Report of the Standing Committee

It will be recalled that at the 1969 Central Council meeting at St. Albans it was resolved that the Standing Committee should examine the constitution and procedural working of the Council. During the past year the Committee has been engaged in this examination.

Shortly after the meeting at St. Albans, the Honorary Secretary invited all ringers, whether members of the Central Council or not, to let him know their views on the matters under discussion. A number of ringers accepted the invitation and made various suggestions as to how they thought the workings of the Central Council could be improved

A meeting of the Standing Committee was held at Leicester on 29th November, 1969 at which the letters sent in by ringers were considered and the whole problem discussed at length. (A report of this meeting appeared in "The Ringing World" of 9th January.) The outcome of the meeting was that three sub-committees were appointed to consider and make recommendations on aspects of the Central Council activities. Their terms of reference, which were of a general nature, and the membership of them was as follows:-

Aims, Objects and Procedures -
R. F. B. Speed
W. F. Moreton
B. D. Threlfall

Membership -
Mrs. E. A. Barnett
P. A. Corby
T. J. Lock

Finance -
D. Beresford
F. C. Price
W. G. Wilson

The reports of the sub-committees were considered at a meeting of the Standing Committee held at Leicester on 21st March 1970. The reports were discussed at length and adopted with few modifications.

The stage has now been reached when the Standing Committee considers that it can suggest to the Council certain principles on which the constitution and procedural working of the Council could be altered for the better. To implement its Ideas certain matters would have to be examined further in detail but the Standing Committee thinks that its proposals should now be considered by the Council as a whole, to approve, amend, or reject the principles enumerated below as it thinks fit. In the event of the Committee's proposals being either approved or amended, details would be worked out and submitted to the Council in a further report.

The following, then, are the recommendations of the Standing Committee for the amendment of the constitution and procedural workings of the Council. The approval of the Council of these recommendations is sought before the Committee carries out the further detailed investigations which would be necessary.


  1. General

    The only terms of reference we received in writing are given in our title. This has given us freedom to discuss matters that are perhaps none of our business and the opportunity to sketch out what we hope might develop into a coherent scheme for a more dynamic and outward-looking organisation than exists at present. If we have trespassed on the preserves of others, we apologise.

    The line of attack has been to consider first what the Council is trying to achieve, then design a structure to fulfil these aims, and finally some procedures to make the best use of this structure.

    Much of what we propose has already been discussed. The committee structure however was not considered at Leicester and a number of changes are proposed to rationalise what is, at present, a rather ad hoc arrangement.

    It is worth noting that there are three different kinds of committee:

    1. those operating on a continuous basis like the Ringing World Committee

    2. those providing a service like the Towers and Belfries Committee

    3. those providing an output on request, or at regular intervals, like the Records Committee. Although names are not important in themselves, they create an impression, and it will be necessary to modify the titles of committees in order to bring out these differences. For the purpose of this report familiar names are used where possible.

  2. Aims and Objects of the Central Council

    2.1 To represent all ringers to national bodies and the world at large.

    2.2 To make available advice, assistance and information to ringers and ringing societies on all matters concerned with bells and bell-ringing.

    2.3 To bring together ringers to discuss matters of common interest.

    2.4 To recommend standards in change-ringing and for the ringing of peals.

    2.5 To record peals rung in compliance with these standards.

    2.6 To organise a scheme for financial assistance for churches with bells.

  3. Organisation

    3.1 The Council will elect its officers and committees and delegate authority to them as appropriate.

    3.2 The principal officers will be: President, Vice-President, Secretary.

    3.3 The Librarian: important as this post is, it is not concerned with the administration of the Council, and should not necessarily be reserved for some noted ringer we wish to honour.

    The library itself ought to be housed at some central location. We understand that the Goldsmith's Library and the National Central Library are prepared to handle specialist libraries and lend books by post.

    3.4 The Administrative Committee will be responsible for organising the meetings of the Council, coordinating the activities of other committees, and dealing with urgent matters between meetings of the Council. It should meet at least twice a year, once in the autumn to consider the form of the next Council meeting, and again in the early spring to finalise the details.

    3.5 The Ringing World Committee will have responsibilities as at present.

    3.6 The Public Relations Committee will be responsible for contacts with the Press and Broadcasting Organisations and will be concerned with improving the public image of ringing.

