Forthcoming events in religion and law – Update: April 2013

Below is an updated version of some of the more important dates and events scheduled for 2013, last updated here.

Events calendar

19–21 April: Ecclesiastical Law Society Biennial Residential Conference in Birmingham, Shaping the future of Parochial Ministry.

9 May: Richard O’Sullivan Memorial Lecture, “Does Establishment Have A Future?”, Rt hon. Lord Mackay of Clashfern KT, Lord of Appeal in Ordinary 1985–1987, Lord Chancellor 1987–1997: The Parliament Room, Middle Temple 7.15 pm: places are limited: for further details see

13 May: University of Wales, Newport: Funded Workshop: Maintaining a Faith Community: the Role of Law: details Dr Ruth Gaffney-Rhys,

14 May: Law and Religion Scholars Network, (LARSN) Conference, Cardiff.

20-21 May: Meeting of House of Bishops to take decisions on what legislative proposals to bring to the Synod in July.

4 June: Service in Westminster Abbey to celebrate 60th Anniversary of the Coronation Service.

7 June: Coronation Lecture by the Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dr Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, 6.30 pm.

12 June: Ecclesiastical Law Society London Lecture, “Churchwardens: a case of mistaken identity?”, Dr Peter Smith.

5–9 July: Meeting of Church of England General Synod in York

18 July: LLM (Canon Law) graduation, Cardiff University

16 October: Ecclesiastical Law Society London Lecture, “Anglican Covenant or What?”, The Revd Canon John Rees, Provincial Registrar, Canterbury

18–20 November: Meeting of Church of England General Synod, London


Parliamentary timetables

Note: On 16 January 2013, MEPs voted on a new European Parliament calendar, with 12 plenary part-sessions of equal duration in Strasbourg in 2013, as ruled by the Court of Justice in joined Cases C 237/11 and C 238/11. The Court found in favour of France and Luxembourg and annulled Parliament’s vote of 9 March 2011 on the calendar of part-sessions for 2012 and 2013, holding that the 12 “ordinary plenary part-sessions” of the EP travelling circus must be of equal duration and reiterated that only the member states have the legal power to change the seat of the institutions.


Bills before Westminster Parliament 2012–13

  • Bishops(Consecration of Women) Bill: second reading, 3rd May. A private      Members’ Bill (under the Ten Minute Rule, SO No 23) sponsored by Diana      Johnson: A Bill to enable women to be consecrated as bishops in the Church      of England; and for connected purposes.
  • Charities Act 2011 (Amendment) Bill: 1st Reading 19 December 2012, 2nd Reading t.b.a.. Private Members’ Bill (under the Ten Minute Rule, SO No 23) sponsored      Mr Peter Bone.  A Bill to amend the Charities Act 2011 to treat all religious institutions as charities; and      for connected purposes.
  • Crime and Courts Bill [HL]: Ping Pong, 23 April.  A Bill to establish, and make  provision about, the National Crime Agency; to abolish the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the National Policing Improvement Agency; to make provision about the judiciary and the structure, administration, proceedings and powers of courts and tribunals; to make provision about border control; to make provision about drugs and driving; and for      connected purposes.

For this Bill, “connected purposes” include the part-implementation (with a Royal Charter) of the Leveson recommendations, a critical part of which is how blogs will be addressed, see our post here.

  • Defamation Bill: Ping  pong, 16 April: A Government Bill to reform the law of defamation to  ensure that a fair balance is struck between the right to freedom of  expression and the protection of reputation. The Bill makes a number of substantive changes to the law of defamation, but is not designed to codify the law into a single statute.
  • Energy Bill: The 15th and 16th sittings of the Second reading were on 7th February. The  date for the Report stage and Third Reading (HC) remains to be announced. The Bill is “to make provision for or in connection with reforming the electricity market for purposes of encouraging low-carbon electricity generation or ensuring security of supply” – this is a current lobbying      concern of the Church of England in relation to fuel poverty.
  • Equality Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill: second reading, to be announced: private Member’s bill (Frank Field) “to amend the Equality Act 2010 to remove discrimination against women in relation to consecration of bishops in the Church of England; and for connected purposes”.
  • Equality of Marriage (Amendment) Bill: second reading, to be announced: Introduced under the 10 minute rule,      (Edward Leigh), “to amend the protected characteristics in the Equality Act 2010 to include a person’s conscientious beliefs about the definition of marriage”
  • Lords Spiritual Bill: second reading, to be announced: private Member’s bill (Frank Field) “to make provision for filling vacancies among Lords Spiritual sitting and voting as Lords of Parliament”.
  • Marriage (Approved Organisations) Bill [Lords]: no further progress, second reading date to      be announced. Private Peer’s bill “to amend the law on marriage to permit      the Registrar General to permit certain charitable organisations to      solemnise marriages” which is unlikely to make progress.
  • Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill: The Bill completed its committee stage on 12 March 2013. It had its second reading debate on 5 February 2012.  It is due to have its report stage and third reading on a date to be announced. A Bill “to make provision for the marriage of  same-sex couples in England and Wales, about gender change by married persons and civil partners, about consular functions in relation to  marriage, for the marriage of armed forces personnel overseas”.
  • Succession to the Crown Bill: 3rd Reading {HL], 22 April: “to make succession to the Crown not depend on gender; to make provision      about Royal Marriages; and for connected purposes”

