HC Deb 17 May 1993 vol 225 c12
27. Mr. Lidington

To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, as representing the Church Commissioners what assessment the Church Commissioners have made of the damage done to Church of England property by the recent terrorist bomb in the City of London; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Michael Alison (Second Church Estates Commissioner, representing the Church Commissioners)

The Church Commissioners have made no assessment, as the future of these buildings—at least initially—is not within their jurisdiction. However, they naturally regret the damage to churches caused by the bomb. I understand that the diocese of London, local clergy and other interested parties will be making such an assessment in due course in the light of professional advice.

Mr. Lidington

Many people who care about the architecture and history of the City of London are particularly concerned about the damage done to St. Ethelburga's church. Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that the Church Commissioners, rather than, as has been reported, trying to sell off the site to make a quick profit, will seek ways of organising an appeal to ensure that the church is fully restored?

Mr. Alison

I assure my hon. Friend that there is no question of the Church Commissioners' trying to sell off the site to make a quick profit, interested though we are in making profits on our property for the benefit of the clergy and their dependants. The disposal of the site and the determination of its future, however, are matters for the diocese and the parochial church council. If they decide that they want to launch an appeal and to develop the site as part of a pastoral reorganisation, the Church Commissioners will have some jurisdiction and will do everything possible to help.

Mr. Simon Hughes

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, however important the Church's view on the destruction of its property may be, it has a more important message to deliver—that killing and injuring people, as the IRA has done, is entirely unacceptable? Does he agree that the Church should be encouraged at every opportunity to make it clear to the IRA that there is only a difference of degree between what it does in the City of London and what others are currently doing in the former Yugoslavia?

Mr. Alison

I entirely support what the hon. Gentleman has said. He will recall, as I do, the many vivid photographs of churches and other buildings in London burning after the attacks of the totalitarian Hitler regime in the last war. Terrorists are totalitarian, and their attacks on London will be as abortive and ineffectual as Hitler's attacks.

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