    3.7 The Education Committee will organise or assist associations to organise courses and lectures on ringing.

    3.8 The Publications Committee will ensure that suitable publications are available to further the aims of the Council, and where appropriate will be responsible for their distribution.

    3.9 The Towers and Belfries Committee, as mentioned above, differs from other committees in that it provides a service. The committee should be smaller than at present with the aim of coordinating requests for assistance and channelling these to consultants (who need not be members of the Council) in various parts of the country. Possibly an advisory panel of suitable consultants could be established.

    3.10 The Peal Composition, Methods and Records Committees would be unchanged. It is recommended that the work of the Peals Analysis Committee be discontinued as the Analysis is thought to have little value.

    3.11 We doubt if the Overseas Committee is worth preserving. The functions of the present Literature and Press Committee should be divided between the Librarian and the Public Relations Committee. The latter could have an Overseas Liaison Officer.

  4. Council Procedures

    4.1 General

    Suggestions made here are very tentative. Flexibility and experimentation are necessary with changes being brought in progressively. The writing of new rules is largely unnecessary and should be avoided until experience shows a need.

    The future composition of the Council is in other hands, but there seems little doubt that there must continue to be an elected body representing ringers both geographically and by background. This body will be the ultimate source of authority when policy decisions are required.

    4.2 Outside Contacts

    For the Council to wield any influence on bodies which may directly or indirectly affect bellringing, it must have established lines of communication.

    The bodies which come to mind are:

    (a) the Churches

    (b) Parliament

    (c) The Council for the Care of Churches

    (d) Architects

    doubtless there are others.

    Considering the Churches first: the established church is the most significant (others in Wales and Ireland) and we suggest that a small group wise in church organisation be set up to consider the best line to take at national, diocesan and local levels.

    In the case of Parliament it is necessary to keep a close watch on the drafting of bills which may affect ringers. Any personal contacts with M.P's may be valuable here.

    We consider that the Council has resources of expertise which the Council for the Care of Churches could well exploit. We hope the recent appointment of Mr. Sharpe to one of its sub-committees will further this.

    With Architects formal contact would be most desirable, if it can be achieved and no opportunity should be missed to enlighten them on bell mechanics and sound control by published articles and personal contact.

    4.3 Functions of Committees

    In the past many committees have been largely introverted; they only revealed their work via annual written reports and in some cases by technical publications.

    The basic function of the committees should be apparent in 3.4-3.10 above. In addition meetings should be organised at which the work of these committees can be described and discussed and papers presented. Non-members of the Council would be encouraged to participate and might be invited to make formal contributions.

    4.4 Meetings of the Council

    The elected Council would continue to meet once a year and would perform the following functions:

    (a) the election of officers, committees etc.

    (b) receive the reports of committees.

    (c) receive, if necessary, debate and accept the accounts.

    (d) debate matters of general interest.

    In our view the greeting by local dignitaries at the meeting should be abolished.

    We see no reason to alter the present three year period of each Council, providing, as it does, a reasonable compromise between the need for stability and the avoidance of stagnation.

    The formal meetings of the Council would be preceded by meetings to discuss technical matters as outlined in 4.3 above, and other matters of interest not covered by committees. Motions could be referred to these meetings for discussion and recommendations sent to the Council if a decision were required which would affect the Council's rulings.

    If necessary two such meetings could be held in parallel.

    If such meetings are successful, weekend symposia in a suitable range of topics might be considered at other times of the year.

    4.5 Organisation

    Considerable organisational problems arise if meetings on the pattern proposed above are to be successful. For example committees will have to produce their reports far in advance to enable the Administrative Committee, with the hosts of the year, to plan the programme of meetings. Also adequate notice would need to be given for non-members to decide to attend.

    How long the whole meeting should take is a matter for further consideration as is the best time of year.

    It has been suggested that the meeting be held in a college. This would have considerable organisational advantages, but we suspect it would not suit quite a number of members. In our opinion the experiment might be tried when an opportunity arises.

  5. Financial Assistance for Churches with Bells

    This proposal was scarcely discussed at Leicester. We believe this should be considered very seriously to see if a scheme can be devised where by loans can be provided to churches to assist on any work, connected with bells.



We are of the opinion that only minor changes are possible. We have assumed that the procedures of the Council will continue on the same lines as at present. If the Council recommends otherwise, we should need to reconsider the terms of membership in the light of any revised procedure that might be proposed.


