The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has expressed concern that, even in a reformed House of Lords, there will be no women bishops until at least 2025.
This is because, under the current proposals, only existing bishops will be eligible to sit in the reformed House during the various stages which would take place over the next fifteen years. He wants to be able to fast-track the first women bishops (should the Synod vote to allow them next year).
As both CFWD and the Counting Women In
campaign have pointed out, the current proposals would effectively reserve seats in the legislature for men, especially if the Synod decides against women bishops. Rowan Williams wants there to be a clause in the new Bill which would allow the Church of England to exercise 'discretion and flexibility' in determining who should represent it in the upper House.
CFWD welcomes the Archbishop's comments; hopefully the Joint Committee on the draft House of Lords reform bill
will recommend amending the Bill as he suggests. In the meantime, we await the outcome of the Synod's deliberations with interest.