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Chapter 1: Introduction

1. The last decade has seen important legislation relating to the Church of England, in particular two major pieces of legislation relating to cathedrals. These were the Care of Cathedrals Measure 1990 and the Cathedrals Measure 1999 . Neither of these included the Royal Peculiars, which are not cathedrals and which have independent status, in that they are not subject to diocesan structures but only to Her Majesty The Queen. A third major piece of legislation, the draft Clergy Discipline Measure, and the related amending Canon, which potentially affect all clergy, are not yet law. Here again, the clergy in Royal Peculiars were excluded from this Measure's predecessor, the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1963.
2. The history of Westminster Abbey and St. George's Chapel, Windsor, has set them apart legally from the main jurisdiction of the Church of England, and more recently from legislation which has been enacted by the General Synod and approved by Parliament. The status of the Chapels Royal is different again, and equally distinct. There are two reasons why this continued separation has been questioned, and which lie behind the present Review.
3. In the first place it seems increasingly anomalous, notwithstanding their direct accountability to The Queen, that such great institutions as Westminster Abbey and St. George's Chapel, Windsor, with their immense importance for the national life, should remain exempt from the degree of scrutiny and accountability which is now extended to cathedrals. Heritage and Renewal (1994), the report of the Archbishops' Commission on Cathedrals, chaired by Lady Howe, is a valuable study of 42 cathedrals which discusses many areas of activity in which the Royal Peculiars can be usefully compared with them, while still allowing for their important differences.(1) That Report led in due course to the Cathedrals Measure 1999, which is now being put into practice. The fact that Westminster Abbey in particular was not included in the Measure gave rise to question, even though the Abbey's role and governance make it distinct from the cathedrals included in the remit of the Archbishops' Commission. An appeal to the Visitor and subsequent judgement after the dismissal of the Abbey Organist in 1998 attracted much media coverage and hostile comment still continues. It is not our task, nor would it be appropriate, to revisit those events. Nevertheless it is clearly timely to ask how far it might now be appropriate to apply the recommendations of the Howe Commission to the Royal Peculiars, and in what aspects their cases justify continued separate treatment.(2)
4. In the second place, it may be argued that isolation from the procedures now in place for comparable institutions is unhelpful to the institutions themselves. A considerable amount of expertise has by now been accumulated in relation to good practice in the many areas with which these bodies must be concerned, and much of it is the subject of lively and useful debate.(3) It can only be beneficial for the institutions themselves to be more fully drawn into the discussion, and to share in formulating the outcomes.
5. In that it refers to cathedrals, which are subject to their diocesan bishop, it would not have been appropriate to include the Royal Peculiars in the legislation mentioned above as it stands. However the arguments for initiating a review to cover the Royal Peculiars in question have been accepted by the Deans themselves. They therefore themselves petitioned Her Majesty The Queen to commission this Report, which is presented to The Queen through the Lord Chancellor, and on the basis of which any necessary action may be taken.

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