Update: 20 June 2023
The Report of Proceedings – February 2023 has now been updated to include the correction to Helen’s supplementary question; the correction is on the penultimate page. The original question and answer may be difficult to find in the report, so I have copied them and the correction below the fold. Also, Helen has added an addendum to her blog post.
The Church of England’s General Synod is due to meet at York University from Friday 7 July to Tuesday 11 July. I am expecting all the papers to be published here by the end of next week; some are already online. There is an outline of the business here but there will be at least one change to this before the full agenda is published. Synod members have been informed that sufficient members asked for a debate on the Safeguarding Code of Practice and this will no longer be deemed business (ie approved without debate).
The Audit Committee of the Archbishops’ Council and the Independent Safeguarding Board
Synod member Helen King has written about her experience of receiving a correction to a supplementary question that she asked in February: Correcting the Record: Safeguarding. The full correction is in Helen’s blog, but part of it is “AC’s Audit Committee does have the ability to commission an internal audit of all or of aspects of the work of the ISB, but that it has not done so.”
What prompted Helen to write is that she has been told that such corrections are not routinely sent to Synod members, and that despite an assurance from the Secretary General, this correction has not been included in the recently published Report of Proceedings – February 2023.
Extracts from Updated Updated Report of Proceedings – February 2023
56. Professor Helen King (Oxford) asked the Presidents of the Archbishops’ Council: Has the Independent Safeguarding Board been subject to scrutiny by the Audit Committee of the Archbishops’ Council in relation to its formation and operation and, if so, with what outcome?
Mrs Maureen Cole replied on behalf of the Presidents of the Archbishops’ Council: The Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) has not been subject to an internal audit of its operation or formulation. The Archbishops’ Council receives regular updates on safeguarding matters, including with regard to the work of the ISB.
Professor Helen King: As the answer to question 49 clarified, the Archbishops’ Council created and paid for the ISB and so, as the Audit Committee has the power to requestan audit of the board’s operation, have its members requested this and, if so, with what results?
Mrs Maureen Cole: We do not have the ability. We are not the Audit Committee of the ISB. We are the Audit Committee of the Archbishops’ Council. The thing that we can do and we have got included in the safeguarding risk is actually the governance and set-up. Archbishops’ Council are monitoring this situation, so we have to wait and see. [Please see clarification/correction in the Annex at the end of the Report of Proceedings.]
The Revd Dr Ian Paul (Southwell & Nottingham): Have any members of the Audit Committee asked for an audit of the Archbishops’ Council’s decision in relation to the ISB and, if so, with what result?
Mrs Maureen Cole: Ian Paul, you are on the Audit Committee and you are aware of that answer. There were three that wrote, and we had that response that we are dealing with it with Archbishops’ Council.
The Revd Dr Ian Paul: So the answer is, yes, it has been requested but, no, nothing has been done, is that correct?
The Chair: You have had your question.
Mr Clive Billenness (Europe): Chair, my point of order is, under Standing Order 19(2), I am entitled to request that where something has been said that is not accurate and affects me personally, I can ask to make a correction and I hereby request the permission to do this.
The Chair: Please do. Could you just clarify what question number this relates to? Mr Clive Billenness: I shall. It relates to the question currently being answered, Chair, 56.
The Chair: Yes, that is taken.
Mr Clive Billenness: Like my colleague, the Revd Dr Ian Paul, I am a member of the Audit Committee as well. The point I would like to just make clear, which has not been made clear, is that three members of the Audit Committee under exercise of their powers as the Audit Committee of the Archbishops’ Council have requested an audit and it has been declined by the Archbishops’ Council.
Mrs Maureen Cole: They have and they have had an answer for that.
Correction to the supplementary question asked by Helen King to Q56.
The Archbishops’ Council’s Audit Committee does have the ability to commission an internal audit of all or of aspects of the work of the ISB, but it has not done so. Some Audit Committee members have asked for such an audit, but we have not included such an internal audit in our audit plan for the Archbishops’ Council. The Council’s director of risk and assurance does not consider that, given the degree of risk involved, it should be a priority for inclusion in the Council’s audit plan. However, this is an issue which the Council’s Audit Committee can keep under review.