Thomas Cranmer (Anniversary)

Oral Answers to Questions — Church Commissioners – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th April 1988.

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Photo of Mr Andrew Hunter Mr Andrew Hunter , Basingstoke 12:00 am, 25th April 1988

To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, as representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Commissioners are taking to support celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Cranmer.

Photo of Mr Michael Alison Mr Michael Alison , Selby

The Commissioners have at present no plans regarding such celebrations.

Photo of Mr Andrew Hunter Mr Andrew Hunter , Basingstoke

Bearing in mind that Thomas Cranmer was the architect of the Prayer Book, and that the Prayer Book is the birthright of the reformed Church of England and the bedrock of its doctrine, will my right hon. Friend encourage those responsible to ensure that the anniversary is observed? Does he agree that the refusal of the Post Office to issue a commemorative stamp is hardly an auspicious start?

Photo of Mr Michael Alison Mr Michael Alison , Selby

I hope that my hon. Friend will be reassured to learn that plans are afoot, through Lambeth palace, to mark this important anniversary.

Photo of Frank Field Frank Field Chair, Social Services Committee

Will the Commissioner make representations to the Post Office to get it to reverse its decision? Given some of the events that the Post Office commemorates with stamp issues, should not this rank high on the list?

Photo of Mr Michael Alison Mr Michael Alison , Selby

I agree with the hon. Gentleman, and I shall do my best to make effective representations through the proper channels.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Epping Forest

Although I believe that Cranmer came down on the wrong side of the fence—or perhaps I should say stake—would it not be as well, in this anniversary year if his splendid prayers and collects were studied by the Anglo-Americans, who shamefully mistranslated the Latin rites into banal English, and by those to whom will fall the task of revising them?

Photo of Mr Michael Alison Mr Michael Alison , Selby

I shall weigh carefully what my hon. Friend has said on a sensitive area of possible division. He will recall that Cranmer coined the phrase "the Church militant"—before the word "militant" took on a more political connotation. I am confident that the Church militant will prove to be the Church triumphant, unlike the Militant Tendency.

Photo of Mr Tony Banks Mr Tony Banks , Newham North West

I am all for commemorating Archbishop Cranmer's birth, but what about Bishops Hooper, Ridley and Latimer——

Photo of Mr Tony Banks Mr Tony Banks , Newham North West

My point is that they all suffered similar fates. Indeed, if they had burnt a few more Ridleys, we might not have had the poll tax Bill. The Bishop of Durham should be grateful for the fact that the Prime Minister does not have the powers that Queen Mary had in 1555. If she had, the pungent smell of roast cleric might be wafting up our nostrils now.

Photo of Mr Michael Alison Mr Michael Alison , Selby

The hon. Gentleman is tempting me to show that the Church Commissioners are not 100 per cent. supporters and admirers of Thomas Cranmer. The hon.

Gentleman will recall that during his primacy he presided over the redistribution of the Church's assets after the dissolution of the monasteries. The Church Commissioners at least would have been much better off today had it not been for that royal diffusion.