General Synod
July Group of Sessions 2001
Preview of the Agenda

The July 2001 group of sessions of the seventh General Synod of the Church of England will be held at the University of York from 6 to 10 July. Its agenda includes the following business.

Reform of the House of Lords

The Revd David Houlding will propose the following Private Member's motion.

‘That this Synod call upon Her Majesty’s Government, in the reform of the House of Lords, to ensure that the existing provision for 26 Bishops of the Church of England be retained and that representatives of other Christian Churches and of other Faiths also be added to the composition of a new ‘Second Chamber’ in our parliamentary democracy.’

This motion dates back to 1997, but became directly relevant after the Wakeham Report later recommended a reduction in the number of Church of England bishops in the Second Chamber from 26 to 16. A debate on the Report and the Church’s response was the last item on the agenda in July 2000, but time ran out, so this will be the first opportunity for Synod to debate this matter.

Care of Cathedrals Measure Review

The Archbishops’ Council decided in 1999 to set up a review into the Care of Cathedrals Measure 1990. The Review Group has now reported back and has found that in general the measure is working effectively, and there is no need to alter its basic principles or structure. However there are a number of deficiencies in the detailed provisions which need to be addressed, and Synod will be invited to endorse the Group’s recommendations.

International Development

Dr Daleep Mukarji (the Director of Christian Aid) and the Rt Revd Bernard Ntahoturi (the Bishop of Matana in Burundi and a partner of Christian Aid) will give presentations on the work of Christian Aid and its new campaign on trade. These will be followed by a debate in which Synod will be invited to affirm the Church’s commitment to international development following the closure of the Jubilee 2000 coalition. To facilitate this process, the Board for Social Responsibility has produced a collection of essays (Development Matters: Essays on Christian Perspectives on Globalisation) and a brief paper (Global View 2001: An Emerging Agenda) setting out a number of key international policy commitments that Synod will be asked to endorse.

The motion before Synod will be as follows.

‘That this Synod

(a) commend Development Matters to the Dioceses and to the wider Church for further study;

(b) call for global political and economic action, as set out in Global View 2001, with a view to strengthening the position of the world’s poor;

(c) encourage the Church to advocate and practise justice in the distribution of its resources; and

(d) recognise that current trading relations and lending practices have exacerbated the acute economic and social problems facing developing countries and therefore urge Her Majesty’s Government to give priority in trade negotiations to the needs of the poorest communities.’

Third World Debt

Immediately after the debate on International Development Mr Roger Godin will propose the following Private Member’s motion.

‘That this Synod

(a) noting with regret that at the end of the year 2000 AD wholly insufficient progress had been made towards the relief of the third world debt burden; but

(b) recognising the complexities of some of the issues and acknowledging the lead already given by Her Majesty’s Government,

encourage Her Majesty’s Government and politicians of all parties to continue to press for urgent action by the more affluent nations to cut debt, if necessary including unilateral cancellation of debt by the United Kingdom.’

Crown Appointments Commission

In July 1998 Synod called for a review of the working of the Crown Appointments Commission, the body which recommends people to the Prime Minister for appointment as diocesan bishops. The Review Group’s report (Working with the Spirit: Choosing Diocesan Bishops) was published in May 2001. It makes a number of recommendations to deal with a number of concerns about important aspects of how the system works, particularly relating to

  • excessive secrecy;
  • the quantity, quality and evenness of the information at the Commission’s disposal;
  • the amount of power potentially concentrated in the hands of the two Appointments Secretaries (the Archbishops’ and the Prime Minister’s);
  • the balance of recent appointments in terms of previous appointments, expertise and churchmanship.

Baroness Perry of Southwark, who chaired the Review Group, will address Synod, and then there will be a debate on the report, followed by a vote to set up a steering group to follow up its recommendations.

Ecumenical Issues

There will be a presentation by the Council for Christian Unity to provide an overview of the work of the Council in supporting the Church of England’s vision for the full visible unity of the Christian Church. The Council has a website at

Renewing Faith in the Countryside

This debate on rural affairs was originally intended to mark the tenth anniversary of the report Faith in the Countryside, but will now inevitably be set in the context of the foot and mouth epidemic. The debate will be on the following motion.

‘That this Synod

(a) express its concern for rural people and their economy in the wake of the Foot and Mouth epidemic; applaud the response of the Churches at local and national level; and call for a thorough consultation throughout society, initiated by Her Majesty’s Government, on the future priorities and role of agriculture in the United Kingdom;

(b) in the tenth anniversary year of Faith in the Countryside, renew the Church of England’s commitment to its mission and ministry in rural areas, particularly in partnership with other Churches and bodies concerned for the well-being of the countryside and its people;

(c) recognise the significant place accorded to the Church in the Government’s rural White Paper and call for this recognition to be matched by appropriate support by Her Majesty’s Government;

(d) encourage the dissemination of, discussion and appropriate action on the ideas in the spring/summer issue of Country Way and support for the work of the Arthur Rank Centre; and

(e) acknowledge the interdependence of rural, urban and suburban communities.’

Archbishops’ Council Reports and Accounts for 2000

The annual report gives an account of the activities of the Council, and of those bodies that are answerable to the Synod through the Council, during 2000. The report indicates how the foundational work of the Council is being built upon through the development of a set of themes (debated at Synod in November 2000) which will set a framework for all that the Council does over the next five years.

