HC Deb 22 July 1996 vol 282 c20
41. Mr. Flynn

To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, representing the Church Commissioners, what new proposals he has to increase the revenue from properties and land held by the Church Commissioners. [36758]

Mr. Alison

The commissioners seek to invest in quality properties which will secure a reliable and growing flow of income, attracting commercial and agricultural tenants whose businesses appear sound and likely to prosper.

The commissioners' property portfolio achieved a total return of 19.5 per cent. in 1995, which compared very favourably with industry benchmarks.

Mr. Flynn

I make a similar plea to the one made by my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks), because my case in the shadow Cabinet election is even more deserving.

How much of the £228 million increase in the value of the Church Commissioners' portfolio in agricultural land arose from the fact that they allow blood sports on their land? Why do they allow the pursuit of defenceless animals for fun? Do they believe that Christian charity should be limited to one species only?

Mr. Alison

The hon. Gentleman must have a very high view of the value of foxes and of the number of foxes that there might be on the land, to work out that that could have a significant effect on the property values of our agricultural holdings. We leave it, and have always left it, by tradition, to the personal views of our tenants as to whether they ban hunting or shooting on their land or whether they regard it as acceptable; but all the blood sports must be conducted within the statutory framework of accepted standards for cruelty to animals.