Friday, 26 October 2012

Women Bishops - what happens after November

The papers sent to General Synod members today include GS Misc 1034: Consecration of Women to the Episcopate: Future Process. In it the Secretary General outlines what will happen after the debates next month on the legislation to allow women to be bishops; he considers both the cases of the Measure receiving final approval and being defeated. I have copied this below the fold.

The paper also includes a note, written by the Legal Office, of the stages required to bring the legislation into effect once it has received final approval from General Synod.

GS Misc 1034

GENERAL SYNOD
Consecration of Women to the Episcopate: Future Process
Note from the Secretary General

1. With the agreement of the Business Committee I issued in January 2012 (as GS Misc 1012) a description of the remaining stages of the legislative process and a possible timeline. This note provides an updated version.

2. On 20 November the draft Measure and draft Amending Canon are due to be considered at the Final Approval stage. For the draft Measure to pass, two-thirds majorities of those present and voting (abstentions not counting for this purpose) are required in each of the three houses. The Final Approval of the Amending Canon requires the same majority. The motion for its Final Approval will be moved only if the Measure itself has been approved, as the Measure contains the statutory authority for the principal provision made by the Canon.

3. If the Measure is rejected the effect of Standing Order 61(d) is that it cannot be considered again on the First Consideration Stage in the same form until a new Synod comes into being unless the Presidents, the Prolocutors and the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the House of Laity give permission for such a motion to be moved and make a report in writing to the Synod setting out a summary of the case for reconsideration and their reasons for giving such permission.

4. If the Measure is rejected on 20 November it will, in the first instance, be for the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council to consider how best to test the mind of the General Synod on what should happen next. In addition there are Diocesan Synod Motions for the General Synod to consider on the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 and the Ordination of Women to the Episcopate. The Business Committee agreed to ‘park’ these until the conclusion of the current legislative process.

5. If Final Approval is secured, the Measure will stand committed to the Legislative Committee of the Synod, which will send it, with the necessary explanatory material, to the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament. It is possible that the Ecclesiastical Committee will be able to meet before Christmas, though it would be the New Year before the House of Commons and the House of Lords were able to debate whether to approve the Measure.

6. It is only once the approval of the House of Commons and House of Lords has been secured, the Royal Assent given and the necessary provisions of the Measure brought into force by the Archbishops that the House of Bishops will be able to make the Code of Practice and bring it to the General Synod for approval.

7. The first scheduled meeting at which the House of Bishops would be able make the Code of Practice would, therefore, be in May 2013. It would also need at the same time to consider the terms of a draft Act of Synod to rescind the 1993 Act of Synod.

8. This would enable the Code and the Act of Synod to be brought together to the Synod under the “Preliminary Motion Procedure” in July 2013. At the same group of sessions the Synod would be able to proceed to a debate on any amendments to either instrument, to which the forty member rule would apply. After the Synod had disposed of any amendments the Code and the Act of Synod would stand committed to the House of Bishops under Article 7.

9. It would then be open to the House of Bishops to make such further amendments as it saw fit to the Code and the Act of Synod before returning them to the General Synod for Final Approval.

10. The House of Laity and the Convocations would have the opportunity to claim Article 7 references on the Code and the Act of Synod.

11. Subject to the outcome of any Article 7 reference, the Final Approval debates would then follow, subject to the possibility of the Synod passing adjournment motions inviting reconsideration by the House of Bishops. Such a motion could invite reconsideration of the instrument in question, whether generally or in relation to a particular amendment made by the House.

12. More details on the processes at each stage are set out in the attached note from the Legal Office.

William Fittall
Secretary General
October 2012

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 26 October 2012 at 12:27pm BST | TrackBack
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Comments

In "The Parliamentary stages for the Measure", am I right in thinking that the decision which, under section 4 of the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919, falls to be made by the Chairman of Committees of the House of Lords and the Chairman of Ways and Means in the House of Commons, sits between stages "4" and "5"?

Posted by: Feria on Friday, 26 October 2012 at 3:36pm BST

Feria - That is my understanding of the 1919 act.

Do you have in mind any grounds on which the two chairmen might come to the "opinion that the measure deals with two or more different subjects which might be more properly divided"?

Posted by: Peter Owen on Friday, 26 October 2012 at 6:09pm BST

When the old clause 5(1)(c) was in the measure, a couple of members of the Ecclesiastical Committee made it clear that they found it so offensive they would be forced to vote against the whole Measure, even though they supported the bulk of it. That struck me as quite closely analogous to the situation which led to the Clergy (Ordination and Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 1964 being split in two by the section 4 procedure.

However, the new clause 5(1)(c) has very likely done enough to avoid provoking the chairmen into splitting the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure. So now I'm asking out of technical interest, and because, in general, I'm a firm believer in the establishment and like to see Parliament presented with the widest possible range of choices.

The technical interest arises because, as Peter says, a straightforward reading of the 1919 Act suggests that the choice has to be made between stages "4" and "5", but for the 1964 Measure, it actually appears to have happened between stages "3" and "4", allowing the Legislative Committee to withdraw one of the two Measures into which the original Measure was split.

Posted by: Feria on Friday, 26 October 2012 at 7:32pm BST

The relevant clause of the 1919 act can be found here
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo5/9-10/76/section/4

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 26 October 2012 at 10:06pm BST

I think the measure ( on the present House of Laity composition) will fail..so stop discussing what you will do with the lottery money, until you win the prize!

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at 6:16am GMT

I'm not at all sure that a Roman Catholic has the right to tell us Anglicans to cease discussion - on a subject that his own faith community has no real understanding of. Nor does it have the luxury of being granted discussion rights.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at 10:46pm GMT

Dear Ron, you are always having a dig at the Church of Rome.... I try to be charitable and objective though, in all my comments about the Anglican Communion.

I sincerely feel that the measure is going to fail by a slim number of votes.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Saturday, 3 November 2012 at 2:08pm GMT
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