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Bishops' use of chauffeurs defended

During yesterday's meeting of the Church's parliament, new stats were revealed showing 11 of the Church's 42 diocesan bishops used personal drivers. That equates to 1 in 4.

Costing the Church over £200,000, the chauffeurs often ferry clergy to and from meetings and events within their Diocese and often to Westminster where many of them sit in the House of Lords.

Revd Canon Jonathan Ford says for many bishops, a driver is essential to allowing them to be as productive as they want to be.

Speaking to Premier, he said: "Bishops work 80 to 100 hours a week just like Prime Ministers do.

"They need to be driven about. They're more efficient if they have a driver because they can get on with work on the internet while they're going to and from.

"In a rural diocese like in Suffolk where you've got to do thousands of miles every year getting out to these country parishes - sometimes somebody who knows their way round the diocese is better.

"At the end of a long day you don't want to be driving from nowhere to nowhere on back country roads being exhausted. It's a danger to yourself and a danger to others."

The details have emerged 14 years after the Church urged bishops to cut back on personal drivers in an attempt to lose the perception that church leaders lived lavish lifestyles.

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