Role & Duties

Political Advice

The Second Church Estates Commissioner is a useful source of advice and guidance to the Church Commissioners and their staff in the furtherance of their mission, and has ensured fair representation of the Commissioners' work in Parliament. 

He/she also plays an important advisory and advocacy role for other Church of England bodies in their contact with Government and MPs about legislative issues affecting the wider Church.

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 Archbishops' Council's Communications Department, Parliamentary Unit and other relevant staff.

Parliamentary Questions

Church Commissioners' Questions 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.

Although originally limited to answering questions strictly on the business of the Church Commissioners, the increase in interest in Church affairs from MPs in recent years has led to a widening of the range of questions deemed to be 'in order' for reply. The Second Church Estates Commissioner now answers in relation to the Church Commissioners' wider trustee responsibilities, namely the management of their investment portfolio; their funding commitments for clergy pensions; the work of bishops and cathedrals; the support of parish ministry in areas of need and opportunity; and the administration of the legal framework for pastoral reorganisation and settling the future of unused church buildings. 

In recognition of the fact that these responsibilities are closely interwoven with the full range of the Church of England's activity - its nationwide ministry and the upkeep of its built heritage - the Second Commissioner also speaks more broadly to those areas when such matters are raised by MPs.

Church Legislation

The Second Commissioner is an ex-officio member of the General Synod's Legislative Committee. The Committee conveys draft legislation from the General Synod to the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament - of which he/she is also a member. 

The Second Commissioner's role on the Committee involves advising Synod officers on the handling of the Church's relationships with Parliament and on subsequently steering the Measures through the Commons (in the Lords this is done by the bishops who sit as Lords Spiritual).  As well as speaking to the Measures in parliament, the 'steering' process also involves liaison with the House authorities to ensure smooth and timely passage of the legislation.

General Synod, Commissioners' Committees and other Church Business

The Second Church Estates Commissioner is a Governor of the Church Commissioners and an ex-officio member of the Church of England General Synod. 

Although the Second Commissioner is an ex-officio member of the General Synod's Legislative Committee, he/she is not a member of any of the Commissioners' other committees. He/she is however entitled to attend and speak (but not vote) at any of their meetings, including the AGM.