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
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
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.
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.
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
General Synod, Commissioners' Committees and other Church
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.