THE Prime Minister’s appointments secretary, William Chapman, has left his full-time job in Downing Street. He will take up a new job as policy director of the projected Tony Blair Faith Foundation.
There is to be no official announcement by Downing Street, in line with policy on staff departures, a spokeswoman said on Wednesday. She confirmed: “He will still be advising the PM [on ecclesiastical affairs] in an official capacity on a part-time basis.”
The post of appointments secretary to the Prime Minister will disappear when the PM’s office ceases to have any involvement in choosing diocesan bishops or making appointments to Crown deaneries and canonries. Gordon Brown made it clear when he came to office that he did not believe that ministers should exercise even the residual choice they had in recommending appointments.
The Archbishop of Canterbury told the General Synod last month that he could see no positive argument for leaving the PM the ability to set aside a preferred candidate. While echoing the many tributes paid to Mr Chapman, he said: “Nevertheless, I am quite clear that the new arrangements now open to us are in principle to be preferred, and in practice will be easier to explain and justify.”
Mr Blair’s Faith Foundation is intended to foster greater understanding between the three Abrahamic faiths. It is in that context that he has been appointed Howland Distinguished Fellow at Yale for the next academic year.