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Synod: PCCs and property

21 November 2014

MOVING the final drafting of the Draft Church of England Ecclesiastical Property Measure, the Archdeacon of Tonbridge, the Ven. Clive Mansell (Rochester), who chairs the steering committee, ex- plained that the title of the Measure had been changed to omit the words "Church of England".

The final-drafting stage was accepted without debate. Moving final approval, Archdeacon Mansell said that the draft Measure "does not exactly reflect" the original private member's motion that led to the Measure, because of "the Archbishops' Council view of where the balance should be struck" be- tween "desirable deregulation of PCCs' activities and ensuring that transactions are carried out in accordance with the law".

The Measure amends the Parochial Church Council (Powers) Measure 1956 and the Incumbents and Churchwardens (Trusts) Measure 1964, to reduce the involvement of the diocese in property transactions carried out by PCCs and charitable trusts with incumbents and churchwardens as trustees.

"The proposals contained in the Measure retain the requirement for the title to the property to be vested in the diocesan authority, but will remove the need for the authority's consent in any case in which the consideration paid on the transaction falls below a threshold specified in an Order made by the Archbishops' Council," the Archdeacon said.

The Measure would "reduce the reams of paperwork" that parishes had to deal with, Julie Dziegiel (Oxford) said; but she warned that parishes would "still need legal advice by practitioners experienced in property and ecclesiastical law". She was concerned that some dioceses might cease to offer such legal advice, and called on them to maintain a list of suitable professionals.

In answer to Adrian Greenwood (Southwark), Archdeacon Mansell confirmed that beneficial ownership would remain with the PCCs, and said that there was "some way to go yet" before the Archbishops' Council discussed the rate. He suggested that there might be different rates in different geographic areas.

The Measure was given final approval: Bishops: 20 in favour, none against, no recorded abstentions; Clergy: 75 in favour, none against, no recorded abstentions; Laity: 90 in favour, none against, one recorded abstention.

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