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Women Priests and Bishops

Volume 527: debated on Thursday 12 May 2011

9. What recent assessment the Church Commissioners have made of the financial consequences for the Church of England of (a) women priests and (b) women bishops. (55129)

The General Synod of the Church of England legislated to make special financial provision for the 441 clergy who resigned from ministry between 1994 and 2004 as a result of opposition to the admission of women to the priesthood. The total cost of that to the Church Commissioners was £27.5 million plus a further call of £2.4 million on the unfunded pension scheme. The draft legislation to enable women to become bishops makes no financial provision for those who might leave should it in due course pass into law.

Now that the last remaining people who had a long-term philosophical commitment to opposing women in the ministry appear to have left the Church of England, may I urge the Church Commissioners to move with all speed to do what the vast majority of Church of England members want, which is to make sure that women can become bishops, as well as priests, at the earliest available date?

My views on this matter are well recorded. As the right hon. Gentleman will know, this matter is now out with the dioceses. I am sure that the Archdeacon of Southwark, who is a strong campaigner on this issue, will keep him informed. The dioceses are reviewing the matter and will vote on it in the near future. If they vote in the affirmative, the matter will go to the General Synod. This matter is being dealt with as speedily as is possible.

I apologise to the Leader of the House and the shadow Leader of the House, but the House must hear from Mr Brian Binley.