Ecclesiastical Committee Two-Hundred and Twenty-Fifth Report

H. Section 3—Guidance

89.  Section 3 requires the House of Bishops to issue guidance from time to time on:

  • the exercise by a minister of his or her functions under section 1(8) or 1(9); and
  • the exercise by an authority with power to grant common licences of the functions under section 1(8) as applied to common licences by section 2.

As explained in paragraphs 80 and 87 above, sections 1(8) and 2 require the minister or authority to have regard to the guidance under section 3 in exercising those functions.

90.  The section was inserted into the Measure by the Revision Committee in response to the concerns referred to in paragraph 79 above. Its object is to ensure that the House provides essentially practical guidance about what information it is appropriate for a minister (or a person issuing a common licence) to accept as satisfying him or her as to the existence of a qualifying connection (and, in the case of marriage following publication of banns, about the circumstances in which the minister should ask for a statutory declaration under section 1(9)). It is intended that the guidance will be made widely available, for example on the Church of England website, so that it will also assist couples by helping them to know in advance what kind of information they will need to provide.


91.  In addition to inserting section 3 into the Measure, the Revision Committee considered but rejected the possibility of a wider provision giving the House of Bishops power to issue guidance as to the implementation of the Measure generally. The Committee was satisfied that such a provision was unnecessary, as the House could issue guidance on specific topics if it wished without the need for an express provision in the Measure, and there was no reason to think that there would be any need for guidance by the House on the implementation of the Measure as a whole.

92.  The Synod likewise rejected a proposal to require the House to issue a full Code of Practice on the exercise of the functions under section 1(8) and (9), subject to approval by the Synod. The Synod accepted that this procedure was unnecessarily elaborate, and would take up unnecessary resources in terms of finance and staff time, given the essentially practical nature of the guidance and the very limited range of matters within section 3.

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