Archbishop warns of 'majoritarian tyranny' in elected House of Lords
The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken out against the House of Lords becoming an entirely elected chamber.
In a speech this evening, Rowan Williams said he supported reform but warned that “popular election should not be the sole or necessarily the dominant factor in the composition of the chamber”.
He defended the current make up of Britain’s second legislative house arguing that there is currently “a significant level of expertise on legal, scientific, sociological and international matters – not to mention significant representation from the whole range of faith communities – which may be relevant to the making of sound and fair legislation.”
But he expressed concern that a Lords which was entirely filled with politicians elected on party tickets risked verging towards a “majoritarian tyranny” that could trample over the voices of minorities. “The second chamber stands for the acknowledgement that someone needs to keep an eye on the wider picture that can be held by a single elected chamber alone,” he said.
His comments, delivered at Royal Holloway’s annual Magna Carta lecture, come at a time of intense debate over what shape Britain’s upper legislative house should take.
Church figures are particularly concerned that their historical presence in the Lords will be significantly reduced. Earlier this year the House of Lords reform committee published its draft bill in which it recommended reducing the current crop of 26 so-called Lords Spiritual who sit in the upper house to just 12. It also suggested a quota of faith leaders from other religious congregations should have a guaranteed presence. But the most significant recommendation is to have more than 90 percent of the Lords fully elected.
Faith communities are not the only groups to have expressed concern about such an approach. Scientists and doctors have also warned that few of the experts in their field who currently sit in the Lords would be represented if they had to rely on being elected.
Dr Williams announced his intended retirement earlier this year and the search to find a successor to head up the Church of England is currently underway. His speech last night also included criticism of the media, who many in church circles believe have been unfairly critical of Dr Williams during his tenure.
“In a social context where mass opinion is easily mobilised by way of the media, this can help reinforce panics about this or that minority group when it seems that scapegoats are desirable,” he said. “We see this sometimes when, for example, everyone who might conceivable be associated with a potential terrorist threat is assumed to be guilty, or when every asylum seeker is assumed to be fraudulent.”
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
Migrants crossing the Mediterranean: Pope Francis joins calls for EU action on boat refugees
Yemen crisis: Meet the child soldiers recruited by the Shia Houthi rebels who have forsaken books for Kalashnikovs
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Isis in Afghanistan: Group claims responsibility for Jalalabad suicide bombing that killed 35
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...