§ 36. Mr. Andrew Lansley (South Cambridgeshire)
What assessment he has made of the adequacy of the current level of financial support for the parochial ministry to prevent any long-term interregnums in clerical living. 
§ Mr. Stuart Bell (Second Church Estates Commissioner, representing the Church Commissioners)
The commissioners put £20 million a year into parochial ministry support. That amount was agreed after detailed discussion with dioceses. A guaranteed annuity is payable for the overwhelming majority of benefices when the incumbent is present. Long interregnums are not encouraged, but their length can be affected by various factors, including the availability of a suitable incumbent.
§ Mr. Lansley
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, if the support available to the parochial ministry is agreed to be adequate to avoid long interregnums, it is undesirable for such interregnums to occur as an instrument of Church policy? I hope that, through the medium of this question, the Church authorities will take that view and seek to implement it.