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“Inspired” Campaign

Volume 450: debated on Monday 9 October 2006

19. What recent discussions the Church Commissioners have had with English Heritage on its “Inspired” campaign. (92600)

The Church Heritage Forum, of which the commissioners are members, has welcomed “Inspired”. The forum’s chairman, the Bishop of London, has also said that the repair needs of historic churches are much greater than the sum that English Heritage has asked for.

Is there not an urgent need to maintain and repair many crumbling cathedrals, churches and chapels? While congregations and local communities must play a role, the sheer scale of the sums involved means that the Treasury also has a part to play. Is it not disappointing that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has seemingly not signed up to English Heritage’s “Inspired” campaign?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, who often raises the matter in the House. He is right that the upkeep of our magnificent church buildings should be properly reflected in funding received from the state, and the Church Heritage Forum and the Archbishops Council are constantly exploring possibilities with a number of Government contacts. The interest that this House takes in that Church-state relationship and getting more money into our churches is welcome.

Is it not true that a tiny fraction of the money spent on that ridiculous dome, and an even tinier fraction of the money that will be spent on the Olympics, would ensure that all our cathedrals and churches were safe for a further 100 years?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his comments. It would be a sad day for the Church if the promotion of the wonderful Olympic games in London led to it suffering through not getting the appropriate funds.