asked the hon. Member for Wokingham, as representing the Church Commissioners, what are the normal hours of work of employees of the Church Commissioners; and if he will make a statement.
The normal working hours of the commissioners' employees are 41 per week, including lunch breaks.
While appreciating the expressed interest of the bishops and clergy of the Church of England and those who work for the Church Commissioners, in relation to the problem of unemployment, and bearing in mind the assets, amounting to £1·6 billion, of the Church Commissioners, will my hon. Friend say how many jobs have been created in those areas?
As I told my hon. Friend on 14 March, the very fact that by far the greater part of the portfolio of investments is in ordinary shares in British industry, commerce and services is itself substantial in relation to creating jobs, apart from their work in agriculture. I have also outlined—I must not detain the House on this issue—certain specific initiatives for investment in areas of very high unemployment.
Had the pay of the staff not been linked to Civil Service rates, would the commissioners have offered more or less pay in settlements in the last couple of years?
I am certain that the commissioners would have been their usual generous selves.
As one who is fond of putting questions to the representative of the Church Commissioners, may I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Sir William van Straubenzee) on the way in which he deals with points raised by hon. Members? However, can he tell me how much time is spent by the commissioners in considering the appointments of bishops, some of which have been controversial in the past?
Are bishops employees of the commissioners?
The commissioners take no part in the appointment of bishops. One of the great joys of answering questions on behalf of the commissioners is that it provides one of the rare opportunities that we have of hearing my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Bruinvels).