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Column 852Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley
Porter, David (Waveney)
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Shaw, David (Dover)
Spencer, Sir Derek
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Twinn, Dr Ian
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Tellers for the Ayes :
Mr. Sydney Chapman and
Mr. Bowen Wells.
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Foster, Don (Bath)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Tellers for the Noes :
Mr. Simon Hughes and
Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones.
Question accordingly agreed to.
Bill read the Third time, and passed, with amendments.
Motion made, and Question put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 102(9) (European Standing Committees),
That this House takes note of European Community Document No. 4168/94, and the Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum submitted by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on 6th May, relating to intra-community trade in bovine animals and swine ; and supports the Government's objective of ensuring that the rules protect the health status of the United Kingdom, and the Community as a whole, and sustain the United Kingdom's existing export market.
That this House takes note of the unnumbered Explanatory Memorandum submitted by HM Treasury on 16th March 1994, relating to the discharge of the general budget of the European Communities for the financial year 1992 and of European Community Documents Nos. 6214/94, the Commission's report on the fight against fraud in the Community in 1993, and 6214/94 ADDI, the Commission's report on its anti-fraud strategy and work programme for 1994 ; and strongly supports the Government's policy of securing sound financial management in the Community, including combating fraud against the Community's financial interests.--[ Mr. Arbuthnot. ]
Question agreed to.
That the Care of Cathedrals (Supplementary Provisions) Measure, passed by the General Synod of the Church of England be presented to Her Majesty for Her Royal Assent in the form in which the said Measure was laid before Parliament.
It may be recalled that when I moved a similar motion in 1990 in connection with the Care of Cathedrals Measure, I gave an undertaking to the House that a supplementary Measure would be brought before Parliament containing enforcement provisions relating to the procedures for the approval of works to cathedrals.
Both the Government and the national amenity societies were of the opinion that there should be statutory provisions preventing unauthorised works to a cathedral fabric, or, where such works had occurred, provisions requiring the fabric to be made good or reinstated without delay. The Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure, which the House approved in 1991, contained enforcement provisions in respect of parish churches. Undertakings were given that similar provisions would be included in a supplementary Measure for cathedrals. The Measure before the House tonight honours that undertaking.
Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey) : I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman so early in his speech, but I have a specific question that he may be able to answer. Can he tell us whether churches that are neither parish churches nor cathedrals are covered in either this or the previous legislation ? Bath abbey, in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. Foster), is one such church, but there are others--important national churches. As far as I can see, they are not covered in the Measure, but they obviously need to be covered in legislation of some sort.
As I was saying, the Measure honours the undertaking that I gave the House in 1991. It builds on the so-called visitatorial powers of the diocesan bishop which already exist in relation to his cathedral. The cathedral church is, of course, the seat of the relevant bishop. The Measure also includes a power for the court of the vicar-general of the province to issue injunctions or make restoration orders. The enforcement provisions feature a two-stage procedure. First, the bishop will seek to remedy any apparent contravention of the Care of Cathedrals Measure 1990 by private interview and, if he considers it appropriate, take action through a special visitation. Only if those procedures are unsuccessful will proceedings be instituted for the issuing of an injunction or the making of a restoration order in the court of the vicar-general of the province.
There has been further consultation with deans and provosts, and with cathedral administrative bodies, concerning the Measure. The general view was that enforcement provisions should be provided for, although the cathedral authorities do not believe that they would
Column 854themselves be likely knowingly to contravene the provisions of the 1990 Measure. The Department of National Heritage, English Heritage and the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England have also been consulted about the provisions, and are content with them. The Government have continued to attach importance to the legislation, and have taken an active role in pursuing the proposals. I am particularly glad of the supporting presence of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for National Heritage to receive my appreciation and commendation of the interest that his Department has taken in the report.
Hon. Members will not be surprised to learn, in these contentious days for the Church of England, that there are some financial considerations to be taken into account. There has been consultation with the Church Commissioners and the central board of finance of the Church of England about the financial implications of the Measure. The Church Commissioners' involvement arises because they have a general responsibility in respect of the expenses of bishops, including legal expenses. Under section 4 of the Measure, where legal proceedings are to be instituted against a cathedral authority the bishop must first inform the Commissioners, who will decide whether they would be prepared to meet some or all of the bishops' costs and expenses in respect of those proceedings. The provision builds on the statutory discretion that the commissioners already have in deciding whether to contribute to a bishop's costs in court proceedings under the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1963. The commissioners and the central board are content with the proposed arrangements. The Measure was given general approval in November 1992, and then went to a revision committee of the General Synod, which made a number of amendments. Final approval took place at the November 1993 group of sessions of the Synod, where the Measure was approved in all three Houses with only one vote against. As will be seen from the report of our own in-house Ecclesiastical Committee, that Committee is of the opinion that the Measure is expedient.
