Payments and contracts
The Secretary is the normal signatory or co-signatory on all payments (whether by cheque or electronically) made by the Corporation. The Secretary is also the principal point of contact with the Corporation’s professional advisers (solicitors, auditors, investment managers, architects, insurers etc). All professional appointments are reviewed on a regular basis and the Secretary is responsible for arranging such reviews, usually with an ad hoc working party appointed by the Trustees. The Secretary is directly involved in the negotiation of larger contracts for the provision of services or capital equipment and is usually involved in the final stage of negotiation of smaller contracts.
Contact with tenants and neighbours
The Secretary is the principal point of contact between the Corporation and the occupants of the building although the Facilities Manager deals with routine matters and is the Corporation’s member on various joint committees concerned with the operation of the building. The Secretary may attend the monthly Senior Management Group meeting of the Archbishops’ Council, chaired by its Secretary-General, and is always given the chance to raise matters about the building. The Secretary of the Church Commissioners has been nominated by the principal tenant group to be the normal point of contact between the National Church Institutions and the Secretary and regular meetings are held. There are of course frequent informal meetings with more senior members of the tenant organisations.
The Secretary is responsible, with professional help as required, for obtaining commercial tenants (currently there are five) of any space in Church House not required by the National Church Institutions, for negotiating the terms of the lease, and thereafter of maintaining contact with those contacts, although routine matters are handled by the Facilities Manager. There are also two residential apartments, originally intended as “tied accommodation” for the Secretary and the Secretary-General of the Archbishops’ Council, which are let on the open market. The Secretary is responsible for those although, again, most of the contact is with the Facilities Manager.
The Secretary is also the principal point of contact with neighbouring bodies (the Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey; the Head Master of Westminster School; the Headmaster of the Abbey Choir School; the Thorney Island Society etc); the distinction between the Corporation and the central Church bodies is often somewhat blurred in such contacts and the Secretary must be able to represent the Church to some extent. There are approximately quarterly meetings with the Receiver-General (the chief executive, in effect) of Westminster Abbey to keep each other abreast of developments and any points of friction.
The Secretary is responsible for the smooth conduct of the sessions of General Synod held at Church House and has a role in the opening of each session (there are normally two sessions daily). There are usually one, sometimes two, week-long groups of sessions at Church House each year, in February and November. The Secretary is not required to sit through all the debates but is expected to have a visible presence. Because of the availability of catering at Church House, the Secretary may be asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury or others holding senior posts within the Church of England to organise receptions or meals at other times of the year (e.g. when the leaders of foreign churches visit the Archbishop).
Church House Conference Centre
The Conference Centre is a wholly owned trading subsidiary, run by an independent board of directors, of whom the chairman and two other directors are non-executive and have no other connection with Church House. The Treasurer attends board meetings as a non-executive director. The Secretary is a director of the company. The Secretary is responsible for organising and servicing meetings of the board (normally four annually) and for preparing and circulating minutes afterwards; the Secretary is also responsible for lodging official documents with Companies House and other statutory bodies. The staff of the Centre are all employed by the Corporation and seconded to the subsidiary.
The Secretary is responsible for ensuring that the operations of the Conference Centre do not impede the running of the building for its Church occupants and is the arbiter (in consultation with others) as to the ethical suitability of clients wishing to organise conferences in the building (although this is rarely a problem).
Queen Victoria Clergy Fund
This Fund is a completely independent charity with no connection to the Corporation save that it has for many years awarded a management contract to the Corporation, after a competitive tender, to run the charity’s affairs. The management contract is reviewed every 5 years on the occasion of the election of new trustees.
The membership of the charity consists of one lay member of the General Synod from each diocese of the Church of England. They meet in an Annual General Meeting held at Church House in February each year. The Secretary is responsible for circulating the papers, servicing the meeting and producing the minutes.
The trustees are 7 people from the membership, elected by the membership to serve for five years. The Secretary is responsible for conducting the quinquennial elections.
The trustees meet twice a year, normally once in Church House and once in York, and the Secretary is responsible for preparing the agendas and supporting papers, attending the meetings, preparing the minutes and taking any action agreed at the meetings. The Secretary organises periodic reviews of the charity’s investment management advisers, auditors and legal advisers in conjunction with a small ad hoc working party of trustees.
The Chapel of Church House (which is used for regular internal services but is not a place of public worship) comes within the remit of the Corporation and the Secretary is responsible for the maintenance of the chapel and the provision of normal supplies; a team of four chaplains is appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to conduct worship, for which the Secretary is not responsible.