The Government’s role in ecclesiastical, judicial and public appointments
Appointments in the Church of England
57. The Church of England is by law established as the Church in England and the Monarch is its Supreme Governor. The Government remains committed to this position.
58. Because The Queen acts on the advice of Ministers, the Prime Minister as her First Minister has a role in advising The Queen on certain appointments within the Church. Diocesan and Suffragan Bishops, as well as 28 Cathedral Deans, a small number of Cathedral Canons, some 200 parish priests and a number of other post-holders in the Church of England are appointed by The Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister.
59. In the case of Archbishops and Diocesan Bishops, reflecting the agreement reached between the Church and the State in 1976, the Crown Nominations Commission (formerly the Crown Appointments Commission) passes two names to the Prime Minister, usually in order of preference, who may recommend either of them to The Queen, or reject both and ask for further nominations. The Crown Nominations Commission is a Church based body, with the Archbishop of Canterbury as Chair and the Archbishop of York as Vice-Chair. However, the Prime Minister’s Secretary for Appointments is an ex-officio and non-voting member. The chair of the Crown Nominations Commission is taken by the Archbishop in whose province the vacancy has arisen.
60. For the appointment of Suffragan Bishops the relevant Diocesan Bishop is required by law to submit two names to the Crown. These are passed to the Prime Minister by the Archbishop of the Province concerned with a supportive letter. It has been the convention for more than a century that the Prime Minister advises the Monarch to nominate the person named first in the petition.
61. In the case of Deans appointed by the Crown, it is the practice for the Prime Minister to commend a name to the Queen, chosen from a shortlist provided by the Prime Minister’s Secretary for Appointments and agreed with the Diocesan Bishop, and following consultations with the Cathedral, Bishop, Archbishop of the province concerned and others as appropriate. (The aim is to reach agreement with the Bishop on the preferred order of the list.) In the case of the Crown canonries and parishes, following consultations led by the Downing Street Appointments Secretariat, the Prime Minister recommends the appointment to The Queen.
62. In considering the role which the Prime Minister and the Government should play in Church appointments, the Government is guided by four principles:
63. To reflect the principle that, where possible, the Prime Minister should not have an active role in the selection of individual candidates, for diocesan bishoprics the Prime Minister proposes that from now on he should ask the Crown Nominations Commission to put only one name to him, a recommendation he would then convey to The Queen. The Government will discuss with the Church any necessary consequential changes to procedures. The current convention for appointing Suffragan Bishops will continue.
64. The Government respects and understands the different arrangements for Cathedral, parish and other Crown appointments in the Church. Developing any new arrangements for such appointments will require a process of constructive engagement between the Government and the Church, and the Government is committed to ensuring a productive dialogue. The Government is aware that a Church review of certain senior appointments, including Cathedral appointments, is to be debated by General Synod later this month; it hopes that this will be a good starting point for that dialogue. Until new arrangements are agreed, the Secretary for Appointments will continue to assist as appropriate.
65. These changes would also have implications for the Lord Chancellor’s patronage of some 450 parishes and a small number of canonries. It would be sensible for any changes agreed to the procedures for Crown patronage to be also agreed for the Lord Chancellor’s patronage.
66. No changes are proposed to Crown appointments to the Royal Peculiars such as Westminster Abbey and St. George’s Chapel,Windsor, reflecting the personal nature of the relationship of these institutions with the Monarch. Current conventions will continue.