HC Deb 11 December 2002 vol 396 cc321-2W
Miss McIntosh

To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners what representations the Commissioners have received concerning the proposed enforcement of local authority licensing on church venues and the payment of fees for musical performances in churches; and if he will make a statement. [84506]

Mr. Bell

Matters of this kind relating to Anglican cathedrals and churches in use, and matters relating to places of worship of other denominations and faiths, fall outside the formal responsibilities of the Church Commissioners.

However, the Bishop of London's speech in Another Place on the Second Reading of the Licensing Bill drew attention to concerns expressed on behalf of churches, cathedrals and other people from the wider community about the provisions in the Bill regarding the use of places of worship for "entertainment" such as concerts and plays. Unless these are for the purpose of religious meetings or services or incidental purposes, they would fall within the licensing requirements in the Bill, even though they are not "commercial" in character. I understand that Church of England staff are now in discussion with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport about this issue.