Bishops’ statement on Pilling Report

Following Monday’s meeting of the College of Bishops, the Church of England issued the following statement:

Statement from the College of Bishops

27 January 2014

The College of Bishops met on 27th January, 2014 to begin a process of reflection on the issues raised by the Pilling Report (GS 1929). The College expressed appreciation to Sir Joseph Pilling and to all members of the working party for the work they have done on behalf of the Church.

We are united in welcoming and affirming the presence and ministry within the Church of gay and lesbian people, both lay and ordained.  We are united in acknowledging the need for the Church to repent for the homophobic attitudes it has sometimes failed to rebuke and affirming the need to stand firmly against homophobia wherever and whenever it is to be found.

We are united in seeking to be faithful to the Scriptures and the tradition of the Church and in seeking to make a loving, compassionate and respectful response to gay men and women within Church and society.

We recognise the very significant change in social attitudes to sexuality in the United Kingdom in recent years.

We recognise also the strongly held and divergent views reflected in the Pilling Report, across the Anglican Communion and in the Church of England.  We acknowledge that these differences are reflected also within the College of Bishops and society as a whole.

We accept the recommendation of the Pilling Report that the subject of sexuality, with its history of deeply entrenched views, would best be addressed by facilitated conversations, ecumenically, across the Anglican Communion and at national and diocesan level and that this should continue to involve profound reflection on the interpretation and application of Scripture. These conversations should set the discussion of sexuality within the wider context of human flourishing.

We have together asked the Archbishops to commission a small group to design a process for these conversations and additional materials to support and enable them.  We hope that the outline for the process and the additional materials will be approved by the House of Bishops in May.

We acknowledge that one of the challenges we face is to create safe space for all those involved to be honest about their own views and feelings. This has not always happened and it must do so in the future. We recognise that we will not all agree and that this process is in part committed to seeking good disagreement that testifies to our love for one another across the church in obedience to Christ

As the Archbishops noted in November, the Pilling report is not a new policy statement from the Church of England and we are clear that the Church of England’s pastoral and liturgical practice remains unchanged during this process of facilitated conversation.

No change to the Church of England’s teaching on marriage is proposed or envisaged. The House of Bishops will be meeting next month to consider its approach when same sex marriage becomes lawful in England in March.

We are grateful to the whole Church for their prayers for our meeting today and for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  We recognise that on many occasions in the past the Church has faced challenging questions.  It is vital in these moments to take counsel together, to read and reflect upon the Scriptures and to continue to discern together the mind of Christ”

Comment

The interest generated by the publication of the Pilling report is reflected in the number of campaign statements, media reports, blogs (including our own), commentaries from the US and other parts of the Anglican Communion, and reports to the College of Bishops. These are helpfully listed on the Anglican Mainstream web page which is updated as new items appear. Further comments and insights are available at Thinking Anglicans, including Andrew Brown’s piece on The Guardian’s Comment is free and links to useful data on attitudes to human sexuality, globally from Pew Forum here and here, and within the CofE from Changing Attitude. Also of relevance on the TA site is a link to the CofE’s Osborne Report of 1989, Report to the House of Bishops on Homosexuality, initially not reported but “re-published” by the Church Times two years ago.

As we have noted before, the Pilling Report is a report to the House of Bishops, not a report of the House of Bishops and it is therefore unsurprising that: yesterday’s statement emphasized that it was not a new policy statement; and the statement itself did not expand on the report’s conclusions, an unlikely possibility given the strongly held and divergent views within the College .  Nevertheless, there are two important points within the statement:

– acceptance of Pilling’s recommendation for “facilitated conversations, ecumenically, across the Anglican Communion and at national and diocesan level”, these conversations to commence following the approval of the process and materials by the House of Bishops in May; and

– that there will be no change to the Church of England’s teaching on marriage or to pastoral and liturgical practice during this process of facilitated conversation. Too much cannot be read into the wording, but it would tend to suggest that the introduction of extra-liturgical public services of pastoral accommodation, i.e. blessings of same-sex unions, over the next two years is ruled out, whilst this is may be an option for the future.

