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Second female bishop joins House of Lords

The Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Revd Christine Hardman has taken her seat and joins the Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, who was introduced last year.

Christine Hardman told Premier: "I remember many, many years ago when I was in sixth form being taken to see a debate in the House of Lords, and I couldn't possibly have imagined that one day I would be privileged enough to be taking that seat myself."

She becomes one of 26 'Lords Spiritual', a group which includes the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, as well as the Bishops of London, Durham and Winchester and 21 other Diocesan Bishops.

Bishop Christine explained: "We're not there to be spokespeople for the Church of England. We're there to give a representation for people of faith. We are there to serve all the people of England, so we are there for the common good of our country.

"I will be particularly looking to give voice to people whose voices aren't always heard, and that could be throughout the country. I will also be looking to speak up for the North East, because our region has many causes for celebration but also many causes for life being quite difficult, and I want to make sure that voice is heard."

The Bishop of Newcastle was supported at her introduction by the Archbishop of York, the Most Revd John Sentamu and the Bishop of Southwark (the diocese in which she previously served as Archdeacon), the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun.

During the short ceremony in the House of Lords Chamber she presented her Writ of Summons from the Crown and swore the parliamentary Oath of Allegiance.

Commenting on the controversy regarding women bishops in the Church of England, Bishop Christine told Premier: "We're now in a new era, and we've found a really good way of living together and all working for each other's mutual flourishing. I think as far as the House of Lords goes, there's such rejoicing.

"We will now have two bishops who are women on the bishops bench, and I've met nothing but celebration for that. I think it's lovely that there's now two of us, and as the Bishop Libby Lane said recently, it's becoming the new 'normal'."

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