Sir Tony Baldry welcomes investment in Cathedrals

On 27th November 2014, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, the Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, asked a supplementary question about funding for cathedrals during questions to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The exchange is reproduced in full below.14.01 CCQ Baldry


Mr Robin Walker (Worcester): What recent funding his Department has provided for the fabric of cathedrals in England. [906279]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Sajid Javid): In this year’s Budget, the Chancellor announced a £20 million fund to allow cathedrals to undertake urgent repair work. As my hon. Friend knows, that included £330,000 for the beautiful Worcester cathedral. In addition, cathedrals have access to the listed places of worship grant scheme, which has a budget of up to £42 million per annum.

Mr Walker: I am grateful for that answer. May I add my condolences on the tragic death of Phil Hughes, who is fondly remembered in Worcestershire, where he used to play? I was pleased recently to welcome the Secretary of State to Worcester cathedral for a magnificent performance of Shakespeare. Will he join me in celebrating the fact that, in the year that Bishop John of Worcester has taken the lead for the Church of England on cathedrals and church buildings, the east window at Worcester cathedral will be being restored with that grant of £330,000?

Sajid Javid: May I first say to my hon. Friend that I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the cathedral with him and seeing “Julius Caesar”. It is an excellent demonstration of how our cathedrals can be open to so many activities in our local communities. In fact, I have seen similar events recently at Rochester and Portsmouth cathedrals. With regard to Bishop John, I was actually just discussing that very matter with His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday, and I join my hon. Friend in warmly congratulating the bishop on his position.

Sir Tony Baldry (Banbury): I warmly thank the Secretary of State for the £20 million grant for cathedrals, which has enabled some 41 cathedrals to carry out various works and repairs from fixing leaking roofs, repairing stained-glass windows and spires and carrying out many other important works to enable them to commemorate the centenary celebrations. Does my right hon. Friend agree that cathedrals are powerful symbols of our shared history and are also the envy of the world? They bring in many tourists, so this investment by the state in our cathedrals is great value for taxpayers.

Sajid Javid: Yes, I agree fully with my right hon. Friend. He will know that of the £20 million we allocated in that grant, £13 million has been used so there is still about £7 million left to go. I urge other cathedrals to take advantage of that and to work to help their local communities.


Church Commissioners – Oral and Written Questions

On 17th July 2014, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, the Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, answered a number of questions on the floor of the House of Commons, during the monthly Church Commissioner Questions slot. He answered questions on food banks, church and cathedral repairs, human trafficking and women bishops. He also answered a written question on Church Commissioners ICT. A full transcript of the session is reproduced below:

14.01 CCQ Baldry

Food Banks

Hugh Bayley (York Central) (Lab): What support the Church of England is giving to food banks.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): Four in five of the Church of England’s 13,000 parish churches are supporting local food banks. Continue reading “Church Commissioners – Oral and Written Questions”

First World War: Bishop of London highlights role of cathedrals and parish churches in ‘active commemoration’

“It is obvious that we cannot change the past, but we are responsible for how we remember it. Memory—and its more active form, commemoration—is certainly more than just lifting down a file and recalling a past event: it is a creative and responsible art which involves highlighting certain features and identifying significant resonances” – Bishop of London, 25/6/14

On 25th June 2014, Lord Gardiner of Kimble led a debate in the House of Lords to take note of the programme to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. The Bishop of London the Rt Rev. & Rt Hon Richard Chartres, took part in the debate, speaking of the importance of collective memory and ‘active commemoration’ of the First World War. He made reference to the significant role of citizens of the Commonwealth who served in the War, the ‘proper protest’ of those compelled to take a pacifist position, and set out some of the plans being made by churches and cathedrals across the country to commemorate the First World War.


The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the Minister for the comprehensive and measured way in which he introduced this important debate and laid out the Government’s plans for this commemoration. I also very much echo the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, about the emphasis being placed on the Commonwealth dimension. I have had the privilege of participating in the annual observances at the memorial gates since their inception. Remembering the sacrifices that were made by so many of those from Commonwealth countries who served provides us with an extremely important opportunity to weave that strand into the national tapestry and our national identity. Continue reading “First World War: Bishop of London highlights role of cathedrals and parish churches in ‘active commemoration’”

MPs questions to Church Commissioners’: Stephen Sutton, school chaplains, persecuted Christians, church repairs, credit unions, biblical literacy

Church Commissioners’ Questions: 12th June 2014

Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked questions in the House of Commons on 12th June, on the service of remembrance for Stephen Sutton, school chaplains, persecuted Christians overseas, listed church building repairs, credit unions and biblical literacy amongst children. The transcript is below:

14.01 CCQ Baldry

Stephen Sutton

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con):If he will visit Lichfield cathedral to discuss the service of remembrance and celebration of the life of Stephen Sutton. [904158]

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): I am always happy to visit Lichfield cathedral. The whole country will have celebrated the life and achievements of Stephen Sutton. The recent service of remembrance and celebration at Lichfield cathedral demonstrates the importance of cathedrals as a focus for unity at times of local and national celebration, commemoration and mourning. Continue reading “MPs questions to Church Commissioners’: Stephen Sutton, school chaplains, persecuted Christians, church repairs, credit unions, biblical literacy”

Bishop of Norwich on contribution of cathedrals and hopes for female bishops

I want to draw attention briefly to a remarkable cultural development—the renewal of our cathedrals where, I hope and pray, the first female diocesan bishops will be enthroned – Bishop of Norwich, 11/6/14

On 11th June 2014, in the eighth contribution to the debate on the Queen’s Speech from the Lords Spiritual, the Bishop of Norwich, Rt Rev Graham James, focused on constitutional and heritage issues. The Bishop spoke of his hope that female bishops would soon be able to join the Bench of Bishops in the House of Lords, and highlighted the cultural and economic impact of cathedrals in the life of the country.

The Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, the Scottish referendum means that we face constitutional change, or the possibility of it, on a massive scale. I recall someone remarking that constitutional change in Britain is a bit like unpicking a ball of wool—once it unravels, it is hard to stop without creating a knotty mess. That is neither an argument against constitutional change nor against knitting but it does call for a good pattern to follow.

Cathedrals and the Future of English Heritage – Commons debate

The number of visitors to cathedrals, not counting other churches, is some 11 million people a year, which is equivalent to current visitor levels to English Heritage properties – Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, 2/4/14

On 2nd April 2014 Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner, spoke in a House of Commons debate about the future of English Heritage.

Sir Tony raised the importance of ecclesiastical buildings to the cultural heritage of the nation and asked for assurances that altering the status of English Heritage would not change the valuable work done by their conservation specialists, so weakening the progress of research and support available to those who operate listed and heritage buildings.

Future of English Heritage

14.01 CCQ Baldry

Sir Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con): The whole House owes a debt to the hon. Member for Darlington (Jenny Chapman) for securing the debate. I declare an interest as a member of English Heritage. The image on this year’s membership card is a statue of King Richard III, whose mortal remains were recently discovered in a car park in Leicester—an outstanding feat of English archaeology. We now await the decision of the courts as to which of our noble cathedrals those mortal remains will be buried in. Continue reading “Cathedrals and the Future of English Heritage – Commons debate”

MPs Questions to Church Commissioners: Cathedrals, same-sex marriage, investments, mission, growth and female bishops

In Church Commissioners’ question time in the House of Commons on 27th March Sir Tony Baldry MP was asked by MPs to answer questions on cathedral repairs, same-sex marriage, investment returns, diocesan mission and church growth.

14.01 CCQ Baldry
Sir Tony Baldry MP, Second Church Estates Commissioner

Continue reading “MPs Questions to Church Commissioners: Cathedrals, same-sex marriage, investments, mission, growth and female bishops”

Shrinking the economic gap between London and the regions: Budget speech by Bishop of Sheffield

“If we do nothing, we will see the gap between London and the regions continue to widen to the detriment of the whole country. I urge the Government and this House to address this problem with imagination, courage and vigour” – Bishop of Sheffield

On 27th March Peers debated the Chancellor’s 2014 Budget statement. The Bishop of Sheffield spoke of the need to rebalance the economy so that the proceeds of renewed economic growth could be shared across the regions. He suggested this could be the task of a cross-party parliamentary commission.

14.03.27 Bishop of SheffieldThe Lord Bishop of Sheffield: My Lords, the prophet Jeremiah wrote a short but remarkable letter to his contemporaries long ago who had been sent into exile in Babylon. The letter has shaped Jewish and Christian thought on how communities of faith should engage with the wider society down all the generations since. The prophet’s advice is to,

“seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you … for in its welfare you will find your welfare”.

Continue reading “Shrinking the economic gap between London and the regions: Budget speech by Bishop of Sheffield”

MPs Questions to Church Commissioners

In Church Commissioners Question TIme on Thursday 10th October 2013, Sir Tony Baldry MP was asked questions on cathedral congregations, Syria and Egypt, food banks, bats in churches, church credit union and scrap metal.

Tony Baldry MP

Cathedral Congregations

Mr David Nuttall (Bury North) (Con): What lessons the Church of England has learned from the increasing size of congregations attending services at cathedrals.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): I am glad to report that over the past 10 years there has been a 35% increase in average weekly attendance in cathedral services. A team from Cranmer Hall at St John’s college, Durham is conducting a detailed survey of the trends in increased cathedral attendance. Continue reading “MPs Questions to Church Commissioners”

Bishop of Derby speaks of positive impact of sacred music to UK tourism

“I think our musical heritage is a key ingredient for encouraging international tourism. In an age of terror and despair, we have a rich gift to offer and we must do all we can to make it available and to secure its sustainability.”

On 11th July 2013 the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, took part in Lord Storey’s take-note debate to ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to support and promote the impact of music upon tourism. The Bishop spoke of the many local musical events that deserved to be highlighted in tourism material, including those in English cathedrals and churches and called for greater Government support for such events and traditions.

Bishop of DerbyThe Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Storey, on securing this debate. The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, mentioned the iconic Rolling Stones concert in Hyde Park in 1969. Perhaps I should put on record the fact that I was there.

As we have just heard, music is not only important but a much underrated offer that we make to the rest of the world through tourism. When people come here for music tourism, they engage in making community and in being joined with others in a common culture through hearing a common language. Such things are very important for us to offer across the world as well as across the regions in this country. It is important that we do not just measure its significance in terms of economic impact, although that is important, but that we recognise a cultural, human hinterland that is enriched from Plato onwards and we must be proud of it and contribute to it.

The VisitBritain document, Delivering a Golden Legacy, identifies four principles to encourage this kind of tourism. The first is to recognise our international image, which is about heritage, arts and music—as the noble Lord, Lord Black, mentioned. The second is to develop an overall product so that performance, hotels, shopping and local businesses are all connected. The third is to be ambitious in our invitation and the variety that we offer. Fourthly, tourism needs to be embedded in other strategies for other sectors. Many noble Lords have spoken in this debate to illustrate some of those principles.

The UK Music report, Destination: Music, starts, as did the noble Lord, Lord Storey, in his speech, with Glastonbury. The research is based on concerts and events of 5,000 people or more. That is very important, but I want, in just a few brief words, to go to two other areas which fall below the radar of that kind of scale but which show the importance of music and culture for tourism. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby speaks of positive impact of sacred music to UK tourism”

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