THE chairman of the House
of Laity, Dr Philip Giddings, is facing a vote of no confidence as
a result of his speech in the women-bishops debate (
Synod, 30 November,
News, 23 November)
A no-confidence motion is
the only item of business scheduled for a meeting of the House,
which has been requisitioned under standing orders. It is
understood that 15-20 per cent of members of the House voted in
favour of calling a meeting, more than the required ten per cent.
No date for it has yet been set.
Many in the House of
Laity are said to be unhappy with Dr Giddings's decision to vote
against the Measure to ordain women bishops at the November Synod
meeting, although the wwmajority of the House supported it.
Stephen Barney, who
proposed the motion of no confidence, said on Monday: "I intend to
try to keep this on the issue of conduct appropriate to a chair of
the House of Laity. It is not a personal issue, as I have told
In the Synod debate, Dr
Giddings spoke directly after the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd
Justin Welby, Archbishop-designate of Canterbury. He said that he
could not agree with the Bishop's support for the Measure. As
chairman of the House, Dr Giddings said, it was his role to "ensure
that the views of the whole House are heard". He estimated that "at
least a quarter and perhaps a third" of lay people were opposed to
the principle of women bishops or to the Measure, and asserted the
"unwisdom" of pressing ahead with the legislation.
He had voted in favour of
the legislation ordaining women as priests in 1992 "because it was
designed to ensure that those who could not in conscience accept it
could remain with us".
On Tuesday, Penny Allen,
a member of the House of Laity, said of Dr Giddings: "The position
he is occupying is very influential. He used his position during
the women- bishops legislation debate from the platform, therefore
as chair of the House of Laity, to oppose the Measure rather than
uphold the views of the dioceses."
Sally Barnes of the
campaign group WATCH said on Tuesday: "The Church of England has
suffered an enormous blow to its credibility, and it is right that
the chair of the House of Laity should be made accountable for his
part in this because he has continuously spoken against the Measure
and chairs are usually meant to be impartial."
Dr Giddings could not be reached for comment.