THE Dean of Westminster, the Very Revd Dr John Hall, has dismissed reports of a dispute between the Abbey and the Speaker of the House of Commons over the appointment of the new Speaker’s Chaplain as “absurd and untrue”.
The Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin was named this week as the new Chaplain to the Speaker, John Bercow. She is Vicar of Holy Trinity, Dalston, and All Saints’, Haggerston, in London, formerly chaired the Church of England’s National Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns, and is an Hon. Chaplain to the Queen.
Unlike her predecessor, Canon Robert Wright, Mrs Hudson-Wilkin will not combine the chaplaincy with the offices of Sub-Dean of Westminster Abbey and Rector of St Margaret’s, Westminster.
The Daily Express, the Daily Mail, and other newspapers reported this week that Mr Bercow had favoured the appointment of Mrs Hudson-Wilkin rather than the Abbey’s preferred candidate, Canon Andrew Tremlett, of Bristol Cathedral, for “politically correct reasons”: Mr Bercow wanted Mrs Hudson-Wilkin rather than “another white middle-aged man”.
But, Dr Hall said, although the Abbey had advertised for someone to fill the combined position, historically this had not always been the case. “Technically, the appointment to the canonry of Westminster is by the Crown, while the appointment to Speaker’s Chaplain is the responsibility of the Speaker, and that’s been the outcome on this occasion. There was no row between us, and relations between the Abbey and the Palace of Westminster and the Speaker continue to be constructive and productive.
“Mrs Hudson-Wilkin will be a Priest-Vicar at Westminster Abbey, and these two appointments will enhance the Church of England’s ministry in the Palace of Westminster.”
Tim Hames, special adviser to the Speaker, said that the decision to split the position was “nothing novel”, and the Abbey and the Speaker had “amicably agreed on splitting the two roles”.
The official confirmation of Canon Tremlett’s appointment as a Canon of Westminster is expected in the next couple of weeks.