The present basis of election of representative members is admittedly anomalous but we consider that any alternative is bound to be equally anomalous by virtue of the fact that the various guilds and associations who provide the representative members are not constituted in a uniform way. Some are related to geographical areas on a County basis and others on a diocesan basis so there is always bound to be overlapping.

The non-territorial associations represent a special case. Although they overlap the territorial associations they carry out good work and have a prominent place in the exercise.

Since no improved method of representation can be achieved, we recommend that no change be made.


In spite of criticism of a vague and general nature which has been expressed from time to time, we feel that the system of honorary membership has worked very well and should continue at the present level, provided they are generally elected for a specific task.


We think the automatic election of Life Members may result in an overlarge number and should be discontinued. This would require an alteration to Rule 7 by the omission of (i) (a). We further think that the majority in 7(b) should be amended to 4/5ths. In this way there should be ensured a certain scarcity value which would enhance the prestige of those lucky enough to become Life Members.

Election of Committees

In general we feel the committees should continue to be elected triennially. Terms of reference and status of the committees should be defined.


Various critics have suggested that the Council is too large although they appear to have no particular reason for saying so. Surely it must always be the norm that only a minority of members can speak at one meeting. The main work of the Council is through the various committees which work throughout the year, and the Annual Meeting can only be a rounding-up operation. Thus the average member contributes most by his actual presence at the meeting rather than by what he is likely to be able to contribute to the debate.


We think the fact of not having a Standing Committee meeting on the eve of the Council Meeting will have the effect of removing the feeling that everything is cut and dried. If, instead the Standing Committee meets at other times in the year, the present representation, particularly including as it does the convenors of the various committees is entirely logical and fully representative of the Council without being too cumbersome. Indeed, nothing but good can come from meetings of the kind we had at Leicester in November. We think, however, the rules should be altered so that rule 12(ii) should read

(a) The President, Vice-President and Honorary Secretary and Treasurer of the Council.

(b) The Conveners of Committees ex-officio.

(c) Twelve elected members (chosen by ballot if more than twelve names are proposed.)

The Committee shall have power to co-opt not more than two other members of the Council.

Note - we are leaving off past offices and auditors.



  1. No fixed terms of reference have been given to the Sub-Committee, and an attempt has therefore been made to review the whole subject of the Finances of the Council.

  2. The review could obviously only assume that the activities of the Council and therefore the demands on the Council's finances, would not change substantially following the current review of the Council's activities. If there are any such substantial changes these must be taken into account in assessing future financial requirements.


  1. Treasurer

    At the Annual Meeting next after each Triennial Election … an Honorary Secretary (who shall also act as Treasurer) … shall be elected from among the members to serve for three years.

  2. Auditors

    The Council shall triennially elect from amongst the members of the council two Auditors who shall audit and report on the Annual Accounts of the Council with power to employ the services of a professional Accountant at the expense of the Council to audit the whole or any particular part of the accounts of the Council.

  3. Vesting of Property

    The property funds and assets of the Council shall be vested in the President, Honorary Secretary and Honorary Librarian for the time being. They and shall have power to invest money and adopt such measures as seem to them necessary in the interests of the Council subject to the approval of the Council.

  4. Submission of Accounts

    At each Annual Meeting the Honorary Secretary and Treasurer shall submit the audited statement of accounts for the year to the previous 31 December and the Auditor's report for adoption by the meeting.


  1. Treasurer

    There is no rule to cover the appointment by the Council or the Ringing World Committee of a Treasurer to the Ringing World, or to define his responsibilities in relation to the Treasurer of the Central Council. It could be held that the continued appointment since the Council took over the paper during the war, first of Mr. A. A. Hughes and now of Mr. D. Hughes, has now the sanction of regular practice.

    The position of the Hon. Secretary/Treasurer is safeguarded by the fact that cheques payable out of the Ringing World funds are signed by both the Hon. Secretary and Mr. Hughes.

    It is recognised that it would be an undue burden on the Hon. Secretary if, in addition to his usual duties, he were required to be fully responsible also as Treasurer of the Ringing World. It is therefore considered that the current position should be regularized by the adoption of a rule allowing the Ringing World Committee to appoint a Treasurer. It is suggested that since it is necessary for very close co-operation between the R.W. Committee and its Treasurer, who is to all intents and purposes a member of the RW Committee it is more appropriate for the RW Committee to make this appointment than the Council. Any new rule could of course provide for maintaining the current practice of joint signature of cheque.

