THE next Archbishop of Canterbury has insisted that women will eventually be ordained as bishops despite the change being voted down last night.

Justin Welby said the General Synod had overwhelmingly backed the idea, although it did not receive the two-thirds majority needed among lay members.

Mr Welby, Bishop of Durham until he takes over from Dr Rowan Williams next year, said he agreed with comments by the Archbishop of York John Sentamu.

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"Sentamu has said there will be women bishops and I agree with him," he said.

"The Church has voted overwhelmingly in favour of the principle. It is a question of finding a way that there is a real consensus that this is the right way forward.

"That is going to take some time, some care, and some prudence."

Asked whether he was determined to push the issue, Mr Welby, who had earlier tweeted that yesterday was a very grim day, said: "I'm going to listen to all the other bishops and we will talk together and decide together."

He was speaking after attending a parliamentary hearing at which he made a wry joke about the female bishops vote as he questioned Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.

The Bishop of Durham sits on the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, which is carrying out an inquiry into the culture and practices of the financial services industry.

After Mr Osborne mentioned lay members of banking boards while giving evidence today, the Bishop provoked laughter by saying: "Thank you, Chancellor, that when you said lay people, you didn't say male lay people, (given) the present situation I'm facing."

The Chancellor said: "Can I congratulate you on your..."

But before he could finish his sentence, the Bishop again prompted laughter by saying: "I'm not sure you can."

Mr Osborne told him: "I thought I had a difficult job but, over the last 48 hours, I have seen you have got a much more difficult job and I wish you very well personally with that."