§ 25. Mr. Harry Greenway
To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, as representing the Church Commissioners, what facilities the Church Commissioners offer those on their payroll for contributions to private health schemes to be deducted from their salaries; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Michael Alison (Second Church Estates Commissioner, Representing Church Commissioners)
The Commissioners make such deductions for their staff if asked. They are ready to do the same for clergymen, but they are not aware of any widespread demand for this.
§ Mr. Greenway
Will the Church Commissioners give medical help and assistance to bishops and clergy with specific medical difficulties, including counselling them out of homosexuality where that is a problem, in view of last week's unsatisfactory decision in the Synod?
§ Mr. Alison
It is not strictly the Church Commissioners' responsibility to provide funds for medical treatment for clergy. However, my hon. Friend's point is less a matter of medical necessity and more one of the proper direction of the human will.
§ Mr. Frank Field
May I invite the right hon. Gentleman to return to the original question and ask whether he is aware that the Church Commissioners have distributed information about private health schemes with salary cheques? If so, what payment was made to them for that? I do not necessarily expect an answer now, but I would be grateful if the hon. Gentleman would write to me or provide a written answer.
§ Mr. Alison
I understand that in one diocese served by 240 clergy a circular was issued as part of a canvass to discover whether there was any interest in private medical schemes. Only 12 clergy expressed interest when canvassed, and only five eventually joined a preferential scheme. If my answer does not fully meet the hon. Gentleman's points, I will, of course, after studying the question, write to him.