On 6th November 2013, the Chief Whip in the House of Lords, Baroness Anelay of St Johns, responded to concerns regarding the timetabling of the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill by a number of Peers. The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, raised some concerns, speaking on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, I rise from this Bench in the absence of my friend the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, who cannot be in his place, to follow up a little on what the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, said. I know that your Lordships have sometimes observed that when these Benches are full, the General Synod must be in session and the Bishops are absconding. We sometimes are, of course, but the week after next, the Synod will spend a great deal of time on the new proposals for the consecration of women as bishops, and we are hopeful of progress.
I know that the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury would be glad not to miss consideration on Report of the Banking Reform Bill but will, on this occasion, have to give the General Synod priority. I am sure that your Lordships would not wish him to abscond, as some of us hope to live to see the day when there will be women with us on these Benches. I realise that there are diary clashes for us all, but it would be a great pity if the Archbishop could not play a very full part in our debate here. He would be too modest to say it himself, but I can say it for him: we would be the poorer without his contribution.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: …Reference has also been made to colleagues’ availability, and I note particularly what the right reverend Prelate said. Far be it for me to wish to take the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury away from discussion of important matters at his next weekly meeting of the Church, particularly if it is on the matter of women bishops. By the way, I do not hold the right reverend Prelate to any idea that that meeting will pass a resolution in favour of women bishops. I look on and wait with interest.
On a serious point, I know that the most reverend Primate attended two out of three days. He did as much as he possibly could to attend two days of Committee. He decided not to speak until late one night, when he was of great assistance in speaking briefly but importantly. Members of the House will know what I mean when I say that I did so “to assist the staff”, if I may put it that way, at 10.30 pm. It was a generous thing to do. I know that he listened assiduously and I am sure that he has read Hansard…