Thinking Anglicans

Crown Nominations Commission – changes to the rules

The Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) is responsible for providing the prime minister with the names of candidates to be diocesan bishops in the Church of England. The current rules are that the CNC must provide two names and place them in order of preference. Recent prime ministers have agreed to always submit the first name to the Queen. The second name is then only required if for some reason the first choice becomes unavailable.

But each of the two names must be supported by two-thirds of the CNC members. So if the CNC is able to agree on a first name, but not on a second it has to reconvene and start again, even though the second name is rarely required.

General Synod was therefore asked to amend its standing orders so that the Crown Nominations Commission

i) Submit one name to the Prime Minister, subject to the support of two thirds of the voting members of the Commission in a secret ballot; and

ii) May agree on a second name if they so wish, also subject to the support of two thirds of the voting members of the Commission in a secret ballot as a reserve candidate.

The submission of one name will not therefore be dependent in any way on the agreement of a second name.

Synod agreed to these changes yesterday afternoon and they will come into effect on 10 July 2019.

The first meeting to be affected by these changes will be next week. The CNC will be having its second meeting (the one at which the names are chosen) for the forthcoming vacancy at Hereford on 15/16 July 2019.

There is a paper explaining these changes in more detail: GS 2144.

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Father David
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Father David

Is this change to a single name being presented with an eye to the future restricting any input either Mr. Corbyn or Mr. Johnson may have on the selection of Diocesan Bishops of the Established Church? Spoil Sports, depriving us all of either a Left-wing or a Right-wing Bench.

Simon Kershaw
Admin

No. Prime Ministers since the days of Jim Callaghan in the late 1970s have not introduced names into the process. They have restricted their role to choosing one of the two names given them by the Crown Appointments Commission (as it was originally called). And since Gordon Brown, over a decade ago, they have agreed always to recommend the first name to the Crown. So this is coming into line with that where only a first name is submitted, and — presumably — only if there is a problem with that nomination will they need to reconvene to find another… Read more »

Verulamius
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Verulamius

This reminds me of the Yes, Prime Minister episode “The Bishop’s Gambit”. However it is no longer relevant.

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

Spot on. To preserve the Royal Prerogative (all bishops are Crown appointments), the Callaghan compromise required two names, so that the PM had a choice, although from the start (1977) the CAC (now CNC) had the option of expressing a preference. To my knowledge the CNC has always expressed a preference, voting by simple majority. As we now know, the PM has on occasions not chosen the first name! Gordon Brown (child of the Manse) did away with all this, as set out in Governance of Britain (CM 7170) in 2007. Thus the convention for diocesans became the same as… Read more »

Bill Broadhead
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Bill Broadhead

But I’m interested, Anthony, does this still allow for what happened in the 1990s, when the Secretary for Appointments at 10 Downing Street intervened and persuaded the Prime Minister that the second name is to be preferred, as John Holdroyd did: not only in the case of Peter Ball for Gloucester; but also George Carey for Canterbury in preference to John Habgood?

Simon Kershaw
Admin

If only one name is given to the PM, then they can only accept or reject it. I suppose that they could ask their Appointments Secretary (who participates in the CNC) if there is a reserve name and who it is. In theory the PM can keep rejecting the names sent to them by the CNC until they receive one they like. In practice I suspect that one of the roles of the PM’s Appointments Secretary is to ensure that any necessary liaison between Church and 10 Downing Street takes place before rather than after the CNC meetings so that… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

Have these changes resulted in a better or more effective Bench of Bishops?
Thank God for Harold Macmillan who went against Fisher’s recommendation and thus blessed the
Church of England by appointing Michael Ramsey ss Archbishop of Canterbury.

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

It was issues such as this one that eventually led to the Chadwick Commission in 1970, Church and State, the principal result of which was the creation of the Crown Appointments Commission.

T Pott
Guest
T Pott

As Mr Kershaw says, it will make no difference to the practice of recent prime ministers, but that practice could change. Prime ministers will still be able to reject the nomination and request another, as they could now reject both nominations and request two more. It does not prevent a prime minister vetoing a candidate, but mostly they lack the will to do so. I have known several managers, in the insurance industry, who insist on being presented with two choices and themselves making the final decision. The trick, of course, is to present them with two options, one of… Read more »

Will Richards
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Will Richards

This is what caused the deadlock in Oxford and Hereford last time around.

