HC Deb 21 June 1999 vol 333 cc756-7
35. Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey)

What discussions the Church Commissioners have with international Christian and other bodies about the investment policies of the Church of England. [86565]

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

The commissioners have recently held informal discussions with the New Zealand Anglican Church regarding the Church of England's investment policies, as well as with the Victoria Synod of the Uniting Church of Australia.

Mr. Hughes

Given that the Anglican Church in this country is part of the worldwide Church, will the hon. Gentleman suggest to the Church Commissioners that they should have a proper procedure for taking the opinion of the World Council of Churches and other bodies on all matters that relate to investment overseas, so that they have an ethical investment policy that is acceptable to the worldwide Church, not just to the UK Church? In the year when we hope to have freedom of information legislation, will we be able to see who is consulted and have their advice to the Church Commissioners published?

Mr. Bell

The commissioners are members of the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility, the Westminster ethical policy forum, the Institute of Business Ethics and the UK Social Investment Forum. They also meet regularly with Church investor groups. The hon. Gentleman would like to extend that consultation to foreign Churches that are part of the Church of England. We shall take that into consideration.