  2. Auditors

    In relation to the present rule, the current position is that the two Auditors appointed by the Council audit only the General Account, Publications Account and Clement Glenn Bequest Fund They do not audit the RW Account neither do they exercise their power to use a professional accountant to carry out this audit; the professional auditor of the RW Account is not employed by them and does not report to them. It seems to us that either the rule should be made to fit existing practice, or the practice should fit the rule. In this context it should perhaps also be pointed out that the RW auditor's report is made to the RW Committee and not to the Council, suggesting revision is required also of the rule regarding submission of accounts.

    It is considered that a new rule is necessary which would authorise:-

    (a) the Council to appoint auditors for all accounts of the Council except the Ringing World Accounts.

    (b) the RW Committee to appoint professional accountants to audit and report to them on their accounts, the Committee being responsible for payment for these professional services.

    It is highly desirable, indeed essential, that in negotiations with such bodies as the Inland Revenue over for example tax assessments, professionally certified figures should be available and the negotiations be conducted by professional advisers of the status, as is the current practice.

  3. Vesting of Property

    It is essential that the Secretary/Treasurer in taking investment decisions should have the flexibility of operation and power of decision to make or realize an investment at a particular point in time. It is generally impracticable for the Council or indeed the Standing Committee to be consulted beforehand. If the approval of the investment required by the rule on investment is post facto, it is merely rubber stamping, since disapproval would be too late without generally sustaining a financial penalty. It is recommended therefore that the rule should be amended in this particular, and the Secretary/Treasurer be empowered to make or realize investments after consultation, if the opportunity arises, with the President. We do not feel it necessary for the Librarian to be consulted on every occasion.

    The question of consultation with the RW Committee on investment of RW funds was raised at the last meeting of the Standing Committee. It is clear that in the case of investment of RW account funds, the needs of the RW Committee as to fluidity necessary at any particular time must be borne in mind, and in this they are advised by their auditor and can indicate views on the type of investment desirable at that time. It is suggested that the Standing Committee, in considering amendment of the rule on Vesting of Property should:-

    (a) consider deleting reference to the Librarian.

    (b) delete the proviso "subject to the approval of the Council."


    (c) add a qualification to the effect that "in the case of investments of RW funds, the RW Committee or its Convener shall if possible be consulted."


The Council has from time to time had advice from Mr. Cartwright as to the liability of members of the Council in respect of the Council's business. We have given considerable thought to this question and sought advice as to the advantages of the Council forming itself into a limited liability company or perhaps of the Ringing World Committee doing so. There would appear to be little necessity or reason at this stage for the Council to take this step, and no advantage in doing so, but the Standing Committee may wish to take further advice from Mr. Cartwright on this subject.

So far as the Ringing World Committee is concerned, the need for such action would appear to be to afford protection to members of the Council in the following cases:-

(a) if a libel action particularly if successful were to be taken against the Ringing World and its owners the Council in respect of matters appearing in the Ringing World.

(b) if the Ringing World were to become insolvent

(c) liability as an employer e.g. of the Ringing World editor.

In each of these instances we are advised that the risk virtually is non-existent. In the second case, the likelihood of the Ringing World losing as much as £1,000/year without remedial action being taken is we trust remote, and investments to the credit of the Ringing World Account currently stand at eleven times this figure, almost equivalent to one year's total expenditure. Incidentally a revised system of accounting has been introduced to give early warning of changes in the Ringing World financial position. Finally in the third case, the Ringing World Committee also insure against employers liability and this item is reviewed annually.

On the other hand we are advised that if the Ringing World were formed into a limited liability company, the tax position might well be several hundred pounds per annum less favourable, and therefore such a course of action could not be recommended.


It is of course obvious that any of the monies involved be it in the General Fund, Publications Account or Ringing World account is part of the overall funds of the Council. It is suggested however that each of these accounts should be capable of standing independently on its own feet - or figures. For example it is suggested that the general expenses of the Council should not be met by profits from its Publications Account. A number of instances have been revealed in which it appears the Ringing World subsidises certain expenses and it is felt that these should be eliminated or at least recognised. Thus the profits from publications would be included in a publications capital account which would provide for future publications. General Fund income if not adequate to meet the expenses of the Council should be increased as necessary.