To follow the progress of a particular Bill, the relevant Parliamentary web page provides the option to sign up for email alerts or use its RSS feeds.

Bills before the Welsh Assembly Government 2012–13



UK Government

A full list of UK government consultations is available here. At 31 January, there were no relevant consultations.

Scottish Government

The Consultation on Same-sex Marriage closed on 20 March and the Scottish government will publish an analysis of responses later this year. Further information is available at .

Welsh Assembly Government

A full list of WAG consultations is available here. At 29 January there were no relevant consultations.


Legal proceedings

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court will hear the appeal from President of the Methodist Conference v Preston [2011] EWCA Civ 1581 (20 December 2011) on 13 February.

First-tier Tribunal (Charity)

The FTT(C) was due to hear linked appeals – CA/2012/0003 in the name of Besley & Ors and CA/2012/0003(b) in the name of Armstrong & Ors – on 22–28 March against the decision of the Charity Commission to refuse charity registration to the Preston Down Trust of the Exclusive Brethren. The proceedings have now been stayed by agreement with the Charity Commission pending further negotiations between the parties.

Court of Session: Inner House

The Inner House’s hearing in the appeal from Doogan & Anor, Re Judicial Review [2012] ScotCS CSOH 32 (about the limits within which medical staff may claim conscientious objection to participating in arrangements for terminations of pregnancy) has been concluded and judgment on the matter is currently awaited.

European Court of Human Rights

The Grand Chamber has heard the appeal in Fernández Martínez v Spain [2012] ECHR 6030/07 (15 May 2012) on whether the decision not to renew the contract of a laicised and married former Roman Catholic priest as a teacher of religion in a state school had violated his rights under Article 8 ECHR (private and family life): judgment is awaited.

The Grand Chamber will hear an appeal (t.b.a.) in the Romanian clerical trade union case, Sindicatul Păstorul Cel Bun v Romania 2330/09 [2012] ECHR (31 January 2012).

There will be a Chamber hearing (t.b.a.) in Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v United Kingdom 7552/09 [2011] ECHR 733 (12 April 2011), relating to the refusal of the local Valuation Officer to exempt the LDS Temple in Preston and some of its associated buildings from business rates under the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855 on the grounds that the buildings in question are not open to the public.


Church of England

Legislation in progress within the Church of England

The CofE link to legislation in progress is here.

Ecclesiastical Committee

The CofE link to the Ecclesiastical Committee is here.

Peter Owen maintains lists of vacant diocesan Sees and of suffragan bishops, here and here.

Other C of E

In addition to consideration of new legislation on women in the episcopate, action on the following is also in progress:

  • Business Committee position  paper on how the House of Laity of General Synod and the houses of laity of diocesan synods are elected, motion agreed at General Synod 8 – 12 July  2011, here.
  • Draft legislation from  Archbishops’ Council “to embody this conviction [the manifestation of      faith in public life] in the Canons of the Church of England”, Agreed   Motion of General Synod, 8 July 2012.
  • Draft document on doctrine of marriage, prepared for the House of Bishops by the Faith and Order Commission in relation to the doctrine of marriage, here.
  • Final report from the group  chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling on the Church of England’s approach to human sexuality, here.


Other Events

UK Scouting and Girlguiding UK are reviewing the responses to their respective consultations concerning to their membership promises.  The consultations closed earlier this year, and the issues raised are summarized here.

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