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General Synod digest: Business Committee apologises for seat-allocation error

16 July 2021
GEOFF CRAWFORD/CHURCH TIMES

Synod members enter the chamber in Church House, Westminster, during the last in-person meeting in February 2020

Synod members enter the chamber in Church House, Westminster, during the last in-person meeting in February 2020

THE Business Committee apologised for an error over the allocation of seats for the 2021 General Synod elections. In a debate on Saturday morning, the chair, Robert Hammond (Chelmsford), said that the error had been in the application of the method by which fractions of seats were dealt with in the division of the total number of seats between the dioceses.

The error involved the incorrect exclusion of those who had been provisionally allocated the minimum three seats from the subsequent part of the process that allocated the balance of seats after minimum allocation requirements had been met.

The divisor method had now been applied again, correctly, with the result that fewer dioceses that would previously have been allocated three seats should now be allocated four. The impact on some meant a larger seat allocation. The error had led to 14 changes, affecting 11 dioceses. They would receive a revised set of allocations.

David Lamming (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) called for an external check on the calculation. He wondered whether dioceses had been asked to confirm electoral numbers before the April debate, as there were figures in round numbers, indicative of estimates. Canon Andrew Dotchin (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) said that, as parishes, “If we don’t fill out our forms, we should not expect to be represented. We shouldn’t put the onus on Synod because we haven’t done our homework.”

Peter Bruinvels (Guildford) did not consider that an external audit was needed; but confidence was needed that the system was correct. David Robilliard (Channel Islands) confirmed that the Channel Islands did not count within the figures of any diocese. Each of the islands of Guernsey and Jersey formed special constituencies.

The motion was carried by 265 to two, with 18 recorded abstentions. It read:

That the resolution passed by the Synod as item 13 at the February 2020 group of sessions (General Synod elections 2020: allocation of seats) and amended by item 9 at the April 2021 group of sessions (General Synod Elections 2020: allocation of seats amendment resolution) be amended by substituting for it the following: 

1) The total number of proctors in Convocation to be directly elected from the dioceses in each Province in 2021 is 129 for the Province of Canterbury and 56 for the Province of York with the proportion of directly elected proctors to the number of qualified electors in the dioceses being determined as 129 : 8,885 in the case of the Province of Canterbury and 55 : 2,886 in the case of the Province of York, the numbers to be elected for each diocese being those set out at Appendix A of GS 2214.

2) The total number of members of the House of Laity to be directly elected in 2021 is 193, apportioned between the Provinces in the proportion that is as close as possible to 70 to 30, so that 135 members are to be elected in the Province of Canterbury and 58 members elected in the Province of York, the numbers to be elected for each diocese being those set out at Appendix B of GS 2214.

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