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Cathedral Restoration

Volume 514: debated on Tuesday 27 July 2010

9. What recent representations the Church Commissioners have made to the Government on public funding for the repair and restoration of cathedrals. (11100)

Church groups of all denominations are seeking to encourage and persuade the Government to continue the listed places of worship grant scheme, which enables a 100% refund of VAT on church buildings and repairs.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Yorkshire Forward, the Yorkshire regional development agency, was forced to withdraw a grant of £1 million toward the cost of restoring the great east window of York minster? Will the Church Commissioners make representations to the Government that funds withdrawn from RDAs should be made available to other regional or local bodies, and that funding applications to these bodies from cathedrals should still be supported?

I understand the point the hon. Gentleman makes. It is estimated that some £9 million is required to put York cathedral into good repair. Although funding has been coming forward—I understand that there is a grant application to the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the Wolfson Foundation has set up a fund for cathedral repairs—we will need to find money from all sorts of sources if we as a nation are to meet the responsibility of repairing these fantastic cathedrals, which are part of our national heritage.

Can my hon. Friend explain why two of the cathedrals in Scotland—Glasgow and Dunblane—are fully funded by the public purse, yet not a single cathedral in England is so funded?

The situation in Scotland is simply different from that here. As I said, we need to raise considerable sums of money—for Salisbury, Winchester and Lincoln cathedrals, and for York minster—but that will require a number of different sources of funding: part from the state, part from trusts and charities and part from private individuals.