Select Committee on Treasury Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by the Methodist Church

  The Methodist Church would like to submit the following brief evidence to the Treasury Committee's Inquiry into the 2001 Census.

  During the census we had a number of enquiries from Methodist ministers who had difficulties in completing the census form.

  The problems arose from the unusual employment status of Methodist ministers. They are self-employed, but come under the authority of the Methodist Church's governing body, the annual Conference, and are incorporated into the Church's connexional structures.

  The particular questions with which we had difficulty were:

Question 26—How many people work for your employer at the place where you work?

  Ministers are self-employed, so the answer could be one plus any lay workers who are based at their church. However, they are officially stationed not to churches but to Circuits (roughly equivalent to an Anglican Deanery) where they will work with a number of ministerial colleagues who are also technically self-employed, and lay people who are employees of local Methodist churches. Finally they work alongside 1950 other ministers or deacons as part of the organisation which is the Methodist Church. Any of these answers could logically apply.

Question 29—Do you supervise any other employees?

  Again ministers are self-employed, but work within a structure where Circuit Superintendents have responsibility within that circuit, and District Chairs have responsibility for ministers within that District (roughly equivalent to a Diocese).

Question 32—What is the full name of the organisation you work for in your main job?

  Is this the name of the local church, circuit, or the Methodist Church nationally?

  Clearly it makes sense for all Methodist ministers to answer the census questions consistently, so we took a view on each of these questions and suggested answers to ministers who approached us. However, we were unable to be certain that we had correctly interpreted the intentions of the Office of National Statistics.

  We cannot believe that our ministers are the only people in this complex position. In future years we hope that the ONS might be able to offer advice over interpretation to large organisations such as churches in advance of the census.

  I hope that this information will be helpful.

30 October 2001

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