HC Deb 13 July 1984 vol 63 cc693-4W
Mr. Gregory

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the financial assistance the Government will give to York Minster following the fire suffered there.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

The whole House will share the Government's concern over the tragic fire at York minster which occurred early on Monday morning. The Prime Minister has already been in touch with the Dean of York to express her sympathy and, as she assured the House on Tuesday, the Government stand ready to offer help if help is needed.

No time has been lost in clearing and making safe the south transept. It will, however, take time to prepare a thorough professional survey of the damage and to assess the cost of repairs. The question of cost must be a matter in the first instance for the dean and chapter to discuss with their insurers. While these discussions continue it would not be right for the Government to make any firm announcements about financial assistance.

The fact remains that a large number of individuals and organisations very naturally wish to offer help. We have been in touch with Lord Normanby the high steward of York minster and lord-lieutenant of the county. With the agreement of the dean and chapter and the other trustees of the York minster appeal fund, Lord Normanby has agreed to co-ordinate any necessary further public appeals and will make a statement as soon as preliminary estimates of cost can be established and the insurers' liability has been determined.

If Lord Normanby decides to launch an appeal the Government will contribute. I trust my hon. Friend will understand, however, why it would not be helpful or wise to mention any figure now. Finally, I know the House will welcome the news that the minster is already resuming facilities for both worship and visitors.

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