Archbishops of Canterbury and York: Workload

Church Commissioners – in the House of Commons on 31st October 2019.

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Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

What assessment has been made of the effect of the workload of the Archbishops of (a) Canterbury and (b) York on their ability to carry out their functions effectively; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Chair, Draft Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill Committee

The Archbishops of York and Canterbury have many duties in relation to the northern and southern provinces of the Church of England, and the Archbishop of Canterbury is also the spiritual leader of the Anglican communion, a global network numbering tens of millions of members. There is no doubt in my mind that both these men are able and effective.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

But both these men are overworked. My right hon. Friend—indeed the whole House—will be aware that 1,200 years ago, Archbishop Hygeberht was the Archbishop of Lichfield. It seems to me that you, Mr Speaker, could have a future role in your retirement as the Archbishop of Lichfield—

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

No, Lichfield. We want him in Lichfield and then the hard work done by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York could be shared. We have that precedent; we want you now.

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Chair, Draft Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill Committee

Fortunately, I had a little advance notice of the tenor of my hon. Friend’s question. He is absolutely right that, for around 16 years between 787 and 803, there was an Archbishop of Lichfield. This arose from the fact that King Offa, in the kingdom of Mercia, struck a deal with the Pope, requesting an archbishop to be named to serve in his kingdom, but that deal involved sending an annual shipment of gold to the Pope for alms and supplying the lights for St Peter’s church in Rome. My hon. Friend, as the Member for Lichfield, might like to make a similar offer to the Archbishop of Canterbury.