HC Deb 14 July 1997 vol 298 c18
39. Mr. Flynn

To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, what new proposals he has to improve the finances of the Church of England in relation to pensions. [6503]

Mr. Stuart Bell

We aim to maximise investment income and to secure an appreciation in the value of our assets. That is the best way in which to improve the finances of the Church of England in relation to pensions. That is the short answer to my hon. Friend. The longer answer is that, as he knows, earlier this year, the House approved a new pension scheme, which transfers the liability for future service pensions to dioceses for the majority of clergy. The commissioners will remain responsible for all past service pensions and for pension contributions into the new fund for some senior clergy whose stipends they meet directly.

Mr. Flynn

Recalling the financial turmoil that the Church was in when many clergymen left it because of the recognition of the priesthood of women, has my hon. Friend made any financial assessment of what might happen if there were another large exodus of such clergymen, following weekend reports that up to a third will refuse to take the Loyal Oath if the heir to the throne remarries?

Mr. Bell

We have not considered how many clergy may resign on that basis. A number of surveys were published at the weekend. The bishops declared most of them useless. Such hypothetical questions are not of great interest to the Church in the sense that its investments and the return of income are sound. We hope to continue on that course.