HC Deb 15 March 1993 vol 221 cc13-4
31. Mr. Bates

To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, representing the Church Commissioners, what are the annual running costs of the Archbishop of York's palace at Bishopsthorpe; what the accommodation comprises; and what is its latest valuation.

Mr. Alison

In 1992, maintenance costs at Bishopsthorpe were £20,600. The accommodation includes domestic living quarters, state rooms—hall and drawing room—a chapel and offices. The value of such a piece of our historic heritage is incalculable. The Commissioners have it insured for £4.6 million.

Mr. Bates

I am grateful for that answer. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it may be of some considerable interest to my constituents who heard His Grace the Archbishop recently on BBC television taking the Government to task for the measures that they were taking for alleviating poverty and homelessness? Given that the Church Commissioners administer a portfolio of equities to the value of £0.8 billion and a property portfolio worth £1.2 billion, may not the message from my constituents to their Archbishop in future be that Archbishops in expensive glass palaces should not throw stones?

Mr. Alison

My hon. Friend criticises the attacks made by the Archbishop of York, from his palace, on the Government. If the Commissioners or the Government were to make the Archbishop homeless, I fear that his attacks would be likely to be exacerbated and not moderated.

Mr. Frank Field

When is the report of the inquiry into the Commissioners' assets expected and will it be published?

Mr. Alison

It will be published. I cannot give the exact date when it will be available.