HC Deb 20 February 1989 vol 147 cc705-6
26. Mr. Gow

To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, as representing the Church Commissioners, when he next intends to be present at a meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England.

Mr. Alison

I intend to be present at the next meeting of the General Synod which is scheduled for July of this year.

Mr. Gow

While recognising the undoubted right of all members of the General Synod to deeply held views for or against the policies of the present Government, would it be helpful if my right hon. Friend were to point out to the General Synod that its reputation would be enhanced if its members, when in Synod, devoted more time to matters spiritual than to matter political?

Mr. Alison

I certainly note what my hon. Friend says. He will know that there is a temptation in that lesser assembly to emulate the topics and methods of procedure of the greater assembly of which he and I are members. He will also know that the General Synod is a creature of Parliament and that it is fully in his hands, as a private Member, to introduce a Bill to abolish the General Synod of the Church of England if he so wishes.

Mr. Winnick

When the right hon. Gentleman attends the Synod, or well before then, will he take the opportunity to congratulate the Archbishop of Canterbury on his excellent statement today, which, while expressing concern—which I share—for any offence caused to the followers of the Islam religion, strongly protests against the sentence of death passed by religious leaders in Iran? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that action is totally unacceptable to British people, including Moslems, who disapprove strongly of what has been said?

Mr. Alison

I take note and respond positively and warmly to what the hon. Gentleman has said, particularly about the Archbishop of Canterbury's statement. There could hardly be a more fundamental demonstration of the difference between the Christian religion and Islam than the response of the Christian deity to those appalling and unthinkable attacks, which is the foundation of forgiveness in the Christian religion.