Skip to main content

Cathedral Repairs

Volume 448: debated on Monday 3 July 2006

22. What the cost of repairs to Lichfield and Hereford cathedrals was in 2004-05; and if he will make a statement. (81385)

Repair costs for individual cathedrals are not held centrally. However, by way of a statement, an English Heritage survey in 2002 identified £39 million worth of essential structural repairs needed in England’s 61 cathedrals.

Is it not important that we look after our cathedrals, not least Lichfield and Hereford? They act not only as spiritual centres of worship, but as community centres where people gather for live music, as we discussed in the Chamber earlier, and where other non-religious community groups meet in cathedrals. Is it not time that the Government recognised the wider role that our cathedrals play, not only in their diocese, but also to incoming tourists, and started to fund the repairs properly?

As the hon. Gentleman says, we should remember the educational benefits, of which Hereford cathedral’s recently launched Tudor trail for schools is a fine example. Lichfield cathedral works hard to encourage school visits, as the hon. Member for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant) often reminds us. We are consistently in dialogue with the Government in relation to church repairs, as I may point out in response to another question.

The cathedrals of England are a particularly important part of our national heritage. Does my hon. Friend worry that, if the Church of England increasingly turns its back on its liberal traditions and seems to be an organisation that becomes more and more bigoted and less and less committed to the whole of British society, it will find difficulty in getting support from the society in which it is meant to preach?

Thank you for saying that, Mr. Speaker.

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, notwithstanding the accuracy of everything that my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mark Pritchard) said, these buildings are intrinsically the most important single group of large buildings in our country, and that any Government who allowed them to crumble into decay would not deserve the accolade of a civilised Government?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, cathedrals generate about £91 million per year and directly support 2,600 jobs. They are therefore a strong addition to our economy as well as our national heritage.