CofE changes s25 Burial Act 1857 (and 18 other provisions)

This week, the latest Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure completes its final legislative scrutiny by the Houses of Parliament:

– 7 May 2014: publication of 232nd Report of the Ecclesiastical Committee – Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure;

– 12 May 2014: scrutiny by MPs in a delegated legislation committee, in debate led by the Second Church Estates Commissioner Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP;

– 13 May 2014: Agreed to, without debate in House of Commons;

– 13 May 2014: Agreed in the House of Lords, following a brief summary of the Measure by the Bishop of Oxford, who also responded on two points raised.

Sir Tony Baldry will then move: That the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure (HC 1273), passed by the General Synod of the Church of England, be presented to Her Majesty for Her Royal Assent in the form in which it was laid before Parliament.

Content of the Measure

Summarizing the Measure to the Delegated Legislation Committee, Sir Tony Baldry said

“This is the 11th Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure. Such Measures, which are produced by the General Synod roughly once every five years, contain a range of unconnected provisions that are either necessary or helpful for the good governance of the Church of England and, crucially, are not regarded as contentious. The Measure is squarely in that tradition, as can be seen from the fact that it obtained final approval in General Synod without a single person voting against it.  This is the longest ever miscellaneous provisions Measure, and it clarifies or simplifies legislation in a number of areas.

Since “time [was] too limited . . .  to mention all or even most of the changes”, Sir Tony highlighted three general areas covered by the measure:

– Provisions for modernizing the administration of the national Church institutions;

– Provisions to increase Church bodies’ financial flexibility; and

– Provisions relating to the clergy and to the ecclesiastical courts, simplifying existing processes, dealing with lacunae in legislation such as the lack of a right of appeal in the Incumbents (Vacation of Benefices) Measure 1977, and dealing with doubts that have arisen as to the proper interpretation in existing law.

The nineteen areas covered by the Measure include:

– Ecclesiastical Commissioners Act 1840

– Burial Act 1857

– Episcopal Endowments and Stipends Measure 1943

– Church Commissioners Measure 1947

– Parochial Church Councils (Powers) Measure 1956

– Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1963

– Faculty Jurisdiction Measure 1964

– Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967

– Synodical Government Measure 1969

– Endowments and Glebe Measure 1976

– Incumbents (Vacation of Benefices) Measure 1977

– Patronage (Benefices) Measure 1986

– Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1991

– Cathedrals Measure 1999

– Tenure of office of vicars general and surrogates

– Dioceses, Pastoral and Mission Measure 2007

– Power for chancellor to determine fees

– Power for General Cemetery Company to dispose of whole or part of Kensal Green Cemetery

– Provisions relating to Christ Church, Oxford

as well as some minor and consequential amendments.


For readers requiring a more detailed explanation, a summary of the provisions of the measure as provided to the Ecclesiastical Committee, is available here.  Our comments on the changes to section 25 Burial Act are included in Proposed Amendment to s25 Burial Act 1857.  Further comments on this and the other legislative changes will be made in a later post.