Ripon and Leeds is first diocese to say yes to women bishops

Church of England dioceses are considering women bishops legislationPA

Legislation to allow women bishops received overwhelming support from church leaders across the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds on Saturday.

The Church of England has put women bishops legislation on a fast track since November 2012's crushing defeat of previous legislation.

The new, simpler package is making its way around the dioceses for consideration and is expected to gain majority support, allowing its passage to the General Synod in July for final approval.

A yes vote at that time could enable women to become bishops by the end of the year.

Ripon and Leeds was the first diocese to cast its vote on women bishops legislation on Saturday.

The diocesan synod, meeting in Harrogate, voted 72 to one in favour of the legislation, with two abstentions.

The Bishop of Knaresborough, the Right Reverend James Bell, told members that the legislation was very different to that narrowly rejected in 2012.

"It is a very different package. It contains a simple measure to enable the ordination and consecration of women as bishops," he said.

"It is accompanied by a House of Bishops declaration - and then very significantly a resolution of disputes procedure...this new idea of a mechanism to be embedded in the whole package whereby those who feel they haven't been heard or their views haven't been respected have recourse to an appropriate procedure."

Every diocese in the country has been asked to vote for or against the same motion without amendment and to record the voting by houses.

It will enable General Synod to make an exact comparison between the voting in the different dioceses. Provided a majority of Diocesan Synods across the country approve the legislation by the May 22 deadline, the General Synod will be able to hold the final approval debate when it meets in July.

If passed the legislation would then go to Parliament for approval and could be in force before the end of the year.