On Monday (30th January), Michael told MPs in Parliamentary Questions to the Church Commissioners that while Westminster Abbey and other Cathedrals charge for entry, "At Lichfield cathedral, the charge is voluntary, although the majority of visitors pay the recommended amount".
Now Michael has apologised to a bemused House of Commons for misleading them. Because it has now been revealed that half of all visitors pay nothing and those that do, pay only 80p on average when the recommended donation is £4. Genuine worshippers, of course, are not required to pay anything.
So on Thursday (2nd February) Michael raised a Point of Order in the Commons to set the record straight.
Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): "On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I fear that I may have inadvertently misled the House on Monday. In Church Commissioners questions, I mentioned the funding of cathedrals and the fact that they are not funded by the state. I said:
"At Lichfield cathedral, the charge is voluntary, although the majority of visitors pay the recommended amount"
"I have now received a letter from the Venerable Chris Liley, the Archdeacon of Lichfield, saying that unfortunately that is not the case. Although the suggested payment is £4, the amount contributed by visitors is only 80p and is given by a little under half of those who come in. It would seem that people are loth to give donations. I wish, therefore, to set the record straight. I did not wish to mislead the House and I hope that you agree, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the people who visit Lichfield cathedral appear to be rather mean."
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord): "It certainly is not for the Deputy Speaker to agree with the honourable Gentleman on such matters, but he has now put the record straight from his point of view."
On Monday, the debate went as follows:
The debate went as follows:-
Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): What the Commissioners’ policy is on charging admission to churches and cathedrals; and if he will make a statement. 
The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Stuart Bell): For the most part, access to church buildings is free. In relation to cathedrals and a statement, the General Synod passed a motion urging the Church to continue to exercise sensitivity in raising money, but ultimately the decision to charge rests with individual cathedrals.
Michael Fabricant: The hon. Gentleman will know that Westminster cathedral has a mandatory charge for people wishing to go in and look round. At Lichfield cathedral, the charge is voluntary, although the majority of visitors pay the recommended amount. Does he agree that a voluntary payment is always preferable to a mandatory payment when visiting a cathedral?
Sir Stuart Bell: The hon. Gentleman knows that three of our major church buildings are the focus of world heritage sites: Durham cathedral, Canterbury cathedral and Westminster abbey. It is a privilege for the Church to take responsibility for their upkeep and one that the whole nation should share. On whether charges should be voluntary or mandatory, I have seen the queues outside Westminster abbey, but I have also visited Lichfield cathedral. They are both splendid buildings and a great joy to the Church.
Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich) (Lab): I have great sympathy for cathedrals and the need to maintain ancient buildings, but does my hon. Friend agree that it is slightly tacky to be unable to enter a cathedral, such as York, without having to pay? That creates a bad impression in people’s minds. In comparison, Chester cathedral has a quiet dignity. I hope that he will be able to persuade the cathedrals to think again.
Sir Stuart Bell: As my hon. Friend knows, English Heritage announced last week £1 million in grants for 2006 for 25 cathedrals. She refers to a profound dilemma for Church and state. The state should contribute more to our cathedrals, because they are part of our national heritage. It is a debate that we are having with the state.
Mr. Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): Do the Church Commissioners notice any difference in attendance numbers between cathedrals that have a compulsory charge and those that have only a voluntary levy?
Sir Stuart Bell: We have not made a study of that, but there are queues a mile long outside Westminster abbey every day and my visits to Lichfield show the same thing. The Church’s dilemma in keeping up its buildings is profound: £900 million a year is spent on keeping up churches, which is an enormous amount. How the Church deals with that in relation to the state is a matter that I shall take up shortly with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Hugh Bayley (City of York) (Lab): The 600-year-old great east window of York minster is the biggest and greatest expanse of medieval stained glass anywhere in the world. Its restoration has just begun and will cost about £23 million. Does my hon. Friend agree that the charges that my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) criticised would be lower, or not made at all, if the Government provided more support for our great national heritage in our cathedrals?
Sir Stuart Bell: I return to my original point. How to handle the charges is a matter for each cathedral, but York minster shows just how much work cathedrals will continue to need to keep their fabric in good repair. The major project on the east front will take time, effort and money.