HC Deb 21 January 1991 vol 184 cc14-5
26. Mr. Jessel

To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, as representing the Church Commissioners, if he will set aside funds to mark the quincentenary of the birth in 1491 of King Henry VIII.

Mr. Alison

No, Sir. The Commissioners' funds are directed to the support of the clergy of the Church of England and their widowed spouses and may be used for no other purposes without specific legislative authority.

Mr. Jessel

As the question was, of course, tabled before Christmas and as our minds are very much now on the middle east, may I remind my right hon. Friend that without King Henry VIII there might be no Church of England or Church Commissioners and that, at Hampton Court palace in my constituency, between 27 and 29 June, there will be a splendid celebration to mark the birthday of King Henry VIII?

Mr. Alison

I take careful note of the important event, mentioned by my hon. Friend, in his Twickenham constituency, at Hampton Court. I am glad that my hon. Friend has survived so many years as the admirable representative of the Twickenham constituency. I suspect that, had he been a courtier at the time of King Henry VIII, he would, through his love of music, have survived just as long. We shall all do our best to support. the Hampton Court celebration of King Henry VIII's birthday.

Mr. Alton

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that one of your illustrious predecessors, Mr. Speaker, might have lived longer had it not been for Henry VIII, a king who did not have an unblemished record?

Mr. Alison

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has pointed out that King Henry VIII let off missiles that were multi-headed, or whatever the correct technical term is. I am afraid that he slew a few people whom we might have preferred to have been kept alive for a little longer, even if he slew a few people whom we thought were well dead. The hon. Gentleman will be relieved to know that the Church of England nowadays is thoroughly ecumenical in outlook and, to that extent, has taken a different path from that taken by King Henry VIII.

Forward to