The Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, was introduced as a Member of the House of Lords today.
He joins the Archbishops of Canterbury and York as well as 23 other Church of England Bishops who currently sit in the Lords and together form the Lords Spiritual.
Bishop Michael’s Parliamentary work will be performed alongside his day-to-day role as diocesan bishop, leading a diocese which serves a population of over 2 million people in Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, northern Shropshire and the Black Country. He was sponsored by the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, and the Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, as he took his seat in the Lords after swearing an Oath of Allegiance to the Crown.
Bishop Michael said: “It is an extraordinary privilege to serve in the House of Lords. Across the Diocese of Lichfield, our churches, schools and chaplaincies are set in urban, rural and suburban settings, and our clergy and lay people serve very diverse communities. I look forward to the opportunity of speaking of the rich and varied experiences and challenges which we know in this part of the Midlands.”
Bishop Michael was enthroned as the 99th Bishop of Lichfield in September 2016, having previously served as Area Bishop of Woolwich in the Diocese of Southwark. Before being consecrated as bishop in 2012, Bishop Michael served in parishes in Rutland, Japan and Leicester, as Inter Faith Relations Adviser to the Archbishops’ Council and Secretary of the Churches’ Commission on Inter Faith relations, and as Archdeacon of Southwark. He was awarded the OBE in the New Year’s Honours List in 2011 for services to inter faith relations in London.
Bishop Michael chairs the Council of Christians and Jews, and is a member of the Anglican Commission for Dialogue with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. He is also Vice-Chair of the Liturgical Commission of the Church of England and a member of the Faith & Order Commissions of both the Church of England and the World Council of Churches.
About the Lords Spiritual:
Like other members, bishops are able to take part in all business of the House of Lords, including tabling and asking questions of Ministers, leading or speaking in debates, scrutinising legislation, voting, and serving on committees or all party groups. Bishops have to combine their role as Members of the House with their full-time responsibilities as bishops in their dioceses. They read prayers at the start of each daily meeting and play a full and active role in the House, sitting as individual and independent Members, similarly to the independent Crossbench Peers and those who are not party-affiliated.
The Lords Spiritual each take on a portfolio for one or two specific areas of policy on a voluntary basis, which is usually aligned with their expertise, interests or a formal position already held within the Church of England. Their diocesan role means they are in touch with geographical areas of the country, which often informs the contributions they make in the House.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishops of London, Durham and Winchester are ex-officio members of the House of Lords. The remaining 21 places are occupied by a mixture of those who are longest-serving as bishops of English dioceses, and those who qualify under the Lords Spiritual (Women) Act 2015. The number of bishops in the House of Lords is set in law as 26, and when a bishop retires from his or her diocesan post (compulsory at 70) they also vacate their seat in the Lords.