AN SNP MP is calling for an end to bishops’ automatic right to sit in the House of Lords.

Tommy Sheppard – who represents Edinburgh East – will lead a debate in Westminster on the issue today.

The chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group said that polls show that people in Scotland overwhelmingly want the bishops out of the "unelected" Lords

He added that bishops enjoy numerous privileges over ordinary peers, including advance consultation privileges on legislation, extra speaking rights in the chamber, and exemptions from the Code of Conduct.

26 bishops from the Church of England currently sit in the upper house.

Sheppard stressed that representatives of no other faith or belief group enjoy the same privileges and that the appointment of bishops to the unelected chamber is a “hangover from feudal times and [has] no place in a modern, pluralistic society”.

Sheppard said: “Bishops, appointed by the Church of England, to sit, speak and vote in Parliament, don’t represent the beliefs or faith groups of most citizens across the UK, and yet enjoy a place amongst other unelected Lords in an entirely undemocratic second chamber.

“The laws that keep in place their automatic right to sit in the unelected House of Lords are a hangover from feudal times and have no place in a modern, pluralistic society.

“Their presence is an insult to other religions and beliefs, and is against centuries of progressive development to separate church and state.

“Fundamentally though, as a whole, the House of Lords is an archaic institution and one that defies the notion the UK is a true democracy. Sadly though, with both Labour and the Tories having done nothing to reform it, Scotland is stuck with unelected representatives presiding over many of our laws.

“The entire Westminster system is fundamentally broken, and it has become increasingly clear that the only way we can escape it, and the undemocratic House of Lords forever, is with the full powers of independence.”

A spokesperson for the Church of England said bishops who serve in the House of Lords provide “an independent, non-partisan voice in parliamentary debates, bringing an ethical and spiritual perspective that is also informed by their roles as key figures in local civil society”.

They added: “Their presence in Parliament not only reflects our constitutional arrangement, with an established church, but also provides an ethical and faith perspective on the business of the day, informed by the Church’s role as a Christian presence in all communities of England.

“They do not sit as a party, so have no whip or party-line to follow. Alongside their roles as bishops in the dioceses they serve, they play a full and constructive role in the House of Lords in its role of scrutinising and helping to improve legislation.

“They have been active in recent years on areas as diverse as curbing gambling-related harms; helping children and families in poverty; the needs of women in prison; preserving free speech and – as we see this week – questions around combatting people-smuggling and helping refugees.”