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Sir Tony Baldry to retire next year

05 September 2014

PA

Responding to questions: Sir Tony Baldry in the Commons in 2012

Responding to questions: Sir Tony Baldry in the Commons in 2012

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 bishops.

"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 growth."

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.

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