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Sir Tony Baldry, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, was asked a question about women bishops in the House of Commons on Thursday. The answer is copied below the fold. He indicated that the Measure was likely to complete its passage through Parliament by early October, so that General Synod could promulge the Canon in November.
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The right hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—
Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab): What the next steps are on the women bishops measure following the General Synod.
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): The next step is for the Ecclesiastical Committee to meet on Tuesday, when I hope it will pass the measure that was agreed by General Synod on Monday. That will at last enable women to become bishops in the Church of England.
Helen Goodman: I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that answer. It is the answer that we have been waiting for the past 20 years to hear. It is very good news for the country and for the Church. I congratulate everybody who secured the result in Synod. When does he think women bishops might be installed, and when does he think they might be introduced into the other place?
Sir Tony Baldry: The answer I feel like giving to the hon. Lady is, “Hallelujah, sister! At last!” After so many years of waiting, the Church of England is going to have women bishops, which will enable it to fulfil its mission as a Church for the whole nation and allow every part of the Church to flourish.
If the Ecclesiastical Committee approves the measure on Tuesday, subject to the agreement of the Leader of the House I hope to bring the measure to this House in September. I think that the other House hopes to deal with the measure early in October. That would enable General Synod to meet formally in November to do the final approval and promulging of the canon. That would enable the Church of England to appoint the first women bishops this year or early next year.
Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con): I join my right hon. Friend in welcoming the move towards women bishops. However, for the moment, it is a male preserve. Will he join me in congratulating the Rev. David Court, the new Bishop of Grimsby, who will be consecrated at St Paul’s next week, and wish him well in his work in the Lincoln diocese?
Sir Tony Baldry: Of course. Every bishop in the Church of England is a focus of unity in their own diocese and all bishops undertake incredibly important work. One of the great things about General Synod was that we were able to get agreement for there to be women bishops with no one in the Church feeling hurt or aggrieved. We were therefore able, under the leadership of Archbishop Justin and Archbishop John, to move forward as a united Church.