|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
The Minister for Sport and Tourism (Mr. Richard Caborn): The Government are working with the Football Association, the Football Foundation and other partners to encourage professional football clubs to develop stronger community links with schemes such as football in the community and playing for success.
Mr. Pike : My right hon. Friend has been to Turf Moor several times in the past 12 months, and I know that he has recently met directors and other representatives of Burnley football club; I believe that he is going to Turf Moor again soon. Does he not agree that the way forward for football clubs such as Burnley is to become community clubs, as they are anxious to do, and to form supporters trusts? Is it not that type of policy, rather than some of the others that we heard about earlier, that need the encouragement and support of the Government and local government if local football clubs are to succeed and survive into the future?
Mr. Caborn: I could not agree more. Burnley is a fantastic football club, and has always played a role in the community, and I hope that the discussions to make it a strong community club again are successful. We bash professional football quite a lot, but statistics show that every year 40,000 pupils take part in Playing for Success. Many young people have gained from that experience, and nearly 1 million people have contact with football in the community. Professional footballers do a great deal of good work in their communities, and help the sport at grassroots in many ways, so we ought to commend the Football Association, the premier division and the Football League.
20. David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): What the policy of the commissioners is in relation to redundant churches for which dioceses have found no suitable alternative uses. 
Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Stuart Bell): Depending on the quality of the building, the commissioners have to decide between vesting the church in the Churches Conservation Trust for preservation or, as a last resort, demolishing it.
: Since 1969, 10 per cent. of Anglican churches have been lost as places of worship. Over 300 have been demolished, of which one quarter were listed buildings. Does my hon. Friend agree that the Churches Conservation Trust should be given greater resources to protect threatened churches, especially in rural areas,
24 May 2004 : Column 1299
where alternative uses are difficult to find? Their historic interest, architectural quality and landscape value, however, are often of the utmost importance to local communities. How will those communities benefit if a sale does take place?
Sir Stuart Bell: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his question. To date, 332 high-quality and important churches have been passed to the trust, and 366 have been demolished. A sum of £33 million has been raised since 1969 from the disposal of redundant churches, 80 per cent. of which has been put back into the dioceses for the use of the living church, to answer the point made by hon. Friend. We have passed £6.4 million to the Churches Conservation Trust, which we finance jointly with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. As my hon. Friend is asking for money, and as the Minister for the Arts is in the Chamber, let those who have ears hear his question.
Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham) (Con): Does the hon. Gentleman not agree that demolition is a counsel of despair and an admission of failure? Would he not further agree that in almost every imaginable scenario, with a degree of commitment and imagination it ought to be possible to refurbish an otherwise redundant church so that it can be made available to young people for amateur dramatics or other useful indoor activities?
Sir Stuart Bell: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. He should understand that redundant churches are demolished only as a last resort, and we are keen that they should be used for community purposes. In fact, that is one of the options that we have developed positively in the interest of local communities, and we take into account other factors before any decision on demolition is made.
Mr. Gordon Prentice (Pendle) (Lab): What about the graveyards next to abandoned or redundant churches? I find it very dispiriting indeed to see neglected and overgrown graveyards when the Church is spending money on bishops' palaces. It does not, however, have the money to maintain graveyards.
Sir Stuart Bell: Yes, of course, redundant churches sometimes have a cemetery next to them. The use of the word "graveyard" gives away the hon. Gentleman's age and experience. No one, of course, wants graves to fall into such a condition, and every effort is made to maintain those cemeteries in keeping with the Church's commitment and in keeping with the wishes of people whose lost ones are buried there. We will do our very best to take into account the point made by my hon. Friend.
Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Stuart Bell):
I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows that I am an expert on wayleaves. The Church Commissioners, however, have not made such a study.
24 May 2004 : Column 1300
Mr. Swire : Many dioceses have benefited enormously from wayleave payments from private utility companies. The diocese of Exeter has received £33,500 from BT and Western Power, Salisbury received £18,500, St. David's in Wales got £10,000 and Wells cathedral £4,500. I am sure the hon. Gentleman would agree that those are all welcome moneys to hard-pressed ecclesiastical organisations. None the less, many ecclesiastical organisations remain unclear or uncertain as to their entitlement to wayleaves from public utility companies. Will he endeavour to spread the word to encourage them to go after wayleaves, to get the money that they are surely due?
Sir Stuart Bell: A wayleave is a terminable right of way over or under land, for which a rent is normally paid. Typically it would be used for an electricity supply line or some such. I did tell the hon. Gentleman I was an expert on the subject. The rural portfolio of the commissioners generated net rents of £6.1 million and capital receipts of £10.1 million last year. On the question whether there should be a study, we do not have a problem with the collection of wayleaves, so no study is necessary. However, on the pertinent point of the hon. Gentleman's question, I shall do my very best to ensure that all parishes understand the benefit that can come to them from wayleaves.
Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Stuart Bell): The ministry division of the Archbishops Council does not record ordination figures on a quarterly basis. However, I can tell my hon. Friendthe hon. Lady has put so many questions to us over the past few years that she is now an hon. Friendthat in the whole of 1997 there were 262 newly ordained stipendiary deacons available for deployment, compared with 333 in 2003.
Miss McIntosh : I welcome the large upturn in recruits to parish priesthood. I hope that he will join me in recording the valuable role and the pastoral care that rural vicars in particular provide, especially in constituencies such as the Vale of York which suffered so much during the foot and mouth crisis and subsequently. To what does the hon. Gentleman attribute the change? Does he believe that it will continue for the foreseeable future?
Sir Stuart Bell:
I am grateful for the hon. Lady's comments and her support for clergy, especially in her constituency, where I know she spends some time and follows these matters carefully. Although the number now deployed is up, there is still likely to be a fall in the stipendiary clergy due to retirements. That fall is from 9,109 in 2003 to 8,691 in 2007. However, the Church's commitment and the commitment reflected in the newly ordained stipendiaries is a reflection of a commitment to faith in the 21st century.
24 May 2004 : Column 1301
Mr. Peter Pike (Burnley) (Lab): Is it not a fact that because the Church cannot afford ministers these days, fewer are coming into the ministry and many churches depend on retired ministers to meet their commitment to hold holy communion services on a Sunday?
Sir Stuart Bell: I surmise that the fact that there is a difficulty in securing clergy for every church is due to the numbers of clergy, rather than to the stipend levels. The stipend levels for clergy of incumbent status in 199697 were £13,940 and £18,110 respectively. The figures now are £13,910 and £17,140, so the issue of money is taken care of, but the number required is still a problem.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|