St Paul’s Cathedral (Demonstrations)

Oral Answers to Questions — Church Commissioners – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 24th November 2011.

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Photo of David Winnick David Winnick Labour, Walsall North 10:30 am, 24th November 2011

What discussions the Church Commissioners have had on the effects of demonstrations outside St Paul’s Cathedral.

Photo of Tony Baldry Tony Baldry The Second Church Estates Commissioner

I understand from the Bishop of London and the chapter of St Paul’s cathedral that they are in daily contact with the City of London corporation and the City of London police, as well as with the protestors. The chapter of St Paul’s and the Church are committed to working towards peaceful solutions with the protestors and the authorities concerned.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick Labour, Walsall North

Would not that be the best way, to have a continued dialogue, bearing in mind the fact that many if not all of the demonstrators and the people who have set in—I have visited them—feel very strongly indeed about the growing inequality of wealth in our country?

Photo of Tony Baldry Tony Baldry The Second Church Estates Commissioner

I hear what the hon. Gentleman says. Those concerns have been well reflected by the comments made by the dean and chapter of St Paul’s.

Photo of Julian Smith Julian Smith Conservative, Skipton and Ripon

The London demonstration seems to be adding to an air of tension between Church and state, and there are other examples of bishops becoming much more involved in Government policy. What role can my hon. Friend play to calm that quite worrying situation?

Photo of Tony Baldry Tony Baldry The Second Church Estates Commissioner

My hon. Friend must remember and recognise that both archbishops and a number of bishops are Members of the other place: they are Members of Parliament and are entitled to have their views heard. I would suggest that every archbishop and diocesan bishop is a significant leader within their community. They are entitled to speak out and be heard by the country and the House. The Church of England is a national church and the bishops are part of the national voice of this country.