1.        On 3 July the Government published a Green Paper, The Governance of Britain. It contained a wide range of proposals for constitutional renewal.  Paragraphs 57 to 66 (copy attached at Annex A) signalled the Government’s wish for some change in the role that Ministers and civil servants play in relation to some Church appointments.

2.        In particular, the Green Paper proposed that the Prime Minister should no longer use the royal prerogative to exercise choice in recommending appointments in senior ecclesiastical posts.  In consequence, the Church would in future be asked to forward one name for the Prime Minister to convey to the Queen in relation to diocesan bishop appointments.  The Government also committed itself to discussing with the Church how changes could be made in relation to cathedral, parish and other Crown appointments (excluding those to the Royal Peculiars) so that the Prime Minister no longer played an active role in the selection of individual candidates.

3.        The scheduled General Synod debate on 9 July on the Pilling Report, Talent and Calling, provided the opportunity for the Church to give an initial response to the Government’s proposals.  Attached at Annex B is a copy of the motion that the Synod passed by 297 votes to 1.

4.        The Synod noted that there would now need to be a process of discussion both within the Church and between the Church and the Government in order to develop new arrangements that would command a wide measure of support.  It invited us to report back to the Synod in February.

5.        The purpose of this document is to set out some thoughts on a possible way forward and to invite comments from around the Church. The time-scale is necessarily challenging. Those wishing to respond to this consultation document are asked to do so not later than Friday, 7 December, preferably by emailing or by sending written comments to Dr Colin Podmore at Church House, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3AZ (

What will and will not change

6.        In the Green Paper the Government reaffirmed its commitment to the establishment of the Church of England, the position of the Sovereign as Supreme Governor, and the relationship between the Church and State.  Diocesan bishops, suffragan bishops, a number of cathedral deans and canons and many parochial incumbents, as well as some other office holders, will continue to be appointed by the Crown.

7.        The only proposed reduction in the Crown’s right to appoint comes from the Pilling Report (section 8.8) and concerns those posts which are not normally in the gift of the Crown but currently become so in the relatively unusual circumstances of the vacancy (a) having been created by the office holder becoming a diocesan bishop or (b) having arisen while there is a vacancy in the episcopal see which normally has the right to appoint.  Synod’s endorsement of the Pilling recommendations means that, with the agreement of the Crown, these small changes can be made when a suitable legislative opportunity arises.

8.        What will be different as a result of the Green Paper is that:

Some general considerations

9.    Many of the questions to be resolved are quite specific and may even appear somewhat technical. The underlying issues are, however, important. They touch on how, under God, we can establish processes that give us the best prospect of selecting the right people for positions of responsibility in His Church.

10.  There are two general areas that seem to us merit further reflection.  The first concerns the nature of establishment and the continuing relationship between the Church and State.  The changes envisaged in the Green Paper mark a further evolution in the long history of the Church’s relationship with the State. Up to now the active role of the Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary in Church appointments has meant that the post has necessarily been filled by a communicant Anglican. The post holder has, in addition, played a significant role in advising the Prime Minister on issues affecting the churches and other faiths more generally. 

11.  Given both the importance of faith issues to public policy and the role that the established Church will continue to play in promoting local community cohesion, we shall want to discuss with Her Majesty’s Government how effective links can be maintained between the Church and the heart of Government.  

12.  In considering new, practical arrangements the Church will need to be clear whether it wishes the Crown’s advisers to make any contribution other than a purely formal one to its appointment processes.  It is clearly right that the bishops and senior cathedral staff of the established Church should continue to be appointed with an eye to their role not only within the Church but also in the wider community. The Church could take the view that it could secure this itself by undertaking its own listening and consultation in the wider community. 

13.  Alternatively Church and State could decide that there would be value in an advisory role for someone appointed by the Crown, perhaps after consultation with us, who would have a responsibility for ensuring that the wider ‘public voice’ was heard in the Church’s process for some or all of these Crown appointments. Such a person would also be able to safeguard the interest of the Crown that the arrangements be properly conducted.

