Public oppose bishops in the Lords by more than three to one – new poll

23 March, 2021

A new survey has shown that the British public is against the House of Lords continuing to have places for Church of England bishops by more than three to one. The YouGov poll found that 53% of adults favour removing the bishops, with only 16% favouring keeping them. The result was consistent across supporters of the three biggest political parties.

Humanists UK has long campaigned to remove bishops from the House of Lords, on the basis that it is unfair, unjustified, and unpopular with the public at large. The only two sovereign states to award clerics of the established religion votes in their legislatures are the UK and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Last year the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group (to which Humanists UK provides the secretariat) published a report which found that the bishops get unique easy access to Government officials, that if a bishop stands up to speak then the convention is that everyone else has to stop and sit down, and that the bishops’ votes on new laws have been decisive in instances that have benefitted the Church.

Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented:

‘The presence of 26 bishops from one denomination of one religion, having the automatic right to sit, speak, and vote in our Parliament, is unfair, unjustified, and, as this poll shows, unpopular. It is long past time that the bishops are removed from the House of Lords so that it can better reflect the diverse democracy we are today.’


For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at or phone 020 7324 3072 or 020 3675 0959.

Read the new poll.

Read more about our work on bishops in the Lords.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.