If the timetable suggested by the Report is followed, i.e. “without undue haste but with a sense urgency, perhaps over a period of two years”, the formal position of the Church of England is unlikely to change from that expressed in the 2005 HoB statement before mid- to late-2016.  Whilst this will be a comfortable two years before the next Lambeth Conference, a potential flash-point for the Anglican Communion, in other respects the delay is unsatisfactory.

This raises the question of what “added value” the Pilling Report has given the Church.  Unless its deliberations are viewed as a resource for use  by those involved in the forthcoming facilitated discussions, it could be argued that the decision to embark upon these discussions could have been made in July 2011, when the House of Bishops announced its intention to review the 2005 Pastoral Statement on civil partnerships, and to carry out a more detailed examination of the Church’s approach to human sexuality[1].

The 2005 Pastoral Statement was issued on 25 July 2005 in advance of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 coming into force the following December, and after outlining the Church’s teaching on marriage, addresses the impact that Act will have upon the Church:  the effect of the legislation; the blessing of civil partnerships; those wishing to be in ordained ministry and to register a civil partnership; and lay people who register civil partnerships.

Had Men and Women in Marriage[2] adopted a similarly practical approach to the issues to be faced as a consequence of current legislation, the Church might have been afforded the luxury of the Pilling timetable.  In the event, there will be a further two years of uncertainty during which the Church does not have a definitive response to the issues raised by the developing social and legislative agenda.


[1] ‘Civil Partnerships and Human Sexuality’, Statement from the House of Bishops, GS Misc 997, 1 July 2011.

[2] A document from the Faith and Order Commission published with the agreement of the House of Bishops of the Church of England and approved for study, GS 1046.

The ‘Ex-gay’ London bus advert ban – again

As readers will no doubt be aware, in April 2012 Transport for London decided not to allow an advertisement placed by Anglican Mainstream on behalf of the Core Issues Trust to appear on the outside of its buses. The proposed wording was “NOT GAY! EX-GAY, POST-GAY AND PROUD. GET OVER IT!”. It was intended as a response to an advertisement by Stonewall which had earlier appeared on the outside of TfL’s buses: “SOME PEOPLE ARE GAY. GET OVER IT!”.

In Core Issues Trust v Transport for London [2013] EWHC 651 (Admin), on which we posted at the time, the Trust submitted that TfL had abused its statutory powers for an improper purpose, alleging that the real reason for TfL’s ban was that the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, disagreed with the views expressed in the advertisement and thought it could be a liability in his bid for re-election as Mayor. Lang J concluded that the Trust’s case had been arguable. However, she dismissed the claim for judicial review even though she agreed that Article 10(1) ECHR (freedom of expression) was engaged because the interference had been prescribed by law and fulfilled a legitimate aim under Article 10(2): as a public body subject to the equality duty, TfL was under a positive obligation to protect the rights of gays. However, she gave Core Issues Trust leave to appeal, on grounds that the free expression point merited consideration by the Court of Appeal.

By the time the case got to the Court of Appeal, however, further information had come to light: see R (Core Issues Trust) v Transport for London & Anor [2014] EWCA Civ 34. In the Administrative Court Lang J had been prepared to accept on the facts before her that the decision not to run the advertisement had been made by Mr Everitt (Managing Director of Marketing and Communications at TfL):

“She accepted that he was ‘influenced’ by Mr Johnson. But the decision was his. TfL’s interests in implementing its Policy and avoiding causing offence to a section of the public and avoiding criticism and controversy coincided with those of Mr Johnson, who also wished to avoid causing offence and criticism which might damage his election campaign” (para 36).

The difficulty is that there is now in evidence an e-mail which unequivocally states that the Mayor instructed TfL to pull the advertisement. On the face of it, this is inconsistent with Mr Everitt’s insistence that the decision was his and his alone. Mr Everitt has not provided an explanation for this. All he is able to say in relation to this e-mail is that he did not see it until May 2013 and that it has not caused him to change his evidence that he made the decision” (para 37).

