LORD Habgood, the former Archbishop of York, has become one of the first two peers to choose to “retire” from the House of Lords.

He and Lord Hutchinson of Lullington have taken up the new option, and cease to be active members of the upper House with immediate effect, the Lord Speaker Baroness D'Souza announced today.

Independent crossbencher Lord Habgood, 84, was Archbishop of York from 1983 to 1995 and was then made a life peer.

The new scheme, aimed at helping to reduce the size of the House, which has risen to more than 800 members, allows peers to indicate that they wish to retire.

Technically, "retired" peers could return as they will continue to receive writs of summons to sit in the House, but Lords Leader Lord Strathclyde said when the measure was introduced in June that it would be "unlikely in the extreme" that any peer would reverse a decision to retire.