The profit over the last five years on Council publications has averaged £80/year on sales averaging £430/year. The profit has been transferred annually to the General Fund Income and Expenditure Account towards the general expenses of the Council. As stated above it is felt that these profits should preferably be placed in a capital account for the benefit of future publications.

However in assessing this profit no account is taken of the cost of the advertisements in the Ringing World which at the cheap rate of two thirds the full rate for advertisements would cost £75/year. It should also be mentioned that a proportion of the profits deemed to be sold to purchasers not associated with the Council through affiliated Associations is taxable. The tax payable is negotiated with the Inland Revenue and the tax charged and the accountants fee is included in the Ringing World Account. We are informed that a suitable allocation of tax and fee between the two accounts can easily be made. Some years ago the Council decided that transfer of monies in this way was only a book transaction and recommended it should not be done. We feel this decision should be reviewed again, and feel it preferable that the accounts reflect the true state of affairs.


The income to this account has, been fairly uniform for the last five years varying only with the profit on publications. The subscription of 10/0d per representative member, which has remained unchanged since 1954, represents an income of £80-85/year or 50% of total income. No subscriptions are required in respect of honorary members.

The expenditure applicable to this account is really extremely low, and represents to a very large extent the honorary nature of much of the work done, and expenses borne by individual members of the Council as Officers or members of Committees. There are however a number or remarks we would like to make:-

Each year the Ringing World prints for the Council the Agenda and Minutes circulated to members, some of which have recently been charged to the Ringing World Account. It is felt that this charge should rightly be made to the General Fund, and it is recommended that this cost of about £25 advised to us should be transferred as indicated. In the interests of consistency too, advertisements by the Council should also be charged by the Ringing World for allocation to the General Fund.


It is suggested that serious thought be given to employment of the funds of this Bequest - out of a total investment income in the last six years of £135 only £73 has been used of which £39 for the Washington film has been recovered in hire charges for the film.


We understand that the financial arrangements within the Ringing World Office have recently been revised by the Ringing World Committee in accordance with professional advice received. We have not considered it necessary or even within the remit of the Standing Committee to investigate further this account.


As the Council is considering its whole function and purpose we thought it right to examine the cost to local Associations of holding Council Meetings in their area, so that possibly some idea of cost effectiveness of the Council can be formed. As a result of contacts with the three Associations who have in the past three years acted as hosts to the Council it would appear that where hire of halls, rooms and receptions are fully charged, the cost to the local associations is towards £200. Of this total approximately £100 can be regarded as absolutely essential to the holding of the Council Meeting. It would seem to us that there must be some reluctance on the part of smaller associations to incur this order of expenditure, and this possibly is the reason for the decline in the number of invitations to the Council. It is suggested that the Council should consider whether it should not more properly place its finances in such a position as to be able where necessary to meet the cost of this £100 essential expenditure, and not leave the local association this very large burden.


We have made certain proposals for consideration by the Standing Committee which will if accepted require revision of the rules and adjustment of the Council's finances. The finance sub-committee would be happy to study further any specific points raised and if required to assist in defining exact terms for such rules when decisions in principle have been made.

The principle suggestions made effect the Income and Expenditure Account of the General Fund. If accepted in their entirety the increase in income required would be:-

1To replace Publications profits£ 80
2To print Minutes and Agendas£ 25
3Essential expenditure on Meetings£100
Total increase in cost£205

This would require an increase in subscriptions from 10/0d per member to about 35/0d. assuming that the Council remains at its present size. Naturally such an increase should not be made in one step, but probably phased over a period of five years. It should perhaps be mentioned that alternatives to membership subscriptions were considered, the most notable possibility being a levy on association income. However it was felt that this would administratively be too cumbersome, and in any case the present system does allow the Associations the flexibility of deciding how much they are willing to spend on maintaining the Council by deciding within the membership rules how many members to elect to the Council. There may be other ways of dealing with this problem and the whole question needs further investigation.

A final point which could, merit further consideration is whether registration of the Central Council as of charitable status is possible. A refund of SET has recently been obtained by the Council in respect of the Ringing World in view of the nature of its activities. Since the Council has in 1969 paid towards £400 in tax mostly on Ringing World investment income received, success in this direction would be most welcome.

Vernon Bottomley
Hon. Secretary
On behalf of the Standing Committee

The Ringing World, May 1, 1970, pages 330 to 332

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