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Church of England bishops are like Iran's religious rulers, claims SNP MP

Fri 15 Jan 2016
By Antony Bushfield

Church of England bishops who sit in the Lords are considered to be the same as Iran's religious rulers and should stop their "historical interference" in Scotland, an SNP MP has claimed.

Martin Docherty wants the 26 Lords Spiritual to stay out of Scottish civic and religious life, saying that parliament has to be more reflective of communities.

He made the call as he outlined his concerns over the unelected chamber and the SNP's desire to see it abolished.

Moving a backbench business debate, Mr Docherty told the Commons: "If this Parliament is to work as an effective and legitimate legislator in the British state, its upper chamber should resemble less the congress of a Communist state and more the revising and advisory role of a Parliament of the 21st century."

He added: "Appointees covering the great and the so-called good including large-scale donors to political parties and the former bigwigs of the county halls of the length and breadth of the country.

"Of the peerage, let me turn specifically to a certain cadre - the archbishops and bishops of the established Church of England.

"And while much has been made of the likening of their position to that of the theocrats of the Islamic Republic of Iran, my direct challenge to them is this - they have no place in the debating or voting, if it should occur, on the civic or religious life of Scotland."

Mr Docherty, MP for West Dunbartonshire, has tabled an early day motion proposing this change, noting: "(It) calls on those Lords Spiritual to desist in their well-documented, historical interference in the affairs of the community of Scotland since the times of our late and noble King David.

"Their interference must end if this Parliament is to truly reflect the broad kirk of representation and communities of this political state."

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