International Visits

Oral Answers to Questions — Church Commissioners – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 5th March 2007.

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Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Labour, Rhondda 2:30 pm, 5th March 2007

What the cost was of the visit of the Archbishop of (a) Canterbury and (b) York to Dar es Salaam in February 2007.

Photo of Stuart Bell Stuart Bell Second Church Estates Commissioner

The Archbishop of Canterbury's costs were £2,094 and the Archbishop of York's were £2,866. The cost of the supporting staff was £5,128.

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Labour, Rhondda

I am sure that my hon. Friend is aware that the reason for the visit was so that the archbishops could meet other bishops from around the world to discuss the situation in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Is it not particularly depressing, however, that the two British archbishops chose to side with the fundamentalist bigots from some other parts of the Anglican communion, rather than represent the ordinary faith of most Anglicans in this country, which is entirely tolerant and decent?

Photo of Stuart Bell Stuart Bell Second Church Estates Commissioner

I am grateful, Mr. Speaker. The costs were well invested and well spent. If I may say so in contradiction to my hon. Friend, if he wished to talk about bigotry and extremism, he could have done no better than his choice of language today. In relation to the costs and the conference, I would say blessed are the peacemakers. The meeting concluded with an agreed communiqué, contrary to the expectations of all those who predicted schism. Perhaps this good result came about because the Church of England has two archbishops brought up in other Churches of the Anglican communion, who may therefore appreciate its continuing value more than most. The Church is grateful for their achievement. As I said, blessed are the peacemakers.

Photo of Robert Key Robert Key Conservative, Salisbury

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the Archbishops of Canterbury and of York should be congratulated on saving the Anglican communion from itself, with remarkably good value for money, and that those of us who have our travel expenses funded by the taxpayer should be careful about throwing stones at other organisations that raise their funds internally?

Photo of Stuart Bell Stuart Bell Second Church Estates Commissioner

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. As he knows, the agreed communiqué specifies practical steps to address the tensions surrounding the recent actions of the Episcopal Church in the United States. The Archbishop of Canterbury's presidential address to General Synod last week gives a full account of the significance of this outcome. Members can find the address via the archbishop's website.