Law and religion round-up – 11th April

His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

The death of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was announced on Friday 9 April; there will now be an eight-day period of mourning until the funeral at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, on 17 April. As a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, and in light of current Government advice and social distancing guidelines, modified Funeral and ceremonial arrangements are in place: the Cabinet Office has produced Guidance for the Period of National Mourning; the Church of England has issued various guidance documents including Guidance for parish churches; and the Central Council of Church Bellringers has posted advice on the ringing of bells over this period.

NMW/NLW accommodation offset rates

The accommodation offset rates for the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage are set in April each year and the current rates for 2021 have now been published: the daily accommodation offset rate is £8.36 and the weekly rate is £58.52. If an employer charges more than the offset rate, the difference is taken off the worker’s pay which counts for the NMW or NLW. If the accommodation charge is at or below the offset rate, it does not have an effect on the worker’s pay. If the accommodation is free, the offset rate is added to the worker’s pay. There are examples here: accommodation rates for minimum wage calculations.

All of which may rather technical – but the accommodation offset rates are very important for congregations that employ vergers, youth workers, wardens and the like with accommodation included as part of the package. What we cannot understand is why the Government always waits until April to publish the rate for the new tax year, when the new NMW/NLW rates kick in.

“Net zero” in 2030 – a courageous decision?

On 12 February 2020, General Synod passed an amended resolution committing it to work towards reducing its GHG emissions to “net zero” by 2030 – a more demanding target than that of the initial motion which was “to reach net zero emissions by 2045 at the latest”, on which the Bishop of Manchester commented  “[it] was decided after less than ten minutes debate, by a majority of 15, with a turnout that meant fewer than a third of Synod members voted in favour of it”.

This week we posted “Net zero” in 2030 – a courageous decision? which reviews the work undertaken nationally and locally, since then, the approach of the consistory courts when applying the ill-defined “net zero by  2030” criterion, and the decision of the Oxford Diocesan Synod to move towards a net-zero target of “year-on-year reductions consonant with at least reaching 70% cuts by 2030 and net zero by 2035, or as soon thereafter as is possible“. This is all the more significant now that that the Bishop of Oxford, who along with Baroness Barbara Young, journalist Rosie Boycott and other peers are set to form a new select committee on green issues in the House of Lords. The Environment and Climate Change Committee (ECCC), will replace the Lords’ EU Environment Sub-Committee, which last met at the end of March.

Climate Change – Church in Wales response

Dr Julia Edwards, an academic who spent eight years researching and advising on climate change in the Pacific has been announced as the Church in Wales’ first Climate Change Champion. She worked with communities directly affected by global warming in both Fiji and Papua New Guinea and advised on disaster-risk reduction strategies, as a mission partner with the Methodist Church. In her new role as Climate Change Champion, Dr Edwards will assist the Church in Wales progress its climate change agenda, “working towards net zero carbon emissions”; she will develop an action plan to help all parts of the Church have a framework for action.

This coming week, members of the Church’s Governing Body will be asked to “declare a climate emergency” (as if the CiW was unable to acknowledge this much earlier) and to plan for the whole church to have net zero carbon emissions, ideally by 2030. They will also be asked to approve a motion for the Church’s funds to be divested from fossil fuels in an update of its Ethical Investment Policy.

COVID-19 Coronavirus: legislation and guidance

Our post, COVID-19 Coronavirus: legislation and guidance, is the main source on L&RUK of information on the developments in COVID-19 coronavirus that are of relevance to law and religion. It incorporates the material from the earlier post Coronavirus updates – index started on 12 March 2020, and that from our weekly updates which were first posted on 28 July 2020. As a consequence, it has grown to thesis-length proportions, and on 2-3 April 2021 was reorganized, reordering the entries and removing material that was no longer relevant. However, the version as at Friday 2 April at 17:51 has been archived and is available here.

More weekend reading

Following last week’s (selective) recommended “weekend reading” of the 40-page judgment Re St John the Evangelist Donisthorpe [2021] ECC Lei 1, the taster from  Re St. Peter Titchfield [2021] ECC Por 2 is paragraph 20 which reports:

“In 1950 a visiting preacher fell through the flooring of the chapel [over the vault] and a faculty was obtained for the re-flooring of the chapel, which led to the sealing of the internal access point to the vault. No access to or investigation of the vault has been possible since then”.

The case concerns a joint petition from the Lord Montagu of Beaulieu and the PCC who sought permission to re-establish a secure and permanent access to the vault beneath the Southampton Memorial in the Chapel, which commemorates the lives of members of the Wriothesley/Southampton family, many of whom were interred in the vault in the 16th-18th centuries.

The Southampton Monument has been described as “an extraordinary example of Tudor funerary architecture and the Wriothesley/Southampton vault as a rare example of an important class of archaeological site in Britain” [3]. The present petition represents an essential step in the process of ascertaining and recording the condition of the vault and the supporting structures of the monument to inform their future conservation and care [7].  Read on…

Upcoming webinar

On Thursday 15 April 2021 at 15.00 BST, the European Consortium for Church and State Research is hosting a webinar on Legal status of ministers of religion in the European Court of Human Rights case law

The main points to be covered will be:

  • Plurality of models in Europe.
  • Definition/terminology.
  • Training/security.
  • Equality: social security.
  • Autonomy of churches:
    • From the churches’ perspective: nomination, duties, training.
    • From ministers’ perspective (state law): rights, employment, gender issues.
  • Employment status:
  • Ministerial exception: lessons from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean?
  • Applicability of the rights recognized to employees?
  • Impossibility of establishing the same status to all ministers (differences among churches).

The webinar will be chaired by Professor Norman Doe, University of Cardiff, and the speakers will be Professor Agustín Motilla, University Carlos III, Madrid, and Professor Miguel Rodríguez Blanco, University of Alcalá. There is no need to register in advance.

Join Zoom Meeting  https://authgr.zoom.us/j/93434485984 Meeting ID: 934 3448 5984.

Book launch

Routledge Inform Series on Minority Religions and Spiritual Movements: Eileen Barker and James T Richardson (eds)Reactions to the Law by Minority Religions. Thursday 29 April, 5.30-7.30 pm BST via Zoom.

There will be ontributions from Milda Ališauskienė, Department of Political Sciences at Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania, Mark Hill QC, Open University Law School and Marat Shterin, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, King’s College London. The launch will be followed by a chance for contributors to the volume to respond briefly to some of the issues raised and then a general Q&A.

You can register to attend by making a donation through the Inform website, at https://inform.ac/seminars, or by e-mailing Inform at inform@kcl.ac.uk to book your place. If you register your attendance by making a voluntary donation to Inform it will give you a 20% discount when purchasing the book. If you cannot make a donation but would still like to attend, please e-mail inform@kcl.ac.uk directly. Please make sure that you share your contact details so that Inform can send you a link to the Zoom meeting.

Quick links

And finally…

Putting a Santa Claus cap on a statue and a red sack at its feet was not “minor hooliganism”: see Handzhiyski v Bulgaria [2021] ECHR 283. HO-HO-HO, and a Happy Christmas to all our readers, when it comes…

…but does this apply to the iconic Weegieland emblem of the traffic cone on the equestrian Duke of Wellington (a.k.a  ‘Coneheid’) in Royal Exchange Square?

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