Lord Dyson MR (with whom Briggs and Christopher Clarke LJJ concurred) pointed out that a claimant who established the unlawfulness of an administrative act was entitled to a remedial order and that where a decision was shown to be unlawful, the court should be wary of refusing relief on the grounds that the decision-making body would have reached the same decision had it acted lawfully (para 44). So on the question of how to proceed, he approached the matter on the basis that:

“(i) the decision may have been made for the improper purpose of advancing the Mayor’s re-election campaign; (ii) the judge was right to hold on the evidence before her that the disallowing of the advertisement did not infringe the Trust’s Convention rights and (iii) it is inevitable that, if TfL were required to reconsider the question, it would not reach a different conclusion from that reached on 12 April 2012″ (para 45).

On the issue of the Mayor’s involvement, he concluded that it was in the interests of justice that a further enquiry be conducted by the court as to whether or not the decision had been instructed by the Mayor and whether or not it had been made for an improper purpose. The Mayor (on behalf of the GLA) should be added back as a defendant and the case remitted to the judge for her to make the necessary order and give appropriate directions (para 48). He rejected the Article 10 point and, further, rejected an appeal to Article 9 on the grounds that, on the facts, it added nothing to Article 10.

So back to the drawing-board…

Canon law, schools admission and the state (continued)

Earlier this year we reported that on 28 August 2013, under section 88H(4) School Standards and Framework Act 1998, the Office of the Schools Adjudicator partially upheld the British Humanist Association’s objection to the admission arrangements for the London Oratory School determined by the Board of Governors for the London Oratory School Trust, hereIn addition, the adjudicator held that in relation section 88I(5) of the Act, there were matters within the determination that did not conform with the requirements relating to admission arrangements, and under the School Admissions Code, the admission authority was required to revise its admission arrangements as quickly as possible.

However, on 24 January 2014 the BHA reported that “government’s lawyers have demanded that the decision is quashed”, as a result of “an arguable error in that determination of no material consequence”.  At issue is the “Catholic service criterion” within the admission criteria, which was found by the OSA to break the Schools Admissions Code in three different ways: it was deemed to be unfair; it constitutes financial or practical support for the Church; and it prioritizes children on the basis of their own or their parents’ past or current hobbies or activities (paragraph 1.9i).  However, in relation to the last criterion, faith schools “may take account of religious activities, as laid out by the body or person representing the religion or religious denomination”.

The August decision of the adjudicator stated “[t]he diocese… has published guidance to schools on admissions and this is where I would expect to see such religious activities laid out if they are to be [permitted]”, but added “[h]owever, the guidance is silent on this matter”.  In September, the OSA’s decision was challenged by the London Oratory School with particular reference to the ‘Catholic service criterion’.

Following failed mediation with the Department for Education, the Treasury Solicitor is reported to have declared that as the diocesan guidance is not silent on the matter, there is an arguable error of law, and the entire decision must be quashed and re-considered.  The BHA notes that the parties could have sought a declaration from the court that this one portion of the decision is in error, but the other parties were unwilling to accept this option.

 At the time of writing, only the BHA report was available. More detailed comment will be made when information from the OSA/Department of Education is published.

Religion and Law round-up – 26th January

Face-veils in criminal trials

On Wednesday The Guardian carried a Press Association report that HHJ Peter Murphy had warned the jurors in the trial of Rebekah and Matthias Dawson for witness intimidation that they should not be influenced by the fact that Ms Dawson was appearing in the dock in a niqab veil:

“Rebekah Dawson is fully entitled to dress in any way she chooses. If you have any feelings about that put them aside because they have nothing to do with the case”.

However, he reiterated his ruling in September (in D(R), R v [2013] EW Misc 13 (CC) about which we posted at the time) that though she could stand trial wearing a full-face veil she would have to remove it while giving evidence:

“I have not done that arbitrarily, I have done this because of this – that courts have known for many, many, years, indeed centuries, that when a jury is evaluating evidence a witness gives it is important for them to see the witness as well as listening. In other words, you have to see the demeanour of the witness and reactions to the questions being asked”.

