HC Deb 28 April 1986 vol 96 cc653-4
22. Mr. Chapman

asked the hon. Member for Wokingham, as representing the Church Commissioners, what amount and proportion of the Church Commissioners' total revenue derives from income arising from its assets; and what total amounts and proportion of expenditure goes in support of stipends and pensions.

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

From total revenue of some £140.7 million in 1985, £93.5 million, or 66.5 per cent., arose from their own assets, the remainder from parish giving and other local sources. From total expenditure of £138 million, £112 million, or 81.2 per cent., was spent on clergy stipends and pensions.

Mr. Chapman

Notwithstanding the welcome increase in recent years in parish contributions towards stipends, does my hon. Friend agree that his answer underlines the simple fact that the improvement of clergy stipends and pensions depends greatly upon the Church's income from its assets? Therefore, it is in the interests of everybody that the Church should be encouraged to invest in land and property, the stock markets, and in all other ways.

Sir William van Straubenzee

That is true. It is immensely important that the investment portfolio should be well managed and that we should have a buoyant agriculture. Like many similar institutions, the Church benefits enormously when inflation is under control.

Mr. Frank Field

Should we not pay attention not so much to the Church Commissioners' portfolio, as to the amount that the laity gives? Is it not a matter of concern that as soon as a clergyman has children the family becomes eligible for family income supplement, and that those children are the largest single group to claim help under the assisted places scheme?

Sir William van Straubenzee

I cannot accept the hon. Gentleman's premise without first inquiring into the matter. However, I agree that there is a continuing duty to increase the laity's giving. That point is given constant attention by the joint committee charged with that task.