HC Deb 03 June 1991 vol 192 c13W
Mr. Gerald Bowden

To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, representing the Church Commissioners, what consideration the Church Commissioners have given to the implications for inner city projects of the present proposal to withhold their £1 million contribution to the Church urban fund for 1991.

Mr. Alison

The commissioners' board of governors met on 23 May to decide recommendations to the annual general meeting on 26 June for allocation of income. In the light of the financial problems caused by the recession, but with considerable reluctance, they were unable to recommend an immediate further grant to the Church urban fund. The board has, however, asked that the financial position should be reviewed towards the end of the year. It will consider the matter again at that time.

The commissioners attach great importance to the work of the Church urban fund and were therefore reassured that, if they were unable to make an allocation in 1991, the vice-chairman of the fund nevertheless felt able to recommend to the trustees the maintenance of their grants. There would therefore be no effect on the work of the fund in the short term.

The primary call on the commissioners' income is for clergy pensions and stipends and grants are committed on an annually recurring basis for these purposes. This has never been the case for grants to the Church urban fund. Any grant for this (or for certain other purposes) has to be voted specifically on each occasion from surplus funds (if any) available at the time—a procedure recognised in the fund's own annual reports. Grants totalling £4 million have been made to the Church urban fund in the past four years in this way.

The substantial administrative support (worth about £300,000 in 1990) which the commissioners give to the fund will, in any event, continue.