As we noted in our November post Women in the episcopate – next steps, there are five formal stages to the legislative process:
- First Consideration, when the Measure is the subject of general debate;
- Revision Committee Stage, when a Revision Committee considers it clause by clause, together with any proposals for its amendment;
- Revision Stage, when it is subjected to a similar process on the floor of the Synod, but with amendments normally limited to matters addressed by the Revision Committee;
- Final Drafting, when the Steering Committee for the draft Measure (i.e. the members responsible for its progress through its synodical stages) can move certain limited types of amendment intended to put it into its final form; and
- Final Approval.
On 20 November 2013, First Consideration took place in the afternoon session, and Synod voted to progress the legislation to its next legislative stage of revision at its next meeting in February. However, as a result of the votes carried, Synod agreed to dispense with the normal Revision Committee process and move straight to revision in full Synod in February, i.e. today.
The Revision Stage for both the measure and the canon involved two debates: the first considered the House of Bishops draft Declaration and Disputes Resolution Procedure regulations, GS 1932; and the second debate the Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure, GS 1925A, and the Draft Amending Canon No.33 , GS 1926A. Both were completed without amendment, thereby completing the Revision Stage.
There followed a procedural motion suspending Standing Order 90(b) (iii) so that the reference of the draft Measure and draft Canon to the Dioceses under Article 8 of the Synod’s Constitution can be concluded within 3 months rather than the 6 months stipulated under the standing order. After debate, the motion was approved by 358 votes to 39 with 9 abstentions, comfortably satisfying the necessary 75% majority of the whole Synod.
The legislation now goes to the dioceses for approval, and provided it is approved by a majority before 22 May 2014, General Synod will be able to hold the final approval debate in July 2014. If passed, the legislation would then go to Parliament for approval and could be in force before the end of this year.