The Group of Six (the six officers of the General Synod) has determined, by a majority, that the two amendments made by the House of Bishops to the draft Women Bishops Legislation do not alter the substance of the proposals, and so do not require a further reference to the dioceses. Their decision is contained in this press release.
Announcement from Group of Six (Women Bishops Legislation)
24 May 2012
The six Officers of the General Synod (the Archbishops, Dr Philip Giddings, the Venerable Christine Hardman, Mr Tim Hind and Canon Glyn Webster) met this afternoon. Their task was not to consider the merits of the two amendments made by the House of Bishops to the draft Women Bishops Legislation but to determine whether they had altered the ‘substance of the proposals embodied in the legislation which had already been approved last year by 42 of the Church of England’s 44 dioceses. Any such alteration necessitates a further reference to the dioceses before the legislation can come to the Synod for consideration at the Final Approval stage.
Having received legal advice they determined, by a majority, that the amendments made did not constitute such an alteration. The next steps are for the Officers of the House of Laity and the Convocations of Canterbury and York to decide whether to ask for the legislation to be referred to those bodies for consideration immediately before the Synod meets in York in July. They have no power to amend the legislation but their approval by simple majorities is required before the Final Approval debate in Synod can happen. In addition the Business Committee of the Synod will meet tomorrow to decide when to schedule the Final approval debate in July.
The Synod has no power to amend the legislation further but can adjourn the Final Approval debate and invite the House of Bishops to reconsider the amendments that they have made. If such an adjournment motion were passed the House would have to meet again-and would at that point have power to make further amendments- before the Final Approval debate was resumed. An adjournment motion in July would mean that the further meeting of the House and the resumption of the Final Approval debate would have to happen at a later date. The earliest that the General Synod might be able to conclude the Final Approval Stage in that eventuality would, therefore, be in November.
For background to Group of Six and House of Bishops’ amendments see http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/05/house-of-bishops-approves-women-bishops-legislation.aspx