To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, as representing the Church Commissioners, what information he has as to the proportion of clergy income currently provided through voluntary giving by the congregations; and if he will make a statement.
Forty-three per cent. of the total stipends bill for the Church's ministry is met from voluntary giving. I shall send my hon. Friend a copy of the Central Stipends Authority's 15th report giving further details.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that the level of voluntary giving would be somewhat higher if so many churches had not thrown overboard the twin legacies of the Book of Common Prayer and the King James's Bible, and if certain parishes had given more of a moral lead on some of the great issues facing our country today?
I believe that a clear, moral and spiritual lead from both bishops and clergy is vital if Christian congregations are to be kept in good heart and their giving is likewise to be kept in good shape. The fact that the contribution from parishes towards the stipend of clergy has doubled in the past decade is some sign that there is a good deal of good heart and proper leadership in many parishes.
While the right hon. Gentleman is correct to draw attention to the doubling of voluntary giving, is it not also important to use this opportunity to draw attention to the fact that if our clergy were dependent on our givings, we would be returning average salaries of less than £3,000 a year?
That is true. A substantial proportion of the stipend is met from the income of the Church Commissioners. It is also true that if the congregations were presented with a direct challenge of the need to make up what the Church Commissioners provide, they would rise to that challenge and the full sum would be forthcoming.