HC Deb 05 July 1993 vol 228 cc13-4
34. Mr. John Marshall

To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, as representing the Church Commissioners what is the latest estimate of the property assets of the Church Commissioners.

Mr. Alison

The commissioners' property investments were valued at £901.2 million net at 31 December 1992.

Mr. Marshall

My right hon. Friend is possibly as surprised as I am that we have reached this question this afternoon. Has he considered the question of clergy housing? Is it desirable for clergy to live in a tied cottage for 40 years and then have to buy a home when they retire? Would not more women priests be attracted to the Church —many of us look forward to that—if they did not have to live in tied houses?

Mr. Alison

It would be very difficult to enable a clergyman to stay in the house from which he had been ministering to his parish, after he had resigned the incumbency of the parish. His successor would have to find somewhere to live, and there would be an increasing roll-on effect with the need to buy more and more property over the years. My hon. Friend will be aware that the Church has a very active and helpful rehousing provision to enable clergy, on leaving a tied cottage, to find property for their retirement which is well subsidised by the Church Commissioners.