14. The second area concerns the balance to be struck between uniformity and diversity and the opportunity that the new arrangements provide for the Church to take a more synoptic overview of the talent available for all of its senior appointments.  The Pilling report recommended a number of ways in which the Church could raise its game. The ending of an active role for the Prime Minister’s office in selecting candidates makes it possible to go further and create a more integrated set of arrangements for Church appointments processes.

15.  A sensible objective might be to aim for such streamlining as will achieve a measure of simplification and clarity without producing a uniformity that squeezes out flexibility or threatens the ‘biodiversity’ of the Church. It will also be important that new arrangements respect the present pattern of relationships, developed over a long period, between bishops, parishes, cathedrals and the national Church.


16. In terms of practical arrangements somewhat different issues arise in relation to the four main categories of appointment. It will be simplest therefore to take each of them in turn.  They are:

(1)   Archbishops and diocesan bishops

17. In relation to the archbishops and other diocesan bishops, recommendations will continue to be made by the Crown Nominations Commission, which will continue to have 14 voting members (16 for the appointment of the Archbishop of Canterbury, 15 for the Archbishop of York).  It will need to be decided whether the Commission should, as now, identify two appointable candidates.

18. There is a case for this, given the practical difficulties of trying to reconvene the Commission within a reasonable period in the event of the preferred choice being unwilling or unable to accept the appointment.  Whether or not two names are identified, the chair of the CNC will, however, in future, submit only the first to the Prime Minister. This change of process will require a small change to the Synod standing orders.

19. The key issue, as discussed in paragraphs 11 and 12, concerns how the present functions carried out by the Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary should in future be discharged.  Clearly there will, as a minimum, be a continuing need for some capacity within Whitehall for handling the formal stages of the appointments process once the recommendation from the CNC has been sent to the Prime Minister.  How the practical arrangements should be handled in future between the Queen’s agreement to an appointment and its public announcement is something that will require further discussion between the Church and the Government. The present division of labour between our Appointments Secretary and the Prime Minister’s will need to be reviewed as part of this.

20.  The most significant choices concern the role that the Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary currently plays alongside ours before the CNC has come to a decision. This includes setting up the public consultations at the beginning of the process, contributing to the production of a detailed memorandum of needs for the post and then participating, as a non-voting member, in the two meetings of the CNC.

21.  While we see no difficulty in our Appointments Secretary assuming the lead role in the management of the consultation process, the production of the statement of needs and the support of the CNC, we are clear that it would not be sensible or reasonable to expect her to conduct the range of consultations unassisted. This is work better done by two people bringing different perspectives to bear. We also see advantage in the CNC itself continuing to have direct input from a non-voting member who understands public office in other settings and has the independence to be able to ask the uncomfortable questions. There are a number of ways in which these two needs could in future be met and we shall want to discuss possibilities further with Her Majesty’s Government.

22.  For completeness we note that nothing in the Green Paper necessitates any change in the present arrangement by which an independent person to chair the CNC to select a new Archbishop of Canterbury is chosen by the Prime Minister after consulting such persons or bodies as he thinks fit. 

(2) Suffragan Bishops

23.  The established convention for more than a century has been that the Prime Minister submits to the Queen the first of the two names submitted by the diocesan bishop, after consultation with the Archbishop, to fill a suffragan bishop vacancy.  The requirement to submit two names is statutory under the Suffragan Bishops Act 1534.

24.  Now that the Government has indicated that it wishes the Church to submit only one name for archbishop and diocesan bishop appointments it would be curious to continue to require two names to be submitted for suffragan appointments.  Moreover, the more developed and transparent procedures for selecting suffragan bishops that the Church itself has been developing – and will be developing further in the light of the Pilling Report – make it increasingly awkward and artificial to have to forward two names to the Prime Minister.

25.  When a suitable legislative opportunity presents itself, it is therefore proposed that the 1534 Act should be amended to remove the requirement for the submission of two names to the Crown.

(3) Cathedral appointments

26.  This is the area where the Green Paper necessitates the greatest level of procedural change and where there are, therefore, the most significant choices to be made.

27.  Of the 42 English cathedrals, 28 have their deans appointed by the Crown, 12 by the diocesan bishop, and two (Bradford and Sheffield) by independent trustees.  One of the 28 Crown Deans – the Dean of Christ Church – is also the head of an Oxford college. 

