I beg to move,
That the Care of Cathedrals 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.
This Measure, and a second Measure still on its way to Parliament—the Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure—but to which the General Synod gave final approval last week, represent the fulfilment, essentially, of a commitment made by the Synod to the Government in July 1984. The terms of that commitment were that the Church of England would implement voluntarily the proposals of the Faculty Jurisdiction Commission contained in its report published likewise in July 1984, provided that all churches in use, including cathedrals, were allowed to remain exempt from listed building controls; and that the state aid scheme launched in 1977 for churches in use, but as yet not for cathedrals, should be made permanent.
In October 1986, the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Lord Skelmersdale, announced the Government's acceptance of those two conditions. As a result, from early 1987 onwards a drafting committee chaired by Dr. Eric Kemp, Bishop of Chichester, has been continuously engaged on the task of preparing the promised legislation of which this Measure is the first instalment.
In deciding to give priority to the care of cathedrals, the Bishop of Chichester and his colleagues took account of the fact that cathedral buildings, despite their immense historical and architectural importance, are at present outside the scope both of the Church of England's own faculty jurisdiction and of the state's system of listed building control. It seemed only logical to plug that gap before improving and extending the faculty jurisdiction that already controls repairs and alterations to churches other than cathedrals.
Before outlining the provisions of the Measure, I draw the attention of the House to clause 1 in particular. It lays down explicitly the important principle that the functions of care and conservation which the measure confers on certain bodies—whether new or existing bodies—must be exercised with
due regard to the fact that the cathedral church is the seat of the bishop and a centre of worship and mission.
While to many people that may seem a statement of the obvious, there are still some conservationists who need to be reminded that even the most important of our ancient churches have rightly and necessarily been altered and adapted to reflect changes in patterns of worship as one century has succeeded another.
A balance must always be struck between, on the one hand, the role of the cathedral as
a spiritual powerhouse for the whole diocese",
as the Bishop of Chichester described it, and, on the other hand, the temporal needs of the building as a part of our nation's architectural, archaeological and artistic heritage. Members of the General Synod, and not least the deans and provosts among them, set great store by the inclusion of clause 1 in the Measure. It will ensure that those who administer it have clear guidance, to the effect that their
duty is to attempt to reconcile the potential tension between spiritual concerns and heritage concerns, and not to pursue the one objective to the exclusion of the other.
I turn to the control mechanisms that the Measure will introduce. Whereas in the past the administrative body of a cathedral enjoyed sole authority in the last resort to alter the interior of the building or to dispose of or acquire moveable contents, it will in future be required to secure the approval of a local statutory committee for every proposed change of significance short of certain really major changes—about which, more anon. There is to be one such committee for each cathedral, known as its fabric advisory committee. As schedule 2, which provides for its membership, shows, it will not include the dean or provost or any residentiary canon of that cathedral as voting members. Rather it is intended that this committee should be an independent group with relevant expertise and a particular interest in the cathedral concerned.
The authorisation of the more important changes, including the disposal by sale or otherwise of outstanding moveables, will be reserved for a new statutory body at the centre to be called the Cathedrals Fabric Commission. This body will replace the present Cathedrals Advisory Commission which is constituted, like the other non-statutory boards of the General Synod, under the synod's standing orders.
In many respects the new commission will inherit and continue the useful advisory functions of the one it succeeds, but it will have in addition a statutory power of control which will enable it to prevent action by a cathedral's administrative body without the commission's consent. This "new-look" commission will also be able to resolve disagreements between an administrative body and the local fabric advisory committee. Great care has been taken to involve as wide a range of expertise as possible in the composition of this very important commission. That composition is set out in schedule 1 to the Measure.
There is also a provision in the Measure allowing an appeal by an administrative body against a refusal by the Cathedrals Fabric Commission to give approval to any particular proposal. An appeal by an administrative body at that level of jurisdiction is to take the form of a request for a commission of review. This would be an ad hoc three-member body which can fairly be described as the long-stop feature of the system, unlikely to be needed except on rare occasions. One member, probably the chairman, would be the Dean of the Arches or another lawyer appointed by him, the second a dean, provost or residentiary canon of another cathedral appointed by the two archbishops, and the third a nominee of the Secretary of State for the Environment.
