Long time, no See...

It turns out to be rather bad career news for a number of Reverend Prelates.

The Church of England has long planned to fast-track women bishops into the House of Lords, so the announcement that the Rev Libby Lane is to be consecrated as the Bishop of Stockport raises the prospect of the first ever female presence on the Lords Bishops' Bench. (No quibbles, please, about abbesses sitting in medieval parliaments…)

But that requires a change in the law to amend the strict precedence for a place in the Upper House, laid down in the 1878 Bishoprics Act, to allow her to jump the queue. Simples. Uncontroversial, you might think.

But I hear that the bill being prepared is a bit more draconian than anyone quite realises - and will allow all appointments of Bishops to the Lords to go to women for the next 10 years - possibly foreclosing the ambitions of a number of quite political prelates.

The bill will go through by the next election, and could have quite a noticeable impact on one small corner of their Lordships' House.

But for a lot of bishops patiently waiting for their turn in an established order of precedence to convey them to a seat in the Lords, it's a case of Long Time, No See.