HC Deb 12 January 1998 vol 304 c18
39. Mr. Baker

What is the total cost of supporting the bishops within the Church of England. [20234]

Mr. Stuart Bell (Second Church Estates Commissioner)

In 1996, the commissioners spent £13.7 million—10 per cent. of their total expenditure—on supporting episcopal ministry. That included the stipends, staff and administrative costs of the 44 diocesan bishops and 66 suffragan bishops and the housing, including Lambeth palace, of diocesan bishops. The housing of suffragan bishops is funded by dioceses, and full details of that expenditure are not held by the commissioners.

Mr. Baker

Will the hon. Gentleman contrast the arrangements of the Church of England with the much flatter managerial arrangements of the Church of Scotland? Would it not be better all round if the Church of England were to stop supporting hierarchies and use the money that would be freed to help the poor and house the homeless?

Mr. Bell

I am always grateful for comparisons with another Church for which I am not responsible. It should be pointed out that the vast bulk of bishops' expenses—84 per cent.—goes on staff salaries. The remaining 16 per cent. comprises office expenses, including equipment, sundries, resettlement costs, hospitality, travel and, for diocesan bishops, heating, lighting—not lightning—cleaning and house and garden items. Almost every piece of legislation passed by the General Synod and approved by Parliament imposes some new responsibility on bishops. They need adequate office back-up if they are to fulfil their very wide range of responsibilities.