The total number of full-time stipendiary clergymen at the end of 1978 was 11,409; at the end of 1987 there were 10,624. In 1987 the first women deacons were ordained, increasing the total of full-time stipendiary clergy to 11,063. I shall arrange for full details to be published in the Official Report.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that the vast bulk of the clergy work long and anti-social hours, often with little material reward? Does he agree also that one of the functions of the clergy—and, one hopes, of the bishops — further is to give a moral lead to their congregations? Does he further agree that, as one would not expect a bishop to sponsor adulterers for ordination, one can agree with those bishops who are refusing to sponsor practising homosexuals?
The Church Commissioners have no direct responsibility for ordination, selection or training. It is unlikely that an avowedly practising homosexual would be recommended for ordination or ordained by a bishop in the Church of England. It would scarcely be compatible with a clergyman's pastoral duties for the teaching of Christian personal ethics to recommend ordination.