Letter: Senior Church of England appointments

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The Independent Online
Sir: After reading your editorial ('The church's temporal bonds', 19 October) I wondered whether you had read the same report to which I had appended a note of dissent. Your leading article is exclusively about the position of bishops. The report specifically excluded this group and was concerned with other senior church appointments.

I opposed the majority report because I believe that its proposals, if carried out, would result in a strengthening of sectarian forces within the church. I also opposed the report on grounds of pluralism. I argued on democratic grounds that it was wiser to have two centres of authority making senior appointments within an organisation rather than one.

I also differed on one other matter with the members of the working party and their report. I advocated that all senior appointments should be advertised as a matter of course, and that the Crown, in exercising its authority, should do so in public.

This could be achieved by the Crown appointing a group of people to sit on the appointments board for senior appointments. This proposal would replace the current system, where Crown patronage is exercised in secret. It would open up the church to its best talents and, with the other recommendations I make, ensure that it was an outward-looking body rather than an inward-looking, sectarian organisation.

Yours faithfully,


MP for Birkenhead (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1