Oliver Colvile owns 200-year-old right to hire vicars in PM's constituency
A FAMILY inheritance dating back 200 years gives Plymouth MP Oliver Colvile a say over hiring vicars in the Prime Minister’s constituency.
In a role people may associate more with a period costume drama, the Tory politician from Plymouth Sutton and Devonport revealed he “owns the living” of a parish in Oxfordshire, bought by an ancestor in the early 19th century. His sister is also a vicar.
Mr Colvile declared the interests as MPs discussed the failed bid in the General Synod this week to allow women to become bishops.
He is a patron to the Shill Valley and Broadshire Benefice in the Oxford diocese, which includes 12 churches.
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It lies in the west Oxfordshire constituency of Witney, which is the Westminster seat of David Cameron.
Mr Colvile along with other patrons, decide, along with the Church Council, on the appointment of a vicar or rector when a vacancy arises, and have the authority to reject candidates.
The MP said this allowed for an “independent evaluation” in the selection process.
It came as politicians at Westminster vented their frustration at the decision of the General Synod to reject women bishops.
The draft legislation was carried in a vote by the houses of bishops and clergy in the General Synod but failed by six votes to gain the necessary two-thirds majority among lay members.
This was in spite of the legislation having been passed by 42 out of the 44 Church of England dioceses.
Both the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and his successor the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Justin Welby, supported the change.
Speaking as MPs debated the decision, Mr Colvile said: “I must declare an interest in that my sister is a vicar in the Church of England in your constituency, Mr Speaker, and I personally own the living of a parish in Oxfordshire.”
Responding, Sir Tony Baldry, who represents the Church of England in the Commons, said: “It is reassuring to discover that there are still Members of this House who own livings of parishes in the Church of England.”
It came after the Prime Minister said the Church needed to “get with the programme” on the issue.
Sir Tony told MPs fresh moves to allow women to become bishops should take place “as soon as possible”.
He said it was not an issue which could be “parked for the next couple of years” until after the next round of General Synod elections in 2015