Church Commissioners: Written Questions

On Saturday we reported that Caroline Spelman, the Second Church Estates Commissioner had commenced her new role with an answer to a written question from Bill Wiggin, (Con. North Herefordshire) relating to the frequently raises issue of bats in churches. Below is a summary of questions both asked and answered by Mrs Spelman to date. For completeness, Bill Wiggins’ question is also included.

Bats: Churches

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Question 1114:

Asked by Mrs Caroline Spelman (Meriden) on 04 June 2015

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what information her Department holds on the application and interpretation of provisions in the Habitats Directive on bats inhabiting church premises in other EU member states.

Answered by: Rory Stewart on 10 June 2015

Whilst we do not hold any information about how other Member States apply or interpret the provisions in the Habitats Directive in relation to bats in churches, the Government understands the problems that the presence of bats can cause.

To assist churches, Defra has funded research to identify techniques that can be used to deter bats from sensitive areas of churches, the results of which were published in March 2014. English Heritage is now funding a project trialling the techniques identified by this research in several churches to develop a toolkit and advice pack. A bid for Heritage Lottery funding to help pay for the implementation of this toolkit is also being prepared.

Clergy: Females

Church Commissioners

Question 734:

Asked by Mr Virendra Sharma, (Ealing, Southall);  02 June 2015

To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, how many members of the clergy in each of the last 10 years have been women.

Answered by: Mrs Caroline Spelman on: 08 June 2015

The most recent statistics available on the number of women in ordained ministry in the Church of England can be found in the table below. These figures combine all clergy who are full time or part time stipendiary clergy and those who are self-supporting clergy. Although more recent figures are not yet available, the general trend is towards an increase in women training for ordained ministry and the Church of England has most recently appointed three women as bishops who are:

  • The Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek,
  • The Bishop of Stockport, Rt Revd Elizabeth Lane,
  • And the Bishop of Hull, Rt Revd Alison White.
Year Female Male
2012 3,650 7,725
2011 3,575 7,843
2010 3,535 8,087
2009 3,401 8,257
2008 3,414 8,531
2007 3,268 8,645
2006 3,119 8,785
2005 2,986 8,936
2004 2,654 8,852


Church Commissioners

Clergy: LGBT People

Question 735

Asked by Mr Virendra Sharma, (Ealing, Southall) on 02 June 2015

To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what statistics the Church Commissioners collect on the number of LGBT men and women in the clergy.

Answered by: Mrs Caroline Spelman on 08 June 2015

The National Church Institutions of the Church of England do not maintain a record of the number of LGBT clergy.

Church Commissioners

Churches: Bats

Question  407

Asked by Bill Wiggin (North Herefordshire) on 28 May 2015

To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what discussions the Church Commissioners have had with the Department for Communities and Local Government on changes to planning regulations that could increase the supply of places suitable for bat roosts and reduce the incidence of bats roosting in churches.

Answered by: Mrs Caroline Spelman on 02 June 2015

Following the General Election the Church Commissioners plan to seek an early meeting with the Department for Communities and Local Government regarding changing the regulations on bat roosts. In recent years the Church of England has seen increased numbers of bats using church buildings as roosts. This increased usage of our church buildings by bats for roosting is causing considerable strain on the parish communities and volunteers who maintain the parish churches alongside the great expense in cleaning and restoration of items of great religious, cultural and historic significance. In extreme cases the presence of bats is preventing the building being used for worship or by its wider community.

The Church of England is working alongside Natural England on a substantial Heritage Lottery Fund bid which will seek to provide physical and long lasting solutions for the worst affected churches and create a wider support network for those with smaller or transient bat populations. Both St Margaret of Antioch, Wellington and St Mary’s Church, Pembridge in my Hon Friend’s constituency have faced significant problems with bat populations. Both churches are part of the Heritage Lottery Fund bid and have already installed mitigation measures. We hope the bid for support will be successful and that this might then be able to bring some relief to churches across the country.

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