|Women in waiting Photo credit: Telegraph/Jane Mingay|
From today's Sunday Times (here £) "Most bishops... do not automatically qualify for a seat in the Lords and there had been fears that it would be a decade or more before a churchwoman sat on parliament’s red benches. Now, in a historic move championed by Nick Clegg, the law will be rewritten so that female bishops jump the queue when a place among the 'lords spiritual' comes up. The first could be appointed to Westminster’s upper chamber as early as next year."
Last year Mr Clegg was awarded an A-plus for hypocrisy in this Mail Online report: "This week it’s the announcement that he — an atheist and the leader of a party that has pledged to make faith schools more inclusive — has succeeded in getting his son into one of the most over-subscribed Catholic state schools in Britain. Entry to the London Oratory School is dependent on at least one parent not only being Catholic, but regularly attending Sunday Mass at the Brompton Oratory for at least three years. Even with these strict criteria, the school had 800 applicants for its 160 places. How very fortunate that the Cleggs were, as the Deputy Prime Minister put it himself yesterday, ‘lucky’ enough to get one."
Mr Clegg is an atheist married to a Catholic. He told the Mail Online that he wouldn’t impose his political will on his wife when it came to educating their children. But that has not prevented him from imposing his political will on religious matters.
In a radio phone-in Mr Clegg said that he would like to see the disestablishment of the Church of England which would lead to the Queen's removal as the head of the church: "In the long run it would be better for the church and better for people of faith, and better for Anglicans, if the church and the state were over time to stand on their own two separate feet." Mr Clegg believes that the Anglican Church would “thrive” if no longer “inhibited” by its role at the heart of the British constitution.
The Anglican Church in England and Wales was supposed to "thrive" following the ordination of women to the priesthood but last month the Bishop of Truro warned that the Church of England has only "five or six years" to save itself. Previously, when the Bishop of Blackburn launched a 12-year-plan to attract younger people to the Church he feared that unless the Church reinvented itself in his own diocese, it would disappear like the region’s textile industry.
An elected House of Lords has been a "long-cherished goal of the Lib Dems" but plans to reform the second chamber had to be abandoned after the Conservatives "broke the coalition contract" (here).
Perhaps Mr Clegg is getting his own back, doing the same for the House of Lords as women's ordination has done for the Church, steady decline.