Birkenhead MP Frank Field is asking Parliament to make it illegal for the Church of England to discriminate against women when appointing bishops.
On Tuesday evening, the Church of England’s Synod voted against changing the Church’s rules to allow for the consecration of women as bishops.
The proposed legislation needed to gain two-thirds majority in each of the synod’s three houses. But it fell short by just six votes in the House of Laity, despite overwhelming support for the change being voted for by the vast majority of diocese.
The Church of England, as with other religious organisations, enjoys exemption from some provisions in the Equality Act 2010 which effectively means they are not breaking the law by barring women from holding certain positions in the Church.
In response to the vote, Mr Field, a former member of the Synod, yesterday tabled a “Presentation Bill” in Parliament which seeks to remove from the statute book the exemptions from equality legislation that the Church of England enjoys.
The procedure allows an MP to give notice of his or her intention to present a Bill at a future time.
If passed, the Bill would make it illegal for the Church of England to discriminate against women when appointing bishops, as they currently do.
Mr Field said: “This [the Synod vote] is a terribly disappointing result, which goes against the firm wishes of the vast majority of Church of England members.
“Parliament has a role in agreeing to or rejecting the Synod’s decisions, and I believe that MPs should now use this role, in a helpful way, to ensure those firm wishes are complied with.”
Mr Feild's Bill is supported by MPs Diana Johnson, Natascha Engel, Elfyn Llwyd, Andrew George, Nicholas Soames, Roberta Blackman-Woods, Eleanor Laing and Helen Goodman.
Its second reading will take place on January 18, 2013.