28.  Excluding those canonries that are currently suspended, there are 145 cathedral canonries, of which the diocesan bishop appoints 122 and 23 are Crown appointments.  Of these 23, six are special cases – three are academic canonries of Christ Church Oxford, another includes the post of Sub-Dean of Christ Church and two elsewhere are shared with archdeacon posts where the Crown has agreed that it will appoint the person chosen by the diocesan bishop. Thus there are 17 ‘normal’ canonries for which No 10 currently takes the lead role in the appointments process.

29.  Separate considerations apply in relation to the Crown canonries and the Crown deaneries.  It has long been recognised that the distribution of Crown canonries lacks any logic (for example it appoints none in 33 cathedrals but all in three others and all but one in four others).  It is also questionable whether it is generally helpful to have entirely different appointment processes in respect of different canons within the same cathedral chapter.

30.   We believe, therefore, that the most straightforward approach would be to secure agreement with the Crown that diocesan bishops should take the lead role, and follow the same procedures, in relation to those 17 ‘normal’ canonries that will remain Crown appointments as they already do for the more than 80% of cathedral canonries where they have the right to appoint. These processes should be consistent with the recommendations in chapter 7 of the Pilling Report. The bishop should also take the lead in relation to the appointment of the Sub-Dean of Christ Church, though there will need to be separate consultation with those most directly concerned about whether some variation to the normal procedures may be justified given that the post bears much of the responsibility for running the cathedral in view of the academic responsibilities of the Dean.

31.  In relation to deans the arguments are rather different. In the Synod debate it was suggested that use should be made of the opportunity created by the Green Paper for securing greater commonality of approach between appointments to Crown and non-Crown deaneries. Such an approach would go with the grain of the changes made in the 1990s to move away from the old clear-cut distinctions between two classes of cathedral, one with deans and one with provosts.

32.  This is not to underestimate the diversity that exists among our cathedrals and the great variations that exist in the challenges facing their deans. But much the same is true of our dioceses, which similarly vary greatly in size, history and the balance of their ministry but have their bishops appointed by a common process. The fact that the qualities and experience needed for particular posts vary greatly is not in itself an argument against having appointments processes that are broadly similar.

33.  We are, therefore, minded to propose new arrangements that will bring the arrangements for choosing Crown and non-Crown deans much more into line with each other. There will still be some differences. The 12 cathedrals to which the bishop appoints the dean are parish churches, and under the Patronage (Benefices) Measure 1986 two lay members of the Chapter have the same right of veto over appointments as parish representatives have in respect of the appointment of incumbents.  It would not be sensible to try and change that.

34.  Nevertheless, it would be entirely possible for bishops to agree a code of practice, whereby they committed themselves in relation to the non-Crown deaneries to follow a process largely modelled on the new arrangements for appointing the 27 Crown deans (some separate arrangement, acceptable to Oxford University, will continue to be needed for Christ Church).

35.  What then should these new arrangements for the Crown deaneries be? The central question is who should lead the process now that the Prime Minister’s Office is no longer to do so. This consultation exercise is likely to prompt a variety of views on this issue. To help shape the debate we offer the proposal that it should be the relevant diocesan bishop. A cathedral is the seat of the bishop, the place where the chair that symbolises his teaching ministry and authority – the ‘cathedra’ – is located.  A cathedral is of course much more than that – the mother church of the diocese, a centre of mission in and for the diocese, a place of engagement with the wider community. 

36.  It is, however, the relationship with the bishop that is the defining characteristic of a cathedral. As a matter of principle it seems to us questionable whether, with the Prime Minster’s Office no longer in the lead, anyone other than the diocesan bishop should oversee the process.

37.   It also seems to us right that as a minimum no recommendation should go to the Queen in relation to a Crown deanery which does not have the agreement of the relevant diocesan bishop. This will in effect be a formalising of what is already the convention, since, as the Pilling Report makes clear, the Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary aims now to reach agreement with the relevant diocesan bishop both on the short-list of candidates for a particular vacancy and on the order of preference in which they are to be put to the Prime Minister. While the diocesan bishop does not, formally, have a veto over the appointment, it is already almost inconceivable that the Crown would make an appointment to which a diocesan bishop was opposed. It would be curious to construct new arrangements that gave the bishop a lesser role.

