On 12th March the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, responded to a written question from Frank Field MP about Bishop George Bell:
Frank Field (Birkenhead): To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what authority set down in the statutes of the Commissioners enabled the payment of £29,800 to meet damages and costs relating to the case of Bishop George Bell; and what steps the Commissioners took to scrutinise that settlement before they made over those funds.
Dame Caroline Spelman: The Church Commissioners have a discretion under the Episcopal Endowments and Stipends Measure 1943, assessed on a case by case basis, to pay the costs of a bishop’s office, including costs in connection with legal claims. Requests to the Church Commissioners for assistance with legal costs are subject to scrutiny by the First Church Estates Commissioner and the QC Commissioner, assisted by staff, to ensure that costs are reasonable in the circumstances.