Bishop of Carlisle to take seat in House of Lords at special ceremony (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Bishop of Carlisle to take seat in House of Lords at special ceremony
9:14am Wednesday 16th October 2013 in News
The Bishop of Carlisle is set to take a seat in the House of Lords following a special ceremony.
The Rt Rev James Newcome will be formally introduced into the second chamber of Parliament next Wednesday.
He will be one of 26 Archbishops and Bishops, with the title Lords Spiritual, who sit in the House.
Bishop James said: “I’m very excited by the prospect. The House of Lords is a fascinating place with a lot of very interesting and very well qualified people who lead superb debates.”
He will spend a minimum of three weeks a year at the House. As Duty Bishop for those weeks he will lead prayers before Parliamentary business as well as taking part in debates.
“This will create another demand on my time,” Bishop James added, “but I do continue to see my work in the diocese as being my primary responsibility.”
Bishop James was notified of his appointment earlier this year and recently received confirmation of the day for his introduction to the House.
He will be supported at next Wednesday’s ceremony by the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds and the Bishop of Birmingham.
It comes two and a half years after he was appointed the Church of England’s lead bishop on healthcare issues.
He said: “It has been quite complex to act as the Church of England’s spokesman in the Lords on health related matters as I’ve not been there.
“It’s meant that I’ve had to work through the Bishop of Bristol who has acted on my behalf. Now that I’m to be in the House this will mean it will be easier for me to take a lead on health related matters.”
And though no date has yet been set for his maiden speech in the second chamber it may well centre on a health matter or an issue which specifically affects Cumbria.
While Bishop James believes there are too many in the House of Lords he places great importance on the work of the second chamber within the Parliamentary system.
He said: “I think it’s very important. I think it would be a disaster to have an all-elected House of Lords because then it would become just like another House of Commons, filled with professional politicians.
“I don’t think the House of Commons would want that either. At the moment, through the work of the Lords, there’s a checks and balances system in place.
“There’s a lot of expertise in the House of Lords which can counteract and balance what goes on in the Commons.
Bishop James will be joined on the day of his introduction into the House of Lords by his wife Alison and three of their four children.
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