HC Deb 08 March 2004 vol 418 cc1240-1
24. Mr. Simon Thomas (Ceredigion) (PC)

To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, what the policy of the commissioners is regarding (a) the cultivation and use of GM crops and (b) the keeping of animals on their land. [158941]

Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Stuart Bell)

The Church Commissioners do not permit the growing of GM crops on their land. As to the keeping of livestock, the commissioners expect their tenants to observe the requirements of law and best practice.

Mr. Thomas

I thank the hon. Gentleman for allowing me, as a member of a disestablished Church, to ask this question. I am delighted that the Church Commissioners have made this decision. In the light of a likely announcement by the Government tomorrow licensing the commercialisation of GM crops, I hope that the commissioners will maintain an interest in low-intensity and possibly even organic agriculture, and not in chemical-based agriculture.

Sir Stuart Bell

I am always happy to welcome Plaid Cymru to questions, in the best traditions of our national Parliament, in which all right hon. and hon. Members can put questions to a Church Commissioner. The GM policy to which I referred reflects the advice of the Church's ethical investment advisory group in 2000, as endorsed by the commissioners. I have no reason to believe that that advice will change in the none too distant future.