Bishops' Work Load

Oral Answers to Questions — Church Commissioners – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 5th November 2001.

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Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield 2:30 pm, 5th November 2001

If he will make a statement on the progress of the commissioners deliberations on alleviating the work load ofbishops.

Photo of Stuart Bell Stuart Bell Second Church Estates Commissioner

A review group has given the view that, on the evidence presented to it, bishops are very hard working, perhaps excessively so; that the pressures on them are increasing; and that they do not have lavish lifestyles. How the hard work and pressure can be alleviated is the subject of on-going consultations.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

Those on-going consultations were on-going when I raised this issue before the previous general election. The hon. Gentleman will recall that there was some discussion by the commissioners of the appointment of a third archbishop. May I remind the hon. Gentleman that there is a precedent in Lichfield where, in the seventh century, there was a third archbishop? May I say that if there is going to be a third archbishop, he should be in Lichfield? May I also say that, contrary to the ideas of certain sketchwriters, I am not offering myself for that position?

Photo of Stuart Bell Stuart Bell Second Church Estates Commissioner

The hon. Gentleman might well be aware of the phrase that he who goes in a pope comes out a cardinal. Should there be a third archbishop, the same might be said for the bishop of Lichfield.