For a fuller treatment of the origins and content of the Measure, I refer hon. Members to the customary appendix to the ecclesiastical committee's report, which contains the report of the General Synod's legislative committee. In particular, I should underline the fact that, as can be seen from paragraph 12 of the latter report, not one single contrary vote was recorded in the final approval vote on the Measure in November 1989.
Like the Bishop of Chichester in another place, I should like to put on record, on behalf of the Measure's drafting committee, our warm gratitude to all the present and past Ministers responsible for heritage matters, and to all those officials in the Department of the Environment who have advised them, for their unstinting help in the preparation of this intrinsically sensitive area of church legislation.
Let me say a word in this context about enforcement. Earlier this year, after consultation with the present Minister, the draft Care of Churches Measure, the one following this Measure, and still en route to us, was amended in the General Synod to include the enforcement provisions now contained in clause 12 of that Measure which were also acceptable to the Department of the Environment. It was too late, however, at that stage to amend the present Measure, and, in any event, there were then as yet no agreed proposals for an enforcement procedure appropriate to the special needs of cathedrals.
To sum up, the present position as to enforcement is that the General Synod is already committed to an adequate enforcement procedure for cathedrals, if necessary by legislation. But the acid test is that this Measure should work. All of us in the Church of England are determined that it should, but we are equally clear that if experience gained after a reasonable trial shows it is not working, further action must be taken. Meanwhile, plans are laid to introduce the rules required under the present Measure for the approval of the new synod in November of this year. Once those are in force, the stage will be set for the archbishops to bring the main provisions of the Measure into operation shortly after.
The Measure is undoubtedly a landmark in the lengthy process in which the Bishop of Chichester, his Faculty Jurisdiction Commission of the early 1980s and latterly his drafting group appointed in 1987 have each played a vital part. May I add my personal thanks to them for their achievements. I hope that the House will now help to crown them by endorsing this Measure, which seeks to give greater protection to some of the finest historical buildings that we as a nation possess.
The Opposition welcome the Measure that is before us at this very late hour. There is no doubt that our 42 mainland cathedrals of the Church of England form, in the words of English Heritage,
the largest coherent and artistically splendid group of listed buildings in England, as well as being of enormous archaeological importance. They are also the home of some of England's greatest works of art from the post Roman period onwards.
I am sure that many hon. Members and others concerned about the subject will fully agree with the view expressed by English Heritage.
We welcome the fact that for the first time occasionally controversial decisions that would affect the buildings and contents of our Church of England cathedrals will now become subject to a procedure that will give a measure of public involvement in, and even control over, those wonderful listed buildings.
We also recognise the enormous amount of hard work that has gone into the formulation of the measure. It seems remarkable that we have ended up with a proposal that is, as we have just heard, so acceptable to so many people, given that the first draft suggested that the Measure would not see the light of day.
We believe that the local fabric advisory committee and the central Cathedrals Fabric Commission will definitely be of great benefit to the church administrative organisations responsible for the conservation and maintenance of cathedrals. We have no doubt that their membership, so carefully chosen, and the individuals who will be appointed to serve on them, will bring enormous expertise and specialist knowledge to our cathedrals. That is particularly important and something from which our cathedrals will greatly benefit.
I am sure that such wide knowledge of everything—architecture, archaeology, art, church music, stained glass, and historic manuscripts—will be invaluable to cathedral authorities charged with the task of balancing the cathedral as a place of worship against the concept of the cathedral as a vital part of our national heritage. That balance reminds me of the one that must be kept between nature conservation and access to the countryside. Drawing and maintaining that balance is an important part of conservation.
It is important to view the Measure alongside other developments that are relevant to our cathedrals, some of which the right hon. Member for Selby (Mr. Alison) touched on. Positive action to implement the Faculty Jurisdiction Commission's 1984 report has been much too slow in coming forward. Today's Measure brings the standard of controls over listed Anglican churches more closely into line with those for secular buildings. However, that is only one of several measures needed relating to cathedrals and their conservation.
I understand from a debate in another place that proposals on the restriction of the ecclesiastical exemption of listed building control following the consultation paper last year are imminent. In the debate on 28 June in the other place, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Lord Hesketh, stated:
Tonight is not the right occasion on which to go into the details of our thinking on this issue"—[Official Report, House of Lords, 28 June 1990; Vol. 520, c. 1797.]
