Thinking Anglicans

Lords Spiritual (Women) Act

The new UK Parliament met for the first time yesterday and the Lords Spiritual (Women) Act 2015 came into force. For the next ten years eligible women will go to the head of the queue to fill vacancies among the 21 Lords Spiritual that are normally filled by seniority.

The next vacancy among these Lords Spiritual will arise on 11 July 2015 when Tim Stevens, the Bishop of Leicester, retires. According to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s diary, Rachel Treweek’s election as the next Bishop of Gloucester will be confirmed on 15 June and she will be consecrated on 22 July. Under section 1(4) of the Act it is the date of her confirmation of election that determines eligibility. As this is before 11 July, Rachel will fill the vacancy created by the Bishop of Leicester’s retirement and become the first female Lord Spiritual.

Bishop Tim’s retirement has another consequence as he has been the Convenor of the Lords Spiritual for the last six years. It was announced yesterday that the Archbishop of Canterbury had appointed the Bishop of Birmingham, David Urquhart, to be the new convenor. The announcement includes this job description: “The Convenor ensures that the work of the Lords Spiritual is coordinated and supported and that the interests of the Bishops’ Bench are represented fully in and outside Parliament. The Convenor is the primary point of contact and liaison on behalf of the Bishops’ Bench for the party leaderships in the Lords, Convenor of the Cross Bench Peers, officials and business managers.”


  • iain mclean says:

    Note: “the interests of the bishops’ bench”. Not the interests of religion, or Christianity, or morality, or of the oppressed, then? Just curious, because this confirms that the Bishops operate essentially as a party group in the Lords.

  • A very proper hat-tip for ‘Ladies First’ in the Church of England. About time, I say! Congrats.

  • Disgraceful says:

    It was once said that the Episcopal presence in the House of Lords was archaic, anachronistic and ridiculous and that it was therefore entirely in keeping with the spirit of the place. If we can’t imagine the carpenter from Nazareth sitting in the House of Lords, why should his apostles think it’s their right or duty?

  • Jamie Wood says:

    Iain, suppose the Convenor were to claim that bishops of the C of E can ensure that “the interests of religion are represented fully…” or that “the interests of Christianity are represented fully…” or that “the interests of morality are represented fully…” or that “the interests of the oppressed are represented fully…”
    I wonder how that might be perceived by Muslims, or Pentecostals, or the National Secular Society, or the Labour Party. Don’t you think it would come across as just a little arrogant?

  • Laurence Cunnington says:

    I don’t believe anyone need worry too much about the Lords Spiritual – their views are, thankfully, comprehensively ignored in the House of Lords. Just think of their humiliating defeat in the debate on Equal Marriage which showed exactly what the Lords thought of the Bishops’ moral ‘leadership’.

  • Clive Sweeting says:

    So these ladies will arrive without the practical experience acquired by their male predecessors. A breath of fresh air I suppose?

  • DBD says:

    Iain, surely the interests of the bishops *are* the interests of the poor and oppressed?!

    No? Surely they are.




  • Father David says:

    I guess that this is what is called “positive discrimination”” it’s the Bishop of Lincoln that I feel sorry for as Rachel has leap frogged Christopher, who was the next male bishop in the queue, into the best Dining Club in England.

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