Churches and Cathedrals: Maintenance

Church Commissioners – in the House of Commons at 9:34 am on 26 January 2023.

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Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East 9:34, 26 January 2023

What assessment the Church of England has made of the steps needed to put the maintenance of churches and cathedrals on a sustainable basis.

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner, The Second Church Estates Commissioner

The Taylor review of cathedral and church building sustainability was published in 2017. There is an urgent need for dialogue with the Government about it, because without a bedrock of basic maintenance and repairs funding, there is a real risk to many of our amazing church and cathedral buildings. In passing, I note that such issues are always easier to address with a full church.

Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. My constituency is home to no fewer than 24 churches, including every branch of Christianity, but St Lawrence’s church in particular is in dire need of repair. It is a very well populated church, but it does need additional funds to restore it to its previous good keeping. Can my hon. Friend tell me what help will be given to St Lawrence’s church?

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner, The Second Church Estates Commissioner

I have read up on St Lawrence, Little Stanmore: its baroque interior and internationally renowned organ—Handel was employed as a composer in residence —are real treasures. I will put my hon. Friend in touch with the national church buildings department, which advises parishes on grants and support for refurbishment. I can also tell him that the Willesden area council of the diocese of London is able to distribute grants of up to £20,000 for urgent repairs.

Photo of John Cryer John Cryer Labour, Leyton and Wanstead

As the hon. Member said, a large number of churches and cathedrals in this country are in serious danger, including a number in my constituency. He also mentioned discussions between the Government and the Church of England on securing the future of churches. Will he say if those discussions are imminent?

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner, The Second Church Estates Commissioner

I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising that point, and I think the answer is that they need a bit of a boost, if I could put it that way. I would welcome his support, and indeed that of hon. Members on all sides, because I think all places of worship—and the Church of England does have an enormous number of grade I and grade II buildings—are important in all of our communities, and we do need a serious national conversation about how we keep them going for the future. Other countries fund them from the state. Personally, I do not think that is right, but I do think we need a dialogue with Government as to how we go forward in this area.