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MP says he will keep up church law fight
EVESHAM’S MP remains hopeful of making changes to an archaic law despite receiving a “very disappointing response” during a House of Commons debate.
Peter Luff took up the issue of Chancel Repair Liability after homeowners in Broadway discovered they may become liable to pay for costs to repair a mediaeval church in the village.
The ancient law, which can be traced back to Henry VIII, is expected to become a more prominent issue after a court case forced Parochial Church Councils to register the liability by October 2013.
During his speech at Westminster last Wednesday, Mr Luff said: “As the deadline looms reality is becoming clearer for many small and unfortunate landowners.
Evidence I have seen from the Land Registry suggests there is a rush of registrations taking place.”
It is believed about 5,200 churches are entitled to claim the cost of repairs across the country.
Mr Luff continued: “The chancel of a medieval church can constitute around a third of the total church building.
A repair bill of £200,000 would not be uncommon. So in the case of Broadway a regular bill – every decade or so – for aabout £7,000 can perhaps be expected.
“If it (this government) believes in the freedoms and democratic responsibilities with which I began this speech, then it must find a way of ensuring the liability is fairly applied and the outrageous arbitrariness of this archaic law is ended.”
Helen Grant MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, said she was not persuaded any change in the law was necessary.
She said she recognised the problems liability could cause for communities but added it was a valid property right upheld by the House of Lords. Following the debate Mr Luff vowed to continue his battle.