15 Oct 2009 : Column 995W

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 15 October 2009

Church Commissioners

Bishops

Mark Pritchard: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners if the Church Commissioners will take steps to seek to ensure that decisions on future numbers of bishops to be appointed to Church of England dioceses are taken on the basis of the (a) size and (b) level of pastoral activity of each such diocese. [291996]

Sir Stuart Bell: Under the Dioceses, Pastoral and Mission Measure 2007, questions relating to the number of dioceses and the number of suffragan bishops within dioceses are the responsibility of the Dioceses Commission. Final decisions are taken by the General Synod.

In its work the Dioceses Commission will certainly have regard to the size of dioceses and the level of pastoral activity within them, but there are many other considerations affecting the workload of bishops in individual dioceses that also need to be borne in mind.

Church of England: Finance

Mr. Drew: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners what average financial contribution was made to each diocese by each of its parishioners in the most recent year for which figures are available. [291574]

Sir Stuart Bell: In 2007, the last year for which figures are available, the "parish share" contributed to the dioceses annually per church member (as opposed to per "parishioner"), was as follows:


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Diocese Parish share contributed to diocese per church member (£)

Bath and Wells

314

Birmingham

326

Blackburn

292

Bradford

461

Bristol

421

Canterbury

362

Carlisle

335

Chelmsford

369

Chester

299

Chichester

291

Coventry

341

Derby

349

Durham

313

Ely

310

Exeter

333

Gloucester

294

Guildford

428

Hereford

286

Leicester

360

Lichfield

339

Lincoln

234

Liverpool

279

London

338

Manchester

299

Newcastle

300

Norwich

379

Oxford

358

Peterborough

365

Portsmouth

302

Ripon and Leeds

406

Rochester

123

St Albans

351

St Edmundsbury and Ipswich

333

Salisbury

306

Sheffield

343

Southwark

414

Southwell and Nottingham

356

Truro

284

Wakefield

343

Winchester

350

Worcester

340

York

298


My hon. Friend will also note that the diocese of Europe is not included (because it does not submit parish finance returns like other dioceses) and nor is the diocese of Sodor and Man (for which the figures are too small to produce a reliable average).

It should also be noted that parish share is not necessarily paid for out of members' voluntary giving. It is, however, the best proxy for the purpose of this Question.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners (1) pursuant to the answer of 7 May 2009, Official Report, column 426W, on Church of England: finance, what percentage of the Church of England's running costs was met by the Church Commissioners in each of the last five years; [291847]

(2) pursuant to the answer of 7 May 2009, Official Report, column 326W, on Church of England: finance, what exact percentage of the Church of England's running costs was met by the Church Commissioners in each of the last five years. [293182]

Sir Stuart Bell: In the last five years for which whole-Church figures are available, the percentage of the Church's running costs represented by the Church Commissioners' support was as follows:

Percentage

2002

17

2003

16

2004

16

2005

15

2006

15


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Departmental Land

Mr. Gibb: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners pursuant to the answer of 20 April 2009, Official Report, column 40W, on departmental land, (1) what estimate he has made of the itemised cost of establishing how many acres of agricultural land were sold by the Church Commissioners in each year from 2000 to 2008; [291848]

(2) what his estimate is of the cost of establishing how many acres of agricultural land were sold by the Church Commissioners in each year from 2000 to 2008, broken down by cost heading. [293213]

Sir Stuart Bell: This exercise would entail staff consulting at least 220 files, many of which would have to be retrieved from the Commissioners' off-site archive. While I have not made a fully itemised assessment of the cost, I would estimate that the exercise would take approximately 45 man-hours to complete and that the direct cost of this staff time alone would be in the region of £1,500.

The indirect cost of senior professional staff being distracted from their management of the portfolio by such an exercise is, of course, harder to judge.

