HC Deb 12 March 1979 vol 964 cc28-30
32. Mr. Arthur Latham

asked the hon. Member for Kingswood, as representing the Church Commissioners, what is the current value of Lambeth Palace and its grounds; what proportion of the accommodation is used for residential purposes; to what other uses it is put; and whether there is any real or book income arising therefrom.

Mr. Terry Walker (Second Church Estates Commissioner)

It is not possible to put a meaningful value on Lambeth Palace, which is a grade I listed building in a conservation area and with grounds zoned for planning purposes as"open space ". Its annual value for rating purposes is £11,638. Within the palace and its associated buildings there are 22 units of residential accommodation, including the Archbishop's own 3-bed-roomed flat. The remaining accommodation comprises offices used by the Archbishop's official staff, the chapel and State rooms, and the Lambeth Palace library which has an international reputation and is open to students. Rents are obtained from eight of the residential units.

Mr. Latham

I am sure that the whole House was interested in my hon. Friend's revealing answer about Lambeth Palace. May I express my disappointment to my hon. Friend about the fact that from his answer I cannot calculate the value of the residential part of the palace in terms of tax free allowance? He may be able to write to me about that. In considering alternative use, has it been considered whether the palace might be a good centre for the low paid or a refuge for those suffering from excessive rent increases in my constituency? Finally, will he confirm that the Archbishop is not remote from, innocent of and ignorant of what hard-headed businessmen at Mill-bank are doing? Is it not a fact that he is the chairman of the board of governors of the Church Commissioners and is therefore responsible for excessive rent increases? Is it not the fact that the Archbishop has personally endorsed and condoned this example of greed by the Church?

Mr. Gow

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is not the Archbishop a Member of another place? Was not the supplementary question of the hon. Member for Paddington (Mr. Latham) an attack upon the Archbishop, and should it not be withdrawn?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow) is wrong. He suggests that it is out of order to cast any reflection upon a Member of another place or of this place. The hon. Member for Paddington (Mr. Latham) had to deal with the Church Commissioners.

Mr. Arthur Latham

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I said in the course of my supplementary question that the Archbishop was not remote and ignorant.

Mr. Stokes

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that most people believe that the Archibishop's historic residence is most suitable for him, and that most people hope that the hon. Member for Paddington (Mr. Latham) will cease his vendetta against the Archbishop?

Mr. Walker

As I have replied before to my hon. Friend the Member for Paddington (Mr. Latham) and to others, the commissioners seek a fair rent on residential properties and have special arrangements to deal with hardship cases. The Primate is the chairman of the Church Commissioners and, therefore, is kept fully informed, as are all Church Commissioners.

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