Mr. Peter Hardy (Wentworth) : The House is indebted to the right hon. Member for Selby (Mr. Alison), who presented the Measure clearly and persuasively explained its nature. I do not think that any hon. Member will find it objectionable.
In this debate, we miss our former colleague, the late Bob Cryer, who, while not a church man, took a sensitive interest in church buildings and would have taken part in the debate if only to point out, as was his wont, that there are buildings of fine quality that are not part of the established Church. Nevertheless, he would have welcomed the Measure as it helps to maintain our generation's commitment to maintain that part of our heritage and to remedy the inadequacies of the previous arrangement and as it reflects the overwhelming, if not unanimous, view of the Ecclesiastical Committee, which deemed it to be expedient.
We are debating the Anglican cathedrals of England. The Measure should be passed to maintain the fabric of the Church and to prevent unauthorised and distasteful developments. Without the Measure, in these days when
Column 855market philosophies are all, it perhaps would be only a matter of time before someone equipped an Anglican cathedral with neon lights and sought to attract the attention of those who devote money to current fads, even if they are distasteful.
Prudence requires that a sensible, historically appropriate approach be taken to these buildings, which are not only important to the Church ; some of our cathedrals are among the greatest buildings on the planet and our generation must understand that it has an obligation to maintain them.
Some cathedrals are of ancient origin and owe their construction to those who wished to express their religious beliefs and to worship and to offer gifts to God. The glories of our cathedrals were created by ordinary people, the skilled craftsmen of the day who toiled hard with few labour- saving devices to assist them. One would like to think that their motivation was not simply to practise the skills of their craft. They created buildings of enormous merit and the House should assist the Church to ensure their future.
Many of our cathedrals have stood for almost a millennium and deserve to stand throughout the next one. The House is right, therefore, to ensure that wise legislation is passed because the Church has much to do to serve the present as well as to maintain the glories of the past. I should like to think that the House will have sympathy with the Church in ensuring that its priorities are to those who work for it and who seek to represent its ideals in a society that is becoming increasingly pagan.
Cathedrals allow us to enjoy a little regional pride. I am delighted that my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Bayley) is in his place. As a Yorkshire Member--I hope that, as another Yorkshire Member, the right hon. Member for Selby will agree--I believe that York is infinitely superior to Canterbury. It would be invidious, however, to mention York without mentioning Salisbury. If one mentions Salisbury, one must mention Durham and the cathedral at Lincoln, which has enormous architectural and historic significance. One could give other examples. All are important and enormously advantageous in providing an inspiration for our country, and we have an obligation not merely to serve the past but to maintain this vital part of our architectural, historic and religious inheritance. In order to serve that heritage I hope that the House will approve the Measure. I hope that the reasons advanced by the right hon. Member for Selby were sufficiently persuasive to convince the House that the Measure is right and thus justify the decision of the Ecclesiastical Committee that it be deemed expedient.
Mr. Hugh Bayley (York) : I, too, found the contribution of my neighbour, the right hon. Member for Selby (Mr. Alison), to be a clear exposition of the need for this Measure. Although I know that it is not his debate, I am pleased to see in his place the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for National Heritage. If he chooses to make a contribution to the debate, I hope that he will respond to my concern about the cathedral repair grant scheme which, to a large extent, this Measure is there to regulate and enforce.
Column 856Perhaps uncharacteristically from the Opposition Benches, I should like to congratulate the Government on introducing the cathedral repair grant scheme a little over three years ago. I have consulted the Very Reverend John Southgate, the Dean of York, who until recently was the chairman of the Association of English Cathedrals, about how the repair grant has worked in practice. He has nothing but praise for the scheme. He said that English Heritage has handled it with care. As chairman of the committee, he has not received a single complaint and he pays special tribute to Jenny Page and Richard Halsey from English Heritage who have administered the scheme. As my hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) said, our cathedrals are important as places of worship and as centres of excellence in music. Some of them are still important as centres of scholarship and learning. The library at York Minster is now the biggest privately owned theological library and the dean and chapter spend a great deal of money each year ensuring that the stock of books is replenished.
