“Henry VIII powers” for the bishops?

Comments of the Ecclesiastical Law Society on proposals for reforming ecclesiastical law

The 26 July round-up included a quick-link to the response by a working party of the Ecclesiastical Law Society, (ELS), to a consultation by the Archbishops’ Council’s on proposals for reforming ecclesiastical law. These suggest the use of a scheme modelled on Part 1 of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 which contains what is popularly known as “Henry VIII clauses”; the House of Lords Select Committee on the Scrutiny of Delegated Powers defined the term in its first report of 1992-93 as “a provision in a Bill which enables primary legislation to be amended or repealed by subordinate legislation, with or without further Parliamentary scrutiny”.

The Society’s response formed the basis of an article by Ruth Gledhill in Christian Today, Senior lawyers launch devastating critique on church law reform plans, which comments:

“[they] have condemned the proposals as ‘inchoate’ and urged the Archbishops of Canterbury and York ‘not to pander to the false narrative that law is a malign force which stifles the mission of the Church’. They have also raised fears that the proposals represent an attempt ‘to move legislative authority’ away from the General Synod, the Church’s parliament, and to the Archbishops’ Council, the policy body at the heart of Church management. Some even fear that the proposals are a ‘clandestine means’ of removing legal constraints and ‘ceding untrammelled authority to the bishops and to the Archbishops’ Council,’ according to the critique.” Continue reading