HC Deb 19 April 2004 vol 420 cc19-20
24. Mr. Huw Edwards (Monmouth) (Lab)

If he will make a statement on the Church Commissioners' support for employment rights for clergy and other ministers of religion. [166166]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Mr. David Lammy)

I have been asked to reply.

The Church Commissioners support the principle of employment rights for clergy and other ministers of religion, with certain exceptions, such as the right not to work on Sunday.

Mr. Edwards

I thank my hon. Friend for his answer, and I hope that that principle includes protection against unfair dismissal for clergy in the Anglican Church. Could my hon. Friend give an assurance that the Church Commissioners will consider bringing clergy within the remit of anti-discrimination legislation as well?

Mr. Lammy

The Archbishops Council has moved fast to tackle important reforms, and its clergy terms of service review group is working with dioceses, clergy, laity and the unions to consider relevant recommendations.

Mr. Ben Chapman (Wirral, South) (Lab)

Does my hon. Friend understand that following the deliberations of the McClean committee, the clergy and others are waiting for a reaction, hopefully in short order? Can he urge the Church Commissioners to move as quickly as possible so that this can be resolved?

Mr. Lammy

My hon. Friend has tremendous experience in this area, and has continued to campaign on the issue. The McClean committee reported in January, the General Synod considered the matter in February, and the Archbishops Council looked at it at about the same time. I hope that they will offer conclusions on the recommendations as soon as possible.