Archbishop of York calls for public consultation before bishop vote changes

Archbishop of York Stephen Cotterill (right) with former Bishop of Sodor and Man Peter Eagles (left)

Second most senior member of Church of England writes to CM

The Archbishop of York says no changes should be made to the Bishop of Sodor and Man’s Tynwald vote without a public consultation.

Stephen Cotterill has written to the chief minister ahead of proposals to remove the vote being back on the agenda in the House of Keys today (19 December).

Having progressed through its first two readings Lawrie Hooper’s Constitution Bill reaches the clauses stage.

The bill itself has just one clause which seeks to remove the bishop’s vote from Tynwald and the Legislative Council.

It comes at a time when the bishop’s seat in Tynwald is vacant following Peter Eagles’ retirement in October.

In his letter to Alfred Cannan the Archbishop of York writes “if the role of the bishop in Tynwald were to change, this would inevitably raise other questions about the status of the future of the diocese itself.”

He goes on to say: “I am also concerned that this issue has been raised again, so recently after Tynwald Court rejected it, and at a time when the diocese is in vacancy. I am afraid I cannot think this is a simple coincidence.

“The governance arrangements of the Island are hugely important but I wonder whether this is a priority for the people you serve at a time when so many other challenges face us both locally and nationally.

“I realise it is not really my place to interfere in these matters but I would urge you to consider carefully making constitutional changes at such a time and what the unintended consequences might be.

“I also believe that such a change should not happen without wider public consultation. I would be happy to facilitate such consultation within our parishes if that would be helpful.”

The archbishop, who holds the second highest role in the Church of England, also reflects on his visit to the Island earlier this year, saying: “I took the opportunity of speaking with many people about the bishop’s role in Tynwald and it was absolutely clear that not only was Bishop Peter himself held in high regard but the role of the bishop in Tynwald was highly valued.”

Mr Cannan, who has voted against the first two readings of the bill, confirmed to Manx Radio that the letter has been shared with all Tynwald members.

Manx Radio: Isle of Man News