HC Deb 19 October 1999 vol 336 c433W
Mr. Ben Chapman

To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bell), representing the Church Commissioners, what plans the Church Commissioners have to issue formal employment contracts for clergy. [93275]

Mr. Stuart Bell

The Archbishops' Council has set up a staff group to explore what can and should be done to give the clergy the rights they could and should expect.

The great majority of clergy are office holders without contracts of employment. For National Insurance purposes only, they are deemed to be employees of the Church Commissioners.

Giving clergy formal employment contracts would raise questions about the current arrangements over patronage, parochial appointments practices, selection for ordination training and clergy discipline, and would require complex and protracted legislation with great problems in defining the employer.

The Minister for Trade has indicated that there would be extensive consultation were he to exercise the powers conferred on him by Clause 23 of the Employment Relations Act in respect of the faith communities.