HC Deb 21 October 1991 vol 196 cc630-1
29. Mr.Bowis

To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, representing the Church Commissioners, what provision is made for public consultation over clergy stipends.

Mr. Alison

The Commissioners, as central stipends authority, consult dioceses at least once a year about future stipend levels and take account of their views when making recommendations. A report is submitted annually to the General Synod which may debate the report if it chooses.

Mr. Bowis

Does my right hon. Friend agree that there is considerable public concern that for many family men the level of stipend is inadequate? At the same time, many people share the view of the noble prelate the Archbishop of Canterbury that perhaps there should not be total security of tenure in parishes. Will my right hon. Friend encourage widespread consultation to see whether there cannot be a new system of payment of stipends to take on board those two points, perhaps by using some form of incentive payments?

Mr. Alison

I take careful note of what my hon. Friend has suggested. The notion of productivity in the cure of souls is difficult to administer fully, humanely and consistently. He will have noticed the level of stipends and the supplementary payments that are available, thanks to the Church Commissioners' successful administration of their funds in recent years. There has been a 75 per cent. increase in the level of stipends in real terms, greatly outpacing the rate of inflation. There is more land to be possessed and more to be done. We will do our best to follow through my hon. Friend's suggestion.