Christian MP challenges C of E's property decisions
Apparent double standards by the Church of England over its property dealings have been challenged in the House of Commons by a Christian MP.
The challenge comes as the Church plans to buy a £2.5m house for the next Bishop of Oxford, whilst simultaneously selling off property in South London which campaigners say will make deprived tenants homeless.
Pullens End, in Headington, Oxford is being targeted by the Church to house the successor to the Rt Rev Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford, who retires this year.
But it comes at a time when a campaign is being mounted in South London against plans by Church Commissioners to sell off to private developers the homes of tenants on three estates.
Tenants, local clergy, MPs and others have carried out an unprecedented campaign to prevent the church's land sale in South London.
Letters have been sent to the Church Commissioners, to Bishops and archbishops and to others with influence within the church in the hope of ensuring that these homes are not sold to an investment company.
Demonstrations have even taken place outside Lambeth Palace and Church House.
A Labour MP, who is ordained and a former Chair of the Christian Socialist Movement has stepped up the pressure on the Church, pointing the apparent double standards.
Chris Bryant MP said the Church's disposal of Octavia Hill estates to raise money was at odds with proposals for such a lavish bishop's palace.
He told the Commons: "Many of the wider public find this policy extremely odd, especially when the Church Commissioners are planning to buy a new palace for the Bishop of Oxford for £2.4m."
"I mean no disrespect to the Bishop of Oxford -- indeed, he is a very fine man, who will retire soon -- but do bishops really need so many bedrooms in their palaces?" Chris Bryant said.
However Second Church Estates Commissioner Stuart Bell MP would not talk about Pullens End, claiming that it was a different subject.