HC Deb 27 July 1998 vol 317 cc15-6
39. Sir Sydney Chapman (Chipping Barnet)

What representations the Church Commissioners have received following the publication of their 1997 report and accounts. [50807]

Mr. Stuart Bell (Second Church Estates Commissioner, representing the Church Commissioners

As I am a modest hon. Member, let me say that the Church Commissioners have received praise for their performance, and support for their investment strategy. In 1997, the value of assets increased by £505 million to £3.48 billion. The performance of the stock exchange and property portfolios has been independently measured as better than the performance of 99 per cent. of other funds.

Sir Sydney Chapman

I welcome the return on assets achieved by the commissioners in 1997, which was in the order of 20.8 per cent., following an increase of nearly 18 per cent. in 1996. Will the commissioner assure us that the increase in assets will be used to benefit parishes directly, particularly the most needy ones?

Mr. Bell

Yes. The increased value of the assets will enable us to continue to work with parishes to ensure stable and sustainable financial support for the Church into the next millennium. As the hon. Gentleman has said, the value of assets has grown strongly in recent years, and that follows a change in investment policy away from a high-yielding, low-growth mix of assets to a fund based-more on stock exchange investments, which offer higher growth prospects in the longer term.

Mr. Lindsay Hoyle (Chorley)

Following that question, will my hon. Friend comment on that proof of good Government practice, which shows that returns will come from a popular Labour Government delivering their commitments, and on how companies can deliver resources on the Church's behalf?

Madam Speaker

Order. That is not at all related to the question.