When Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury, revealed in 1983 that he had voted in the recent general election (though not who for), he was unlikely to have imagined that it would give rise to newspaper headlines and questions in parliament. He had not broken the law, though the subsequent debate shone a light on an otherwise little-known feature of the House of Lords. Continue reading “Can Lords Spiritual vote in general elections?”
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Desai, made the point that using force to resolve a situation is nearly always counterproductive and has results that you do not anticipate. Are there two additional lessons from this? First, the speed with which this report has been produced is commendable. I think of the Chilcot inquiry that we are still waiting for. This has been done in a few weeks and it seems to me to be a lesson for other situations in which a bit more speed can help the reconciliation process. Secondly, is one of the lessons that understanding religious sensitivities is something the modern world can find hard to do? One thinks of Ariel Sharon going to the Temple Mount and starting the second intifada, with all the consequences that have flowed from that. Is that a lesson that we should draw from these events?
Baroness Warsi: I thank the right reverend Prelate for his warm words in relation to the way in which this inquiry was conducted quickly. It was certainly part of the clear remit set by the Prime Minister at the outset. The right reverend Prelate makes an important point. To understand the sentiment within the British Sikh community it is important to understand the significance of Sri Harmandir Sahib; the significance of the timing of Operation Blue Star; the implications in relation to the damage that was done to Sri Harmandir Sahib; and the basis of some of the concerns that were being raised by the dissidents. It is an important point. This is the challenge that I have in a sometimes aggressively secular world; some of these sensitivities are not properly explored and understood.