§ 26. Mr. Chapman
asked the hon. Member for Wokingham, as representing the Church Commissioners, what is his response to those parts of the House of Commons Environment Committee's report on historic buildings which relate to the responsibilities of the Church Commissioners.
§ The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Representing the Church Commissioners (Sir William van Straubenzee)
The commissioners welcome the references to redundant churches and the ecclesiastical exemption, which directly concern them. I know that the General Synod's working party on state aid for churches in use will be especially heartened by what the committee has recommended in relation to VAT on repairs.
§ Mr. Chapman
I welcome my hon. Friend's reply. Will he encourage his fellow commissioners to urge the deans of our cathedrals to accept that if they expect public money to help with the repair and maintenance of our glorious ecclesiastical architectural heritage, they must play their part in seeking more voluntary funds in the form of entrance fees from the millions of people who visit our cathedrals?
§ Sir William van Straubenzee
I must make it clear that the commissioners have no direct responsibility for cathedrals. Speaking as an individual, I find it entirely acceptable when visiting cathedrals abroad to make a contribution to go in. There are a number of places in this country, such as St. George's at Windsor, where it has been entirely proper, right and accepted for many years that those going in, other than for services or to pray, should pay to do so.