On Wednesday March 11th St Mary's Eaton Bray will be hosting an open meeting of Dunstable Deanery Synod at which we will welcome Andrew Selous, MP for South West Bedfordshire, which includes Eaton Bray. He has recently been appointed the Second Church Estates Commissioner. There are three Church Estates Commissioners, the Second of whom is by convention a member of parliament selected from the governing party. They must also be a confirmed lay member of the Church of England. The Commissioner's primary parliamentary role is to answer oral and written questions from MPs about Church of England matters. The commissioner is an important link between the Government and the Church of England which is the established church in England. As such, the Church Commissioners are accountable to parliament.
The Second Church Estates Commissioner handles correspondence from MPs, parishioners and others on a range of church affairs and is often asked to comment on church matters by the press. He is supported in this role by the Parliamentary Unit and other relevant staff based at Church House in Westminster. He also plays an important advisory and advocacy role for other Church of England bodies in their contact with Government and with MPs about legislative issues affecting the wider church.
Prime Ministers' Questions is the famous example of a dedicated question time in Parliament but there is also a Second Church Estates Commissioner question time. Questions from MPs to the Church Commissioners takes place on the floor of the House of Commons once every four weeks when the House is sitting. The allotted time of fifteen minutes for questions is shared with representatives of other (non-Church) bodies that are accountable to parliament. The Second Church Estates Commissioner also answers formal written questions tabled by MPs. These can be on a range of issues related to the Church Commissioners' responsibilities for its nationwide ministry and its important role in maintaining the heritage of church and cathedral buildings.
The Church of England's own governing body, the General Synod has three houses: the house of Bishops, the house of clergy and the house of laity. The clergy and laity are comprised of elected representatives from each of the 42 dioceses of the Church of England. The Second Church Estates Commissioner is a Governor of the Church Commissioners and is an ex-officio member of the General Synod. He is also an ex-officio member of the General Synod's Legislative Committee, which conveys draft legislation from the General Synod to Parliament. His role there involves advising Synod officers on the handling of the Church's relationships with Parliament. He is also a member of Parliament's Ecclesiastical Committee, the joint committee of both Houses that scrutinises draft legislation, and has responsibility for steering the legislation through the House of Commons (in the Lords this is done by the bishops). The 'steering' process also involves liaison with the House authorities to ensure smooth and timely passage of the legislation.
Andrew Selous will be coming to talk about his work in this important role. All are welcome at the meeting in St Mary's which will begin with tea and biscuits at 7.30pm ready for an 8pm start.
Joy (Vicar of Eaton Bray with Edlesborough)
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About the Vicar's Letter
The Vicar's Letter has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002.
The Rev. Peter Graham also used to publish The Vicar's Letter in the parish magazine of 1964. Please see the Vicar's Letter area for these.