On Wednesday 13th January 2016 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, the Rt Hon Caroline Spelman, answered two written questions about support from churches in the Blackburn Diocese to flood victims and the damage to churches in the diocese caused by floods.
Mr Mark Hendrick: To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, which Anglican churches within the Diocese of Blackburn were damaged by flooding in December 2015; and what the extent of damage to each such church was.
Mrs Caroline Spelman: Within the Diocese of Blackburn seven churches and churchyards, the diocesan retreat house at Whalley Abbey and three Church of England primary schools were damaged by floodwater. Many have also found that the boilers and heating systems have been damaged beyond repair and extensive programmes of works will need to be undertaken to both dry the buildings out and restore or replace furniture, carpets and school materials.
Reports of damage are still being registered across the Dioceses of Blackburn, Carlisle, Manchester, West Yorkshire and the Dales and York. To date 129 church properties have registered substantial damage from the December storms with our insurers, though I expect that figure to rise. The Cathedral and Church Buildings Council of the Church of England will be working with the dioceses to develop robust disaster management and recovery plans and flood adaptation measures for churches and other buildings. Continue reading “Church Commissioner question on flooding in Blackburn”
On the 17th December 2015 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP, answered four oral questions in the House of Commons about Syrian refugees, fossil fuel investments and the protection of hedgehogs.
Continue reading “Church Commissioner Questions – Syrian refugees, fossil fuel investments, hedgehogs”
On 17th December 2015 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP, introduced the Marriage Registration Bill (a Private Member’s Bill) into the House of Commons. The Bill was co-sponsored by Caroline Lucas (Green), Victoria Prentis (Con), Julian Knight (Con), Frank Field (Lab), Christina Rees (Lab) and Huw Irranca Davies (Lab).
The Bill would reform the way all marriages are registered in the UK, bringing the process into the digital age and updating those who can be registered on a marriage certificate, allowing mothers’ names to appear. The bill can be read here
The presentation of the Bill follows a parliamentary debate on the subject led recently by Caroline Spelman.
Continue reading “Marriage Registration Bill introduced by Caroline Spelman MP”
On 8th December 2015 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP, held a debate in Westminster Hall about the reform of marriage registration certificates. Mrs Spelman said that certificates should be updated to bear mothers’ as well as fathers’ names and that the process ought also to be part of a wider overhaul of the registration system. She announced her intention to bring forward a Private Member’s Bill to that effect and that an internal consultation within the Church had shown support for the proposal. Her remarks introducing the debate and responding to others are reproduced below, but the full debate can be read in Hansard here.
Mrs Caroline Spelman (Meriden) (Con): I beg to move,
That this House has considered marriage registration certificates.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Brady. The latest intelligence that I heard is that we might have a vote at 2.45 pm, but of course we are on a running three-line Whip, so we will just have to see.
I am happy to have secured a Westminster Hall debate on this important subject. Since 1837—the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign—marriage certificates in England and Wales have included the names of the spouses’ fathers, but not their mothers. I know that I am not alone in finding this state of affairs unacceptable in our modern society. Indeed, the Prime Minister said as much in August 2014.
The issue has attracted calls for reform from many Members: the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) has tabled two early-day motions on the subject, each of which attracted 100 signatures; a petition on change.org was signed by more than 70,000 members of the public; and the hon. Member for Neath (Christina Rees) has introduced a private Member’s Bill in an attempt to secure the inclusion of mothers’ names on marriage certificates. I believe that the Second Reading of that Bill is scheduled for 22 January, and it underlines the point that this is clearly an issue that concerns Members from across the House and requires urgent attention and reform.
The Church of England recently held an internal consultation exercise of archdeacons and legal officials to gauge the views of the clergy about changing the way we do marriage registration. It received an overwhelmingly positive response. It cannot be that difficult to change the format of marriage certificates so that the mothers’ details can be captured, can it? Continue reading “Second Estates Commissioner leads debate on reforming marriage registration certificates”
On the 3rd December 2015 the Second Church Estates Commissioner answered a written question from Mark Hendrick MP, about assistance for Syrian refugees from churches in Blackburn.
Mr Mark Hendrick (Preston): To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps each Anglican church in the Diocese of Blackburn is taking to assist Syrian refugees.
Mrs Caroline Spelman:
The Diocese of Blackburn is working alongside other dioceses of the Church of England and local faith communities to coordinate their response to assist Syrian refugees. Churches in the diocese have been advised of the type of assistance that can most usefully be offered, working in conjunction with local authorities and other faith communities.
The three bishops of the Diocese of Blackburn were amongst the signatories to the letter from Church of England bishops to the Prime Minister, which welcomed the commitment of the Government to provide aid and resettlement, while calling on it to resettle substantially more than 20,000, and made clear the Church’s commitment to help in that task.
On the 2nd December 2015 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon. Caroline Spelman MP, spoke in the House of Commons debate on action against ISIL in Syria. Mrs Spelman highlighted the need for a comprehensive strategy, which needed to included a theological, ideological response, not just military and humanitarian. The subsequent vote on the Government’s motion was passed by 397 to 223. Mrs Spelman voted with the Government. Her speech is reproduced below:
Mrs Caroline Spelman (Meriden) (Con): There is an important religious dimension to this debate and faith leaders shape public opinion, so I thought it might be helpful if I shared with the House the views expressed by the Church of England on the subject.
At a meeting of the General Synod last week, a motion on the migrant crisis called unanimously upon the Government,
“to work with international partners in Europe and elsewhere to help establish safe and legal routes to places of safety, including this country, for refugees who are vulnerable and at severe risk.”
Continue reading “Second Church Estates commissioner speaks in House of Commons Syria debate”
On the 30th November 2015 the Church Commissioners answered two written questions from Mark Hendrick MP on the Lords’ Prayer cinema advert.
Mr Mark Hendrick (Preston): To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, in which (a) local and (b) national newspapers the Church of England plans to place advertisements with the text of the Lord’s Prayer.
Mrs Caroline Spelman: The Church of England has no plans for advertisements of the Lords Prayer in local or national newspapers. Many national and local newspapers have already covered the story. As of 27th November 2015 online articles had received over 5.15 million views.