Church Funds

Oral Answers to Questions — Church Commissioners – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27 January 1997.

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Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn , Newport West 12:00, 27 January 1997

To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, representing the Church Commissioners, what new proposals he has to improve the transparency of Church funds." [11150]

Photo of Mr Michael Alison Mr Michael Alison , Selby

The statement of recommended practice "Accounting by Charities", issued by the Charity Commission, and part VI of the Charities Act 1993 and the Charities (Accounts and Reports) Regulations 1995, provide the framework for charity accounting with which dioceses and parishes of the Church of England must comply. The Church Commissioners are exempt from the regulations but complied in full with the statement of recommended practice in their 1995 accounts.

Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn , Newport West

When will the Church publish the report that might partly explain the calamity whereby the Church Commissioners lost a third of their total assets in the great property boom and how they lost £80 million in an absurd venture in Kent? It seems that we are not to know the details. When will the right hon. Gentleman answer the campaigns by CELFRA—Church of England's lost funds recovery action—and Mr. Ancrum Evans who claim that the Church Commissioners should sue Coopers and Lybrand and Chestertons and anyone else who advised them during the loss of that £80 million? The Commissioners are still refusing to publish the full report. When will we be told the truth?

Photo of Mr Michael Alison Mr Michael Alison , Selby

The hon. Gentleman will know that all the details of the losses, which occurred some years ago, were published in the properly scrutinised and audited annual reports. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman, who although he comes from Wales is not inimical to the Church of England, will be glad to know that the largely paper losses that arose from the drop in valuation of the Church of England's assets have now been almost fully recovered. On the question of the property in Ashford in Kent, if the hon. Gentleman would like to table a question, I will happily give him at least a written answer. Consideration and investigation of the background to that debacle—I agree that it was no less than that—are continuing and results will be published in due course.