38.  Giving the bishop the lead role and requiring his consent to any appointment does not necessarily mean, however, that he should have the only vote in relation to the selection of a cathedral dean. In the case of the 12 parish church cathedrals to which bishops appoint they already require the consent of two lay members of the Chapter, who fulfil the role that the parish representatives have in other appointments made under the Patronage (Benefices) Measure. We think there is a strong case in relation to the Crown deaneries for devising a process that will give an effective say to those other than the bishop who have a key stake in the effectiveness of the cathedral’s ministry. 

39.  What we, therefore, offer as a starting point for discussion – recognising that there are variants that may merit further consideration – is as follows.  When one of the 27 Crown deaneries is to become vacant the diocesan bishop should invite our Appointments Secretary to put the necessary steps in place for a selection process to begin. This will help ensure that, as now, there is a national focus of expertise in relation to the processes for making these appointments.  It will also mean that, as already happens, there is the opportunity for the Archbishop of the Province to be consulted about names that are likely to be on the shortlist and for our Appointments Secretary to offer guidance and information, both generally and on particular names.

40.  We believe that, as now, there will be value in continuing to consult locally on the needs of the cathedral with a view to producing a confidential memorandum that establishes the particular qualities, skills and experiences likely to be needed in the new dean if he or she is to meet the challenges that await. The consultation process should involve our Appointments Secretary and, as with diocesan bishop vacancies, a second person (see paragraph 21).

41.  Our Appointments Secretary would act as a non-voting adviser to the selection panel. As with CNCs we also see advantage in input from a non-voting member who understands public office in other settings and has the independence to be able to ask the difficult questions.  We believe that the panel should be kept small and suggest that the voting membership should be as follows:

                        The Bishop (in the chair)

                        A clergy or lay member elected by the bishop’s council of the diocese

                        A lay member of the cathedral chapter, chosen by the chapter

                        A second lay member from the cathedral chapter or the cathedral council

                        A clergy member with experience of cathedral ministry.

42. On some of these, some more detailed commentary may be helpful:

43.  Decisions would be taken by a majority vote of the five voting members. This would be subject to the proviso that the majority must always include the diocesan bishop. In the case of the 12 cathedrals of which the bishop is patron, it would also be subject to the proviso that the majority must include the two lay chapter members appointed under the Patronage (Benefices) Measure, and a similar proviso would be needed in the case of St Albans.

44.  It will, we think, be sensible and useful for a number of the recommendations of the Pilling Report concerning the appointment of deans by bishops (pages 68-69) to be adopted for Crown and non-Crown appointments in future. The key points are:

45.  The Pilling report also recommended in relation to parish church cathedrals that the Bishop, working with the appointing group, should draw up a role specification and person specification, with the draft then discussed with his senior staff. A final version would be submitted to the Bishop’s Council for endorsement. In the event of disagreement, the Bishop would finalize the role specification and person specification. Under the new arrangements that we propose it would be important for the role and person specification to be owned by the selection panel after production of the confidential memorandum on the needs of the cathedral and not just by the bishop. 

46.  The Pilling Report also included the following recommendation, endorsed by the General Synod in July 2007, in respect of the Deaneries of Bradford and Sheffield, which are in the patronage of Simeon’s Trustees (Bradford) and Simeon’s Trustees and the Sheffield Church Burgesses Trust alternately (Sheffield):

‘34.            We have considered carefully the responses of Simeon’s Trustees and the Sheffield Church Burgesses Trust to the proposal we put to them. Although we respect the genuine convictions reflected in their letters and are grateful for their thorough examination of the proposal, we remain persuaded that it would be better for the trusts to agree formally to include the bishop in the patronage arrangements in each case, as set out in para. 9.4.6. The publication of our report will give them and others an opportunity to reflect or reflect further on the issues of perception that we have identified. The possibility remains that the trusts might wish to reconsider their position if, as a result, it became clear that there would be a general welcome for the proposal in para. 9.4.6.’

47.  If the arrangements proposed above are adopted for the 39 English cathedrals concerned, it is hoped that those concerned will reflect on what consequences that should have for the processes for appointing the Deans of Bradford and Sheffield.

