On 23rd March 2020 the House of Commons considered the emergency legislation from Government to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Part of the Bill provided powers to delay scheduled elections for devolved and regional assemblies and other bodies. A new clause to extend that provision to the General Synod of the Church of England had been tabled by the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, and was accepted by Government. Andrew spoke about it during the Committee stage of the Bill in the Commons:
Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire) (Con): I will not detain the House long. I rise to speak to new clause 1, which I understand has been agreed in advance with the Government, and I will move it at the end of this evening’s proceedings.
New clause 1 is very straightforward. It enables the elections to the General Synod of the Church of England to be postponed. Quite recently, we postponed all the elections that we in the House are involved in—the mayoral, local government and police and crime commissioner elections—but the General Synod is the National Assembly of the Church of England, and it is a Church that is episcopally led and synodically governed. The General Synod is a devolved body of this Parliament. It is the first devolved body of the Westminster Parliament and has been since 1919. Synods last five years, just as Westminster Parliaments do. The last one was elected in summer 2015 and therefore would expire this summer.
On 19th March 2020 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered questions in the House of Commons on church closures, coronavirus, persecution of Christians, and marriage support. A transcript is below:
The hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners was asked—
Church Closure and Use
Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con):
- To ask the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what criteria the Church of England uses to decide when to close a church and offer the building to other denominations and traditions. 
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Andrew Selous): I am pleased to be able to tell my hon. Friend that the Church opens as many, if not more churches than it closes each year. Parishes may want to focus their mission elsewhere, if the church in question is in a very remote rural location or if there is a very high repair bill. Use for worship by other Christian bodies is generally considered the best use, but there are many other suitable uses.
On 18th March 2020 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered seven written questions from Jim Shannon MP, on carbon reduction, cashless donations, South Sudan, Uganda, lead theft and graveyard records:
Jim Shannon (Strangford): 29873 To ask the right hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church of England is taking to use its investments to support business transitioning to a low carbon economy.
Andrew Selous: As responsible investors and members of the UN-convened Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance, the Church Commissioners regard climate change as a vital issue and have pledged to transition their investment to a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions portfolio by 2050. They will set their first interim emissions reduction target as members of the Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance in 2020 and will work with their public equities managers to achieve it. Continue reading “Church Commissioners’ written answers: carbon reduction, cashless donations, South Sudan, Uganda, lead theft, graveyard records”
On 18th March 2020 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered a written question from Sir Desmond Swayne MP on marriages:
Sir Desmond Swayne (New Forest West): 28560 To ask the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, in what circumstances a Church of Scotland minister is able to conduct a wedding in the Church of England. Continue reading “Church Commissioners’ Written Answer: Marriages”
On 12th March 2020 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered a written question from Kate Green MP on Gypsy and Traveller sites and plans to tackle racism:
Kate Green (Stretford and Urmston) 27547: To ask the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what progress has been made on (a) making Church land available for Gypsy and Traveller sites and (b) other plans to tackle racism and discrimination as agreed at the General Synod in February 2019.