The hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked

– in the House of Commons on 4th March 2021.

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Photo of Chris Loder Chris Loder Conservative, West Dorset

To ask the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what assessment the Commissioners have made of the potential effect on the Church of England of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s decision to take a sabbatical in May 2021.

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner

While he is carrying out academic study and writing a book, the Archbishop will delegate some of his duties to the Archbishop of York and other bishops. Study leave is available to all clergy and bishops, and the Archbishop’s two immediate predecessors also both took study leave.

Photo of Chris Loder Chris Loder Conservative, West Dorset

I thank my hon. Friend very much for his answer. It is a concern of many members of the frontline clergy, in the light of press reports, that there will be a reduction in the number of clergy in the Church of England. Given that the Archbishop is going on sabbatical and there is considerable concern about that, will my hon. Friend just outline how the Church of England will protect frontline clergy in the event of any review of Church structure?

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner

My hon. Friend will be reassured that the Archbishop of York told the General Synod on Saturday that the Church needs more priests, not fewer, and a parish system revitalised for mission to tell even more people about the good news of Jesus, building on the amazing work that the Church has done to meet those in need during the pandemic.