Select Committee on Constitutional Affairs Written Evidence

Evidence submitted by Revd John Masding, The Council of the English Clergy Association

  The Council of the English Clergy Association met last week and I regret that we were unable to give a view or comment earlier during the public discussion about the role of the Lord Chancellor. We take, in fact, the position propounded in his published oral evidence by Lord Mackay of Clashfern.

  So far as the ecclesiastical remit is concerned, and patronage of livings in particular, we would take the view that the Livings for which the Lord Chancellor has been responsible should, if and when the Office is done away with, be dealt with by the Prime Minister in the same way as other Crown Livings. Should that option not be preferred by Her Majesty's Government, then we should like to see the Livings in the hands of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge or of the existing private Patronage Societies. We do not think the Livings should go to the Bishops, or Archbishops, as their share is now already very large indeed, and variety in diocesan Church life is somewhat compromised thereby. As a final resort, we would suggest Livings, were the Patronage disposed of, go in each case to a Patronage Board made up of a representative of the Patron of each and every contiguous Living, except the Bishop, or the nearest Living in non-episcopal hands. This sounds complicated, but could be made to work satisfactorily enough. Our over-riding principle is the maintenance of a proper breadth of diversity in the Church of England.

  Perhaps I should say that the English Clergy Association was founded in 1938, and so we are not entirely without accumulated experience in Church politics.

John Masding

The Council of the English Clergy Association

17 November 2003

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