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Clergy Accommodation

Volume 524: debated on Tuesday 1 March 2011

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that answer, but does he not think that there should be such a policy in the light of what is happening in Christchurch at the moment? The vicarage adjoining the priory lies empty, but the diocese pays more than £2,000 a month to rent alternative accommodation, several miles from the priory, for the new priest in charge, who is quite willing to occupy the priory should the diocese be willing to allow that to happen. Will my hon. Friend convene a meeting, using his powers of mediation, to try to drum some common sense and economic sense into the diocese on that issue?

The Christchurch parsonage is a very large building, being twice the recommended size, and it is very expensive for the diocese to maintain and for the occupier to run. The diocese is looking to replace it with a more suitable property, and the newly appointed priest in charge has therefore simply been housed temporarily in a rented property. In this instance, I do not need to act as a mediator, because there is a perfectly good remedy. If the parochial church council is unhappy with what the diocese is doing, it can make representations that the Church Commissioners will have to consider.