Comments: November General Synod - online papers

As I understand this New Enabling Measure, almost the first thing this new Synod is being asked to do is to give away some of its authority.

Vote it down!

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 30 October 2015 at 8:45pm GMT

A cynic might wonder whether the Enabling Measure being presented right at the start of the new Synod is deliberate because newly elected members will have less time to develop objections.

Posted by Kate at Friday, 30 October 2015 at 11:18pm GMT

In continuation of Jeremy's comment here on 30 October, re the New Enabling Measure: With the seeming over-riding authority of the 'Archbishps' Council'; Will this instrument in any way pre-empt the authority of decisions of the General Synod?

As a member of the world-wide Anglican Communion, we would not want the Church of England to erect an authority that is not answerable to General Synod. After all, Pope Francis seems to be moving in the direction of synodical government.

I am speaking as part of the Anglican Communion Church (ACANZP) that first enacted the principle of Synodical Government - in 3 Houses; Laity, Clergy and Bishops. We find it works efficiently.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 31 October 2015 at 6:28am GMT

If you read the agenda a tad more carefully, you'll see that it's part of presentation and questions session to brief new members. Plenty of time for Synod to debate the Measure when it actually comes before the Synod for consideration. But that's not yet.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Sunday, 1 November 2015 at 3:29pm GMT

I am yet to read an informed comment on the proposed Enabling Measure. As +Pete says, it is not coming to Synod as a draft Measure until February 2016. GS Misc 1125 is provided for information and sets out the results of the consultation. The Enabling Measure, as proposed, will deny no powers to the General Synod. If it doesn't like a draft Order made under the Measure, it could vote it down. However, the nature of the legislative changes to be the subject of the new Measure is such that GS is unlikely to do this. The role of the Scrutiny Committee will be a crucial element of the new package and there is no reason why it won't achieve what is needed, streamlining changes to existing legislation without the need to slog through full blown Measures.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Sunday, 1 November 2015 at 7:55pm GMT

Good. May it be never.

Bishops always think that the laity should have less power. This is a habit of mind that the laity should resist, and resist strongly.

Posted by Jeremy at Sunday, 1 November 2015 at 10:19pm GMT

Indeed, good, and thanks for clearing that up.

Posted by Kate at Monday, 2 November 2015 at 12:36am GMT

"The Enabling Measure, as proposed, will deny no powers to the General Synod. If it doesn't like a draft Order made under the Measure, it could vote it down."

If that's what passes for informed commentary.... The first sentence is contradicted by the second!

As you concede, the draft enabling measure would move legislative power away from Synod, and would shift the burden of action. That burden now lies on the proponents of a measure. Under the Enabling Measure that burden would lie with the opponents of an order, which would be fast-tracked.

So no matter what you say, the Draft Enabling Measure would take legislative power away from Synod and lodge it elsewhere.

It does little good to say that only minor, technical, uncontroversial changes would be treated this way. If that is so, why is the Draft Enabling Measure necessary? What minor and uncontroversial measure has actually failed of passage?

There is in this a distrust of synodical government that is insulting at best and frankly deeply troubling. It sounds as though someone has a programme of "reformist" changes to ram through, and wants to create an easy way to do it.

Indeed, this is how legislatures lose their power--by being frightened, in a moment of "crisis," into giving it away.

Synod members, please vote the Enabling Measure down in February.

Posted by Jeremy at Monday, 2 November 2015 at 10:29am GMT

"So no matter what you say, the Draft Enabling Measure would take legislative power away from Synod and lodge it elsewhere."

I am not sure who "Jeremy" thinks will be passing this secondary legislation! GS 1125 makes it abundantly clear. The new Enabling Measure, if passed, will make it possible to amend or repeal some primary legislation by secondary legislation, in other words by an order approved by the Synod rather than by a Measure. Such a power for the Synod would be similar in some respects to that which Parliament created for itself in the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 in relation to amending Acts of Parliament.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Monday, 2 November 2015 at 6:59pm GMT

I'm not sure who Mr. Archer thinks will be drafting and amending these all-too-appropriately-named "orders." But let's be clear: it won't be Synod.

The power to vote up or down is not the only legislative power. There is also the power to introduce, the power to package, and the power to amend (that is, to defeat the packaging effort of another).

All of those powers would be taken away from Synod by this new Enabling Measure, in the novel "order" procedure that it would establish. That procedure is well named because it would result in Synod essentially taking orders from the Archbishop's Council.

Synod will find itself faced with a series of yes-or-no choices. The agenda will have been set, and the orders crafted, elsewhere.

Perhaps most crucially, someone else will decide for Synod what is a measure and what is an order. Someone else will decide, in other words, which legislative passengers are on the parliamentary slow train, and which choice "reforms" may board the express.

Perhaps the most important parliamentary power of all is the power to set the agenda--the power to choose which parliamentary business to slow down, and which to accelerate.

So I must conclude that Mr. Archer is quite wrong when he assures us that "The Enabling Measure, as proposed, will deny no powers to the General Synod."

That assertion is false, and demonstrably so.

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 3 November 2015 at 3:23am GMT

I don't know whether "Jeremy" has ever served on the General Synod but the way it does business is not as he infers. Business gets introduced to Synod in many different ways. It influences its agenda, as Parliament does, and members can put down diocesan synod motions and private member's motion etc. But the agenda of Synod is largely set by its Business Committee, an elected committee of Synod and accountable to it. In the same way the proposed Scrutiny Committee will be elected by Synod and accountable to it. Legislation introduced to Synod is never drafted by it; that's not the function of legislative bodies. By the way, it is not clear from this exchange what the problem is considered to be that will be created by the proposed Enabling Measure. The Archbishops' Council is a body answerable to Synod. It is not a perfect beast but on no occasion that I can recall has the 'Synod taken orders' from it, nor does it ever need to. It is in contrast very clear what the problem is that the Enabling Measure will solve. All orders under the proposed Enabling Measure will simply be amendments to Measures (other than on matters of the constitution or doctrine etc.) which will continue to need primary legislation. It really isn't any more complicated than that.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Tuesday, 3 November 2015 at 10:59am GMT
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