Written Answer: Church buildings and community use

On 4th February 2016, Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner, responded to a written question from Karl McCartney MP, on the community use of church buildings:

Church CommissionersChurch of England: Community Relations: Written question – 

Karl McCartney (Lincoln) To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church of England is taking to ensure that its buildings are open for wider community use.

Church Commissioner’s speech in MPs debate on regulating out-of-school education settings

On the 20th January 2016 Sir Edward Leigh, MP for Gainsborough, hosted a Commons debate on the regulation of out-of-school education settings. The Rt Hon Caroline Spelman, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, spoke twice during the debate, urging a more proportionate policy in order to avoid unintended consequences. The Minister for Schools Mr Nick Gibb responded to the debate for the Government and his remarks are included below.

Caroline SpelmanMrs Caroline Spelman (Meriden) (Con): Like, I am sure, many others present, I have had to go through the process of a Criminal Records Bureau check, which is now a Disclosure and Barring Service check. Does my hon. Friend agree that it is an important butonerous process? Sometimes, one has to be checked more than once, because it does not transfer to another activity that one might undertake with children if one is foolish enough to do a full weekend with the Sunday school. It is a very rigorous process, and if it was applied to the people who teach children Islam in all teaching environments, it would be a very good tool to deal with any excess problem that there might be.

Sir Edward Leigh: I agree with my right hon. Friend. We should be using DBS checks if, for instance, people are trying to teach extremism, jihadism or whatever in an out-of-school setting or at home. We should use intelligence and existing powers to deal with the problem, not try to take a great sledgehammer to crack a nut. Continue reading “Church Commissioner’s speech in MPs debate on regulating out-of-school education settings”

Church Commissioners Written Answer – Peterborough property development

Caroline SpelmanOn the 19th January 2016 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, the Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP answered a written question relating to the Church Commissioners’ property developments in Peterborough.

Mr Stewart Jackson: To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what recent progress has been made on (a) residential development and (b) infrastructure planning on Church Commissioner land allocated as an urban extension by Peterborough City Council at (i) Paston Reserve and (ii) Norwood; and if she will make a statement. [21889]

Mrs Caroline Spelman: There are no further developments to report since the answer given by the Church Commissioners to question 16388 on the 20 November 2015.

(via Parliament.UK)

Church Commissioner answer: contingency in event of a vote to leave EU

On 15th January 2016 the Second Church Estates Commissioner answered a written question from Tim Loughton MP on contingency plans in the event of a vote to leave the EU:

Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham): To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what contingency arrangements the Church Commissioners have made for the eventuality of a majority leave vote in the upcoming EU referendum.

Caroline SpelmanMrs Caroline Spelman: The Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board manage their investment portfolios using high quality well diversified and long term strategies. The Church Commissioners and Pensions Board believe that they are well positioned for any market re-pricing or uncertainty that may prevail prior to or after the referendum.

(Via Parliament.UK)

Church Commissioner answer: Church Roof repair fund

On the 15th January 2016 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP, answered a written question on uptake of the church roof repair fund in Devon and Cornwall.

 Mr Geoffrey Cox (Torridge and West Devon): To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what grants the Church Commissioners have given to churches in (a) Devon and (b) Cornwall from the Roof Repair Fund in each of the last five years.
Caroline SpelmanMrs Caroline Spelman: The Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund grants are distributed by the National Heritage Memorial Fund, on behalf of the Government. There has been one round of grants to date, announced in March 2015,

(a) 22 churches in Devon were offered grants totalling £1,199,700

(b) 7 churches in Cornwall were offered grants totalling £492,700.

A second round to distribute a further £25 million allocated by the Treasury is currently open, with applications closing on Friday, 26 February.

(via Parliament.uk)

Church Commissioner question on flooding in Blackburn

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.

Caroline SpelmanMrs 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”

Church Commissioner Questions – Syrian refugees, fossil fuel investments, hedgehogs

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”