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The Minister for Sport (Mr. Richard Caborn): During 200405, 2,436 awards worth more than £79 million were made by lottery bodies to projects in the west midlands region. The actual spending will be spread over several years.
Mr. Caborn: Very much so. We have continuous dialogue, even more so now through the sports boards, which have gained a lot of power and responsibility in the regions. There is wide consultation on sport and for the first time a proper strategy is being developed, as well as a little bit more joined-up thinking, and indeed joined-up money, to deliver many of the projects.
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Stuart Bell): I know that the hon. Gentleman is a vigorous campaigner on behalf of schools, especially in Southport and Sefton. The Church of England is a welcome partner in academy sponsorship because of its strong commitment to distinctive and inclusive education. There is no requirement for dioceses to report expenditure on schools to the commissioners.
Dr. Pugh: I thank the hon. Gentleman for that answer, but if the Church Commissioners are not collecting information about the considerable sums being spent, who is monitoring that expenditure on behalf of parishioners and the wider Church?
There is no requirement for dioceses to report expenditure on schools to the commissioners; the dioceses are accountable and look at their own accountability. The Church of England has already provided several academies, most recently a joint academy with the Roman Catholic Church in a deprived
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area of Liverpool. That is a symbol of the Church's commitment to providing education for the most disadvantaged in society.
Sir Stuart Bell: Provincial episcopal visitors are "flying bishops" in the parlance of the Church. The figures for the calendar year 2004the latest availableare £167,984 in the province of Canterbury and £81,675 in the province of York.
Robert Key: Will the Church Commissioners publish those helpful figures as a matter of routine? We cannot possibly reduce deeply held views about women priests to financial figures, but given that a lot of angels are flying around this Christmas-time, as well as flying bishops, may we expect an outbreak of peace and good will, as well as common sense, as we move on from women priests towards women bishops?
Sir Stuart Bell: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. The House consistently counts angels on the head of a pin and no doubt will do so in the future. We might have flying bishops and flying angels, but in 1993, as he knows, the Act of Synod was concerned that
Sir Stuart Bell: There are currently 532 ordinands in residential training and 822 in non-residential training. The House of Bishops will be considering a general strategy for colleges at its January meeting and I shall, of course, transmit any views that my hon. Friend has.
Chris Bryant: That means that there is a significant move towards non-residential training in the Church of England. Does my hon. Friend worry that the Church of England needs not only managers, but theologianspeople who have studied theology as an academic discipline? Will he take it from me, as an external adviser on the Oxford theology degree, that few people now study such academic courses in this country? Is there not a danger that theology will wither on the vine in the Church of England?
Sir Stuart Bell:
I would be very surprised if theology withered on the vine because the Archbishop of Canterbury is one of the finest theologians that we have and a great example to us all on theology. My
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hon. Friend is right that the choice between residential and non-residential training courses depends on several factors. I look forward to the merger of Ripon college with the Oxford ministry course, which will strengthen the college, allow for new types of training along the theological lines to which he referred and draw on the full strength of full-time and part-time modes of training.
20. Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York) (Con): What discussions the commissioners have had with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the level of English Heritage grants for church repairs. 
Sir Stuart Bell: The commissioners and other Church representatives recently met the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, my hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr. Lammy). May I say how grateful I am to him for standing in for me during the last Question Time? He did such a fine job that he might be called on to do so again in the future. At the meeting, the need for more Government support to enable churches' contributions to the community to be sustained and enhanced was emphasised. We shall meet the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the new year.
Miss McIntosh: Will the hon. Gentleman take a strong message to the Chancellor from the House? The Chancellor told us that the reason why lower VAT on church repairs would not apply was that more money would be received from English Heritage in grant. We heard during the last Question TimeI know that the hon. Gentleman was not able to be presentthat English Heritage grants will be slashed. Will the hon. Gentleman make the strongest possible representations so that we can get the maximum amount of grant for church repairs?
Sir Stuart Bell: In 2003, as the hon. Lady is aware, the overall estimated cost of outstanding major repairs that were required to our 16,000 church buildings in England was £373 million. The Culture, Media and Sport Committee is holding an inquiry into the amount of money provided, which will include a consideration of English Heritage and its funding. The Church Heritage Forum will make a submission in the new year.
Mr. Andy Reed (Loughborough) (Lab/Co-op): Does my hon. Friend agree that the problem is not always just money, but sometimes the interference of English Heritage? A church in my patch has the ability to raise its own funds and to offer facilities for the local community. However, the rather pedantic way in which English Heritage sometimes gets involved in such projects, holds back churches' ability to make provision for their local communities. Will my hon. Friend ensure that a balance is struck between the need for large parts of our English heritage to remain and the need to ensure that such buildings are used?
Sir Stuart Bell:
The question of use is pertinent. We often refer to "faith tourism" regarding cathedrals and churches. It would be a matter of regret if bureaucracy
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intervened to prevent the repair of our churches and the appropriate money from being secured. We are always grateful to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for his listed places of worship grant scheme, which involves VAT, but we also need substantial improvements to the grant money that goes to the Church over time.
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