Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pot, Kettle.......Black?

The Archbishop of Canterbury was in the news today, apparently he's very unhappy about bankers feeling no repentance for their excesses.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has told the BBC he fears financiers feel no "repentance" for the excesses which led to the economic collapse.

Dr Rowan Williams said the government should have acted to cap bonuses.

He also warned that the gap between rich and poor would lead to an increasingly "dysfunctional" society.

Now, he's perfectly entitled to say that, however I'm also entitled to point out this. (Dated 2006 so still relevant despite the recession)

Just how much land is owned by the Church of England?

The Church Commissioners' 56-page report on the financial state of the Church of England released yesterday, made for, well, not particularly interesting reading really.

It's the sort of thing journalists read, digest and regurgitate in highly condensed form so the rest of the population can learn the main points and get on with watching The Apprentice. One of the more fascinating parts of the report, however, concerned the Anglican church's property portfolio, which comprises 120,000 acres in rural areas alone.

The church owns large tracts of land in cathedral cities such as Canterbury, Ely, Peterborough and York and in towns such as Huntingdon and Kelmscott. More recently, it has invested in industrial estates in Swindon and Waltham Cross and shopping areas including the Cribbs Causeway Centre in Bristol. Its interests also spread to European property, with a stake in ING Property Fund Central Europe.

What is more, the Commissioners have just gained planning permission for part of the Ashford Great Park estate, where the deputy prime minister is hoping to take time out from working on his dance moves to build some of his much-vaunted affordable housing.

The church's land ownership even extends to property in London's West End - 15% of its commercial portfolio, in fact, mainly within a shared interest in the Pollen estate. It has also begun to capitalise on the need for parking space in the capital, netting £19m last year from selling 99-year leases on garage spaces.

The CofE isn't neglecting property up north either. It holds a 10% interest and associated land in the MetroCentre in Gateshead, the largest shopping and leisure centre in Europe. The centre provides "shoppertainment" including an indoor theme park, an 11-screen cinema and a bewildering array of shops open seven days a week from 10am to 9pm (or 5pm on Sundays - glad to see they're showing a bit of respect). It's reassuring that the Commissioners are looking after the church's estimated £4.3bn well, returning 19.1% on their investments last year. Now all they have to do is get some of the thousands of Sunday shoppers at Gateshead into church.

Date: Friday 28th April, 2006

In other words the church is not short of a few bob themselves and whilst they are not the massive landowners they were a few years ago they are still doing rather well for themselves. Now for the Archbishop to criticise the leaders of one organisation for not showing repentance for doing their jobs strikes me as a bit hypocritical. Now I'm well aware that as head of the Church of England that he has to deal with a fair bit of admin stuff as well as the pastoral bits and bobs, but it does strike me as a bit odd that a man who lives in a palace and is head of one of the wealthiest most successful business organisations in England should have a go at people doing their jobs and reaping the benefits thereof. Let us not forget that the bankers do not award each other the perks, that's down to the shareholders who get to vote on this and the contracts that were signed. Yes the amounts were large, but that's down to the skills of negotiation, so I do not see the point of the bankers showing repentance, it's not like they broke the law.

Lets also not forget the fact that repentance doesn't just mean saying sorry, nor feeling sorry, it means to turn away from your sin. In other words the Archbishop is suggesting they give the money back. Fair enough, however it wasn't just the bankers was it? This recession might have been caused by toxic debt and bad debt, but it was compounded in Britain by the governments FSA and the lax way they kept track on what was actually going on in the financial markets. So, is the Archbishop suggesting that the government repent? I somehow think not. He seems to be doing the governments bidding in pointing the finger of blame at the financiers, rather than those who allowed the situation to develop in the first place.

I suspect that Dr Rowan Williams is still Labour stooge, probably always will be, he certainly doesn't believe in sticking to a contract (bit like Labour and manifesto promises......referendum anyone?) he thinks the government should be able to step in and cap bonuses in breach of contract. It might make for a nice headline, but it's on decidedly dodgy ground.

1 annotations:

James Higham said...

He's been on dodgy ground for some considerable time and that's why no one listens to him.