SIR TONY BALDRY, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, who
promotes C of E legislation in the House of Commons, is to stand
down as an MP at the General Election next May.
Sir Tony, who was first elected to Parliament in his early 30s,
would be approaching 70 at the end of the next five-year period of
office, and made the decision during the summer to stand down as MP
for North Oxfordshire.
It has been a busy five-year period since Sir Tony, knighted in
2013, was appointed Second Church Estates Commissioner. He was very
active in moves to combat the theft of lead from church roofs, and
has dealt with topics as diverse as bats, foodbanks, the
persecution of Christians overseas, the funding of church
buildings, and the burial of Richard III.
Asked on Tuesday what he would be pleased to leave behind, he
had one word: "Sex. I seem to have spent a lot of time negotiating
about sex." He had been involved in the discussions between Number
10 and the C of E over the same-sex marriage legislation, and has
been active in the Commons and in the General Synod over the issue
of women bishops. He warned the Synod from the start that the one
thing that Parliament would not tolerate was second-class women
"The Church of England collectively is capable of focusing only
on one issue at a time. As the women-bishops issue is resolved, it
is to be hoped that we can move on to talk about mission and
In his view, he said, "Archbishop Justin's period in office is
the last chance the Church of England has to assert itself as a
national Church." There was "enormous good will" towards the Church
in Parliament, he said, but it had to meet its financial and
deployment challenges over the next ten to 15 years.
His most memorable occasion was being present at Lambeth Palace
when the Queen addressed faith leaders about the importance of the
Established Church (News, 17 February 2012).
Sir Tony expects to continue to play some part in church
activities, and plans to stand for election as an ordinary member
of the General Synod next year.