GS Misc 999

[This is a copy of the pdf original on the Church of England website.]


Draft Parochial Fees Order 2011

The Draft Order

1. At its recent group of sessions in York, the General Synod declined to approve the Draft Parochial Fees Order 2011 that had been laid before it by the Archbishops’ Council. The Draft Order had been prepared by the Council under powers contained in the Ecclesiastical Fees Measure [1] 1986, as recently amended by the Ecclesiastical Fees (Amendment) Measure 2011 (“the 2011 Measure”).

The effect of the Draft Order not having been approved

2. The effect of the Synod’s decision is that the Parochial Fees Order 2010 (“the 2010 Order”), which came into operation on 1st January 2011, remains in force.

3. The 2011 Measure made amendments to the primary legislation governing parochial fees. It provided for fees to continue to be payable to parochial church councils but instead of some fees, as now, being payable to incumbents it made them payable to diocesan boards of finance. That change has not taken effect and will not do so until a new Parochial Fees Order is made.

4. For the time being, therefore, incumbents remain entitled to the fees prescribed as payable to them under the 2010 Order. The vast majority of incumbents have assigned their entitlement to fees by deed to the diocesan board of finance. Those deeds remain in force. Incumbents who have assigned their fees continue to be obliged to pass them on to the diocesan board of finance.

Transitional provisions for incumbents to retain entitlement to fees

5. Information was circulated with June’s clergy payslips informing incumbents who had not assigned their fees and who wished to retain their entitlement to receive fees that they were required to give written notice of their wish to do so to their diocesan bishop by 31st December. That remains the case, even though the new Fees Order was not approved.

6. In summary the position is as follows—

Parochial Church Councils

7. Parochial church councils remain entitled to fees prescribed as being payable to them under the 2010 Order.


8. As the Draft Order was not approved, the provisions that it contained specifying that certain costs and expenses were included in some of the prescribed fees are not in force. It has, however, never been lawful for an incumbent or PCC to impose compulsory charges, over and above the statutory fees, except for genuinely optional extras – i.e. items in respect of which those who are marrying or those who are arranging a funeral have a real choice. That is because parishioners [2] have a legal right to receive the occasional offices of the Church and neither the incumbent nor the PCC has any power to make the exercise of that right conditional upon the payment of money. The law in that regard remains unchanged despite the fact that the Draft Order has not been approved.

9. It remains permissible for incumbents and PCCs to impose charges for certain items if those marrying or those arranging a funeral etc genuinely opt to have them and agree in advance to the charges being made. Examples include—

10. It remains the case that there is no lawful authority for an incumbent or PCC to impose mandatory charges in respect of weddings or parishioners’ funerals for items that are not genuinely optional, for example—

Nor is there any lawful authority for an incumbent or PCC to impose an additional non-specific, ‘general’ charge or supplement in addition to the statutory fees and any charges for genuinely optional extras.

Waiver of fees

11. While the 2010 Order remains in force, the position on the waiver of fees remains that:

Next steps

12. The Archbishops’ Council will be considering at its next meeting in September what conclusions to draw from the points made during the July debate and how best to create the conditions in which revised proposals might be brought back to Synod for approval, probably in February.

William Fittall
Secretary General
20 July 2011


1 A Measure is a form of primary legislation passed by the General Synod exercising powers devolved to it by Parliament. Once it has received the Royal Assent following resolutions in each House of Parliament, a Measure is to be treated to all intents and purposes as if it were an Act of Parliament. A Parochial Fees Order is subordinate legislation made by the Archbishops’ Council, with the approval of the General Synod.

2 And certain others: e.g., in the case of marriages and funerals, those on the electoral roll of the parish, and also in the case of marriages, those who have a ‘qualifying connection’ with the parish.