I wish that there was a Minister present who could tell us what progress has been made on that. I would welcome comments from the right hon. Member for Selby, if not from the Minister, on the issue so that we may have some indication of the Government's timetable and the Synod's timetable for the implementation of the Measure proposing reductions in the scope of ecclesiastical exemption. I should be interested to know whether that proposal, whatever stage it has reached, is on the interiors as well as the exteriors of buildings. I am sure that that is an important issue.
I join English Heritage in calling for speedy implementation to reduce exemptions. I should like to take the opportunity to ask for assurances that there are proposals for comparable controls for non-Anglican churches, chapels and other places of worship. Although a Minister is not present, it is important to draw attention to the fact that the buildings of other religious denominations are an equally important part of our national heritage.
The lack of enforcement provisions in the measure must be remedied at the earliest opportunity. I noted carefully the comments of the right hon. Member for Selby and of the Bishop of Chichester that enforcement provisions for both the Care of Cathedrals Measure and the Care of Churches Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure were withdrawn at the request of the Government. We must not delay tonight's Measure, but I wish to emphasise that an adequate enforcement procedure, properly resourced, is the highest priority.
There is growing concern that the architectural heritage embodied in our churches and cathedrals is not receiving adequate funding for its care and upkeep. Statutory controls for the care of cathedrals are welcome because they bring more accountability to the standards and mechanisms for church controls. Government and the churches must closely define the matters in which the latter retain freedom of action for building adaptations and change of use, while releasing more state funding subject to the expansion of an educational and interpretive role by the churches. That is an important point to make.
Nobody knows how much maintenance and repair work is needed to keep our cathedrals in good order. To keep them more than wind and watertight, and so that they can weather the years ahead, a full audit of outstanding repairs is long overdue, and we must bear in mind the need to take account of the effects of acid rain.
Is it not time that the Government and the Synod, with the assistance of English Heritage, assessed the state of the fabric and condition of our cathdrals and their contents? Is not it time that we took account of the dual role played by our cathedrals? Virtually each of our cathedrals, as well as being a place of worship, has become a centre for tourism, but some more than others. We should recognise the contribution made by the Salisburys, Wellses, Chesters, Herefords and other better-known cathedrals—or perhaps those with the greatest treasures that people, particularly tourists, wish to see—and by tourism to local economies. That can be a great economic bonus to local areas as well as bringing extra worshippers to cathedrals.
We must take account of the effects of wear and tear on the fabric of buildings and the financial implications of that. The comparison that comes to mind are the tiles in Central Lobby. I cannot help but notice that those tiles, knowing that they were manufactured in my constituency, are inevitably worn out by the hundreds and thousands of people who pass over them. We should provide the extra facilities that are both necessary and desirable for the constant stream of visitors to our cathedrals, bearing in mind the balance to which I referred earlier.
We recognise that any increased expenditure on our priceless cathedrals must go hand in hand with priority treatment for the recruitment and training of skilled craftsmen and craftswomen. We cannot begin to deal with the fabric of our cathedral buildings without taking account of the need to ensure that we have properly trained and qualified people to do the job.
Historic buildings, ancient monuments and our national heritage have all suffered from public spending cuts. We recognise—as did the Select Committee on the Environment in its final report of February 1987—the need to improve the protection given to monuments, buildings and sites of archaeological importance, which, of course, includes cathedrals. Meanwhile, this Measure, although small in relation to that need, will play a large part in safeguarding the cathedrals that are so vital to our national heritage. It has our full support, if not—dare I say it?—our blessing.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Selby (Mr. Alison) on the clear and detailed way in which he set out the Measure. It is extraordinarily nice to debate a Church of England Measure with which I can wholeheartedly agree: I seem to have been short of those of late, and it is a great pleasure to speak on one that I have pressed for—albeit only in spirit; the Synod pressed for it in actuality.
It does not seem nearly two years since I stood here in high dudgeon, demanding that the Measure be presented to prevent the unfortunate experience suffered by Hereford a while ago. The nub of the matter for me, and, I think for Hereford—apart from the broad aspects mentioned by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Ms. Walley)—is the question of the disposal of articles of value and historical interest. I am delighted that that has been brought into line with the provisions for parish churches, which have existed for some time.
