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Women Bishops

Oral Answers to Questions — Electoral Commission Committee – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th July 2016.

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Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield 12:00 am, 7th July 2016

What steps the Church of England is taking to encourage the appointment of more women bishops.

Photo of Michael Tomlinson Michael Tomlinson Conservative, Mid Dorset and North Poole

What plans the Church of England has to promote women in leadership positions.

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman The Second Church Estates Commissioner

As Mr Sheerman has assiduously asked me this question on several occasions, I am delighted to be able to inform him that a further six women have been appointed as bishops: the diocesan Bishop of Newcastle, with a seat in another place, and five suffragan bishops—of Taunton, Aston, Sherborne, Repton and Dorking.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

I thank the right hon. Lady for that excellent answer. As she mentioned, this is a bit of a campaign on my part. I want to fill the churches, and one of the ways we do that is by having more women bishops. However, how many are there out of the total number? What is the percentage? There are some very good women who have not been promoted yet.

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman The Second Church Estates Commissioner

This is a campaign the hon. Gentleman is well able to take some credit for, and I am sure my predecessor is too. Some 18 suffragan bishops have been appointed, eight of whom have been women, which is 45% of all appointments.

Photo of Michael Tomlinson Michael Tomlinson Conservative, Mid Dorset and North Poole

Will my right hon. Friend join me in welcoming the new Bishop of Sherborne, Karen Gorham, to her place? Her first official engagement was a confirmation service in Lytchett Minster parish church, at which, I am proud to say, my son was one of the candidates. However, does my right hon. Friend agree that Karen Gorham’s appointment will encourage other women into leadership positions in the Church of England?

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman The Second Church Estates Commissioner

Yes, indeed, and I congratulate my hon. Friend on his son’s confirmation. An increasing number of younger women have indeed entered the priesthood. Some 47% of the clergy ordained in 2015 were female, and 22% of the women ordained in 2015 were under 40.