Church warned over reform proposals

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The Independent Online
A Conservative MP who acts as the Church's liaison with the Commons told the Synod that reforming the Church's structure might lead to disestablishment and loss of much of its assets, writes Andrew Brown.

In the debate on the Turnbull Commission's proposals to streamline and centralise decision-making bodies, Michael Alison, MP for Selby, said: "Synod must weigh seriously the effect that the proposals within the White Paper will have on the existing church-state links. Disestablishment should not happen by stealth, by accident, or by inadvertence on our part."

The Turnbull Commission proposed that the Church Commissioners be reduced from 95 to 15 and lose most of their responsibilities. They are notionally answerable to Parliament and Mr Alison, as Second Church Estates Commissioner, answers questions on their behalf. A third of the commissioners' original assets came from the Crown. "I cannot imagine a Turnbull measure being debated . . . without this sensitive issue being raised."

The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Michael Turnbull, who chaired the commission,said he had consulted widely with Parliament.

The synod voted not to postpone debate on the Turnbull Commission's report but to ask for draft legislation to be prepared in time for its next meeting in July.

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