just don't think they should have reserved places, they should be elected (or whatever the mechanism) like everyone else. If they are to stay, I think we should have lots of other places prescribed for specific occupations. Seriously - I would be very happy to take one of the places allocated to science writers. But if we don't get a set of reserved slots (and there are more of us than there are bishops) I don't see why they should.

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