Ecclesiastical Committee Two-Hundred and Twenty-Fifth Report


1.  As explained in paragraphs 53-61, the Revision Committee and the Synod considered a number of proposals for types of criteria other than those which now appear in section 1(3) of the Measure but which in some individual cases would give rise to a genuine connection with the parish. However, they accepted that the best course would be to leave these individual instances to be dealt with by the Special Licence procedure.

2.  For example, the Measure as originally drafted made it a qualifying connection to show that the person concerned had attended a school in the parish. However:

  • the Revision Committee recognised that some schools had a much closer connection with the parish church and its clergy than others, and that in some cases there was no real connection at all. The Committee concluded that it would be very difficult if not impossible to draft a provision in the Measure which distinguished accurately between different categories of schools in order to include those where there was a genuine connection and exclude those where there was not;
  • If attendance at a school in the parish were made a qualifying connection, the Revision Committee agreed that it would be very difficult to find a logical reason for not treating attendance at a college or university in the parish in the same way; and
  • the Revision Committee was satisfied that where the person concerned had attended a school in the parish, and that school as a body, including the person concerned, had regularly attended public worship in the parish church, say, three times a year (for example at the seasons of Christmas, Easter and Harvest), the person concerned could claim a qualifying connection under the provision relating to habitual attendance at public worship, and without the need for any special provision relating to schools.

3.  Given these factors, the Revision Committee decided that the best course would be to delete the provision regarding schools in the parish, and to leave those individual cases where there was a genuine connection with the parish or at least the parish clergy through attendance at the school, but where the person concerned could not bring him- or herself within one of the other qualifying connections, to be dealt with on a one-off basis under the Special Licence procedure.

4.  The Revision Committee and the full Synod also rejected a proposal that if one of the couple had a suitable connection with any parish in a particular deanery, the couple should have the right to marry in any parish of their choice in the deanery. This was seen as much too wide, as undesirable in principle because it would undermine the parochial basis for the qualifications for marriage in the Church of England, which the Measure was intended to uphold, and as unsatisfactory in practice because of the risk of an undesirable concentration of marriages in those churches in the deanery which were particularly attractive or near to attractive venues for receptions.

5.  The Revision Committee also considered whether, as proposed in the draft Measure as introduced into the Synod, past entry on the church electoral roll should be a qualifying connection. As regards this, it was pointed out that the Church Representation Rules, which govern church electoral rolls, provide for a new roll to be prepared every 6 years, and for the current roll to be brought up to date as necessary during the 6 years of its life. However, they do not require a parish to keep copies or any kind of record of the roll as it stood at any given time in the past.

6.  The Revision Committee recognised that it would create practical problems if entry on the roll at some time in the past was to be a qualifying connection. In particular, the person seeking to rely on the Measure could well expect the parish to have its own record of who was on the roll at any given date in the past and be annoyed and frustrated to find that it did not. This would not only place the parish priest in a difficult position but would tend to frustrate the whole object of the Measure. The Revision Committee attempted to draw up a set of provisions to fill the lacuna but they were necessarily lengthy and complex and could not be made retrospective in effect.

7.  As a result, the Revision Committee decided to delete the provisions relating to the church electoral roll, on the basis that, given the Church Representation Rules as they are, any attempt to retain those provisions would make the Measure unacceptably complicated.

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