§ 31. Mr. Tony Banks
To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, representing the Church Commissioners, how many Church Commissioners are women.
§ Mr. Banks
That is a disgracefully small number given that, by my calculations, there are about 95 commissioners. Should not the right hon. Gentleman put pressure on the Church Commissioners to ensure that women are more adequately represented on the body? The Church is talking about having women priests. I support that principle and see no reason why we should not have women bishops or, indeed, a woman Pope—although I realise that the right hon. Gentleman does not answer for the Catholic religion. In the circumstances, would not it look much better for the Church if it had more women commissioners to start with?
§ Mr. Alison
The hon. Gentleman has launched into a typical diatribe—as usual without having done adequate research. Of the total of 95 commissioners, 43 are diocesan bishops and it is no fault of the Church of England that there are no women bishops at present. Of the remainder of the commissioners, more than half are elected by the general assembly of the general synod of the Church of England. That electoral process produces as few women as the Labour party's electoral process produces women in the Labour party.