Departmental Property

Mr. Gibb: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners (1) what the value has been of the capital receipts generated by the Commissioners' Rural Strategic Property portfolio in each of the last five years; [291846]

(2) how much in capital receipts was generated by the Church Commissioners' rural strategic property portfolio in each of the last five years. [293209]

Sir Stuart Bell: The value of the capital receipts generated by the Commissioners' rural strategic property portfolio in each of the last five years was as follows:-

Value (£ million)

2004

9.4

2005

5.6

2006

11.7

2007

25.9

2008

17.9


David Maclean: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners what procedures the Church Commissioners follow to determine the appropriate use for a former see house with a chapel when such a property is considered no longer suitable as an episcopal residence; and what steps the Commissioners take to consult (a) local communities and (b) diocesan authorities on the future use of such properties. [292048]

Sir Stuart Bell: All see houses are provided with chapels. These chapels vary quite significantly but are private chapels solely for the use of the bishop and his ministry. Given their status as private chapels they usually fall outside the remit of the Pastoral Measure and do not form any specific part of the Commissioners' consultation on the future of a house.

Where the future of any see house is under consideration the Commissioners' policy is to consult widely, including with the diocesan authorities.


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Leader of the House

Written Answers

24. Mr. Burns: To ask the Leader of the House what recent assessment she has made of the performance of Government Departments in providing timely answers to parliamentary questions for written answer; and if she will make a statement. [293091]

Barbara Keeley: My right hon. and learned Friend and I keep the quality and timeliness of Ministers' answers to written parliamentary questions under continuous review. We are happy to make representations on behalf of Members' to Departments. The hon. Gentleman will be aware of the publication of the Procedure Committee report on written parliamentary questions; the Government will respond to this very soon.

Electoral Commission Committee

Political Parties and Elections Bill

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what assessment the Electoral Commission has made of the workability of the provisions in the Political Parties and Elections Bill on donors who are not resident in the UK for tax purposes. [293066]

Mr. Streeter: The Electoral Commission informs me that it considered the workability of these provisions when the Political Parties and Elections Bill was before Parliament, and set out its views in its briefing notes at that time. The notes are available on the Commission's website:

and copies have been placed in the House of Commons Library.

In summary, the Commission's view was that the provisions finally incorporated in the Act addressed some of its concerns about previous amendments. In particular, the provisions clarified the obligations of those receiving donations that require a declaration from the donor about tax status. However, the Commission said that it would be helpful if the Government could explain the steps that recipients should take if they doubt the accuracy of a declaration, and clarify how donations should be aggregated for the purpose of establishing whether a declaration is required.

In terms of enforcement of the new provisions, the Commission informs me that it would expect to pass on any allegation that an individual had made a false declaration about their tax status to the police or another appropriate authority.

Transport

Crossrail Line: Finance

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how much has been (a) spent on and (b) committed to the Crossrail project by (i) the Government and (ii) the private sector; and what estimate he has made of the proportion of the final cost of the project each such figure represents. [293275]


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Mr. Khan: Crossrail Ltd. (CRL) is delivering Crossrail on behalf of both Project Sponsors (the Department for Transport and Transport for London) and has spent £401 million in relation to the construction of Crossrail (excluding recoverable VAT on land and property purchases) since the granting of Royal Assent on 22 July 2008. In line with undertakings given to the House, expenditure from this date is reported annually, and I refer the hon. Member to the first of these statements, made to the House on 16 July 2009, Official Report, columns 80-81WS.

The profile of direct expenditure by private sector partners is a commercial matter for those partners.

The Crossrail funding package, announced by the Prime Minister in October 2007, is designed to strike a fair balance in securing financial contributions from all those who will benefit from the scheme-Government, businesses and passengers.

Central Government, through the Department for Transport, have committed £5.1 billion of direct funding to Crossrail, which amounts to approximately one third of the funding package, in line with the estimated costs of construction of £15.9 billion.

Private sector commitments to Crossrail include a number of commercial agreements with private sector companies to provide contributions to Crossrail, given the benefits which will flow to businesses as a result of the scheme.

These include agreements with Canary Wharf Group, City of London, Berkeley Homes Group and BAA, as well as wider contributions being made through Business Rate Supplements, the planned Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106 developer contributions. Such commitments constitute approximately one third of the Crossrail funding package.


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