The Church of England's General Synod has moved a step closer to creating its first female bishop.

The church's national assembly approved fast-track legislation which could see the first woman selected as a Church of England bishop by the end of the year.

It marks another step forward on an issue that has long divided the church. Only two years ago, the General Synod failed to pass legislation by just six votes — drawing criticism from Prime Minister David Cameron.

But new compromise proposals, which only apply to England, are aimed at massaging the issue by giving guidance to parishes that reject female ministry.