HC Deb 16 July 1984 vol 64 cc13-4
22. Mr. Chapman

asked the hon. Member for Wokingham, as representing the Church Commissioners, what proportion of the Church Commissioners' expenditure last year went to ministerial pay, including national insurance contributions and pensions and housing for the clergy.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Representing Church Commissioners (Sir William van Straubenzee)

Ninety per cent.

Mr. Chapman

That is a high figure, and I recognise that little expenditure of the Church Commissioners is on bureaucracy and administration. In the light of the appalling damage done to the south transept of York Minster, can my hon. Friend confirm that the Church Commissioners will use their good offices to ensure that our fine, ecclesiastical architectural heritage is properly insured against—if this is not too inappropriate a phrase—acts of God?

Mr. Speaker

Order. That question did not have a great deal to do with pensions, housing and ministerial pay of the clergy.

Sir William van Straubenzee

I am glad to say that the percentage of expenditure on administration is 6 per cent., which I think is acceptable. The Church Commissioners are not responsible for the sort of insurance mentioned by my hon. Friend. Any incumbent who now contemplates inviting the Bishop of Durham to preach will probably wish to look carefully at his insurance.

Mr. Peter Bruinvels

Has my hon. Friend seen an article in today's Daily Telegraph, entitled "Pay vicars by what their flock will produce", and relating to a report from the Institute of Economic Affairs? Does that idea have some sympathy and support within the Church Commissioners? Obviously, market forces may be helpful. The clergy, for instance, could publish figures about any increases in membership and this would directly affect their final salary.

Sir William van Straubenzee

I do not read the Daily Telegraph, but the article has been drawn to my attention. The essence of modern financing in the Church of England is that it is very much a responsibility of the laity. Therefore, I do not think that it is worth exploring the idea of paying clergy by results alone.

Mr. John Mark Taylor

In the context of the resources of the Church of England, can my hon. Friend give any encouragement to those of my constituents who would like a Church of England secondary school in Solihull?

Sir William van Straubenzee

I cannot answer the question on behalf of the Church Commissioners, because it is not their responsibility. If, personally, I can assist my hon. Friend in any way, :[hope that he will write to me.