The House will be aware of the trauma involving Mappa Mundi which was sprung on this place in November 1988, on the verge of the 700th anniversary of the drawing up of Mappa Mundi by a canon—admittedly from Lincoln. The artefact itself had hung, modestly undisturbed, in Hereford cathedral for 700 years less a month; it was unfortunate that it should find itself in the limelight as a result of the decision by the dean and chapter to use it to restore the cathedral's financial fortunes.
All hon. Members were seized with a sense of outrage that such an artefact should be hawked around to potential buyers—and, indeed, should evaporate, in conditions of great secrecy, in the direction of a London firm of auctioneers. Altogether it was an unfortunate experience, and it is pleasing to know that it will probably not recur. I have great sympathy for the cause of the dean and chapter who sought to address through this valuable artefact the question of repair and maintenance and the funding of future maintenance and other matters pertaining to the cathedral.
Hereford cathedral has tremendous problems. It is not lavishly endowed with past generosity, but lives from hand to mouth. It was understandable that the dean and chapter should have decided in extremis that the prize was worth the outrage. I am glad that outrage won and that the prize was put back on the shelf. The outcome was intriguing. I subscribe to the cock-up theory rather than to the conspiracy theory about the way in which activity was started. I think that it was felt that the row would last a few days and when the dust settled the artefact would be sold and a nice £4 million or £5 million would be gained which would be sufficient to deal with most of the problems and endow a fund for appropriate maintenance.
As so often happens in cock-ups, things went wildly wrong. On the conspiracy side, there is no way in the world that we could have promoted the Mappa Mundi to the rank of a world renowned artefact, which it now is, if we had not gone through the curious exercise which took so long and which cost so much. The naughty side of me asks whether there was an intrigue which promoted the artefact. I have discarded that theory, but it is a nice little thought. However, it is now well known throughout the world that Hereford cathedral has the earliest known full map of the world.
I am delighted to have the Mappa Mundi back in Hereford. It is on display now and I invite hon. Members to come and see it and get to know it. I have been enjoying it for 40 years and I thoroughly enjoy taking guests to see it, especially those from America because the Mappa Mundi has a space where America might be—because it had not been discovered when the map was drawn. That keeps everything in perspective.
Its display presents a challenge and I look forward to the display and exhibition which is being worked on. The new building will exhibit great architectural sensitivity and delicacy and, in conjuncton with the display in the chained library, should provide an attraction that will keep Hereford on the map, if I may use such a phrase. It will develop the important relationship between the cathedral and the community.
We must take into account the matters mentioned by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North so that cathedrals can withstand the wear and tear of visitors. The building will need to be designed so that people are taken from some parts of the cathedral into the specially prepared display area to enjoy the exhibit in all the magnificence that has been brought out by modern technology. That will discharge the function in clause 1 of the Measure, which is to recognise that the cathedral is the seat of the bishop and of worship. The legislative committee's report forms one of the documents in the debate. Paragraph 10 of part 1 on page 4 states:
Nevertheless, the General Synod is preparing to bring forward specific provisions early in the lifetime of the next Synod, addressed directly to the further protection of cathedrals.
If my right hon. Friend the Member for Selby is fortunate enough to catch your eye towards the end of the debate, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I hope that he will explain what that means. Does it involve enforcement, as the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North has asked, or further dimensions of the cathedral protection requirements that are not covered by the Measure before us, comprehensive as it seems? I hope that the House will continue to give the Measure a fair wind.
Measures that are expected to be non-controversial that emanate from the Synod come on at about this time of night. It is a pity that we cannot give them slightly better billing. An earlier time was found when a previous Measure ran into difficulty in the middle of the night. It was thought safer to reintroduce it earlier in the day. I wish that we could have been given a better slot this evening, even though the troops were not to be called in to reverse the result of an earlier rebellion.
I welcome the Measure and feel an affinity with it. I was a cathedral chorister for the first part of my life. I attended a secondary school in another cathedral city and then moved to a further cathedral city with my family on leaving school. I now represent not one but two cathedrals. It is not surprising that I have an especial interest in cathedrals. I am happy to take up the remarks of the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Shepherd) because, like him, I have shared the joys of the history and treasures of Hereford cathedral over many years. I have enjoyed them personally and with others before they became so well publicised. I have shared the outrage and concern that we should suddenly find that we had lost, or thought that we had, the greatest treasure that the cathedral had of a moveable sort.
