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Volume 530: debated on Thursday 30 June 2011

10. What assessment the Church Commissioners have made of recent trends in the proportion of Church of England congregations that are (a) from black and Asian minority ethnic groups, (b) women, (c) disabled people and (d) from low-income groups. (62912)

The latest figures collected in relation to the hon. Gentleman’s question were part of a 2007 national parish congregation diversity survey. They show that about 5% of Church of England core congregations are from minority ethnic backgrounds and about 65% are women. Figures for disabled people are kept by dioceses individually and are not held centrally.

The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that things have moved on somewhat since 2007 and that, particularly in the more deprived areas, there will be a hardening of the problems of meeting the cuts that are going to hit them. I believe that there is a very strong place for the Church in those areas in particular. Will he ensure that the Church does the work that it should be doing in trying to attract these people through its doors?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that question, because it gives me the opportunity to make the position clear. The Church Commissioners have £5.5 billion under investment, of which we disburse about £100 million every year to the Church. Much of that goes to poorer dioceses with inner-city and deprived areas so that the Church can fulfil its mission to such areas and to those who need the greatest support. We see that as a very important part of our role and of the Church’s national mission.