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Tuesday, August 3, 1999 Published at 19:13 GMT 20:13 UK

UK Politics

Keep 'distinctive' upper house - Bishop

The Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, is the first Asian religious leader to sit in the House of Lords.

In the fourth of a series of articles on Lords reform written for BBC News Online he sets out his views on the future of the House as Labour moves on with its plans for reform.

As one of the Church of England's 26 representatives in the House the bishop hopes the Church will retain its special independent position within Parliament.

To send us your views on Lords reform click here.

It is my hope that a reformed House of Lords will be distinctive and yet representative.

A distinctive representativeness will probably mean that it cannot be wholly elected.

Lords Reform
It will need members from a broad cross-section of the community representing the professions, business, trade unions, universities, ethnic groups and faith communities.

Naturally, the method of appointment should inspire confidence. Non-political members should be there either ex-officio (like the Law Lords and Bishops) or appointed in a way that is seen as independent.

I hope that a way can be found to appoint some representatives from other churches and faiths, while maintaining the special position of the established Church.

The House should remain a place for reflecting in a relatively calm way, on national and international issues and it should have the expertise and the experience to do so.

It should continue to be seen as a revising chamber, where primary legislation can receive a good hard look before it becomes the law of the land.

Finally, it should be a resourcing institution, where the accumulated wisdom of the nation is made available to addressing particular problems.

I look forward to my own role in the shaping of such a chamber.

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