HC Deb 02 February 2004 vol 417 cc526-7
21. Mr. Ben Chapman(Lab) (Wirral, South)

If he will make a statement on clergy terms of service. [151913]

Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Stuart Bell)

The McClean report on clergy terms of service recommends conferring through Church legislation a new package of rights and responsibilities for clergy. These include access to employment tribunals to claim unfair dismissal; legal entitlement to the rights covered by section 23 of the Employment Relations Act 1999, except for the right not to work on Sundays; a new form of tenure, known as common tenure, under which appointments for clergy without the freehold would normally be made until retirement; new clergy terms of service regulations which would clarify the responsibilities of clergy on a national basis; and a capability procedure to be invoked where clergy are failing to reach minimum standards.

Mr. Chapman

I very much agree with my hon. Friend that the first report of the McClean commission represents a step forward. However, the final decision on employment rights for workers with atypical working arrangements rests with the Department of Trade and Industry. Given that, and other factors, what time scale does my hon. Friend envisage for the culmination of this somewhat drawn-out process?

Sir Stuart Bell

I repeat my gratitude to my hon. Friend for the tenacity with which he has pursued this matter throughout his term in Parliament. I think that he would agree that the Church has acted with considerable speed on the issue. It has produced an extensive report on the first phase of its work within a year of being set up. Subject to the views of the Synod, that report will go out for further consultation throughout the Church. We will then liaise with the DTI to reach a conclusion.