HC Deb 28 April 1853 vol 126 cc679-80

said, he wished to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn) upon a matter concerning these two bodies, of which he was a member. By the 14 & 15 Vict., c. 104, power was given to independent ecclesiastical bodies to enfranchise property with the consent of the Estates Commissioners; and it was provided in case of enfranchisement, or in case of refusing it, that the schedule notice should be laid upon the table of the House, In the course of the discussion upon the Bill, it was proposed that an order to the same effect should be given with regard to property held in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners themselves; but it was not pressed for two reasons. It was stated, first, by the Solicitor General of the day, that no doubt the Estates Commissioners, having directions to report upon property in which they had only an indirect interest would certainly report upon property in which they had the entire interest, such as that which had lapsed into their own hands; and, secondly, that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had already laid upon the table a rule, stating that they would report upon all matters where enfranchisements were granted. That rule had not been recalled or substituted by any later rule. It appeared that upon all questions of property in which they had merely the indirect interest of giving their sanction to enfranchisements by corporate bodies, the Order of the House had been followed, and due notice given in the return; but no notice was given in all cases of property in which they had a large and direct interest. The question, then, he had to put to the right hon. Gentleman was, whether information was given to the House in all cases as to the enfranchisement of property in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; and what were the reasons for refusing in cases where they had thought it right to refuse such information?


said, the proceedings of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were regulated by two separate Acts of Parliament—one applying to them as Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and the other to some of their body as the Estates Commissioners. The law referring to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners required them to state in their Report certain special things, namely, the schemes they submitted from time to time to Her Majesty in Council, and a statement of their accounts in full. This was all the Act required from them; but with regard to the Estates Commissioners the Act required a different course. Their Report would be laid upon the table immediately, in compliance with the directions of the Act; and if the Commissioners had not thought it their duty to take upon themselves the introduction of extraneous matters, he thought the House would excuse them. To adhere implicitly to the Act of Parliament was the only course the Commissioners could take.


said, he would then give notice that he should move for returns connected with the subject.

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