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My Questions on Air Quality and Jeremy Pemberton

Air Quality

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): Two Government decisions in the past week will have a dramatic impact on air quality. One was the decision to support a watering down of the tests that the Secretary of State has just referred to in Brussels. The other was the decision to announce half a billion pounds of taxpayer subsidy to a generation of diesel generators to plug the energy gap. Was she consulted on either of those?

Elizabeth Truss: On the right hon. Gentleman’s first point, this is the first time at a European level that we have agreed that the lab tests do not reflect the reality of what vehicles are emitting, and we have put in place a process to get to real-world conditions. This country has been pushing for that for some time and last week we succeeded in getting a path to achieving it. That is major progress, which will help us to deliver our air quality commitments.

Jeremy Pemberton

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): How much the Church of England has spent on the employment tribunal involving Jeremy Pemberton; and if she will make a statement.

Mrs Spelman: I am unable to answer the question about the cost of that case, because it is still litigation in progress and we are currently in the period when the claimant may appeal the tribunal’s decision.

Mr Bradshaw: I very much hope that the claimant does appeal. Do we not have a right as members of the Church of England to know exactly how much our Church has spent in our name to persecute this excellent priest? He has been stopped from being a hospital chaplain, a job which by all accounts he did superbly, because of the discriminatory approach of the Church of England. Particularly when we are celebrating the democratic election of the first openly gay, married priest to the General Synod, this is a ridiculous situation.

Mrs Spelman: I come back to my point that the litigation is still in progress, and at the moment there is therefore no definitive sum that I can make transparent in the House. This is an ongoing matter. The Church Commissioners do not seek to incur legal bills, but the action was initiated by the litigant in this case. It is important to say that there will be a variety of views in the Church of England on the doctrine of marriage, and the Church has encouraged a conversation within the Church about that.

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