On 7th July 2022 the House of Lords debated a motion from the Earl of Clancarty, “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to improve the ability of musicians and other creative professionals from the United Kingdom to work and tour in the European Union.”
The Lord Bishop of Manchester: My Lords, like others, I thank the noble Earl for bringing us this debate. Noble Lords would expect a Bishop of Manchester to be passionate about music. Our vibrant popular and contemporary music scene is central to our local economy. The Royal Northern College of Music is one of our universities and we also have the leading music school for the north of England in Chetham’s, whose campus is next door to my cathedral and provides many of our choristers. We recently dedicated a brand-new, £2 million cathedral organ. It was the donation of a single—as it happens, Jewish—businessman, Sir Norman Stoller. Our music matters to us in Manchester. We invest in it and in the diverse young people developing their skills in it. It is a great force for levelling up.
On 22nd July Lord Lexden asked Her Majesty’s Government “further to the Written Answer by Lord Greenhalgh on 26 May (HL4184), what discussions they have had with (1) the Church of England, (2) the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and (3) other Churches, about the reopening of church buildings for private devotional prayer and public worship.“
The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, asked a follow up question focusing on singing and compulsory wearing of face masks:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, many of our churches and cathedrals are desperate to enable small groups of singers, perhaps four singers standing five metres apart from each other. Is there any possibility that that will be allowed soon? Secondly, will the Minister tell the House whether there are any plans for the compulsory wearing of face masks in places of worship?
On 10th July 2020 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered a written question on singing in churches from Bell Ribeiro-Abby MP.
Bell Ribeiro-Addy: 69712 To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what the timescale is for allowing churches to resume choir singing; and what guidance will be published for churches on resuming choir singing safely during the covid-19 outbreak.
On 1 July Lord Berkeley of Knighton asked Her Majesty’s Government “what is their response to reports that orchestras and cultural venues are facing permanent closure as a result of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, asked a follow up question focusing on performing music during Covid-19.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, it is not just the performance venues that are suffering but many churches and halls rented out for rehearsal space. Will the Minister update the House on the progress of research undertaken into singing and playing woodwind and brass instruments, to see how these activities might be safely undertaken while minimising the risk of spreading Covid-19?
On 29th June 2020 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered two written questions on the reopening of churches and financial support for struggling parish churches from Bell Ribeiro-Abby MP.
Bell Ribeiro-Addy (Streatham):65019 To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church of England has taken to provide financial support to single parish churches to avoid the redundancy, salary review and staff restructuring of employed musicians.
Andrew Selous: In March, the Church Commissioners and Archbishops’ Council announced over £75m of liquidity support to dioceses and cathedrals. This money included allowing dioceses in financial need to access up to three months forbearance on sums required for the national clergy payroll [or clergy stipends] for a limited period and paying monthly grants in full for 2020. In May the National Church Institutions announced a diocesan grant scheme supported by the Church Commissioners, which totalled up to £35m of sustainability funding.
On 25th June 20202 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered questions from MPs in the House of Commons, on: church building reopening, weddings, housing, public worship, music, online services, family life, church finances and the Transition Pathway Initiative. A transcript is below:
On 24th June Lord Farmer asked Her Majesty’s Government “when weddings will be able to take place in venues which enable social distancing and comply with other COVID-19 precautions”. The Rt Revd Christine Hardman, Bishop of Newcastle, asked a follow up question focusing on hymn singing in churches.
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, it is with great delight that we received news yesterday that weddings will once again be permitted. This will be an enormous joy to many couples and families all across England. As the Minister will know, hymns are most often a focal point of a wedding service. Given yesterday’s announcement about live performances, can he give us any more detailed guidance about singing in churches, both choral and congregational?
On 24th June 2019 Lord Black of Brentwood asked the Government “what steps they are taking to address the decline in the number of students taking music A-level”. The Bishop of Chichester, Rt Revd Dr Martin Warner, asked a follow-up question:
Bishop of Chichester: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the decline in music A-level is part of a broader problem of social inequality in access to music itself and music education? Is it not time for the Government to reassess the persistent and growing evidence of the damaging effect of EBacc and the contribution of music through other routes such as BTEC in broadening access to our leading conservatoires, and to adjust the disproportionate bursary funding that allows £9,000 to music graduates but up to £32,000 to graduates in other subjects, in spite of recognition that music is vital to sustaining the creative industries in our country?
On the 9th of January the Second Church Estates Commissioner, the Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman answered a written question about cathedral choristers:
Adam Holloway (Gravesham): To ask the Right Honourable Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, how many cathedrals and abbeys (a) do and (b) do not appoint a head chorister. (205856)