South West News Service/REX

Positive discrimination to appoint women bishops

Wed 23 Jul 2014
By Antony Bushfield

The Church of England will urge selection boards to use a system which would speed up the appointment of women bishops.

MPs were told by senior church officials yesterday evening that boards who had to chose between male and females for a bishop role will be encouraged to choose the female.

 The General Synod voted in favour of new legislation that would allow women into the top roles last week.

Secretary General to the General Synod, William Fittall, told a parliamentary committee that although the Church does not have to meet equality laws, selection boards will be encouraged to use the ‘positive discrimination’ part of the rules.

“The positive action remit of the Equality Act is something people will have in mind in the Church now as women are eligible to become bishops for the first time,” he said.

The House of Commons still have to agree to the change to allow women bishops.

Mr Fittall said positive discrimination in the church would work well: “They allow you to put more effort into training and in particular they enable you, in the case of a tiebreak, where you have got insufficient diversity, to lean in favour of the under-represented group.

“I think the spirit of that is something we would want very much to have in mind and would encourage the Crown Nominations Commissions and indeed bishops appointing suffragans to have regard to.

“But we will do that as a matter of policy because we think it is right even though technically that doesn’t apply already to quite a number of our posts.”

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