Second Church Estates Commissioner answers questions in the House of Commons

On 30th October 2014, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, the Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, answered questions in the House of Commons on the subjects of the ordination of women, extremism, episcopal vacancies and Church investments.

The full transcript of the question session is reproduced below:

Ordination of Women

14.01 CCQ BaldryDiana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North): What assessment the Church of England has made of the potential effects of clause 2 of the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure 2014 on women. [905729]

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry): The Church’s memorandum to the Ecclesiastical Committee gave a detailed assessment of that provision. I also refer the hon. Lady to the Lords Hansard report for 14 October, in which the Archbishop of Canterbury ably explained clause 2. I tried to explain it when I took the measure through the House but, given that she has tabled this question, clearly I lamentably failed.

Diana Johnson: I welcome the fact that we have recently had this long overdue Measure through Parliament, and the hon. Gentleman will know that I have put in an early bid for the Bishop of Hull to be a woman. However, I am concerned about clause 2. Does he share my concern that this country’s established Church will not be governed by the laws of this land? I think that it is a very odd situation for the established Church to be in.

Sir Tony Baldry: We are very much governed by the laws of this land, which is why the Measure had to go to the Ecclesiastical Committee, a statutory Committee of both Houses of Parliament, and then had to be approved by both the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and last week you, Mr Speaker, announced that it had been granted Royal Assent. Had the hon. Lady had serious concerned about clause 2, she could have raised them in the debate—[Interruption.] Yes, she did raise them, but if I had not managed to assuage those concerns for her and the House sufficiently, she could have divided the House on the matter. Parliament has now agreed to the Measure and—this is the substantive point—the only reason it is here is to help ensure that the arrangements work; it is not putting the Church of England outside gender and equality legislation. Were it to do so, I have absolutely no doubt that the Government would have opposed it.

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Archbishop of Canterbury calls for global, holistic and long-term response to threat presented by ISIL

On 14th October 2014 Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty’s Government what additional measures they are suggesting to allied states to prevent ISIL occupying further territory in Syria and Iraq. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, asked a supplementary question: 

Archbishop of CanterburyThe Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her last answer, which was very reassuring. However, given that the terrible events in Iraq and Syria are the result of a global phenomenon of ideology, what steps are the Government taking to support other areas such as Nigeria, Kenya, Somalia, Pakistan and Sudan where similar problems need to be either prevented, mitigated or contained?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, this is a matter that I discussed this very morning with a group set up by my noble friend Lady Warsi at the Foreign Office. She did most important work; the group is considering freedom of religion or belief. I can say firmly not only that this is one of the six priorities for this Government, but, as when my noble friend Lady Warsi led on this, it is a personal priority for me to ensure that throughout government and throughout our discussions, we consider exactly those points. It is not just a matter of looking at one area but of considering how a breaking down of religion or belief around the world can undermine the very societies in which people need to have security.


Second Church Estates Commissioner highlights role of Near Neighbours in community integration

During the questions following an urgent statement in the House of Commons on extremism, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Sir Tony Baldry MP, raised the important role played by the Near Neighbours programme in promoting community integration.


14.01 CCQ BaldrySir Tony Baldry (Banbury): May I remind my right hon. Friend that, after the general election, practically the first meeting the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government attended was at Lambeth Palace, where all the nation’s faith leaders were present? He committed the Government to fund and support the Near Neighbours programme, which enables faith communities throughout the country to work together to promote integration and tackle extremism. If this “duff up the Home Secretary” urgent question has achieved nothing else this afternoon, it will at least, hopefully, better explain to the Opposition and others where the division of responsibilities lie in government for counter-terrorism on the one hand and community integration on the other.

Mrs May: My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. He is right to draw attention to the excellent work the Department for Communities and Local Government has been doing under the leadership of my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State. Indeed, my right hon. Friend, the noble Baroness Warsi has been doing very important work to bring communities together, particularly faith communities, to share their experiences and increase understanding between them. That is a vital part of the integration work that I would have hoped we all, across the Chamber, accept is necessary. We should support it wherever we see it.