Written questions and answers

Written questions allow Members of Parliament to ask government ministers for information on the work, policy and activities of government departments.

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

Find the latest written questions and answers for the 2017-19 session below. We welcome your feedback on this service.

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UIN

Unique Identifying Number – Every written question in the House of Commons has a UIN per Parliament. In the House of Lords each written questions has a UIN per parliamentary session.
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Q
(South Holland and The Deepings)
Asked on: 24 July 2019
Church Commissioners
Anglicanism
Commons
To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, whether the Church of England has plans to adopt the approach of the Global Anglican Future Conference as a model for the (a) growth and (b) development of the Anglican Communion.
A
Answered by: Dame Caroline Spelman
Answered on: 03 September 2019

The policies, structures and strategic development of the Anglican Communion are not matters for which the Church Commissioners has responsibility.

Q
(South Holland and The Deepings)
Asked on: 24 July 2019
Church Commissioners
Global Anglican Future Conference: Rwanda
Commons
To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, whether the Archbishop of Canterbury plans to attend the 2020 Global Anglican Future Conference in Kigali, Rwanda.
A
Answered by: Dame Caroline Spelman
Answered on: 03 September 2019

At previous meetings of the Global Anglican Future Conference the Archbishop of Canterbury has been represented by a diocesan bishop of the Church of England. No decision has yet been taken by the Archbishop of Canterbury about whether he or a representative will attend the 2020 Conference in Kigali.

Q
(South Holland and The Deepings)
Asked on: 24 July 2019
Church Commissioners
Gender Recognition
Commons
To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, if the Church of England will clarify its interpretation of biblical teaching on sex and gender in relation to transgender issues.
A
Answered by: Dame Caroline Spelman
Answered on: 03 September 2019

The Church of England is currently undertaking a consultative process called ‘Living in Love and Faith’, which is considering all matters of sexuality and gender.

In 2018 the House of Bishops issued Pastoral Guidance for use in conjunction with the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith in the context of gender transition, which can be found here: https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2018-12/Pastoral%20Guidance-Affirmation-Baptismal-Faith.pdf

Q
(South Holland and The Deepings)
Asked on: 24 July 2019
Church Commissioners
Church of England: Staff
Commons
To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what proportion of Church of England employees are practising Christians.
A
Answered by: Dame Caroline Spelman
Answered on: 03 September 2019

It is not possible to give the proportion of employees either at a parish, diocesan or national institution-level who are practising Christians as information on this is not recorded or held centrally. Some posts within the National Church Institutions have a Genuine Occupational Requirement to either be a ‘Practising or Communicant member of the Church of England or a member of a Church in communion with the Church of England’.

Q
(South Holland and The Deepings)
Asked on: 24 July 2019
Church Commissioners
Church of England: Theology
Commons
To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church of England is taking to help ensure that its theology is founded on the 39 articles.
A
Answered by: Dame Caroline Spelman
Answered on: 03 September 2019

The founding theology of the Church of England is drawn from a combination of documents, beliefs and practices known as the ‘Historic Formularies’ and Canon Law. The Historic Formularies consist of scripture, the Book of Common Prayer, the 39 Articles of Religion and the Ordinal.

Priests of the Church of England are required to affirm their acceptance of the Historic Formularies at their ordination during the Declaration of Assent. The text of this can be found under Canon C15: https://www.churchofengland.org/more/policy-and-thinking/canons-church-england/section-c

Q
(South Holland and The Deepings)
Asked on: 24 July 2019
Church Commissioners
Anglicanism
Commons
To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, whether the Archbishop of Canterbury will pledge his commitment to the Jerusalem Statement of 2008.
A
Answered by: Dame Caroline Spelman
Answered on: 03 September 2019

Archbishop Rowan Willams responded to the publication of the Jerusalem Statement by the Global Anglican Futures Conference in 2008, the full text of which can be found here:

https://www.anglicannews.org/news/2008/06/archbishop-of-canterbury-responds-to-gafcon-statement.aspx

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is committed to pointing towards the good news of Jesus and the renewal of the Church. The Archbishop is looking forward to the Lambeth Conference taking place in 2020 with the theme “God’s Church for God’s world.