The Measure is directed at that issue and would prevent the future folly of the sale of such an important treasure as the Mappa Mundi. It would prevent the Mappa Mundi from suddenly being taken away and placed in a sale without proper control by authority delegated through the different hierarchy that the Measure provides. That is only for the good.
It was argued that the Mappa Mundi was a treasure of Hereford, and indeed it was. It was also a treasure of us all. It was part of our national heritage. It is important, as the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Ms. Walley) said, that our heritage is preserved for us all to enjoy, and at the most appropriate places.
The Measure would set up a decent substitute system for dealing with planning issues that affect the English cathedrals. It has taken a long time to get to this place. The process has been under way for more than eight years, or for nearly a decade. I do not complain about detailed consideration and I do not seek to devalue the work of the Bishop of Chichester and his committee, and of many others, but the complaint has been made that Measures that affect the Church often progress extremely slowly from the realisation of the need for them until they are approved by Parliament. That does not do the Church or Parliament, for as long as this place has responsibility, much good.
I do not suggest that on this occasion Parliament caused the delay. The process, from its conception to its conclusion through Synod and Parliament collectively, will have taken about eight years. That is a very long time. Had we been quicker, we should have avoided some of the problems to which reference has been made in the debate. Therefore, I share the hope of the right hon. Member for Selby (Mr. Alison) that the remaining part of this jigsaw, enforcement control, will come to Parliament soon. It should not be delayed. It is part of a package deal—that planning provision should be made and that enforcement should be provided for in a different Measure. The state aid provision is part of the agreement that was set out by the Under-Secretary of State in 1986.
It is accepted that the state must make provision for cathedral treasures. They are part of our heritage. That must be implemented soon. State aid is already provided for churches. Since the cathedral authorities desired to retain their autonomy, state aid has come later for them, but I hope that it will not be long before that part of the jigsaw is also in place. The cathedrals have to pay a price for that aid. They have to sacrifice their autonomy. However, it is a reasonable price. The structure that has been worked out is reasonable.
I share the view that we must not be partisan. There are parts of our Christian heritage and of our wider religious heritage that are not part of the Church of England. I hope that the same generosity will be extended to those parts of our Christian and religious heritage that fall within the jurisdiction of other churches and faiths. There are free church chapels that need support.
My hon. Friend the Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey) specifically asked me to mention the position of the cathedrals of the Church in Wales. I know them all well. There are only six. Four of them are in rural parts of Wales. Substantial sums of money need to be spent upon them. Their repair bills amount to about £2 million. They are located in areas where it is difficult to raise money. They, like the cathedrals in England, do not qualify for grants from Cadw, the Welsh equivalent of English Heritage.
I have read in the Measure that cathedrals of the Church in Wales can apply under section 11 for advice from the commission. That is to be welcomed. I do not know, however, whether it is envisaged that they will also be able to receive funds when the Measure for state aid for cathedrals comes into force. I should be grateful if the right hon. Member for Selby could answer that question.
A linked question relates to section 11(2)(b). I see that provision is made for a second category of cathedral, to be the subject of an application for advice from the commission. It is said to be
a cathedral church other than a cathedral church of the Church of England or the Church in Wales.
I presume that that means, for example, a Greek Orthodox cathedral or the cathedral of another denomination. I am glad about that. I hope that the commission will deal positively with any request and will not seek to make a substantial profit out of it.
The Measure provides that expenses should be reimbursed. That is reasonable. It should also be reasonable that the commission should not seek to profit from the desire of cathedrals of other denominations to benefit from the commission's expertise.
I welcome the provision in section 12 that there should be consultation before the appointment of a cathedral architect. In particular, I welcome the provision that the cathedrals shall have the duty to appoint an archaeological consultant. My cathedral in Southwark—a very old one—is in the middle of an area that is so rich in archaeological remains that we hardly dare disturb anything. If we do, we chance upon another major archaeological find. Such finds are welcome. We found the original Roman road from London to Dover during the last couple of weeks. We find Shakespearean theatres at the rate of about one a year. All that is welcome, and it is important that the cathedral has someone to give advice on archaeological heritage, particularly as the Government have not yet agreed to the designation of further areas of archaeological importance.
It is good that clause 13 provides for the compilation and maintenance of an inventory of objects in cathedrals. That is a right and proper list that should be available. There should be two categories, particularly noting those of outstanding archaeological, architectral, artistic or historic interest. It is good that section 14 provides that records should be kept and reports made on a regular basis on the state of the fabric of our cathedrals.