(4) Parochial and other appointments

48.  There are a number of Church appointments – the Dean of the Arches, the Master of the Temple, some Church Commissioners, members of the Churches Conservation Trust, the Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved, and others – that fall to the Crown and are not Royal Peculiars.  The consequences of the Green Paper for these appointments processes will be the subject of discussion between the Church and the Government.

49.  The single largest category of work undertaken by the Prime Minister’s Appointments Office concerns the more than 650 parish posts that are Crown Appointments.  Over 200 of these involve submissions by the Prime Minister to the Queen and more than 450 are determined, on behalf of the Crown, by the Lord Chancellor.  Staff support for this work is provided from within No 10, principally by the Assistant Secretary for Appointments who is involved almost full-time on this and some cathedrals work.

50.  In deciding how these parochial appointments should be made in future it is important to see them in the context of parochial patronage more generally in the Church of England.  It is this dimension which makes these appointments rather different from those in respect of bishops and cathedral clergy.  Crown patronage, including the Lord Chancellor’s patronage, for parishes is merely one part of a complex pattern of patronage, which continues to play an important part in the ‘mixed economy’ of the Church of England.

51.  The significance of patronage has evolved considerably down the years. Until recent times it was a highly contested subject. But since the Patronage (Benefice) Measure of 1986, which for most parishes gave two elected parish representatives the right of veto over individual appointments, there has been much more of a spirit of partnership between parishes, bishops and, where they exist, other patrons, since the consent of each is required before an appointment can proceed.

52.  Most of the 1986 Measure, including the right of veto for the parish representatives, does not, however, apply to any Crown patronage (or to livings in the gift of Her Majesty in right of her Duchy of Lancaster and livings in the gift of the Duke of Cornwall). This represents about 8% of all parochial appointments.

53.  This Crown exemption sits uneasily with the principles set out in the Green Paper. We believe, therefore, that the most important change that needs to be made in relation to Crown parochial patronage is to amend the 1986 Measure so that parish representatives have the same rights in relation to Crown appointments as they do where the patronage is held by the Diocesan Bishop (just under 50%), a patronage society, an Oxbridge college, or one of the many other private patrons.  This would probably be most conveniently done in the same legislative vehicle used for the changes noted in paragraphs 7 and 25 above.

54.  If the law is changed, it becomes a much less significant issue who should support the Crown in the exercise of this parochial patronage. This is one of the issues that we shall need to include in our discussions with Her Majesty’s Government about the future of the work currently carried out by the Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary and his colleagues. From the Church’s perspective, it would not be problematic for the staff work, including responding on behalf of the patron to proposals for pastoral reorganisation, to continue to be undertaken by Crown servants, just as other patrons are responsible for carrying out the work in relation to their own responsibilities. Alternatively, it would be open to the Government to ask the Church to take on this additional work.  If so there would obviously be a question how it was to be resourced. 


55.  In summary, therefore, views are sought on:

i.      the general considerations that the Church should keep in mind in helping to develop new processes in the light of the Green paper and the Synod motion (para 9-15);

ii.      the nature of the Crown’s future involvement in the Church’s selection processes for senior Crown appointments (para 12-13 and 17-21);

iii.      whether the requirement under the Suffragan Bishops Act 1534 to submit two names to the Crown should be repealed (para 23-25);

iv.      whether in relation to the 18 non-academic Crown cathedral canonries the diocesan bishop should in future take the lead role (para 28-30);

v.      the new process for selecting the deaneries in the gift of the Crown and whether the process for selecting non-Crown deans should in future be arranged along similar lines (para 31-47);

vi.      whether the Patronage (Benefice) Measure 1986 should be amended to remove the present Crown exemption from the normal requirements concerning parochial appointments (para 51-53).

X ROWAN CANTUAR:                                                                 X SENTAMU EBOR:

8 October 2007

Annex A

The Governance of Britain | 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

The Government’s role in ecclesiastical, judicial and public appointments

Appointments in the Church of England

57.       The Church of England is by law established as the Church in England and the Monarch is its Supreme Governor.  The Government remains committed to this position.