And, I fear, Fr David, that the days of the Church of England being of remote interest to anyone of influence in British life are long gone, which is why Corbyn or Johnson would probably get one of their flunkies to sign-off episcopal appointments.

Father David
Guest
Father David

I can quite imagine that the present (soon to be gone) occupant of Number 10 takes more than a “remote interest” in episcopal appointments. Our much maligned Prime Minister, being a daughter of the vicarage, a regular attender at her local parish church and someone of “influence” must surely take more than a passing interest in the leadership of the Established Church? I shudder to think as to just who might replace her!

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Y’all can pray for us in the Anglican Church of Canada on Saturday. Our General Synod begins tonight, and on Saturday our equivalent of the ‘Crown Nominations Commission’ – the duly elected members of the 42nd General Synod – will choose a new primate for the Anglican Church of Canada, to follow in the footsteps of Fred Hiltz who is retiring at the end of Synod after 12 years of good, wise pastoral leadership in our church.

Richard W. Symonds
Guest
Richard W. Symonds

“the days of the Church of England being of remote interest to anyone of influence in British life are long gone”

There are exceptions to that general rule – Churchill in 1944 being one example.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Absolutely right, Will – and not just ‘anyone of influence’. Most of my younger (i.e. under 40) relatives and friends in Britain are not remotely connected with the Church of England and have absolutely no knowledge or interest in the identity of its bishops. And the few that are Christians don’t go to Church of England churches.

Richard
Guest

Please unsplit the split infinitive. Thanks.

Kate
Guest
Kate

This is irrelevant tinkering around the edges. The real problem is that in the foreseeable future the candidate for bishop, indeed even an Archbishop of Canterbury, could be chosen by a Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist Prime Minister. The present system only works if the Prime Minister is a communicant member of the Church of England in good standing. That can no longer be assumed.

Simon Kershaw
Admin

Not at all. The system has coped with previous nonconformist or atheist Prime Ministers, and did so in days when the PM did directly influence the selection. Lloyd George for example, or Harold Wilson. The current system delegates the selection to the CNC with the PM retaining the constitutional role of advising the Crown who to nominate. Canon law requires that the person nominated be legally capable of being a bishop, and that in turn requires that the person is a communicant member of the Church of England and prepared to publicly assent to its life and doctrine and obey… Read more »

T Pott
Guest
T Pott

1 Timothy 3 7 says bishops must be of good report to those outside (the Church) so, especially for an Archbishop, it seems reasonable to me that a Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist should have a veto over the appointment. The typical person in the pew, or not in it, has no influence or say other than through Parliament. The General Synod has lay members, but they are not typical or representative; being elected, Soviet-style, only by Deanery Synod members. Similarly CNC represents only the inner echelons of the Church. Poachers electing the gamekeeper. . If the convention has become such… Read more »

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

Theologically, the task of nominating bishops is one for the Church as a whole. The Church of England, episcopally led and synodically governed, does that by delegating the task to the CNC. Of course it could decide to do it some other way, with agreement of Government. The only background consideration therefore is that it is the ‘church by law established’ and bishops remain Crown appointments under the Appointment of Bishops Act 1533. However, since 1975 the State has agreed that the responsibility should be one for the Church, and that since 2007 the Crown should play almost no part.… Read more »

T Pott
Guest
T Pott

If the task of nominating bishops is one for the Church as a whole, then the Church as a whole should be involved. The only way that can happen under present structures is for our politicians to take a more robust role, because they and only they are elected by Church members. Other Anglican churches, and other national Protestant churches find no problem with a wide franchise. CNCs consisting of people chosen by Diocesan Synods or the General Synod would be fine if those synods were popularly elected themselves. Instead there is a current of thought that the CNC speaks… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

When it comes to the significance of having two names on the proposed list we only need to look at the recent shenanigans in the See of Sheffield. After due process Bishop Philip North was declared to be the next incumbent of the see and there followed an unseemly uprising against this inspirational appointment. Bishop Philip graciously withdrew. I presume therefore that Dean Pete Wilcox was the second name on the list and the first reserve and so he was appointed to Sbeffield. It is most regrettable and a great loss to the national church that Philip North is still… Read more »

Stephen King
Guest
Stephen King

I entirely agree that Philip North should be a diocesan bishop. I say that as an unashamed supporter of the ordination of women.