Financial Issues Facing the Church

The Chairman of the Finance Committee (Mr Michael Chamberlain) and the Financial Secretary (Mr Shaun Farrell) will give a presentation of the main financial issues facing the Church at the present time, particularly in the light of the recent actuarial valuation of the funded clergy pension scheme which will result in substantially increased contributions from April 2002. This will be followed by debates on the following two particular financial matters.

Review of Allocations and Apportionment

In 1999 responsibility for the distribution of Stipend Support (in the form of Selective Allocations) passed from the Church Commissioners (who provide the money) to the Archbishops’s Council. The Council also inherited from the Central Board of Finance the formula for the collection of the Central Apportionment (the contributions from the dioceses to the central work of the Church). The Council’s Finance Committee has set up a review of the two systems. The Review Group now recommends (option 1)

  • modifications to the Central Apportionment Formula; and
  • a new approach to distributing Selective Allocations.

Consultations with dioceses by the Review Group have shown general support for the modifications to the Central Apportionment formula, but some dioceses have expressed concerns about the new approach to distributing Selective Allocations. These dioceses are concerned about the removal of the OxLIP (a low-income predictor) and unemployment factors, and believe that the new system does not properly reflect the needs of the disadvantaged in society.

The Review Group has therefore suggested an option 2 which would direct one-sixth of the selective allocations to the most deprived wards (841 out of the 8414 local government electoral areas) with the remainder being distributed as in option 1. This would use an up-to-date index published in August 2000 by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions in place of the outdated OxLIP (which was based on 1991 census data). When diocesan bishops were asked in February 2001 to consult in their dioceses and to express a preference, of the 38 responses

  • 24 preferred option 1;
  • 12 preferred option 2, and
  • 2 indicated no preference.

Subsequently the House of Bishops considered both options at its June 2001 meeting, and a strong preference was expressed for option 2.

Synod will debate the proposed changes to both systems and will be invited to:

  • Comment on the proposals for Selective Allocations (where the final decision is for the Archbishops’ Council to make); and
  • Approve the calculation of the Central Apportionment.

Archbishops’ Council’s Budget for 2002

The Council is proposing a freeze in 2002 on net expenditure on Votes 2 (national church responsibiloities) and 3 (grants and contributions to other organisations). There is an increase of 2.6% in the Vote 1 (ordination training) budget; this has not been frozen in order not to defer vocations, as they form the lifeblood of the Church in the longer term. Vote 4 represents the Council’s contribution to the cost of the pension contributions for clergy working for mission agencies, which it is taking over from the Church Commissioners. The 2001 figure was orginally to have been £391,000, but this has had to be increased to pay for the higher contribution rate effective from 1 April 2002.

The net budgets for 2001 and 2002, to be paid by apportionments on dioceses, are shown below. At the beginning of June 2001 it was expected that the 2001 budget would be underspent by about £189,000.

2001 budget (£)
2002 budget (£)
increase over 2001
1: Ordination Training
2: National Church Responsibilities
3: Grants and Contributions to other organisations
4: Mission Agencies Pensions
Net Apportionment

The Health of the Poor

Sir Donald Acheson, former Chief Medical Officer, will address the Synod, and then there will be a debate on the following motion from the Oxford Diocesan Synod.

‘That this Synod

(a) endorse the welcome given by the Oxford Diocesan Synod to the reports of the Acheson enquiry, the Family Budget Unit and the New Policy Unit together with the theological response by the Revd Professor Nicholas Sagovsky of the University of Newcastle on the consequences of health inequalities, poverty and social exclusion; and

(b) encourage action by all members of the Church to support policies which will improve the health of the poor of the United Kingdom.’

Additional Collects

There will be a debate on the following motion from Wakefield Diocesan Synod.

‘That this Synod, in the light of criticisms of the new collects for Common Worship, request the House of Bishops to commission additional collects for each Sunday and Feast Day in the Liturgical Year in a worthy contemporary idiom.’

Church Commissioners’ Annual Report for 2000

There will be a debate on this report, which will provide members with an opportunity to raise points on the wide spectrum of the Commissioners’ work.

Review of Synodical Government: Second Report by the Bridge Follow Up Group

The major part of this report is concerned with the size and composition of General Synod. Whilst the Follow Up Group accepts the general principal of abolishing most special constituencies and reducing the size of Synod, it does not agree with all the detailed recommendations of the Bridge Report. The Group’s major proposals are to

  • reduce the number of suffragan bishops on Synod from nine to six;
  • abolish the special constituency for Deans and Provosts;
  • retain the special constituency of one archdeacon per diocese, but forbid other archdeacons from standing for election to the House of Clergy;
  • reduce the number of lay representatives of religious communities from three to two;
  • replace the three Armed Service Archdeacons by three elected chaplains, and one appointed Archdeacon, and to add three elected lay members;
  • remove the ex officio place for the Chaplain-General of Prisons;
  • abolish the special constituencies for university clergy;
  • add up to five members (to be appointed by the Archbishops) to provide theological expertise;
  • add a special constituency for retired clergy (four from the Province of Canterbury and two from the Province of York); and
  • reduce the total membership from its present 571 to 494 (in each case excluding the ecumenical representatives and any co-opted members).

The Follow Up Group also proposes that

  • the office of Diocesan Secretary should be given a legal persona;
  • legislation should be introduced to remove any doubt about the legality of combining the Diocesan Synod and the Diocesan Board of Finance.

There will be a debate on this report, and Synod will be invited to instruct the Business Committee to introduce legislation to implement its recommendations.

This debate is the only item of business on the last day, and it is thought that this might reduce the number of members who leave early.

Peter Owen
last modified 2 July 2001
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