On 18th June 2019 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, introduced the Church Representation and Ministers Measure to the House of Commons. The Measure was passed by MPs and will receive Royal Assent.
Dame Caroline Spelman: I beg to move,
That the Church Representation and Ministers Measure (HC 2167), passed by the General Synod of the Church of England, be presented to Her Majesty for her Royal Assent in the form in which it was laid before Parliament.
The Measure and the new rules it contains emerged from the work of a simplification task group established by the Archbishops’ Council. The task group’s role was to bring forward proposals to remove constraints on the mission and growth of the Church of England resulting from existing legislation and processes. It recommended three major ways in which that could be achieved. First, those processes needed to be made less burdensome to the clergy and laity. Secondly, parishes should be given much greater flexibility over their constitutional arrangements, so that they can operate in the way that is most effective for the mission, life and work of the local church. Thirdly, the administrative burdens for those involved in running multi-parish benefices, especially in a rural context where the number of parishes in a benefice can be considerable, needed to be radically reduced.
On 6th June 2019 the House of Lords debated and approved the Church Representation and Ministers Measure. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, introduced the Measure:
Moved by The Lord Bishop of Leeds, That this House do direct that, in accordance with the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919, the Church Representation and Ministers Measure be presented to Her Majesty for the Royal Assent.
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, it was 100 years ago this week that your Lordships’ House gave a Second Reading to the National Assembly of the Church of England (Powers) Bill. Speaking in support of the Bill, Lord Parmoor said:
“If this Bill is passed, for the first time the laity of the Church will have a recognised and substantive position in the corporate expression of church life … The very object of the Bill is to give an effective part to a large number of Church men, earnest and eager to do their best for the Church and who cannot have an effective influence at the present time. That is why I, as a layman, have laboured for this Bill”.—[Official Report, 3/6/1919; cols. 1028-29.]
The Bill was passed and became the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919. It devolved legislative power to the Church Assembly, which has since become the General Synod. It is pursuant to Section 4 of the 1919 Act that this Motion is before the House today.