Simon Kershaw
Admin

It’s all very well saying that Philip North ought to be a diocesan bishop. The generality is not a problem. It’s the specificity that’s the problem. Bishop of where? Which diocese would accept as its bishop someone who will not ordain half its priests and has doubts about the validity of their orders? And were a woman to be the archbishop would be in impaired communion with that archbishop? At least as a suffragan bishop this issue does not arise quite so pointedly.

Father David
Guest
Father David

The “talent pool” isn’t so deep that we can afford not to have Philip North among the ranks of diocesan bishops. The situation that you describe, Simon, is in fact a working reality within the diocese of Chichester. It will be of great interest to see who succeeds Mark Sowerby as the next Bishop of Horsham. Your latest contribution seems to fly in the face of mutual flourishing and would eventually lead to the extinction of the traditionalist element within the Church of England.

Simon Kershaw
Admin

I don’t think that’s quite what I’m saying. But to put words in your mouth instead(!), are you suggesting that a bishop should be imposed on a diocese against the wishes of its CNC representatives? Were that to happen, it seems to me that the bishop’s ministry would be rather undermined before it had even begun.

Father David
Guest
Father David

To follow your example and “put words into your mouth” are you saying that what you are proposing is the eventual total elimination of the Traditionalist wing of the Church of England? What has your comment to say about mutual flourishing for it seems to me that your view would lead in time to the total extinction of traditional, orthodox leadership within the Church of England.

Simon Kershaw
Admin

No, I didn’t say that (though I don’t agree with your choice of words — “orthodox” as if those who disagree are not orthodox). It is hard to see that there are many (if any) dioceses where someone who does not ordain women could be chosen as the diocesan bishop. But there are other senior positions, including suffragan bishoprics, to which such a person can be appointed. There is space in the English hierarchy for more than one such person. In the short term dioceses are naturally rushing to have a woman suffragan, and that particular theme still has some… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

I don’t see many diocesan bishops “rushing” to appoint male traditionalist suffragans in the same way as they are “rushing” to appoint female suffragans. The episcopal leadership in the diocese of Derby is now 100% female. There are very few dioceses remaining now without a female bishop – Lincoln and Chichester spring immediately to mind.

RosalindR
Guest
RosalindR

Currently 20 dioceses have neither a diocesan nor a suffragan who is female. (and so the episcopal leadership is 100% male). One of these is Canterbury which will have a bishop who happens to be female when the new Bishop of Dover is consecrated and installed.

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

I agree with RosalindR’s accurate analysis! Canterbury has Dover-designate in the shape of Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chester has a vacancy in Stockport as a result of the translation of Libby Lane to Derby, and there are vacancies in Oxford (Reading), Worcester (Dudley), Chichester (Horsham), Truro (St Germans) and Sheffield (Doncaster), in each of which dioceses there has not to date been a woman in the episcopal leadership team. The other all-male episcopal teams are: Chelmsford, Coventry, Europe, Hereford, Lincoln, Manchester, Norwich, Peterborough, Rochester, Southwark, Southwell and Nottingham, St Albans, and St Edmundsbury & Ipswich. Having said all that, there are currently… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

19 and falling

Stephen King
Guest
Stephen King

The point is that opponents of the ordination of women were assured that they would not be discriminated against in considering senior appointments, yet that seems, increasingly, to be rather vacuous, as the number of active bishops of that persuasion reduces, and the number of traditionalist deans and archdeacons is minimal. The traditional element in the Church of England is entitled to be treated as fairly as other groups. Most dioceses have at least one bishop who would either ordain women, or who is female; and as for the validity of the orders of women priests, most traditionalist bishops –… Read more »

Mary Hancock
Guest
Mary Hancock

I am genuinely puzzled how a bishop can share their cure of souls with priests whose orders the bishop does not see as valid. What is the argument that makes it possible? It’s relevant to the Anglican-Methodist discussion too.

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

I wonder how many current ordinands identify as traditionalist catholic?