Comments: House of Commons to discuss women bishops again

Excellent. Parliament in both Houses take such care over so many issues, whether 'popular' or not.

We are very fortunate in the UK.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Monday, 10 December 2012 at 3:48pm GMT

When was the last time a Backbencher's Bill became Law? Was it David Steel's Abortion Bill way back in the sixties? I think it may well have been.

Posted by Father David at Monday, 10 December 2012 at 6:11pm GMT

Father David

Wikipedia suggests, in addition to the one you cite "Other private member's bills to have been enacted include the Adoption Act 1964, the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965, the Charter Trustees Act 1986, the Law Reform (Year and a Day Rule) Act 1996, the Knives Act 1997, the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1997, the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004, the Sustainable Communities Act 2006."

And Parliament had a significant say in the Churchwardens Measure and the legislation for ordaining women as priests without having to pass separate legislation.

But the point of the debate is to have a debate - there is no vote or bill. The focus is on options and on establishing the range of views of MPs on those options.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Monday, 10 December 2012 at 7:12pm GMT

While it is difficult for a back bench MP or peer successfully to promote a change in the law, it is not quite as rare as Father David suggests. More recent private members' bills that have become law are the following: Charter Trustee Act 1986; Law Reform (Year and a Day Rule) Act 1996; Knives Act 1997; British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1997; Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003; Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 (promoted in response to the 2003 Morecambe Bay cockle pickers tragedy); and the Sustainable Communities Act 2006.
Currently, the Scrap Metal Dealers Bill, introduced by Richard Ottaway MP in June 2012 as a response to calls for tighter regulation of the scrap metal trade in the light of increasing concern about the prevalence of metal theft and its cost (not least to churches), is before the House of Lords, having been passed by the House of Commons, and looks likely to become law sometime in 2013.

Posted by David Lamming at Monday, 10 December 2012 at 7:33pm GMT

Father David: 'When was the last time a Backbencher's Bill became Law?'

According to Wikipedia, the Sustainable Communities Act 2006.

Posted by Feria at Monday, 10 December 2012 at 7:38pm GMT

Father David

Typically a small number of private member's bills become law each year. The UK Parliament website has this factsheet listing them all from 1945 to 2010.

Posted by Peter Owen at Monday, 10 December 2012 at 8:23pm GMT

I don't know the answer to the question on PMB's, but I know it was later than that suggested.

Some time in the 1990's I was heavily involved with the passage of Gyles Brandreth's Marriage Bill.......

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Monday, 10 December 2012 at 8:24pm GMT

Brilliant Ben Bishop's Backbencher Braves Bullies.

Posted by Rosie Bates at Monday, 10 December 2012 at 8:54pm GMT

I stand corrected and thank those who have looked further into this matter and unearthed quite a numbers of cases where Backbench M.Ps, have indeed made a difference.
However, it does not look as though Mr. Ben Bradshaw's name will be added to those Backbenchers whose Private Members Bills have brought about a change in the Law as there will be no vote - merely a debate. In his own words he has said:- "I wasn't looking for a vote and I do not think that anyone would be interested in a vote. It was about airing these issues."
I have no doubt that it will be an interesting debate but in the last analysis it won't change anything. Parliament and the Government will not intervene to force the Church to include women in the episcopate. That will only come about by the General Synod finding a way out of the morass of its own creating.

Posted by Father David at Monday, 10 December 2012 at 11:23pm GMT

I'm not sure why anybody ever thought Ben Bradshaw was introducing legislation, but on the other hand Frank Field certainly is. See here
and the second reading is scheduled for 18 January, see here!/calendar/Commons/MainChamber/2013/1/18/events.html

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Monday, 10 December 2012 at 11:51pm GMT

Is that the same Frank Field who was Minister for Welfare Reform from 2nd May 1997 to 24th October 1998? Not the longest ministerial career on record! During his brief ministerial tenure he stated that he was going to "think the unthinkable" in terms of social security reform. In respose Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote "the problem was not so much that his thoughts were unthinkable as unfathomable"!
Now the long serving M.P. for Birkenhead is to have a go at amending the Equality Act and try and force the Established Church into the 21st century in "getting with the programme". He writes - "This week's vote to keep rules preventing women from becoming bishops has done nothing to refute and much to encourage the view that the dear old Church of England is still in terminal decline." Does that mean that Mr. Field thinks that the introduction of women bishops will bring rejuvination and growth to the national church? If so I see no evidence to suggest that 20 years of women in priestly orders has done anything "to refute and much to encourage the view that the dear old Church of England is still in terminal decline".

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 6:41am GMT

Dear Father David - do I take it that you dissociate yourself from Frank Field and All His Works - including, incidentally, his part on the Ecclesiastical Committee which did so much to bring us the Act of Synod (and also revised Church Commissioners). Maybe the MP for Birkenhead has some reason for changing his approach to the issue over the years - maybe it is the divisive Act of Synod which has damaged the mission of the CofE over the last 20 years or so?

You could usefully nuance your criticism - else you risk shooting yourself in the foot. But hang on, it was noticing that kind of thing which got me where I am today - maybe anything is possible?

Posted by Mark Bennet at Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 7:41pm GMT

I think that even Mark Bennet would agree that the major change in the Church of England during the last 20 years is not the introduction of the splendid Act of Synod but the introduction of women into the Anglican priesthood which has had a far greater effect upon the Established Church - its priestly ministry now being made up of one third female to two-thirds male - in a relatively short period of time. I also note that in the news of the Census figures released today the decline in the last ten years of those professing a Christian affiliation is down from 72% in 2001 to 59% in 2011. I wonder if there is any link between these firgures and the increasing abandonment by the national Church of a faith based upon Scripture and Tradition. I'm sure that once we have women bishops the decline will be reversed - NOT !

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 11:53pm GMT

Well its nice to know Father David you plan to go down with the sinking ship raher than take to the ecclesiastical life boats the Vatican has sent.

Posted by Perry Butler at Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 9:24am GMT

Thinking of the veteran Labour M.P. - Frank Field - did my ears deceive me or did he actually refer to the next Archbishop of Canterbury as "A Holy Thug" in the parliamentary debate today on Women Bishops? It was significant how many Members expressed caution with regard to Parliament interfering in Church affairs. Wasn't Geoffrey Cox M.P. magnificent speaking up so elequently on behalf of the beleaguered minority?

Posted by Father David at Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 9:27pm GMT

In response to Perry's comment - a friend who crossed the Tiber some years ago has written the following:-
"The CofE is 95% below the water now, only the mast and the crow's nest are showing, with ER II in the latter, not waving but drowning."

Posted by Father David at Friday, 14 December 2012 at 9:26am GMT
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