THE Bishop of Salisbury, Right Revd Nicholas Holtam, has taken up his seat in the House of Lords as one of the 26 Lords Spiritual.

It has been a three-and-ahalf- year wait for Right Rev Holtam, as positions to the House of Lords are chosen by seniority amongst diocesan bishops – except for the Canterbury, York, Durham, London and Winchester posts, whose bishops are summoned automatically.

However, it could have been a much longer delay as one of the first acts he will vote on is the Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill, which is set to put women bishops first in the queue for lordships over the next ten years.

He said: “To sit as a Lord Spiritual in the House is a serious piece of public work, which we undertake on behalf of the whole community, not just those who are Christians or Church of England. As Lords Spiritual, we bring a different perspective to those who have become peers. The particular subjects I want to make a contribution to in the House of Lords will be the concerns of the diocese. I am the lead bishop for the Church of England on the environment.

This is of great theological and political significance.

“The churches will be able to help build a climate of public opinion that encourages our politicians to make tough decisions.

“This we will require both the recognition of the need for urgent action and the hope we can make a real difference.

This is particularly important with the Paris Summit on climate change in December, but it will need sustained commitment over many decades.”

He will be also hoping to follow in the footsteps of other Lords Spiritual who have made an impact on topical issues.

Right Rev Holtam added: “The Archbishop of Canterbury has made a significant contribution on payday lending and banking standards, as has the Bishop of Coventry on religious freedom for all, including the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.”

He also drew attention to efforts to combat food poverty in the UK.