The General Synod decides on key issues in the life of the national Church of England, ranging from legislative and policy decisions to more routine matters.
The Synod is given power by Parliament to pass ‘Measures’ which, on approval by Parliament, become part of the law of the land. General Synod also has a strong interest in current affairs and social issues.
General Synod is elected every five years by a system of proportional representation. It is made up of three Houses: Bishops, Clergy and Laity with a maximum total number of members of 467. The House of Bishops includes all diocesan bishops plus seven suffragan (or assistant) bishops. In addition to clergy elected from the dioceses, the House of Clergy also includes cathedral deans, a representative of prison chaplains and clergy employed in the universities. The House of Laity is composed chiefly of lay people elected from the dioceses. General Synod meets two or three times a year in London or York.