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Non-Domestic Rates: Religious Buildings

Volume 498: debated on Monday 26 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill) of 3 June 2009, Official Report, column 591W, on non-domestic rates: religious buildings, what criteria the Registrar General uses when determining whether to certify the premises of a faith community or religion as a place of religious worship. (294776)

I have been asked to reply.

The Places of Worship Registration Act 1855 provides for places of meeting for religious worship to be certified to the Registrar General but does not apply to the established Church. When considering the registration of a building which has been certified as a place of religious worship, the Registrar General applies the judgment by the Court of Appeal in the Segerdal case. The main finding in the judgment is that the words ‘place of meeting for religious worship’ in the Act connote a place of which the principal use is for people to come together as a congregation to worship God or do reverence to a deity. Apart from the Church of England and the Church in Wales, any faith or denomination which meets these criteria would be capable of recognition under the 1855 Act.