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Work of the Lords Spiritual in Parliament

by
14 November 2014

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From Canon Edward Turner

Sir, - I was interested to read your report of the Archbishop of Canterbury's speech in the Lords about women bishops and his proposal to fast-track them into membership of that House (News, 17 October).

To make such a change in the current arrangement, however, would also provide the opportunity for a more radical development, given that so few bishops are able to contribute their time or expertise, for obvious reasons (apart from taking prayers in the usual rota).

With such heavy commitments in their dioceses and beyond, only a few bishops, I have noticed, are present to speak and vote on important Bills - the Equality Bill in 2010, for example - with the result that their influence is reduced accordingly.

In view of this, and while I fully support bishops' sitting in the House of Lords, I suggest that it should be possible for a bishop to opt out of such duty and service when his or her name is added to the list, so enabling those bishops of either sex who are able to serve to enter the Lords at an earlier date.

I very much hope that the Archbishop of Canterbury will seriously consider this small but significant change, which would go some way to meeting the concerns I have, and those of my former mentor, David Say, that great bishop and parliamentarian, who often discussed this problem with me.

EDWARD TURNER
Glebe House, Church Road
Neatishead, Norwich NR12 8BT

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