Q
(Lewisham, Deptford)
Asked on: 18 July 2019
Church Commissioners
Crimes of Violence: Young People
Commons
To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church of England plans to take to implement the decision taken at the General Synod in July 2019 in relation to the motion on Tackling Serious Youth Violence.
A
Answered by: Dame Caroline Spelman
Answered on: 25 July 2019
Holding answer received on 22 July 2019

The Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Division sponsored the debate at the General Synod in July 2019 and is working with dioceses to develop best practice information and training for church leaders and communities to tackle serious youth violence.

Q
(Lewisham, Deptford)
Asked on: 18 July 2019
Church Commissioners
Crimes of Violence: Young People
Commons
To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church of England’s Education Department is taking to implement the decision taken at the General Synod in July 2019 in relation to the motion on tackling serious youth violence in schools; and what guidance it is planning to issue to youth workers.
A
Answered by: Dame Caroline Spelman
Answered on: 25 July 2019
Holding answer received on 22 July 2019

The Church of England Vision for Education identifies four core themes (wisdom, knowledge and skills; hope and aspiration; community and living well together; dignity and respect) which underpin all of our work in education. School leadership networks will be focusing on serious youth violence as part of these core themes. An education which promotes hope, aspiration and dignity is a vital part of addressing serious youth violence.

One aspect of this debate relates to the impact of school exclusions on vulnerable young people. Church of England schools exclude fewer children than non-church schools and the Church’s commitment to the vulnerable and disadvantaged means that we will continue to explore ways of further reducing the negative impact of exclusion.

Q
(East Londonderry)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 22 July 2019
Church Commissioners
Churches: Grants
Commons
To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps are being taken to promote the new four year Grant Programme through the Churches Trust.
A
Answered by: Dame Caroline Spelman
Answered on: 25 July 2019

The Church of England’s Church Buildings Council regularly communicates with all grant-making bodies and information about the grants available to parishes is communicated through the Diocesan Advisory Committees.

The Church of England offers general advice to its parishes about restoration, repair and grants on the Church Care section of its website: https://www.churchofengland.org/more/church-resources/churchcare

Q
(East Londonderry)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 17 July 2019
Church Commissioners
Gambling
Commons
To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church of England is taking to tackle problem gambling.
A
Answered by: Dame Caroline Spelman
Answered on: 22 July 2019

Gambling-related harm impacts the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across the country. Of particular concern is the 55,000 children classified as problem gamblers in Great Britain.

The Church of England and the bishops in the House of Lords have regularly raised this issue with the Government, charities and the industry itself.

The Bishop of St Albans successfully campaigned with others to reduce the stake on fixed-odds betting terminals in Great Britain and tabled an amendment to the Northern Ireland Executive (Formation) Bill 2019 to ask the Government to report on the case for legislative and regulatory alignment between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Government accepted this amendment.

The Bishop of St Albans also sponsored a motion for debate in the General Synod of the Church of England, which was passed at the February 2019 session. He also successfully balloted for the House of Lords to establish the Select Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry. The Committee Inquiry is underway and is expected to report between March and April 2020.

Q
Asked by Frank Field
(Birkenhead)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 10 July 2019
Church Commissioners
George Bell
Commons
To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, pursuant to the Answer of 12 March 2019 to Question 227049 on George Bell, whether the £29,800 represents the full payment for all costs incurred by the church in its initial judgement on Bishop George Bell; and what proportion of that sum was used for costs for (a) lawyers and (b) damages.
A
Answered by: Dame Caroline Spelman
Answered on: 18 July 2019
Holding answer received on 15 July 2019

The former First Church Estates Commissioner gave the answer to the General Synod in July 2016, this can be found on page 58 of the Reports and Proceedings of the General Synod: https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2017-10/July%202016%20Report%20of%20Proceedings%20w.index_.pdf.
As the former First Church Estates Commissioner confirmed in his replies on that occasion, it is not the usual practice of the Church Commissioners to report on legal expenditure.

Q
(Gower)
Asked on: 15 July 2019
Church Commissioners
Churches: Equality
Commons
To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what discussions the (a) Church of England and (b) Church in Wales have had with (i) other religious and faith bodies, (ii) the Government and (iii) the Equality and Human Rights Commission on the exemption of those bodies from equality legislation for appointments and provision of services.
A
Answered by: Dame Caroline Spelman
Answered on: 18 July 2019
Holding answer received on 17 July 2019

The Equality Act 2010 contains provisions that allow religious organisations to apply a limited range of religious occupational requirements to comply with the doctrines of the religion or to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious beliefs of a significant number of the religion’s followers. The ability to apply religious occupational requirements arises where the employment is “for the purposes of an organised religion” and is not specific to the Church of England.