I apologise if the right hon. Member for Selby thinks that I should know the answer to this question, but there is the provision for opt-out from the structure by some of our cathedrals. That is for cathedrals that are also parish churches. I understand that and do not oppose it. I would be interested to know—it is important to put it on record—how many cathedrals might be part of that provision which would take them out of the jurisdiction to which the Measure applies—the heritage of our cathedrals. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman can give me a simple and factual answer.
I hope that this unanimous recommendation of the Church—that is the unusual feature of the report from the Synod to us—will soon be in force and that we will have taken a clear, if slow, step towards the better guardianship of some of the jewels of our English heritage. The Measure is most welcome.
I must pay a warm and generous tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Selby (Mr. Alison) for the manner in which he introduced the Measure to the House. I have three reasons for wishing to participate in the debate. First, I have had the privilege, the challenge and the pleasure of serving for the past 11 years on the Ecclesiastical Committee of the House. Like the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes), I think that it is tremendous to see the fruits of our labour.
Secondly, I am unique in that the constituency which I am honoured to serve is divided in diocesan terms between Lichfield and Worcester. In that connection it was tremendous to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Hereford (Mr. Shepherd) give a graphic account of the events leading to the safety and secure retention of the Mappa Mundi.
The crypt of the cathedral church of Christ and St. Mary was built in 1092 and the tower was completed in 1374. It is because of the events of 1374 that we have this measure before us to ensure that we retain our inheritance, our heritage and, as has been said several times, our stewardship of the cathedrals. The cathedral church of St. Mary and St. Chad in Lichfield was finally completed in 1195. Both those cathedrals have suffered great decay in the fabric of the buildings. I am honoured to be part of a team raising £10 million for the restoration of Worcester cathedral. Recently, nearly £1 million was raised for the restoration of the cathedral church of St. Mary and St. Chad.
Thirdly, tonight is a special night in the history of the cathedrals. We are doing something that should have been done centuries ago—securing the fabric of our cathedrals. I welcome the creation of a Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England. Section 11 refers to "advice", but it is good to read on. It is almost like a biblical story—the more one reads, the better it becomes. As the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey delightfully outlined to the House, we find that clause 12 refers to "duty". That appeals to me because of the inventory that will be taken and because a cathedral architect will be appointed, under the Cathedrals Measure 1963. Hon. Members are united on the issue of the appointment of an archaeological consultant. I suspect that the consultant appointed at Southwark will work much harder than the Worcester consultant.
The Houses of Bishops, Clergy and Laity passed this Measure in the General Synod without a vote against. Tonight of all nights we can rejoice at the acceptance of the Measure. We are fulfilling our stewardship as parliamentarians, our duties as Christians and our responsibilities as citizens by protecting the cathedrals and giving them the expertise of the fabric advisory committees.
This action has been taken by the Church—dare I say it—to put its house in order and to safeguard its future. The Measure will be welcomed the length and breadth of Christendom, and I wish it Godspeed.
I am delighted to join the late night line-up discussing our great cathedrals. I have no history of choir singing in such great buildings. All I can offer is the fact that when I was first married, I lived within the precincts of one and was woken every Sunday by the mellow but thundering bell of the cathedral at Peterborough. On the basis of that little bit of history, I join this debate to welcome the comments of my right hon. Friend the Member for Selby (Mr. Alison). Like my hon. Friend the Member for Hereford (Mr. Shepherd), this is the first time I have had the pleasure of supporting a Measure from the Church of England. I do so warmly.
This is a good, useful Measure. As my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley, West (Dr. Blackburn) said, we are contributing to the preservation of our heritage and to passing it on to the next generation. This is all part of Church and Parliament coming together to achieve that end, and that is a good idea.
I shall not detain the House for long. I merely wish to ask my right hon. Friend one or two questions as much for my own clarification and education as anything.
Within the precincts of Peterborough cathedral is a rather fine bishop's palace. I want to know the extent to which bishop's palaces are incorporated in the Measure. Such palaces are often within cathedral precincts, but not always. There may be occasions when palaces outside need to be incorporated in the Measure.
