Forthcoming events in religion and law – Update: May 2013

Below is an updated version of some of the more important dates and events scheduled for 2013, last updated here. This has been published later than normal to include links to the Queen’s Speech on 8th May, marking the start of the 2013-14 Session of the UK Parliament.   

Events calendar

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: details

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. (Details,

14 May: Europe Day, in Westminster Abbey at 5.00 pm, arranged by Wyndham Place Charlemagne Trust.  (Details

15 May: Supreme Court judgment in President of the Methodist Conference v Preston will be handed down  at 9.45 am.

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

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

The Queen’s Speech on 8th May 2013 marked the start of the 2013-2014 Session of the UK Parliament, which since following Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, parliamentary sessions have run from spring to spring, Hansard HC 13 Sep 2010, col. 33WS.

Our post of 7 May lists the Bills which: failed to progress before the end of the 2012-13 Session; and those which received Royal Assent. Those carried over to the 2013-14 Session are listed below, to which will be added Bills identified in the Queen’s Speech, as they are introduced as well as Private Members Bills and those arising from the 10 Minute Rule, (SO No 23).

The full list of Bills before the House is to be found here.

Bills carried over from the 2012-13 Session

  • Children and Families Bill A Bill which seeks to reform legislation relating to inter alia: adoption and children in care; and aspects of the family justice system.  The Bill was the subject of a carry-over motion on 25 February 2013, which was agreed without division.
  • Energy Bill: A Bill “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. Subject of a carry-over motion on 19 December 2012, agreed without division.
  • Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill:  To make further provision about banking and other financial services, including provision about the Financial Services Compensation Scheme; to make provision for the amounts owed in respect of certain deposits to be treated as a preferential debt on insolvency; to make provision about the accounts of the Bank of England and its wholly owned subsidiaries; and for connected purposes. The Bill completed its committee stage on 18 April, and is subject of a carry-over motion on 11 March 2013, which was carried without division. A particular concern of the Archbishop of Canterbury who is a member of all-party commission looking into banking standards.
  • Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill: 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”. The Bill completed its committee stage on 12 March and is subject of a carry-over motion on 5 February 2013, agreed to on a division: Ayes 464, Noes 38.

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



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 3 May there were no relevant consultations.


Legal proceedings

Supreme Court

The judgement on President of the Methodist Conference v Preston [2011] EWCA Civ 1581 (20 December 2011) will be handed down at 9.45 on Wednesday, 15 May.

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.

After a further request by the Trust to the Tribunal on 1 May proceedings have been put on hold for a further four months until 1 September. “Confidential without-prejudice discussions” are continuing between the Trust and the Commission, while the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church has said that discussions with the Commission had been constructive and that it was now expected that the dialogue will reach a conclusion by the end of August

Court of Session: Inner House

In Doogan & Anor v NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Health Board [2013] ScotCS CSIH 36 (24 April 2013) an Extra Division of the Inner House (Mackay of Drumadoon, Dorrian & McEwan) overturned the decision of the Lord Ordinary [Lady Smith] dismissing their petition for judicial review and refusing the petitioners’ minute. Our report is here.

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.
  • The report, Men and Women in Marriage, was released on 10 April, and was      reviewed 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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