Vicar follows MPs and publishes expenses

AN Essex clergyman has published details of his expenses following the row over MPs' claims at Westminster.

Roddy Ashworth

AN Essex clergyman has published details of his expenses following the row over MPs' claims at Westminster.

The Rev Stephen Carter, Rector of the Church of St Leonard's, in Lexden, near Colchester, detailed his costs in his local parish magazine following the recent Parliamentary scandal.

In an article concerning the Westminster claims furore, Mr Carter noted that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, had called for people to rediscover public life as a vocation in the old-fashioned meaning of the word.

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And he added that not only did there need to be a far tighter scrutiny of Parliamentary expenses, but that there should also be a greater culture of openness as regards expense claims in all walks of life.

Bearing this in mind, Mr Carter went on to declare his expenses because it seemed “right and proper” considering that the St Leonard's congregation was having to meet his needs as parish priest.

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“It is important that you understand the costs you are asked to meet,” he said.

“An incumbent in this diocese received a stipend of �21,700.

“In addition, the diocese provides a parsonage house free of rent and repairs. The diocese meets the costs of council tax and water rates.

“The diocese, along with the Church Commissioners, makes a contribution to a pension fund for when the priest retires.

“In addition, in this parish, the PCC pays for the redecoration of one room in the rectory each year.

“It is the incumbent's responsibility to pay for the full cost of heating, lighting, cleaning and garden upkeep of the Rectory, but some tax relief is given on the costs of maintaining the “official” part of the house, particularly the study.”

Mr Carter explained that the PCC also meets the full cost of his stationery, postage and an agreed rate of mileage for the use of his car on parish business.

The PCC also pays for the Rectory telephone, less the cost of private calls.

“I hope this helps throw some light on the cost of your Rector,” Mr Carter added.

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