HC Deb 12 December 1977 vol 941 cc29-30
37. Mr. Michael Latham

asked the hon. Member for Kingswood, as representing the Church Commissioners, what is the level of pay increases recommended to be made to (a) beneficed clergy, and (b) assistant curates under the current pay round by the Commissioners in their rôle as Central Stipends Authority.

Mr. Terry Walker (Second Church Estates Commissioner)

The Commissioners, as Central Stipends Authority, have not yet made final recommendations as to the stipend ranges and scales that should apply to either the beneficed clergy or to assistant curates from 1st April 1978, the next incremental date.

Mr. Latham

Will the Commissioner remember when drawing up his recommendations that we are talking about some of the worst-paid people in the country and that any possible recommendation that the Commission might make would leave many clergy below the poverty line?

Mr. Walker

The Church Commissioners have expressed publicly the view that clergy stipends are inadequate. I assure the hon. Member that maximum levels known to be attainable for next year will be recommended, provided that they can be justified and that the Government guidelines are adhered to.

Mr. Clemitson

As one who was the recipient of these appallingly low wages for 12 years, may I ask my hon. Friend whether, even if the Church Commissioners wish to keep within the Government guidelines, much more could be done in terms of fringe benefits and the meeting of proper expenses?

Mr. Walker

The Commissioners have made great efforts over the years to make sure that dioceses pay expenses. Happily, the information that comes to us is that most dioceses are doing just that.

Mr. Canavan

As the clergy seem to have a good case for breaking the 10 per cent. limit, is it not clear that the firemen and the TUC now have God on their side?

Mr. Walker

We hope to make a decision on the clergy's pay at about the end of January. We shall take into account the Government's guidelines.