April 28, 2009

Lords Spiritual in the UK House of Lords

It is a well known fact that we borrowed a lot from the British constitution and parliamentary system. However, there are some features of the British system that we chose not to implement.

One of such features that I want to point out is the reservation in the House of Lords for Religious/ Spiritual leaders. Although, UK is considered to be a secular state, it maintains positions in its upper house for 26 senior clergymen of the established Church of England known as the Spiritual Peers (or Lords Spiritual)!

These are not elected by the people, but sort of nominated. There was a time in the history, when the Lords Spiritual outnumbered the Lords Temporal (the non-religious leaders). Over a period of time, with reforms to separate the church and state (the basis of secularism), the secular credentials were established. However, even to-date the 26 seats are retained.

The Lords Spiritual make up less than 4% of the seats and they do not normally vote in the matters of law/ state. But, I think this is just an acknowledgment of the power/ influence they wield in the society and a respect to that.

Something to attempt in India? Maybe a good idea...

PS: The Parliamentary reforms are still on in UK - since 1832 till date. Signs of an evolving system...

Also read the post on Raj Gurus - Need of the hour
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