HC Deb 19 June 1978 vol 952 cc28-9
27. Mr. Stephen Ross

asked the hon. Member for Kingswood, as representing the Church Commissioners, what proposals the Church Commissioners have in mind for the future preservation of St. Thomas's Church, Ryde, Isle of Wight and its churchyard.

Mr. Terry Walker (Second Church Estates Commissioner)

St. Thomas's Church was declared redundant under the provisions of the Pastoral Measure with effect from 1st August 1977. Since then the Portsmouth Diocesan Redundant Churches Uses Committee and the Church Commissioners have encouraged local proposals for using the redundant building for community and cultural purposes and the churchyard as a public open space. It is hoped that a trust will be established to take over the church, while the Medina Borough Council is interested in acquiring the churchyard.

Mr. Ross

Is the hon. Member aware that over 20 years ago, in the will of the late G. R. Brigstock, a sum of £12,000 was left with the Church Society Trust for the maintenance of this building? That will was the subject of a High Court action and an order in 1972 that the money should be spent as directed, since when not a penny has been forthcoming. Will the hon. Member please put some pressure on the Church Commissioners and on the Church Society Trust to make sure that that money is made available to the local trust, and that the building, which has suffered from severe vandalism in the intervening period, be now restored as was originally intended by the owners?

Mr. Walker

The difficulty is that the Commissioners' function is limited to steps required to implement the procedures under the Pastoral Measure. It is not for the Commissioners to attempt to influence the Church Society Trust or to take action on enforcement of court orders; they have no standing in that matter at all. The Church Society Trust has made clear that it does not intend to apply the legacy in repairing St. Thomas's Church. But, if the hon. Gentleman feels that it will be helpful, the officials of the Church Commissioners and I will be pleased to discuss the matter with him and to give him the benefit of the hereditary position, which we have in great detail.