HC Deb 05 November 2001 vol 374 c18
Mr. Gordon Prentice (Pendle)

What steps are being taken to ensure the safety of church records and artefacts in those buildings that are susceptible to flooding. [10056]

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

Church builders have always been conscious of the need to build in places that do not flood. Church records and artefacts are generally, although regrettably not always, at relatively low risk.

Mr. Prentice

Is that not a complacent reply? We all remember, one year ago, photographs of the Archbishop of York paddling about the cellars of his palace in York in his wellies. Is there not a case for the Government to examine the issue further and perhaps to give the Church of England emergency funding to ensure that our national treasures, such as the bishop's palace in York, are not susceptible to flooding? I do not want to see the palace in York flooded in a few weeks time; that would be just too embarrassing.

Mr. Bell

Whether the Government should help the minster at York is, of course, a matter for the Government and not for the Second Church Estates Commissioner. However, the Parochial Registers and Records Measure 1978 places on individual parishes a duty to ensure that registers and records are not kept in places where there is at least a risk of damage from flooding.