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Church of England defends role in House of Lords in face of viral online petition

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THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND has defended the work of bishops in the House of Lords following the launch of a petition to remove them from parliament.

They say bishops make “a unique and non-party political contribution in Parliament” and speak “openly, and often forcefully, for those in the margins”.

On Friday, broadcaster and writer Sandi Toksvig, launched a petition to remove the 26 bishops who sit in Parliament as the Lords

Spiritual, arguing the Church’s exemption from equality laws is “discriminatory” for women and the LGBT+ community.

Both the archbishops of Canterbury and York together with other 21 bishops, form the Lords Spiritual.

A Church of England spokesperson told Premier: “The Bishops in the House of Lords make a unique and non-party political contribution in Parliament, rooted in the Church’s role as a Christian presence in every community in England.

“They don’t take a party line, or vote as a bloc; they are not appointed because of political connections and they are the only group in the Lords whose numbers are limited, who have a fixed retirement age and who, because of their own dioceses, effectively represent a specific area of the country.

“This enables them to fulfil a very special role in Parliament – providing a day-to-day ethical and faith perspective on legislation and other business, drawing from their faith and what they see and hear first-hand in parishes and other networks across the country and overseas.

“That enables them to speak openly, and often forcefully, for those on the margins – whether on the impact of the universal credit two-child limit, the treatment of refugees and prisoners, human rights at home and abroad, gambling reform and getting justice for the victims of the cladding scandal, for example.

“Questions about their future role are, and always will be, a matter for Parliament.”

The petition, which has been signed by over 75,000 people – making it one of the top signed petitions on Change.org – reads as follows:

“26 bishops from the Church of England, selected by the church, sit as a matter of right in the House of Lords. No other faiths have this privilege, and nor do the other UK regions.

“These bishops can vote on every law that is passed – even laws that the church doesn’t have to abide by because it has legal exemptions from Equality legislation. The only other country in the world where representatives of the state religion automatically get a seat in the legislature is Iran.

“Whatever goes on inside religious organisations, the Church should not be allowed to hold sway in the Houses of Parliament. It doesn’t matter what your faith is or even isn’t, it’s discriminatory and it has to stop.

“This petition calls for the removal the Church Of England’s privilege to appoint bishops into the House of Lords, and remove existing bishops currently sitting in the House of Lords.”

In a TikTok video, which is currently going viral, Sandi Toksvig explains that there are only two countries on Earth where representatives of the state religion automatically get a seat in the legislature – Iran and the United Kingdom.

To view the petition visit: change.com/bishopsout

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Entertainment

Save the dates: Classic car shows in Pembrokeshire

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THE FIRST of the Summer season of the Classic Car Shows in aid of the Paul Sartori Foundation took place at the Commons Car Park, Pembroke recently.

Organised by Malcom Powell and friends, the show was opened by the Mayor of Pembroke, Ann Mortenson, accompanied by the Ward Ten Withybush fundraiser Ellie Neville.

The rest of the shows are follows

Wednesday 5th June at the Cresselly Arms

Wednesday 19th June at the Plough Inn, Sageston

Wednesday 3rd July at the Cresselly Arms

Wednesday 17th July at the Plough Inn, Sageston

Wednesday 14th August at the Cresselly Arms

Wednesday 18th August at the Plough Inn

All events are at 4pm, except for the final show of the year on Saturday 14th September at the Plough Inn Sageston which starts at 2 30pm.

Pictured is the first show of the year at the Commons,Pembroke.

Pic-Martin Cavaney

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Charity

Royal celebration at Buckingham Palace marks RNLI’s 200th anniversary

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HIS MAJESTY The King has graciously hosted a garden party at Buckingham Palace today to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). This prestigious event brought together approximately 2,500 of the RNLI’s dedicated volunteers, staff, and their families.

The garden party, held in the palace’s magnificent grounds, was marked by the presence of an Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat, showcasing the RNLI’s modern lifesaving capabilities. The event celebrated the remarkable history and ongoing contributions of the RNLI, which has been saving lives at sea since its founding in 1824.

Among those honoured at the event were representatives from Tenby Lifeboat Station and St Davids Lifeboat Station. From Tenby, the delegation included recently retired Coxswain Philip John, along with Michael Lewis, Daniel Young, Graham Waring, and Peter O’Hagan, all accompanied by their partners. Representing St Davids Lifeboat Station were Will Chant, Jestyn Martin, Ffion Rees, Judd Kohler, Ellen Evans, and their respective partners. These individuals were recognised for their exceptional service and dedication to the institution, trading their RNLI yellows for smart attire on this special occasion.

The RNLI, established in 1824 by Sir William Hillary, has grown into a vital organisation dedicated to saving lives at sea. Over its two centuries of operation, the RNLI has saved more than 142,700 lives, thanks to the bravery and commitment of its volunteers and staff. Today, the RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations and provides a 24-hour search and rescue service around the coasts of the UK and Ireland.

His Majesty’s patronage and the garden party at Buckingham Palace underscore the nation’s deep appreciation for the RNLI’s invaluable service. The celebration not only honoured past achievements but also highlighted the continued importance of the RNLI’s mission as it looks forward to the future.

For more information on the RNLI’s history and its bicentenary celebrations, please visit the official RNLI website.

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Community

The Big Beer Festival returns to Milford Waterfront

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MILFORD HAVEN is set to host the highly anticipated Big Beer Festival tomorrow at Milford Waterfront. Beginning at 12:00 PM on May 25, the event promises a vibrant celebration featuring an impressive array of real ales, lagers, and ciders, along with a prosecco and Pimm’s bar for those with different tastes.

Local bands will provide live music throughout the day, ensuring a lively atmosphere. Headline act 4th Street will be among the performers, with additional acts including After the Fire, Steve Bartram, Two Suns, Tin Man Revolution, and DJ Robzy. Food lovers can enjoy diverse culinary offerings from The Junkyard Dog and Marcela Mexican Cuisine at the Thornton Motors Streetfood Zone. Entry is £20, which includes four drink tokens and a limited edition glass. Each token can be exchanged for a half pint, a glass of prosecco, or a glass of Pimm’s. The festival will run until 11:00 PM.

This event is part of the continued partnership between Milford Waterfront and the Milford Haven Round Table. This collaboration supports a calendar of events throughout the year, raising funds for local causes and creating enjoyable experiences for the community and visitors. Upcoming events include the Milford Haven Carnival on July 6 and the Fireworks Extravaganza on November 5.

As well as local petrol station company The Ascona Group, Howden, a global insurance intermediary group, is a key supporter of the festival. As a deluxe sponsor, Howden is donating £500 towards the event. Gary Stevens, Regional Managing Director, expressed his delight in supporting the Milford Haven Round Table, emphasizing the event’s significance as a fantastic day out for the bank holiday weekend and a means to support the local community.

Milford Haven Round Table, the UK’s largest Round Table with 30 active members, organizes this festival to give back to the local community. All funds raised support local charities, groups, and individuals, including popular free entry events like the town’s annual carnival and fireworks display.

For more details, visit the official event page.

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