We note in passing that reporting restrictions appear to have been lifted. Various publications broke the news of her identity in September when HHJ Murphy made his original ruling: we didn’t.

Parliamentary Bills Update

Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill 2013-14: The Lords Report stage continued on 22 January (day 4), with a discussion on compensation for miscarriages of justice. The need for a clear definition, or test, before compensation is made, was discussed in relation to the requirement for ‘a new or newly discovered fact’, proving innocence beyond all reasonable doubt.  An amendment to adjust the test, awarding compensation in cases where evidence ‘is so undermined that no conviction should be based on it’, was taken to a vote. Members voted 245 in favour and 222 against of the change.  The Lords’ Third Reading is scheduled for 27 January.

Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill 2013-14: The House of Commons considered the Lords Amendments on 22 January 2014 here and here. MPs overturned the Lords’ bid to include special advisers on the register by 311 to 258, although they supported a government compromise without a vote. Likewise, the Lords amendment on staffing costs was overturned by 310 to 278, and MPs decided by 314 to 274 to reject the Lords amendment on constituency-level spending limits for third parties, which be limited to activity directly targeting people in a given constituency. The Bill returns to the Lords for further consideration during the ping-pong exchanges between the two Houses

Care Bill [HL] 2013-14: At the Eighth Sitting of the Public Bill Committee on 21 January 2014, after a lengthy discussion it voted to remove Clause 48, as expected.  The next meeting of the Public Bill Committee will take place on 28 January 2014, and is scheduled to report to the House by 4 February 2014.

European Union (Referendum) Bill 2013-14: During the Lords committee stage of the European Union (Referendum) Bill on 24 January 2014, peers passed the amendment of Lord Armstrong of Ilminster (CB) by 245 votes to 158 on the wording of any proposed referendum by the end of 2017. As a consequence the Bill must now return to the House of Commons for further consideration and, if the Commons disagree to the Lords amendment it will have to be sent yet again to the Lords in order for the Lords to consider the Commons disagreement. There is only limited time available for the debate of this bill, and the additional time required has reduced significantly the possibility of the Private Member’s Bill completing its parliamentary stages, here.

New publication on protections for religious rights

OUP has announced the publication of The Protections for Religious Rights: Law and Practice, co-authored by Sir James Dingemans (Queen’s Bench Division), Can Yeginsu (4 New Square), Tom Cross (11 King’s Bench Walk) and Hafsah Masood (3 Hare Court).

OUP says that it is the first practitioner work to offer a full and systematic treatment of the law as it pertains to religious rights in the UK and abroad. It examines the applicable legal instruments, considers the current state of the law, and reviews domestic, comparative, and international case law to provide a comprehensive reference resource that informs on all matters of significance in this area:

“The protections for religious rights in the UK are rooted in international law and the English common law. Religious conflicts have arisen when communities have perceived that their religious rights have been targeted for suppression, or ignored. Despite international human rights instruments which are intended to protect such rights, many courts have adopted a narrow and restrictive approach towards these aspects”.

The book includes chapters on employment, education, family, and goods and services and includes a global treatment of legislation and authorities, drawing on expertise from the United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia, India, Ireland, New Zealand, and Turkey. The final chapter addresses other areas which engage protections for religious rights: places of worship, criminal law, planning, charitable status, prisons, immigration, and animal rights. There is an appendix of selected materials for easy reference to relevant extracts from international treaties, constitutions and domestic statutes. It is available in hard copy for £125 and for download as an e-book from Amazon for £87.50.

Religious beliefs and political affiliations

In advance of its “God and Government Conference” on 15 March 2014, the Christian think-tank Theos has published a report “Voting and Values in Britain: Does religion count?” in which it examines the political affiliations of Anglicans, Roman Catholics, other Christians, those from other religions and of no religion, and whether the level of people’s religious commitment makes a  difference. The BBC reports the report’s findings as Church of England still ‘Tory Party at prayer’, although it is reassuring to know that “socio-economic factors are still the dominant theme when it comes to voting”.