Along with parish churches, historic cathedrals are a unique part of our national heritage. They are large buildings of great age which are still in use today for the same purpose for which they were originally built. As my hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth said, they are monuments to English craftsmanship through the ages. It is for those reasons--both Christian and secular--that they attract so much love and affection from the people of our country. York Minster attracts 2.25 million visitors a year. That is more than the Tower of London and considerably more than the Tate gallery.
Until three years ago when the repair grant scheme was introduced, the cathedrals were unique in another respect. They were the only great historic buildings that were not able to apply for grants for their repair, restoration and conservation. Perhaps I should declare an interest as York Minster is a grateful recipient of money from the scheme. This year it received just under £250,000 for work on the north-west tower. The grant does not replace local fund-raising, but it is an important supplement to it.
The contribution made by English Heritage to York Minster is towards a £3.5 million scheme of restoration for the south-west and north-west towers and the south face of the Minster. That restoration work will take seven to eight years to complete. There is the rub. The restoration will continue for many years to come, but the cathedral repair grant scheme is due to end at the end of next year, after it has run for five years. I am not making a special case for York Minster, because its applications should be judged against the needs of other cathedrals. Nor am I asking for increased annual spending on repair, restoration and conservation of cathedrals. English Heritage is carrying out a needs assessment to assess the likely future repair costs faced by our great cathedrals. It will make a judgment on whether the current level of funding is appropriate or not and I am happy to leave that decision in its hands and to consider it when its report is published. However, I am asking for cathedrals to be treated in a similar way--not better and not worse--to secular buildings and parish churches. That means that the repair grant scheme must continue beyond the end of the next financial year because schemes to assist the conservation and repair of other secular buildings and parish churches will continue after that time.
One of the great benefits of the scheme has been that those responsible for the fabric of cathedrals have started
Column 857to plan their repair and restoration programmes ahead, instead of waiting for a crisis, such as the foundations to give way or the roof to cave in, to respond. That important forward planning could and would be lost if the repair grant scheme was to come to an end. I shall give briefly a couple of examples.
At St. Albans, a grant was given for the repair of the central tower. When they started the work, they found that the need for repair and the cost of the scheme was much greater than had originally been estimated. English Heritage was able to help by transferring a grant, which was scheduled for a future year for repairs to the nave, to finish off the repairs to the central tower. That ability to roll funding forward from one year to another will be lost if the repair grant scheme comes to an end. What would have happened if the work on the tower had been commenced next year, in the last year of the scheme ? The scaffolding would have been up, the work would have commenced, the bills would have been rolling in and there would not have been a scheme to which to apply in future years.
Ripon, too, faced a similar hiatus when a contractor who was due to come on site suddenly let it down. Since the scheme had not reached its final year, English Heritage was able to roll the funding forward. The same happened at Salisbury when a new architect was appointed.
I am happy to congratulate the Government on introducing the scheme. It is a good scheme and it has worked well, but the question I put to Minister is, will the good work continue ? If he speaks tonight, can he give an assurance to the House that the cathedral repair grant scheme will be rolled forward at least for a further five years ?
Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey) : Like other hon. Members who have spoken, I welcome the Measure. It would be churlish not to, since, as the right hon. Member for Selby (Mr. Alison) rightly said, it had only one opponent when it went through the Synod. Incidentally, we have not been given the reason why the one person opposed it, but that certainly meant that it was a far less controversial Measure at all stages than many other things which go through the Synod. I note in passing that, today, there was another close vote in the Anglican Church, although not in England. The Church of Scotland voted to agree to women being ordained as priests, which is a decision that I welcome. It has followed the English example, which is, in this case, a better example than that of the Welsh, although the Welsh normally set very good examples. I have three comments to make and they are made generally, although, of course, my interest is in Southwark cathedral ; a beautiful cathedral and the cathedral for the south bank of our capital city. My hon. Friends, including my hon. Friends the Members for Truro (Mr. Taylor) and for Bath (Mr. Foster), have expressed their interest, too. I believe that the question that I posed earlier related to Bath, but there are certainly other buildings, such as Westminster abbey, which are neither one thing nor the other ; neither parish churches nor cathedrals, which I assume are covered. That is why I raised the point with the right hon. Gentleman. However, it would be good to hear that, after the Measure is approved, Anglican church buildings are covered, which was its purpose.