Again for information, can my hon. Friend tell me whether we are considering cathedrals only, or does the Measure include some of the great abbey churches—such as Westminster just across the road—or are they subject to different legislation?
The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) mentioned cathedrals that are also parish churches. I know of one in Portsmouth. I suspect that very often they are more recent churches which do not have the same problems of antiquity that affect most cathedrals, but I should be grateful for a word or two on the reasons why cathedrals which are also parish churches are exempted from the Measure in such a way.
Another cathedral that I know a little of—not so much a church as a chapel—is Christ Church of Oxford. I know that that is specifically exempted from the Measure. What is the reasoning behind that, and what protection is given to that building? Perhaps special statutes govern the buildings of the university of Oxford which cover it adequately, but we should be told in this debate.
Will cathedrals that may be approved in future—either parish churches or new buildings—automatically come within the terms of the Measure?
Clause 15 refers to any
building or monuments within the precinct".
I know of many cathedrals where the wall of the precinct is one of the features that one would wish to protect and preserve. Will ancient walls surrounding cathedrals be incorporated?
My hon. Friend the Member for Hereford has great experience of recent events in Hereford and has wisely gone into the question of the treasures of our cathedrals. I hope that the Measure will not deter cathedrals from lending treasures. It is important that they continue to lend them out on exhibition and that they tour the country, as it is good for people in the rest of the country and good for the cathedral to have such treasures more widely viewed.
To refer back to a question and answer that I had from my right hon. Friend the Member for Selby earlier today, I express the hope that the security of cathedrals is being taken into account in such Measures. We have had unfortunate experiences with damage caused by break-ins and of items being stolen. This is a chance for the Church to put its house in order—locked-up order if necessary— as regards its treasures and assets.
In all our discussions, now and in future, we must bear in mind the fact that cathedrals are not static items of architecture. They have evolved over the centuries. I know of no great historic cathedral church which does not contain a multiplicity of ages of architecture and design. That is part of the great glory of our cathedrals.
I hope that we shall do everything that we can to protect and preserve the ancient and the good in our cathedrals, but that we will not stifle good additional modern designs which can enhance their lives.
I join all other hon. Members who have welcomed the Measure.
With the leave of the House, I shall answer some of the questions that have been asked.
The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Ms. Walley) asked why the Measure had been so long delayed. The 1984 report of the Faculty Jurisdiction Commission was conditionally endorsed by the General Synod in July 1984—the condition being that the Government would respond in certain respects. There was then a long lapse of two and a half years before the Government reached their conclusion that it was reasonable to accept the General Synod's outline proposals and conditions. This they did in October 1986.
The first version of the Measure was then introduced into the General Synod in February 1988, but consideration was adjourned following criticism by, among others, deans and provosts. As there are quite a number of deans and provosts, that took a great deal of sorting out. So this Measure was not introduced to the General Synod until November 1988 and it was finally approved a year later. So although the wheels have ground slowly I hope that they have ground exceedingly small and effectively—although there has been an extensive delay.
Under the final clause in the Measure, implementation is likely to be in March next year.
The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North asked about the possibility of other churches being included. I cannot speak with authority about the position of other denominations since I represent the Church Commissioners for the Church of England, so I can speak only for the Church. I can refer only to clause 11, with which the hon. Lady will be familiar, which is about advice being provided on a purely voluntary basis for other churches. I am not competent to answer on the fate of the architectural merits of churches outside the Church of England.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hereford (Mr. Shepherd) is almost as well known—at least in the west of England—as the Mappa Mundi for the doughty battle that he fought for that priceless treasure in Hereford
cathedral. He asked a question about paragraph 10 in the explanatory memorandum, which speaks of bringing forward further
specific provisions early in the lifetime of the next Synod, addressed directly to the further protection of cathedrals.
That refers to further enforcement provisions. Originally the idea had been to introduce a special Measure separate from the church and cathedral Measures, which would incorporate enforcement provisions for both categories of church building. However, it was not found possible to produce a satisfactory formula for enforcement. It was therefore decided that the cathedrals Measure should be allowed to go ahead on its own, without enforcement, precisely to help with crises such as that surrounding the Mappa Mundi. Meanwhile, a formula has been found for the churches Measure, which will presently come before the House.
I can assure the hon. Members for Stoke-on-Trent, North and for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes), as well as my hon. Friend the Member for Hereford, that the General Synod is committed to providing an adequate enforcement procedure and has begun work on it. The General Synod has already had one meeting with its legal advisers followed by a helpful interview with the relevant Minister.
