Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, answered two written questions from Tessa Munt MP on the Church Commissioners plans for the Palace at Wells.
Tessa Munt: To ask the right hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, what consideration the Church Commissioners gave to the historical or other interest of the residence at the Bishop’s Palace at Wells before planning alternative accommodation for the bishop in accordance with section 4 of the Episcopal Endowments and Stipends Measure 1943.
Sir Tony Baldry: Section 4 of the Episcopal Endowments and Stipends Measure 1943 applies only where the Commissioners propose to exercise a power conferred by that Measure—that is to say, to transfer a house to the diocesan authority, convert it for use for other purposes, sell, let or otherwise dispose of it, or demolish it or part of it. The Commissioners have not exercised any of those powers in relation to the Palace, as the intention is that the Bishop will continue to work and worship there.
Tessa Munt: To ask the right hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, if he will publish a complete list of the grounds considered valid for the purposes of an objection to the exchange of the house of residence of the Bishop of Bath and Wells by the Bishop’s Council and Standing Committee.
Sir Tony Baldry: It is for the Archbishops’ Council, or any committee appointed by it to consider the objection, to decide whether the objection should be upheld or not. That decision will depend on the specific facts of the particular case. The Archbishops’ Council is required by virtue of the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Regulations 2009 to consider “all relevant circumstances”, which includes but is not limited to the grounds of the objection. There is therefore no such list in existence.