Legal developments – July General Synod

The latest Archdeacons’ News Bulletin #17 published this week reproduces the following useful summary of the legislative business at the Church of England’s July General Synod in York, which first appeared in the Ordinary Time (July) issue of the Ecclesiastical Law Society Gospel and Law. Links to the papers discussed are on the Church of England web site, here.

Legislative process

There are five formal stages in the development of new legislation by the Church of England Synod:

First Consideration, when a Measure is the subject of general debate;

Revision Committee Stage, when a Revision Committee considers it clause by clause, together with any proposals for its amendment;

Revision Stage, when it is subjected to a similar process on the floor of the Synod, but with amendments normally limited to matters addressed by the Revision Committee;

Final Drafting, when the Steering Committee for the draft Measure (i.e. the members responsible for its progress through its synodical stages) can move certain limited types of amendment intended to put it into its final form; and

Final Approval.

Legislation with significant policy content is generally the subject of earlier debate(s) before it is introduced to the Synod, either by the Archbishops’ Council or by the Business Committee of the Synod. For further detail, see: S Slack, “Synodical Government and the Legislative Process”, [2012] 14 Ecc LJ 43–81, at page 54.

General Synod, July

The Draft Mission and Pastoral etc. (Amendment) Measure returned to the Synod for the Revision Stage; the provisions covered in the Amendment Measure include:

  • A new form of instrument, the Bishop’s Pastoral Order, to enable administrative changes that do not impact on legal rights of individuals or a church’s status – e.g. to archdeaconries, deaneries, parish names and group ministries, without consulting statutory interested parties.
  • Other provisions for streamlined consultation on draft Pastoral Schemes and Orders, and a presumption in favour of implementing deanery plans.
  • Options for pastoral schemes to be drafted either by the Diocese or the Church Commissioners.
  • Simplifying arrangements for publicising schemes and public hearings.
  • Bishop’s Mission Orders – removing prescriptions re length of time and requiring notice to the Church Commissioners so that best practice can be shared.   Compensation for loss of office by pastoral reorganisation to be 12 month’s stipend and pensions contributions, plus housing for 12 months and the possibility of an additional compensation on grounds of exceptional hardship; terms to be extended to all clergy regardless of tenure.
  • Endowments and Glebe Measure 1976 – removing the requirement to consult incumbents and PCCs on glebe transactions.
  • Patronage (Benefices) Measure 1986 – providing for the right of presentation to lapse to the Diocesan Bishop after 12 months.

The Synod gave First Consideration to the following:

  • Draft Legislative Reform Measure, which will give effect to the proposals approved by the Synod in February (set out in GS 2018) for a new procedure that will allow some Acts of Parliament and Measures to be repealed or amended by Orders made by the Synod, without having to pass a Measure to that end.
  • Draft Amending Canon No. 36, which will amend Canon B 8 (Of the vesture of ordained and authorized ministers during the time of divine service) following Rev Chris Hobbs’s private member’s motion to make current forms of vesture optional not mandatory and Canon B 38 (Of the burial of the dead) to allow use of the normal burial service for those who have committed suicide and the unbaptised.
  • Draft Statute Law (Repeals) Measure, which will repeal obsolete provisions, as per the recent consultation.
  • Draft Pensions (Pre-consolidation) Measure, which will make pre-consolidation amendments to the existing Church legislation concerning pensions.
  • Draft Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure, which will consolidate statute law relating to the ecclesiastical courts and the care of church buildings.

The Synod decided not to proceed with the Draft Inspection of Churches Measure, which had been introduced at the request of the Church Buildings Council to replace the Inspection of Churches Measure 1955.

The Synod also approved the following instruments:

  • Clergy Discipline (Amendment) Rules 2016 which amend the Clergy Discipline Rules 2005 to take account of amendments to the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 by the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure 2016.
  • Suspension Appeals (Churchwardens etc.) Rules 2016 which put in place a procedure for appeals against suspension of churchwardens, PCC members and others in addressing safeguarding issues under new powers conferred by the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure 2016.
  • Amending Code of Practice under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 which amends the existing Code of Practice to take account of changes in the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure 2016 and the Clergy Discipline (Amendment) Rules 2016.
  • Ecclesiastical Judges, Legal Officers and Others (Fees) Order 2016 which updates the fees for proceedings in ecclesiastical courts and tribunals.

The Legal Officers (Annual Fees) Order 2016 was effectively withdrawn before being approved; a revised form of Order will be put before the Synod for approval in February.

With thanks to Gospel & Law and the Archdeacons’ News Bulletin

4 thoughts on “Legal developments – July General Synod

    • Thank you, but thanks should really go to the Revd Dr Catherine Shelley of the Ecclesiastical Law Society for the original article in Gospel and Law.

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