The General Synod—or its officials—have roughed out a scheme which was considered by the drafting committee at the end of June. I am confident that the authorities will be able to produce a short Measure for the newly elected General Synod, which comes into being at the end of the year, and that shortly after that, the appropriate enforcement provision for this Measure will come along as a sort of "after burner", so to speak, and will reinforce it and add what is necessary to it. The words in paragraph 10, to which my hon. Friend referred, relate specifically to that.
Apart from his query about enforcement, with which I hope that I have just dealt, the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey also referred to clause 11. I am afraid that all that can be said is that advice will be available both for the Church in Wales and to churches of other denominations if they desire it. Obviously, no attempts will be made to exploit the expertise of the Church of England at their expense; costs will simply be covered. There is no question of any money being available, because the Measure has nothing to do with money. Unlike parish churches, there is no money available for cathedrals although we hope that, in the future, Government money may be available for cathedrals. The extent to which it will then be made available to cathedrals of other denominations is a matter about which I am not competent to advise the House. At present, there is no money in the kitty to help cathedrals, either in the Church of England, or anywhere else. We hope that there will be in the future.
The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey was right in his surmise that other cathedrals are eligible in the narrow sense that I have suggested, such as Greek Orthodox cathedrals, but not in the sense of money being available for them.
The hon. Gentleman also asked about the potential of so-called parish church cathedrals to "opt-out". There are eight such parish church cathedrals in the province of Canterbury and a further six in the province of York. I am advised that none has any intention of seeking or applying for what the hon. Gentleman described as the "opting-out" facility.
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley, West (Dr. Blackburn) on his speech. The House knows that my hon. Friend has not been very well. It is marvellous to see him back, looking in robust health. The fact that he has stayed up until nearly half-past two in the morning to add his blessing for and endorsement of this Measure is a credit to the Measure as well as to my hon. Friend. We are pleased that he is here with us.
My hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis) asked one or two questions that I shall try to answer. I am afraid that palaces do not necessarily fall within the scope of the Measure. My hon. Friend put his finger on the point that it all depends on whether the palace is within the precincts. Not many palaces manage to tuck themselves into the precincts of any of our great cathedrals, but if there are any, they will fall within the ambit of the Measure because the precincts are the determining characteristic of the Measure.
Unless I am given contrary advice by my advisers, I suspect that this is an uncertain area, but the fact of being within the precincts is likely prima facie to mean that the palace would have to be considered carefully, in that context.
My hon. Friend also asked about the walls within the precinct. As he will see if he reads the small print, the technical answer is that the Measure requires the administrative authorities to draw up a full, comprehensive and careful delineation of the precincts and to map them fully so that there is a definitive indication of the freehold territory occupied. Any administrative body that has any sense will make quite certain that the outside of the walls represents the outer limit of the precinct—not the inside of the wall—so that the wall falls within the precinct.
My hon. Friend asked about buildings such as Westminster abbey. Only buildings which are specifically cathedrals, as defined in the interpretation clause 20, come within the scope of the measure. From that my hon. Friend will see that the definition
any cathedral church in the provinces of Canterbury and York,
excludes places such as Westminster abbey, which are not cathedrals. They do not have a dean and chapter in the same sense. The cathedral church of Christ Church in Oxford, to which my hon. Friend referred, is included because it is what is technically known as "a royal peculiar". It has its own mysterious jurisdiction and arrangements. For that precise reason it is excluded.
My hon. Friend referred to the possibility that certain notable parish churches come within the scope of the Measure. They already come within the scope of the Faculty Jurisdiction Measure. They have their own governing rules and regulations. Therefore, there is no need to include them in the scope of the Measure.
I have answered most of the queries that have been raised by my hon. Friends and by Opposition Members during this short debate. Perhaps it would be appropriate to mention that the Care of Cathedrals Measure represents one could almost say the final swansong, if it is appropriate to link swans with cathedrals, of the recently knighted Sir Derek Pattinson, who was for many years and will be until Wednesday the Secretary-General of the General Synod of the Church of England. As it happens, Sir Derek is not far removed from us now. We all wish him a happy retirement and congratulate him on the success of his efforts to bring the Measure before the House tonight.