By politics.co.uk staff
Bishops could be banned from the House of Lords, under new reform plans being considered by Gordon Brown.
A paper on the Upper House reform program will be published next month by justice secretary Jack Straw before parliament's summer break.
One of the possibilities being discussed would see a shift to an all-elected House of Lords in which no seats would be automatically reserved for church members.
Because of the Church of England's role as the established church, 26 bishops referred to as Lords Spiritual currently hold a life peerage.
Banishing bishops from the House of Lords would be considered by those in favour of constitutional reform as a first step towards disestablishment, divesting the church from Westminster's affairs.
Another option under review is for the House to be 80 per cent elected with the remaining 20 per cent put aside for appointed members and other church officials such as bishops.
Those in support of the less radical option said the House would benefit from the knowledge of academics, economists, scientists and military officials were they to keep their membership.
If the proposals for a partially elected house were to go ahead, it would probably receive support from the Conservatives.
David Cameron has said he would be willing to support a house with two third of its members directly elected.
The prime minister has previously indicated he would like to reform some of the foundations of the country's constitution including aspects of the monarchy.
Two weeks ago, the prime minister told the House: "We cannot move our country forward unless we break with the old practices and the old ways."
Commonwealth leaders will also discuss the repealing the Act of Settlement 1701 this year, which barred Roman Catholic and female heirs from ascending the throne.