The Business Committee of the General Synod set up an elections review group in 2011. This group has now reported and its proposals will be considered at next month’s meeting of Synod. There are two reports and this article deals with the first of these.
The papers sent to members are all available online. GS 1901 contains the full report of the Elections Review Group. The Business Committee has divided its response into two reports (GS 1901 and GS 1906). This post looks at only the first of these; there will be a later posting on GS 1906.
GS 1901 – The work of the Elections Review Group: First Report by the Business Committee
GS 1902 – Draft Amending Canon No.32
GS 1903 – Draft Convocations (Elections to Upper House) (Amendment) Resolution
GS 1904 – Draft Clergy Representation (Amendment) Resolution
GS 1905 – Draft Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution
GS 1902-05x – Explanatory Memorandum
Amongst what the Business Committee considers to be non-controversial proposals are these two.
I will now look at the more controversial proposals, which all concern the membership of General Synod.
Allocation of seats between the two provinces
In 2010 the allocation was calculated on the basis of a 70:30 split between the Provinces of Canterbury and York, which resulted in a slight weighting in favour of York in both Houses. If there were no weighting the split would be 72:28 in both houses. Synod will be given the opportunity to remove the fixed 70:30 split.
Diocese of Europe
At present this diocese is treated as being too small to justify the normal minimum of three clergy and three lay seats in Synod, and has two of each. It now has more clergy and members of electoral rolls than some English dioceses, and Synod will be asked to give it the same minimum of three members in each house as all English dioceses.
The only other diocese with fewer than the normal minimum number of members is Sodor and Man, but the review group found no reason to change this.
Seats for Suffragan Bishops
There are currently four elected places for southern suffragans on Synod. It is proposed to increase this to five. The number of northern suffragans would remain at three. Although the main reason for the change is the desire to increase representation of minority views in the House of Bishops, there is another curious reason given. This is that if the proposals for reorganisation of dioceses in Yorkshire goes ahead, the number of diocesan bishops will be reduced by two, and the net effect would actually be a reduction in the size of the House of Bishops. To me this seems like a reason to increase the number of northern suffragans. [I should declare an interest here as I live in a northern diocese.]
There are currently six places for clergy who work in universities: one each from Oxford, Cambridge, London, other southern universities, Durham & Newcastle, other northern universities. There are a number of perceived difficulties with these places.
The Business Committee therefore proposes to abolish the university places. However, Synod rejected the same proposal in 2004 and the Business Committee recognises that this might happen again. So there are alternative proposals to substantially reform the arrangements for these places. Details are in GS 1901.
Co-option of ethnic minority individuals
The review group considered a proposal to co-opt some ethnic minority individuals to Synod because of their under-representation amongst elected members. The proposal was rejected. The view was taken that more effort should be put into encouraging members of ethnic minorities to stand for election.