Digest of the General Synod: legislative overview

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THE General Synod carried out various legislative works.

He endorsed the next step in the process to address the recommendation of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) regarding the powers of Diocesan Safeguard Advisors.

One implication of the recommendations, which were accepted by the Synod in November 2020 (News, October 23, 2020), would be the renaming of the DSAs renamed “diocesan safeguarding agents.”

The chairman of the steering committee, Stephen Hofmeyr QC (Guildford), introduced the Bill, amending Canon No. 42, for first consideration on Monday afternoon. He stressed that this was simply to implement a decision that the Synod had already made. “If you don’t like this decision,” he said, “I’m afraid it will be difficult.”

cannon Lisa Battye (Manchester) described herself as a “survivor of CDM abuse”. She welcomed the change as it “strengthens the hand” of protection officers. This, combined with proposed changes to the CDM, would help keep everyone safe, she said.

The bishop in Europe, Dr. Robert Innes, asked who managed the DSO in a situation where its performance was in question; and who could take the decision to terminate their contract.

Mr Hofmeyr, in response, said their line manager on the diocesan finance council would be responsible for performance management, but the review committee would be open to other suggestions.

Gavin Drake (Southwell & Nottingham) said that while they “agreed in principle”, the title change “doesn’t give them more power”. He urged members to support his private member’s motion, which would change the management structure of the new DSOs and “give them real agency”.

Nicolas Denyer (Newcastle) said her experience working with the current Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser, and similar NHS figures, has convinced her that “independence is absolutely crucial”.

John Mason (Chester) expressed concern whether something could be added to the morion to help ensure vacancies were not left vacant, and that provisions for coverage could be outlined.

Mr Hofmeyr said it would be mandatory to have a DSO in place.

The motion was clearly passed and the draft canon is now referred to the review committee. The deadline for committee submissions is September 9.

FIRST consideration was given to the Church of England draft measure (Miscellaneous Provisions) on Monday. Once again, Mr. Hofmeyr introduced the debate. Among its provisions, the Measure would allow the Synod to meet in hybrid and virtual forms, without the current requirement for renewal of this provision.

Dr Jamie Harrison (Durham) said it seemed “reasonable” to enshrine this in law. Fears that in-person meetings of the Synod would be threatened if such a provision became permanent have proven unfounded.

Reverend Neil Patterson (Hereford) said he was “surprised” to see the inclusion of Article 5, which allowed for the appointment of lay residential canons, because during the debate on the measurement of cathedrals, adopted by the synod in 2020, it was deemed too big a change to be taken under this legislation (News, 4 December 2020). He suggested that questions about the type of people who would be considered for such positions, as well as the role they would have in the governance of the cathedral, should be included, a suggestion with which Dr Harrison agreed. .

Aiden Hargreaves Smith (London) called for the adoption of a statutory basis for remote meetings, to be applied across the Church of England.

Carl Fender (Lincoln) criticized the lack of detail in Term 2, which removed the sunset clause from the 2018 law reform measure.

The Dean of Arches and Auditorthe Rt Worshipful Morag Ellis QC, assured members that Article 7, which made some changes to judicial appointments and training, was “not a power grab”.

Amanda Robbie (Lichfield) said it needed to be determined who would undertake the back-up checks in a situation, under Term 15, which would allow exceptions to the normal rules for CCP appointments in “exceptional circumstances”.

The Bishop of London, the Very Reverend Sarah Mullally, spoke in favor of Article 5 and praised the work of the lay canons. If talking about lay ministries was to be “more than symbolic,” she said, such measures should be adopted.

The Dean of Southwarkthe Very Reverend Andrew Nunn (Southern Deans), also spoke of the important contributions of lay ministers in the life of cathedrals.

Mr. Hofmeyr, in response, indicated that the review committee would consider all contributions to the debate and invited members to submit their suggestions in writing before 9 September.

The amendment to Canon No. 43 (Miscellaneous Provisions) was then presented for first consideration by Mr. Hofmeyr. There was no debate.

THE Church of England Pensions (Capital Funds Enforcement) Measure, which allows Church Commissioners to use capital funds to meet their historic pension liability, was renewed for seven more years on Saturday afternoon.

Busola Sodeinde (London) said it was a privilege to introduce the debate, “although it was a bit boring”. The commissioners were responsible for paying pensions accrued before 1998. Although spending on this began to reduce in 2019, the cost is expected to remain at over £100m for the next decade. “The power to spend capital on pensions gives commissioners greater flexibility in their asset allocation policy,” Ms Sodeinde explained.

Julie Dziegiel (Oxford) supported urged the Synod to “send [the Measure] on his way to do his job”.

The motion is adopted.

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