HC Deb 24 July 1851 vol 118 cc1391-4

begged to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge, as one of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The right hon. Gentleman was aware that there had been laid before the Ecclesiastical Commissioners returns of the episcopal incomes, which returns had been embodied in the last Report of the Commissioners presented to that House. It had been asserted that those returns did not give the exact value of the property of the sees so returned, and that in certain cases, to which it was unnecessary to refer particularly, bishops had stated the incomes of their sees for several years; but where they had given a lease of certain property to a trustee, and had not received any fine for that property, the value of the property so leased had not been inserted. He wished, therefore, to ask the right hon. Gentleman this question—whether, when the archbishops and bishops sent in their returns of annual income, the same included the full value of the property leased by bishops to themselves or to their trustees, without taking fines for it, or when small fines had been given; or whether the return of income was independent of the value of the property thus leased?


With respect to these returns, made to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners under the Act of Parliament, the House ought to be aware that the returns are only made for the purpose of calculating from those returns the sum which the bishop who is to succeed to the see ought to pay to or receive from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and that any error made in those returns, whether from excess or deficiency, can in no degree affect the interest of the bishop making those returns. The hon. Gentleman (Sir B. Hall) has asked me generally whether, in estimating the amounts of income thus returned, the value of leases granted to trustees without fines or upon small fines ought not to be included. I certainly admit to the hon. Gentleman that that ought to be the case, and as he has called my attention to the case of the Bishop of London, perhaps the House will allow me briefly to state what has been the course which that prelate has pursued. In the year 1843 that right rev. Prelate made a return, in the form shown in the books upon the table, of what he had received as revenue, and of the deductions which ought to be made from it; and thinking, as the hon. Gentleman and myself think, that leases granted to a trustee ought to form an element in the judgment of what his successors should pay or receive, the right rev. Prelate appended to his return in distinct terms a statement that he had granted a lease to a trustee of a particular property. Upon that statement the Commissioners, by their accountant and secretary, fixed the amount of fine which would have been paid on that particular lease, and added to the amount of income of the bishop, on which the future estimate was to be made, one-seventh of the value of the fine, which was equivalent to taking the average of the seven years into which it would have come if it had been returned in the year 1843. Therefore, in calculating the sum of 5,500l., which was to be paid by the next Bishop of London, they did take into their calculation that portion of income which would have been derived from a fine paid on this particular lease, had it been granted upon a fine. In the year 1850, the bishop, having learned from the Commissioners the course that was to be pursued, included in his return for 1850 the proportion of the fine which would have been paid on that year if the lease had been granted to another person, and thereby furnished the element on which an accurate calculation could be made of the income of the See. If the hon. Gentleman will take the average of the income for the period returned, he will see that it falls far short of the amount taken in the calculation on which the return was made. The average income of the See for the period returned is 14,500l.; whereas the average of income on which the calculation was made was taken at 15,500l.; therefore the hon. Gentleman must see clearly that there was an addition made beyond that which appeared on the return of the bishop. I think I have explained to the hon. Gentleman the principle on which the calculation of the future income of the See has been made.


The right hon. Gentleman has answered that question correctly; but a question he has not answered is this—whether the amount given as annual income in those tabular statements is independent of the value of property which the bishops have leased to themselves or to trustees, in this way—where a bishop returns the value of his See at 4,100l., and has granted a lease which we are led to believe is worth 11,500l., whether we are to believe that the tabular statement of episcopal incomes gives the whole value of the See for which the income is stated, and includes the property which they have granted to their trustees?


I really am unable to answer that; I do not know whether in every instance such grants have been brought to regular account; but certainly, in making the calculation of income, property of that sort ought in every instance to be brought into account.


said, he had a communication to make in reference to a statement he had made on a former evening, that the Archbishop of York had paid to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners all that was due, or was ready to pay it. He had since received a letter from the most rev. Prelate, saying that his attention had been called to the statement thus made, in reference to which he wished to offer the following explanation:— Bishopthorpe, York, July 14, 1851. My dear Lord—I have only this morning seen the reply you made in the House of Commons, on Friday night last, to a question put by Sir Benjamin Hall. In that reply there is an error respecting my payments to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, which I take the liberty of pointing out. You are reported to have said, 'the Archbishop of York has, I believe, already paid all that was due.' The accuracy of this statement depends on the meaning of the word 'due.' If it were intended that, under any circumstances of income, and at all events, I should pay 2,500l. a year, then I have not paid all that was due. But if it was intended, as declared by the Order in Council, that the income of the archbishop should be 10,000l. per annum, then I have paid much more than is due. This will appear from the following figures, taken from the blue book, which of necessity include three years and two months, from the death of the late archbishop to December 31, 1850, but I am accounting now for the three years only:—

Net income in 1848 £6,518
—1849 17,547
—1850 6,986
Deduct the amount which I have paid 3,750
Deduct 2,500l. yearly for three years 7,500
Had I, therefore, paid only the surplus on the three years, I should have paid to the Commissioners 1,051l. But I have paid 3,750l.; and if I am called upon to pay the whole 2,500l. per annum, or 7,500l. on the three years, I should have received only 23,551l. instead of the 30,000l. assigned by Order in Council—that is, I should have received yearly 7,850l. instead of 10,000l. This could never have been intended, and in my first year (1848) the payment would have been impossible. I have several times expressed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners my readiness and my anxious desire to be brought under that management which has been in some instances adopted, namely, that the yearly income assigned to the See of York by Order in Council should be secured, and that any surplus, whatever it may be, should belong to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.—I am, my dear Lord, your faithful Servant, T. EBOR. The Lord John Russell. Subject dropped.