Questions at General Synod are generally allocated about an hour and a half at the end of the first day’s business. Questions must be submitted in advance, and on arrival at Synod members are given a booklet of all the questions. Each questioner also receives the answer to his/her question. Most questions are for oral answer. In the chamber these questions are not read out, but the person answering reads a pre-prepared answer, and members then have the opportunity to ask one or two supplementaries. As a general rule there is not enough time to answer all the questions.
A few copies of all the prepared answers are available to members after the questions session, and they are all published in due course in the official report of proceedings.
For next month’s meeting, the Business Committee has decided to trial a new format, described in this extract from their report (GS 1974).
21. Based on feedback received from members, the Business Committee has decided to trial a new format for Questions at this Group of Sessions. During the trial period Synod members will receive copies of all the answers to questions, in a booklet which will be emailed to them two working days prior to the start of the group of sessions. Paper copies of the booklet will be available at the Information Desk for collection on arrival by those Synod members who do not have access to email.
22. The oral delivery of pre-prepared official answers will be dispensed with. Instead of this, the person answering the question will begin simply by referring to the written answer published in the booklet. The intention is to focus the main business of Questions on the asking and answering of supplementary questions. Priority will be given to the original questioner in the usual way. It is hoped that this new format will allow greater spontaneity and enable Questions to flow more smoothly.
23. The Business Committee would welcome feedback on the trial format for Questions so that they can consider whether to continue with it in the future and promote Standing Order changes to facilitate it. All comments should be sent to the Chair, via the Clerk whose address is available at the end of this Report.
In general only two supplementaries per question are allowed. Since the usual amount of time has been allowed for questions next month it is likely that this new procedure will allow more questions to be dealt with during the question session. Perhaps for some questions the chair will feel able to use his/her discretion and allow more supplementaries.
A list of who may be asked questions is below the fold.
Questions may be asked of:
(i) the Chairman of each of the three Houses of the Synod;
(ii) the Chairman of the Archbishops’ Council;
(iii) the Secretary General;
(iv) the Clerk to the Synod;
(v) the Chairman of any body answerable to the Synod through the Archbishops’ Council as determined in accordance with the provisions of SO 119(a);
(vi) subject to (viii) below, the Chairman of any Church of England body on which the Synod is represented;
(vii) in matters concerning the Church Commissioners, one of the three Church Estates Commissioners;
(viii) in matters concerning the Royal School of Church Music, the representative of the Synod on its Governing Council;
(ix) the Chairman of any Commission of the Synod established under SO 121.