Female Bishops

Oral Answers to Questions — Church Commissioners – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th December 2000.

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Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Conservative, New Forest West 12:00 am, 11th December 2000

What assessment he has made of the financial implications of ordaining female bishops. [141903]

Photo of Stuart Bell Stuart Bell Second Church Estates Commissioner

No such assessment has been made.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Conservative, New Forest West

If the existing rules, which allow a parish to opt out of the care of its own bishop, are revoked, and/or female bishops are consecrated, and if, as a consequence, incumbents feel that they cannot in conscience remain within the Church, will they be compensated?

Photo of Stuart Bell Stuart Bell Second Church Estates Commissioner

In reply, I can only quote Dean Inge, who once said, "I have had a great many problems—most of which never happened". I doubt that the situation described by the hon. Gentleman will arise.

Photo of Mr Peter Pike Mr Peter Pike Labour, Burnley

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is for the Church of England and the General Synod to decide on theological grounds whether women should be ordained as bishops? If the Church of England so decides, it should be on those grounds, rather than on financial grounds, that women are ordained as bishops in the Church of England.

Photo of Stuart Bell Stuart Bell Second Church Estates Commissioner

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Last July, the General Synod requested the help of bishops in initiating further theological study on women in the episcopacy, with a report-back in two years. The House of Bishops is setting up a working party, but its membership has not yet been settled.

Photo of Robert Key Robert Key Conservative, Salisbury

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that a large number of members of the Church of England would warmly welcome the consecration of female bishops. Given the need for so many additional members of the priesthood, what assessment has he made of the cost of this House's not allowing the consecration of female bishops?

Photo of Stuart Bell Stuart Bell Second Church Estates Commissioner

As I said in response to the hon. Member for New Forest, West (Mr. Swayne), no assessment has yet been made of the financial impact of the ordination of female bishops. When the General Synod advances along those lines, no doubt it will take the matter into account.