Friday, 29 January 2010

Equality Bill: Lords revision days 4 and 5

Monday was revision day 4. Wednesday was day 5 and this was originally supposed to be the final day, but now an additional day has been scheduled for Tuesday 9 February (during General Synod, so not so convenient for bishops, perhaps.)

On Monday, following the previously reported debates on Clause 2, amendments to Clause 3 were also considered. Both the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Winchester took part in this debate.

The Hansard report of that starts here. Monday’s PDF is here.

Then, on day 5, the Hansard report of the debate starts here. The PDF file for the day is over here.

Official news report of Day 5.

The day began by consideration of the mandatory retirement age. The Bishop of Chester spoke on that.

Then, amendments relating to faith schools were considered. That part of the debate starts here.

And there was a debate on amendments relating to whether or not the public equality duty should be extended to cover Religion or Belief. That debates starts here.

The Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Liverpool both spoke in these debates. No votes were taken on anything.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 29 January 2010 at 10:44pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: equality legislation

The Bishop of Chester, interestingly, said in the debate "while clergy are officeholders and not employees, we try to shadow the provisions in employment law."

Does the bishop really believe that? It may be a convenient platitude to trot out when arguing for keeping elderly bishops in power for as long as possible, but does not seem a principle he would care to apply regarding other areas of employment law...

Posted by: Fr Mark on Saturday, 30 January 2010 at 9:21am GMT

"I fear that to pass the amendment in its present form would put pressure not on the national institution of the Church of England but on the incumbents of the parishes and lead to widespread disarray throughout the Church of England." - Bishop of Chichester

Well, precisely, "widespread disarray" is precisely what is needed to keep this debate going - about whether religions should be allowed to conduct gay marriages. That would make for interesting legal battles in the future if one half of, say, a same-sex couple married in a Society of Friends building presents him/herself for ordination in the Church of England or for a lay position promoting the religion! Would the argument about 'sexual conduct outside marriage' hold?

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Saturday, 30 January 2010 at 11:46am GMT

" but now an additional day has been scheduled for Tuesday 9 February (during General Synod), so not so convenient for bishops, perhaps" - Simon -

Exactly, Simon! Perhaps this is a sign of the activity of the Holy Spirit in the affairs of the House of Lords; where the Lords Spiritual are kept our of any further debate that might reflect heir influence in that place.

However, it might be debatable whether the damage they can do in the House of Lords is preferable to allowing them to move their influence to the sphere of General Synod. Those who are loudest in their discrimination against the employment of Gays in the Church - within the context of the house of Lords - could do even more damage within the confines of General Synod - on even more issues than simply the Lords' current agenda.

Incidentally, one wonders whether any of the Noble Lords Spiritual have objected to the fact that they cannot be in two places at once; thereby compromising the impact of their lordly influence in either arena - of State or Church. The choice must give some of them heartburn.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 31 January 2010 at 6:28am GMT

Actually, General Synod week is probably a good one for bishops. There are more than enough members of the HoB not in the Lords to sustain a quorum through debates on pensions etc whilst those who are in the Lords are already scheduled to be only a few hundred metres away from where the debate will be happening. Much easier than having to unpick a diocesan diary at short notice.

Posted by: David Walker on Sunday, 31 January 2010 at 1:29pm GMT
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