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Synod: Appointments

18 July 2014

THE appointment of a future Secretary General of the Archbishops' Council and Synod, and Clerk to the Synod, will no longer have to wait until a Synod meeting to be confirmed, after the Synod amended two of its standing orders.

In future, the appointment to such posts will be deemed to be confirmed by the Synod unless 40 members indicate that the appointment should be subject to a debate in the Synod.

Tom Sutcliffe (Southwark) moved a series of amendments seeking to reduce the number of members who had to request a debate to five, ten, and 20; but each of these was lost.

"I consider George Carey's reforms of General Synod to have led to an increase in managerialism and the blatant manipulation of, for instance, the previously reliable assumptions we could make about how private members' motions . . . would be dealt with," he said.

"The Carey era has taken us way back to pre-Civil War days in terms of the powers of bishops and archbishops, on all of whom immense extra responsibilities are now routinely laid, regardless of whether they have the ability or the time."

John Spence (Archbishops' Council), who chairs the Finance Committee, opposed the amendment. "If we are going to get people to do jobs to best effect, we want the best people. These people are not hanging like ripe apples on trees waiting to be plucked: we are in competition to get them."

He said that, in a recent recruitment process, "three-quarters of the shortlist withdrew because of other offers or pressures."

He said that the recruitment procedures required to obtain the best candidate "argues against any sort of synodical process"; but, he said, "far from tolerating Synod, those of us who are lay people on the Archbishops' Council recognise and welcome the supremacy of Synod, and the absolute necessity of having some sort of process there."

Geoffrey Tattersall  QC (Manchester), a member of the Standing Orders Committee, argued that 40 members was less than ten per cent of the Synod, and that even 20 members was "probably too low, because it needs to be quite a high hurdle".

The Synod rejected all of Mr Sutcliffe's amendments, and approved the changes to standing orders as proposed by the Standing Orders Committee.

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