58.            Because The Queen acts on the advice of Ministers, the Prime Minister as her First Minister has a role in advising The Queen on certain appointments within the Church.  Diocesan and Suffragan Bishops, as well as 28 Cathedral Deans, a small number of Cathedral Canons, some 200 parish priests and a number of other post-holders in the Church of England are appointed by The Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister.

59.       In the case of Archbishops and Diocesan Bishops, reflecting the agreement reached between the Church and the State in 1976, the Crown Nominations Commission (formerly the Crown Appointments Commission) passes two names to the Prime Minister, usually in order of preference, who may recommend either of them to The Queen, or reject both and ask for further nominations.  The Crown Nominations Commission is a Church-based body, with the Archbishop of Canterbury as Chair and the Archbishop of York as Vice-Chair.  However, the Prime Minister’s Secretary for Appointments is an ex-officio and non-voting member.  The chair of the Crown Nominations Commission is taken by the Archbishop in whose province the vacancy has arisen.

60.       For the appointment of Suffragan Bishops the relevant Diocesan Bishop is required by law to submit two names to the Crown.  These are passed to the Prime Minister by the Archbishop of the Province concerned with a supportive letter.  It has been the convention for more than a century that the Prime Minister advises the Monarch to nominate the person named first in the petition. 

61.       In the case of Deans appointed by the Crown, it is the practice for the Prime Minister to commend a name to the Queen, chosen from a shortlist provided by the Prime Minister’s Secretary for Appointments and agreed with the Diocesan Bishop, and following consultations with the Cathedral, Bishop, Archbishop of the province concerned and others as appropriate.  (The aim is to reach agreement with the Bishop on the preferred order of the list.)  In the case of the Crown canonries and parishes, following consultations led by the Downing Street Appointments Secretariat, the Prime Minister recommends the appointment to The Queen. 

The Governance of Britain | 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

62.       In considering the role which the Prime Minister and the Government should play in Church appointments, the Government is guided by four principles:

63.       To reflect the principle that, where possible, the Prime Minster should not have an active role in the selection of individual candidates, for diocesan bishoprics the Prime Minister proposes that from now on he should ask the Crown Nominations Commission to put only one name to him, a recommendation he would then convey to The Queen.  The Government will discuss with the Church any necessary consequential changes to procedures.  The current convention for appointing Suffragan Bishops will continue. 

64.       The Government respects and understands the different arrangements for Cathedral, parish and other Crown appointments in the Church.  Developing any new arrangements for such appointments will require a process of constructive engagement between the Government and the Church, and the Government is committed to ensuring a productive dialogue.  The Government is aware that a Church review of certain senior appointments, including Cathedral appointments, is to be debated by General Synod later this month; it hopes that this will be a good starting point for that dialogue.  Until new arrangements are agreed, the Secretary for Appointments will continue to assist as appropriate. 

The Governance of Britain | 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

65.       These changes would also have implications for the Lord Chancellor’s patronage of some 450 parishes and a small number of canonries.  It would be sensible for any changes agreed to the procedures for Crown patronage to be also agreed for the Lord Chancellor’s patronage.

66.       No changes are proposed to Crown appointments to the Royal Peculiars such as Westminster Abbey and St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, reflecting the personal nature of the relationship of these institutions with the Monarch.  Current conventions will continue.


TALENT AND CALLING: Report of the Senior Church Appointments Review Group (GS 1650)

            ‘That this Synod, noting that proposals in the Government’s Green Paper of 3 July (attached to GS 1650A) will necessitate further discussion with the Church:

(a)   welcome the prospect of the Church achieving the “decisive voice in the appointment of bishops” for which Synod voted in 1974;

(b)  affirm its willingness for the Church to have the decisive voice in the selection of cathedral deans and canons appointed by the Crown, given the Prime Minister’s commitment to a “process of constructive engagement between the Government and the Church” (The Governance of Britain Green Paper, CM7170);

(c)  invite the Archbishops, in consultation with the Archbishops’ Council and the House of Bishops, to oversee the necessary consequential discussions with the Government and to report to the February group of sessions, including on the implications for those matters covered by chapter 8 of GS 1650; and

(d)  subject to the above, endorse the recommendations in chapter 10 of GS 1650, invite those responsible to give effect to them and invite the Archbishops’ Council to report to Synod during 2008 on progress with implementation.’