The Church of England has regular discussions with other religious and faith bodies, with HM Government, and with the Equality and Human Rights Commission on matters of mutual interest. From time to time these will include reflections on the importance for religious freedom of the provisions that protect faith and belief in the Equality Act.

Q
(North East Hertfordshire)
Asked on: 15 July 2019
Church Commissioners
Churches: Theft
Commons
To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, pursuant to Answer of 8 July 2019 to Question 269594 on Churches, which dioceses keep records of (a) thefts and (b) attempted thefts of metal.
A
Answered by: Dame Caroline Spelman
Answered on: 18 July 2019
Holding answer received on 17 July 2019

Detailed information on this is not held centrally.
Historic England has the most comprehensive list of churches and other listed buildings that have experience thefts or attempted thefts of metal.

Q
(North East Hertfordshire)
Asked on: 15 July 2019
Church Commissioners
Churches: St Albans
Commons
To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, pursuant to the Answer of 8 July 2019 to Question 269594, whether the Diocese of St Albums holds any records of the type of metal stolen.
A
Answered by: Dame Caroline Spelman
Answered on: 18 July 2019
Holding answer received on 17 July 2019

This information is not held centrally. The St Albans Diocesan Office keeps a record of the types of metals stolen from churches and the frequency of thefts.
For a more detailed breakdown please contact the Pastoral and Advisory Secretary, Holywell Lodge, 41 Holywell Hill, St Albans, Herts. AL1 1HE.

Q
(North East Hertfordshire)
Asked on: 15 July 2019
Church Commissioners
Churches: Theft
Commons
To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, whether the Commissioners plan to investigate which roofing material is (a) least likely to be stolen and (b) best value; and if she will make a statement.
A
Answered by: Dame Caroline Spelman
Answered on: 18 July 2019
Holding answer received on 17 July 2019

The Cathedrals and Church Buildings Division of the Archbishops’ Council provide advice and guidance to churches on a range of issues, including roofing materials. https://www.churchofengland.org/more/church-resources/churchcare/advice-and-guidance-church-buildings

Incidents of theft from non-metal roofs are rare, though there is a risk to some rarer types of slate or stone, which are most vulnerable when they are removed for repair.
Terne-coated stainless steel is unlikely to be stolen as it is difficult to manipulate and has a low scrap value for the work and risk involved. Metal and other material is least likely to be stolen from a church that has installed an effective alarm.

Lead is the most likely metal to be stolen due to its value and the ease of removing it, followed by copper roofing and rainwater pipes.

Q
(North East Hertfordshire)
Asked on: 26 June 2019
Church Commissioners
Churches: Theft
Commons
To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, if the Commissioners will make an estimate of the number of thefts of lead from church buildings in (a) the diocese of St Albans and (b) England in (i) 2018 and (ii) 2019 to date.
A
Answered by: Dame Caroline Spelman
Answered on: 08 July 2019
Holding answer received on 01 July 2019

The National Church Institutions do not hold information centrally about the theft of metal from Church of England churches, but records are kept at a diocesan level. Anecdotal evidence points to an increase in instances of metal theft from churches nationwide, with East Anglia and the Midlands being most affected.

Home Office Counting Rules do not require the police to record if a theft is from a listed building. The Church of England welcomes the July 2019 Sentencing Council proposals to introduce new sentencing guidelines for arson, criminal damage and vandalism of national heritage assets, including listed buildings, historic objects or unique parts of our historic environment.

Money to fund repairs or adaptations to church buildings is raised by local churches mainly through fundraising and local giving. There is no central Government funding, except through grants in respect of VAT paid on repairs to listed churches.

The following table for the Diocese of St Albans shows cases of metal theft or attempted theft since 2015. The Diocese covers the majority of the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire area and contains 380 Anglican churches.

Year

Number of Attacks

2015

13

2016

23

2017

7

2018

14

2019

5

The Diocese provides advice to local churches on protective and preventative measures, including forensic marking and roof alarms, working with the Beds and Herts Historic Churches Trust and the Allchurches Trust. Grants of up to £3,000 per church have been made available to more than 55 churches in the Diocese. In addition the Diocesan Board of Finance allocated 29 roof alarm grants in 2017 and 2018 from small trust funds for church repairs and maintenance. As a result there has been a significant reduction in the number of cases of metal theft in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, though incidents still occur. For example, in June 2019 St Mary's Church in Furneux Pelham north east Hertfordshire, had 90% of its lead roof stolen or damaged over a single weekend.

