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 Issues | General Synod | Report July 2009

General Synod

Draft Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Regulations (Final Approval)

The Synod has already had two bites at this and this debate will be for final approval. Nevertheless there are some significant changes proposed at this late stage.
The legislation is already agreed and will come into force gradually as all the other necessary material is completed.
Those strongly opposed to the legislation are likely to vote against the Regulations since without them the Measure would be in limbo and could not be enacted.

The explanatory memorandum (GS1726X) provides a useful summary of what is in the Regulations (GS1726).  Some folk are concerned that there might be an objection to ‘the right to stipend’ on behalf of Dioceses since at present if they run out  of money they are not obliged to pay any more than the parishes are obliged to pay parish share – expect pressure on this latter point in the future.
The key sections are:

  • Right to statement of particulars of office
  • Right to stipend and provision of accommodation
  • Ministerial development review and continuing ministerial education
  • Time off work, time spent on other duties and sickness
  • Limited appointments and termination of appointments
  • Capability and grievance procedures
  • Rights on unfair dismissal

 The significant changes to the Regulations as agreed in February are set out in section B of GS1726X.  These relate to:

  • Entitlement to maternity pay etc
  • Non-payment to clergy in prison
  • Something to do with Standing Order 46 having effect
  • Discretion regarding payment in cases of long-term illness
  • Provision so that those over 70 can be full-time office holders
  • A change relating to what is said about Priest-in-Charge
  • That capability and grievance procedures should largely no longer be directions but a code of practice (this point could attract hostility).

These changes largely seem to be due to people working through what the new Measure is going to mean and also to reflect changing national legislation.  It is worrying however that so much is being changed so late and it suggests that like the Clergy Discipline Measure it is not going to have an easy beginning.  The fear is that when things have settled down the end result may be different to what people were expecting.

 

Note: Assurances were given at an early stage in this legislation that it would greatly reduce the number of Priest-in-Charge appointments and thus give back Patrons much of their rights.  This was in fact largely incorrect. Even in this report the wrong impression is still being given (Section 38).  Only where there are definite plans for reorganization will a person be appointed incumbent under Common Tenure on a time-limited basis and this can only be for a maximum of 5 years.  If there are no definite plans or it may take more than 5 years then appointments will still be made Priest-in-Charge and the Patron and Parish will continue to have their rights removed and often abused.

David Phillips July

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