David Lamming has written the following article about the synod discussion that occurred on 9 July concerning the Independent Safeguarding Board.
Question 204 from the November General Synod sessions refers (text included below).
RE-WRITING HISTORY: OMITTING THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF FORMER ISB MEMBERS STEVE REEVES AND JASVINDER SANGHERA FROM THE FORMAL RECORD OF THE PROCEEDINGS AT THE YORK SYNOD IN JULY 2023
General Synod members, and those watching the proceedings on the livestream, will recall the débâcle at York on the Sunday afternoon, 9 July, when, after several attempts to use the standing orders to enable Jasvinder Sanghera and Steve Reeves to respond to the ‘Presentation on developments relating to the Independent Safeguarding Board’ were thwarted, the formal sitting was adjourned so that they could address Synod members, with Robert Hammond (chair of the Business Committee) taking over as chair of the informal session.
One of the thwarted attempts to use Standing Orders to allow Steve and Jasvinder to address Synod concerned SO 120(1), which provides: “The Presidents may invite such persons as they think fit to address the Synod.” The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said that he was “happy to do that”, though he thought that Meg Munn, who was also present, “ought to be invited to say something as well.” That said, he added: “I think if people [i.e. Jasvinder and Steve] were able to make a short statement and then perhaps a final response from the panel, I will leave that in your hands, Chair. I think then we should include this item.” (emphasis added). He was thwarted, though, as the legal advice given to the Chair (who reported it to Synod with ‘a regret‘) was that it was “unlawful for one of the Presidents and not both to suspend the Standing Orders.” Leaving aside that Debbie Buggs’s request was to “ask the Archbishop of York in his capacity as President to ask Steve and Jasvinder to address Synod, please,” not to suspend the SOs, it is to be noted that the reason the Archbishop of Canterbury was not present was that he had left Synod to be with his dying mother.
Further, as Gavin Drake pointed out in his speech the following day when moving his motion (Item 63) following the presentation of the Archbishops’ Council Annual Report: “I think such a ruling contravenes the standard English legal precedent that the singular should be construed to include the plural and the plural should be construed to include the singular. But the Synod prevailed and we did hear from Jasvinder and Steve.” See Report of Proceedings, July 2023, page 349. Gavin’s reference should have been not to precedent but to the principle contained in section 6 of the Interpretation Act 1978 that “In any Act, unless the contrary intention appears,– (c) words in the singular include the plural and words in the plural include the singular.”
A reasonable expectation, however, was that a transcript of what Jasvinder and Steve said would be included in or with the official Report of Proceedings of the July group of sessions – at least in an appendix. Indeed, Simon Friend from Exeter Diocese, raising a point of order at the start of the next item of Synod business, specifically asked “that a record of the informal meeting we have just had is attached, perhaps as an annex, to the formal report of this Synod.” In her reply, the Chair, the Bishop of Dover, said: “I am advised that that is not really a point of order, however, I am sure the Business Committee have heard and will consider it.”
Whether the Business Committee considered the matter is not clear as their report for the November group of sessions, GS 2323, contains no reference to the request. However, the fact is that the Report of Proceedings, as published on the C of E website in October, currently does not include such a transcript. This led the Ven Sally Gaze (St Eds & Ips) to ask this question of the Clerk to the Synod:
Q204 In Synod at York on Sunday afternoon, 9 July 2023, and following a number of points of order, the session on Item 11, “Presentation on developments relating to the Independent Safeguarding Board”, was suspended for about 15 minutes to enable Synod members to hear speeches from former ISB members Jasvinder Sanghera and Steve Reeves in response to a presentation by four members of the Archbishops’ Council on those developments, including the decision of the Council to terminate the contracts of the Board’s members. In adjourning the sitting, the Chair (the Revd Zoe Heming) said that she did so “for the better conduct of Synod business to allow those to be heard who need to be.” [See Report of Proceedings, July 2023, page 294].
Currently, the Report of Proceedings, while containing a verbatim report of the presentation, does not include the speeches in reply by Ms Sanghera and Mr Reeves. Will the Clerk to the Synod please undertake to ensure that a verbatim record of their speeches is added as a second Appendix to the Report (and posted on the C of E website) so that there is a complete and accurate public record of what was said in response to the presentation?
And this is the answer, to be found on page 79 of the Questions Notice Paper, circulated to Synod members on Friday 10 November:
“The sitting of the Synod was adjourned by the Chair; anything that occurred during this time was not recorded as the Synod was not sitting. What was said by Ms Sanghera and Mr Reeves will not be added to the verbatim report as they did not form part of the Synod’s proceedings.”
First, it is not correct to say that what occurred while the Synod was adjourned was not recorded This ‘excuse’ will not wash. The livestream and the YouTube recording continued running during the short adjournment, and the YouTube video remains available to view and listen to.
Scroll through to 1 hr 41.44.Steve’s speech is from 1.43.42 to 1.49.17, and Jasvinder’s from 1.49.35 to 1.55.43.
Not only is the video still available: a transcript made from the video was posted on this blog on 12 July: https://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/isb-controversy-episode-10-meg-munn-quits/ (Scroll down to item 10 for the link to the transcript.)
Second, while it is correct that Synod was not formally sitting, it is disingenuous to say that what was said by Steve and Jasvinder “did not form part of the Synod’s proceedings.” It is worth noting what the Chair of the item of business [Item 11], Zoe Heming, said when adjourning the formal sitting:
“Synod, if you could please resume your seats. Synod, in order to give the space for our speakers, I am adjourning this sitting for 10 minutes for the better conduct of Synod business to allow those to be heard who need to be. During this time it will be open to those present in the hall to listen to what Jasvinder and Steve wish to say.” (emphasis added)
And, when the formal sitting was resumed, Zoe said this:
“And so we resume Item 11. Synod, thank you so much for your patience throughout this debate. As you can appreciate, we have taken many twists and turns and quite a bit longer than scheduled, but it was absolutely the right thing to have done and I am grateful for your patience, but we do need to safeguard items coming on later in the rest of the day. I would like to think Jane and Jasvinder and Steve and members of the Archbishops’ Council for their contributions to this item…” (again, emphasis added)
Those who sought to prevent Steve and Jasvinder having a voice at Synod must not be allowed to erase history by excluding a report of “the contributions” by Steve and Jasvinder to Item 11 in the official Report of Proceedings. The transcripts must be added as a second appendix.
As the Church Times reported on 14 July 2023, “the two sacked members of the Church’s now disbanded Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) told the General Synod that they were ‘silenced’ by the Archbishops’ Council for being ‘too independent’– and warned that survivors would pay the price for their dismissal.” Maybe this is what those who sought to prevent Jasvinder and Steve from speaking did not want Synod members to hear–a matter on which Sarah Wilkinson may comment in the report of her Review. But to ensure the integrity of the record, what they said must be added to the Report of Proceedings.
15 November 2023