The report found that “nominal Anglicans” have historically tended to vote Labour, though this changed for the first time in the 2010 election; those who attend Catholic services either frequently or infrequently have usually supported the Labour Party; Nonconformist Christians such as Methodist and United Reformed worshippers are more fluid in their voting intentions; in 2010, Muslims favoured Labour, while the Jewish vote went to the Conservatives; Hindus tended to support Labour, while Sikhs were evenly split between the two main parties; and Buddhists disproportionately voted for the Liberal Democrats at the last election.  However, the analysis of the voting patterns for non-Christian religions is more difficult on account of the smaller sample sizes.

Meetings in Wales on women in the episcopate

The Church in Wales has announced that during January and February, the C in W Bishops are to hold a number of open meetings in each of the six Welsh dioceses to consult on the code for ordaining women as bishops. As part of September’s legislation to ordain women to the episcopate, the Bishops are required to to draw up a Code of Practice to ensure that all members of the Church, including those with conscientious objections to the decision, continued to feel accepted and valued in it. Although the date has passed for written submissions to the consultation, members have this further opportunity to have their say on what provisions that code should include. These meetings will be followed by a discussion at the Church’s Governing Body meeting in April.

Further details on the Code are described in a post by Ancient Briton which notes

“The Bill proposed by the bishops … was successfully amended by the  Archdeacon of Llandaff, the Ven Peggy Jackson, and the Reverend Canon Jenny Wigley …. [substituting] a voluntary code of practice for the statutory provisions contained in the bishops’ bill. Details can be found here along with the Select Committee’s recommendations.”

Land: registration of manorial rights

Further to the short Westminster Hall debate on Manorial Rights (England and Wales), [15 Jan 2014 : c 329WH], a Commons Library Standard Note has been published Land: registration of manorial rights – SN06803. The Note

“provides information about manorial rights over land in England and Wales and recent changes that have affected the ability of individuals to exercise these rights … [and] provides links to guidance for affected property owners provided by the Land Registry”.

With regard to the procedures for registering rights, the Note relies heavily upon the quasi-law guidance produced by the Land Registry:  Registrations and notices about mines and minerals, chancel repairs and manorial rights Public Guide 25, and A customer guide to disputed applicationsPublic Guide 26 – both of which provide detailed practical guidance on this area.

In addition to the WH debate, the Note summarizes a parliamentary written answer [HC Deb 10 October 2013 Col 367W], although other than explaining the status quo, neither give any ministerial assurances on changes to the legislation in this area.

Opposite-sex civil partnerships?

Perhaps not. We noted that on 23 January 2014, the Government Equalities Office at Department for Culture, Media & Sport published the promised Consultation on the future of civil partnership in England and Wales. We also noted that, from the tone of the introduction by Helen Grant, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Equalities, (which stressed that the contents were not Government policy proposals but, rather, “ideas for changing civil partnership which others have suggested” the Government does not seem at all enthusiastic about changing the present law.

And finally… rules for Twitter

The Telegraph reports that the Diocese of Bath & Wells has produced a set of “nine commandments” for Twitterati, of which Rule 1 is to think before you tweet: “Before posting always think: Is this my story to share? Would I want my mum to read this? Would I want God to read this?”. So:

  1. Don’t rush in
  2. Remember updates are transient yet permanent.
  3. You’re an ambassador for the Church.
  4. Don’t hide behind anonymity.
  5. Think about the blurring of public/private life boundaries.
  6. Safeguarding: communicating directly online is like meeting someone in private.
  7. Stay within the legal framework.
  8. Respect confidentiality.
  9. Be mindful of your own security.

All of which looks remarkably sensible to us and could be applied equally to making comments on other people’s blogs or, indeed, to writing our own posts. As regular readers will be aware, we feel particularly strongly about anonymity: but the basic rule must simply be, “please be nice to each other”.

