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Church Commissioners

Volume 663: debated on Thursday 25 July 2019

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

Festivals in Cathedrals

7. What recent assessment the Church of England has made of the effect of holding festivals in cathedrals on the number of visiting (a) worshippers and (b) non-worshippers. (912177)

Cathedrals all run a series of events and religious festivals throughout the year, which vary in size, and collectively they host over 11 million visitors a year. Lichfield cathedral, in my hon. Friend’s constituency, is an outstanding example of that and welcomes around 120,000 people a year to its excellent exhibitions.

I am very grateful to my right hon. Friend for her answer. She will know that the Lichfield festival attracts over 50,000 people to the city of Lichfield and brings at least 10,000 people into the cathedral itself, so what action is her Department taking to encourage other cathedrals to do similar initiatives?

I find it an interesting idea that I have a Department, but the Church of England will seize the initiative next year; it is a great year for anniversaries in the Church of England, with the Pilgrim Fathers and Thomas à Becket, and it will be a year of cathedrals. The Association of English Cathedrals will provide a pilgrimage passport for those at home and abroad who want to visit as many cathedrals as possible.

Strategic Development Funding: Keighley

9. Whether the Church of England plans to allocate strategic development funding to Keighley constituency. (912179)

Mr Speaker, since this is the last question, I think, for me today I want to thank the parliamentary division in Church House and Simon Stanley in particular, as I do not yet know if I will be renewed in post; I sincerely hope so, but I imagine this is not high on the list of the Prime Minister’s priorities at the moment.

I am delighted to be able to tell the hon. Gentleman that the Archbishops’ Council recently awarded funding totalling over £1 million for Leeds diocese, £490,000 of which will be awarded to the Anglican churches in Keighley.

I feel that I will speak for many in saying I hope that the right hon. Member is reappointed by the Prime Minister by lunchtime, but further to her reply, does she agree that the work of the united parishes of Keighley is perhaps one of the finest examples in the north of England of faith in action, along with the work of the Catholic Good Shepherd Centre, the Salvation Army and, indeed, Keighley’s mosques?

In the diocese of Leeds, Bowling, Idle, Great Horton and Clayton have a strong focus on deprived areas and groups that the Church of England found hard to reach, and that is why this large sum of money has been conferred by the Church Commissioners to the diocese.