Q
Asked by Jim Shannon
(Strangford)
Asked on: 01 July 2019
Church Commissioners
Churches: Tourism
Commons
To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church of England has taken to promote tourism to its churches and cathedrals.
A
Answered by: Dame Caroline Spelman
Answered on: 03 July 2019

The Church of England welcomes the Government’s new Tourism Sector Deal, which encompasses all our churches and cathedrals and will give a significant boost to our cultural heritage. Cathedrals in England attract over 10 million visitors a year, the majority as tourists.

The Church supports the work of the Churches Visitor and Tourism Association on several initiatives that help the public learn more about their local churches:

  • The Explore Churches website run by the National Churches Trust provides a single online gateway for anyone wanting to visit churches, whether as a tourist or a pilgrim.
  • The Church Heritage Record provides geo-located data on every Church of England church, including information on the history of the building where it is available. Local congregations are encouraged to add details of their church to this and to A Church Near You, to help people planning visits.

The Church of England also supports the Cathedrals Marketing and Communications Network to share best practice and coordinate national campaigns. Individual cathedrals encourage visitors through hosting special exhibitions, such as Luke Jerram’s Gaia, currently at Liverpool Cathedral, and Tim Peake’s space capsule, which was visited by over 170,000 people when on display at Peterborough Cathedral as part of a national tour.

Q
Asked by Jim Shannon
(Strangford)
Asked on: 01 July 2019
Church Commissioners
Church of England: Community Development
Commons
To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church of England is taking to encourage parishioners to support the local economy.
A
Answered by: Dame Caroline Spelman
Answered on: 03 July 2019

A recent study of the economic impact of cathedrals in England in 2014 showed that they generated around £220 million annually for the national economy. The report also showed that over 7,300 jobs depend on cathedrals, either through direct employment or the local economy.

Tourists and visitors to English cathedrals generate an additional £125m for the local economy through visitor-related spend, which takes place directly in the towns and cities where cathedrals are based.

No formal assessment has been made of the direct or indirect contribution of churches to the local economy.

Q
Asked by Deidre Brock
(Edinburgh North and Leith)
Asked on: 21 June 2019
Church Commissioners
Church of England: Scotland
Commons
To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, pursuant to the Answer of 13 June 2019 to Question 262402, if she will provide the details of those landholdings.
A
Answered by: Dame Caroline Spelman
Answered on: 26 June 2019

The Church Commissioners publish their largest 20 direct equity holdings and the largest 20 property holdings in their annual report (pg 76) a copy of which is available in the Library of the House of Commons or here: https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2019-05/Church%20Commissioners%20Annual%20Report%202018.pdf.

Due to commercial sensitivities the Church Commissioners do not give more detailed breakdowns of their holdings. A full list of holdings in Scotland would be identifiable via the Land Registry.

Q
(East Londonderry)
[N]
Close

Named Day

'Named day' questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.

Asked on: 13 June 2019
Church Commissioners
Church of England
Commons
To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, which projects the Church of England funded to help transform communities as part of the Thy Kingdom Come events.
A
Answered by: Dame Caroline Spelman
Answered on: 18 June 2019

Thy Kingdom Come is an ecumenical prayer movement started by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2017, which has grown into an annual global movement of prayer. It is supported by His Holiness the Pope and in 2018 over 65 different denominations and traditions held events across 114 countries. Major beacon events took place in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. More information can be found here: https://www.thykingdomcome.global/

Events take the form of large public gatherings, community prayer walks, meals and picnics in churches or parks. They bring together people from different traditions and denominations across all parts of the local community.

In Northern Ireland, both Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland Archbishops of Armagh issued a joint statement to support events taking place in St Anne’s Cathedral Belfast, St Macartin’s Cathedral Enniskillen, and St Mark’s Church Armagh. Their message can be read here: https://www.ireland.anglican.org/news/8866/joint-message-from-archbishop-eamon

In County Londonderry, there were three events which saw churches of different denominations gather for prayer. Those that gathered came together and prayed for their local communities, schools, businesses and community projects, and that the Church be a point of unity and light.

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