Civil Partnership, Opposite-Sex Couples Consultation

In our post Civil partnerships, the ECHR and discrimination between same-sex and opposite-sex couples we suggested that in view of recent decisions at the ECtHR, the DCMS should expedite its consultation on the introduction of opposite-sex civil partnerships in England and Wales, as required by section 15 of the Marriage (same Sex Couples) Act 2013. This states

15. Review of civil partnership

(1) The Secretary of State must arrange

(a) for the operation and future of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 in England and Wales to be reviewed, and

(b) for a report on the outcome of the review to be produced and published.

(2) Subsection (1) does not prevent the review from also dealing with other matters relating to civil partnership.

(3) The arrangements made by the Secretary of State must provide for the review to begin as soon as practicable and include a full public consultation.

Consultation

On 23 January 2014, the Government Equalities Office, Department for Culture, Media & Sport published the Consultation on the future of civil partnership in England and Wales. The government’s reluctance at the inclusion of section 15 within the Act is echoed in the introductory statement of Helen Grant MP, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Equalities

“These measures are not Government policy proposals – they are ideas for changing civil partnership which others have suggested. We will carefully consider responses alongside other evidence in deciding the future of civil partnership in England and Wales”,

and in the statement on the Impact Assessment,

“None of the potential changes to civil partnership described in this consultation paper are currently Government proposals and an impact assessment has not been prepared on them at this stage. Costs and benefits will be assessed as part of the review and an impact assessment will accompany any subsequent consultation on any specific proposals that follow it,”

which the cynical might view as an early hint of a “get-out clause”.

The closing date is 17 April 2014, and those wishing to respond should: complete the online survey; or complete a response form and either: email to: civilpartnershipreview@geo.gsi.gov.uk or send to: Civil Partnership Review consultation responses, Government Equalities Office/DCMS, 4th Floor, 100 Parliament Street, London, SW1A 2BQ.

The GEO/DCMS Consultation on caste discrimination  – another policy imposed contrary to government policy – is expected “in February or March 2014”.

Clause 48 Care Bill, the HRA and the Church

The Care Bill completed its House of Lords stages on 29 October 2013 and was presented to the Commons on 30 October 2013. Its second reading debate in the House of Commons was on 16 December 2013, and it is currently with the Public Bill Committee. The 8th sitting of will be on Tuesday 21 January, at which clause 48 will be discussed.

Clause 48 addresses a lacuna in the provision of care services identified in YL v Birmingham City Council and Others [2007] UKHL 27, which arose from the absence of a definition of those bodies deemed to be undertaking public functions under Section 6 of the Human Rights Act. This states:

6 Acts of public authorities.

(1) It is unlawful for a public authority to act in a way which is incompatible with a Convention right.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to an act if—

(a) as the result of one or more provisions of primary legislation, the authority could not have acted differently; or

(b) in the case of one or more provisions of, or made under, primary legislation which cannot be read or given effect in a way which is compatible with the Convention rights, the authority was acting so as to give effect to or enforce those provisions.

(3) In this section “public authority” includes—

(a) a court or tribunal, and

(b) any person certain of whose functions are functions of a public nature,

but does not include either House of Parliament or a person exercising functions in connection with proceedings in Parliament.

Although partially addressed through  section 45 Health and Social Care Act 2008, protection under HRA 1998 is still restricted to those whose care is arranged under the National Assistance Act 1948. There is therefore a lack of protection under the HRA for self-funding care home residents and those using non-residential services.  This was considered by two select committees (House of Commons Joint Committee on Human Rights, 2004 and 2007) and was the subject of a (failed) Private Member’s Bill [1], but no little further progress was made until the insertion of clause 48 of the Care Bill by the House of Lords at Report stage. The text of Clause 48 closely follows the amendment tabled by Lord Low of Dalston, which was carried by 247 votes to 218 with cross-party support. Clause 48 received support from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, prior to its second reading.

