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Church Commissioners

Volume 589: debated on Thursday 11 December 2014

The right hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—

English Cathedrals (Maintenance)

2. What representations he has made to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on funding for maintenance of the fabric of English cathedrals that are older than 500 years. (906589)

The first world war centenary cathedral repairs fund has so far allocated £13 million to 41 cathedrals, both Anglican and Catholic, across England. The third and final round of this scheme closes on 17 January.

My right hon. Friend will know that Lichfield cathedral is more than 800 years old—and its wiring is almost as old. If that wiring is not replaced, Lichfield cathedral will have to close because of insurance regulations. Will he make representations to ensure that the cathedral gets the money it urgently requires to replace its wiring and remain open?

I was grateful, as I am sure the whole House was, to the Chancellor for allocating £20 million for cathedral repair. I anticipate that Lichfield will apply in January in the third round of this scheme for about £1 million to, as my hon. Friend says, rewire and re-light the whole cathedral, and I hope that Lichfield is successful in that bid.

Will the right hon. Gentleman make sure that when any restoration takes place he addresses the role of wildlife? He may have heard recently about the falcon living happily above York Minister, but will he ensure that bats are preserved in this country? They should not be persecuted; we do not want bats and badgers exterminated in our country. Will he make sure that bats are protected?

There is a question on this issue later on the Order Paper. May I say to the hon. Gentleman that churches and cathedrals are places of worship—they are not field barns—and it is not appropriate for bats to urinate and defecate in churches, where people are trying to worship and have broader community activities, such as toddlers groups and lunch clubs for pensioners? We have to find a way in which churches can exist as places of worship without being disrupted by bats.

I am sure that “Baldry on Bats” on BBC Parliament will be an unmissable fixture.

Mr George Hollingbery is not here, so I call Andrew Stephenson.