The Explanatory Note to the Bill [2] states:

Public functions under the Human Rights Act 1998

Clause 48 – Provision of “care and support services”

280. Clause 48, which was inserted by a non-Government amendment during Report stage in the House of Lords, provides that providers of care and support are to be taken to be exercising a function of a public nature for the purposes of section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998. The effect of the clause is that all care and support providers who are regulated by the Care Quality Commission are required to act in a way which is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Department of Health believes that clause 48 is unnecessary because the present system is already aimed to make providers accountable to people receiving care, and people arranging their own care may also seek redress through their contract with their care provider or through the law if an offence were committed.  However, in her blog Lucy Series disputes this view and argues

“[t]he HRA offers remedies for issues which are not always easy to capture under tort law … issues like violations of ‘dignity’ or the imposition of excessively restrictive or controlling care regimes, issues like restricting contact with family or matters connected with privacy.  In some situations positive obligations to protect people from harm or death are stronger under the HRA than under the tort of negligence.  Contract only offers a remedy if you are a party to a contract, and when care is arranged by a public authority the service user will not be”

Nevertheless, Norman Lamb (LD), Minister of State at the Department of Health, has tabled an amendment to remove clause 48. Age UK has launched a petition for its retention and other organizations have urged members to write to their MPs.

Comment

It is evident from the two reports of the House of Commons Joint Committee on Human Rights that the meaning of public authority under the Human Rights Act has wider implication beyond that of the Care Bill.  The position of ministers and PCCs of the Church of England in this respect was examined in PCC of the Parish of Aston Cantlow and Wilmcote with Billesley, Warwickshire v Wallbank & Anor [2003] UKHL 37, and was considered in parliamentary debates in relation to civil partnerships and the marriage of same-sex couples.  The inclusion or exclusion of clause 48 is specific to the Care Bill context and is unlikely to have a direct impact on other areas. Nevertheless, it highlights an important aspect of the 1998 Human Rights Act that has long been acknowledged, but has yet to be resolved.


[1] Human Rights Act 1998 (Meaning of Public Authority) Bill, Bill 39, 2010, Session 2009-10.

[2] As it was brought from the House of Lords on 30 October 2013.

Bishop of Dover: interim episcopal oversight of Channel Islands

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued the following Press Release

Wednesday 22nd January 2014

The Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Trevor Willmott, is to assume interim episcopal oversight of the work of the Church of England in the Channel Islands on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, to whom the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, delegated the oversight of the Islands.

The interim arrangement, which has the fullest support of the Bishop of Winchester, will be in place within a matter of weeks. The reports commissioned by the Bishop of Winchester, being conducted by Dame Heather Steel and Bishop John Gladwin in relation to safeguarding issues, will be completed in due course.

The Bishop of Dover is a former Bishop of Basingstoke in the Diocese of Winchester, and therefore has significant knowledge of the Islands. He and the Bishop at Lambeth, the Rt Revd Nigel Stock, undertook a pastoral visit to the Channel Islands in December, during which they met local church leaders and Island authorities from both Deaneries.

The interim arrangement is also entirely separate from issues to do with the Islands’ formal relationship with the Church of England. The Archbishop intends to appoint a Commission to look at the relationship between the Islands, the Diocese of Winchester and the wider Church of England.

Comment

Points to note from the Press Release are: the Bishop of Dover’s episcopal oversight over the Channel Islands will not commence immediately, but “within a matter of weeks”; the reports commissioned by the Bishop of Winchester, being conducted by Dame Heather Steel and Bishop John Gladwin in relation to safeguarding issues, will be “completed in due course”, but no indication is given regarding their publication; the Archbishop’s Commission to look at the relationship between the Islands, (i.e. not just Jersey), the Diocese of Winchester and the wider Church of England.

Postscript

A copy of the pastoral letter to the clergy of the Diocese of Winchester announcing the delegation of jurisdiction over Jersey by the Bishop of Winchester to the Archbishop of Canterbury is published here.