§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ MR. MOWBRAY
said, he thought some explanation ought to be given by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the second reading of the Bill at that late period of the Session. Last year, at a late period of the Session, a Bill was introduced and passed for exempting Roman Catholic charities from the supervision of the Charity Commission, and now at this late period of the Session this Bill was introduced for continuing that exemption. He saw no reason for such exemption, and should therefore move that the Bill be read a second time that day three months. If that should not be adopted, he should move in Committee that the duration of the Bill should be to the 1st of June instead of the 1st of September.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. BAINES
said, there were a great number of Roman Chatholic charities founded by Roman Catholics for the very best purposes, but in many of them there were certain things mixed up which might be construed into superstitious use, and hence the whole by that might be vitiated and rendered void. It was, therefore, thought expedient to exempt such charities from the usual supervision of the Charity Commissioners. For instance, in many of these excellent and most valuable charities there were provisions for certain masses to be said for certain purposes. In examining into such charities, the Commissioners could, if necessary, have to report upon the fact of such charities containing such provisions, and that would of necessity make void the whole of the charity. He, therefore, asked the House to agree to carry on the exemption for another year, 966 and by next Session a general measure would be introduced, which, he trusted, would meet the whole necessities of the case. He could assure the House that he was as much averse to the present state of things as any one, and he would pledge himself before next Session to do all in his power to advance the general remedy that was required. Under those circumstances, he therefore hoped the hon. Gentleman would withdraw his Amendment.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, he thought there was that in these charities which required the proposed exemption to be extended or provided for in this Bill. He thought the general law of mortmain ought to be revised as speedily as possible; for all sects, the Established Church as much as any, suffered from it. He gave his cordial support to this measure. It was greatly to be regretted, that so many of the Bills brought in by the Government were postponed to that late period of the Session.
§ MR. BARROW
said, he understood that it was not intended that the Charity Commissioners were to have any power over county hospitals and county asylums which were supported by voluntary contributions. But he found that some of those institutions had been called upon by the Commissioners to furnish copies of their accounts. Now, that proceeding had given great offence to the trustees of those charities, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baines) would except from his measure institutions that were solely maintained by the voluntary contributions of the public.
§ MR. SPOONER
said, he was quite satisfied with the assurance given by the right hon. Gentleman, that he would be prepared next Session to place Roman Catholic charities under the same control as other charities were subjected to.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, he was surprised that this Continuance Bill should have been brought forward. There was a most distinct pledge given by the Government, when the Charity Bill was passed, that if the House consented at that time not to deal with Roman Catholic charities, a Bill would be brought in upon that subject. He need not say that he did not believe any one of the proper and legitimate objects of those charities would be interfered with. He thought a distinct and positive pledge ought to be given by the Government, that the subject should be legislated upon early in the next Session.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, he was glad 967 to find that no observations had been made calculated to prejudice the question before the House. The case of Roman Catholic charities was one of a special description, and could not be dealt with without full consideration being given to all the special circumstances connected with it. It was hoped that the Bill formerly introduced by the hon. and learned Member for Durham (Mr. Atherton) which passed the House of Commons, would have removed many of the difficulties connected with the Roman Catholic charities; but, unfortunately, that Bill did not meet with the assent of the House of Lords. He hoped the House would be content with the pledge given by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Baines), that the subject should receive his attention at an early period next Session.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, he hoped the Government would insert a clause in the Bill to exempt county asylums and hospitals from the control of the Commissioners. He quite agreed with the hon. Member (Mr. Hadfield) that legislation, at a very late period of the Session, became a perfect lottery. He thought it would be better if Government struck out of the list of the Orders of the Day every Bill they did not intend to proceed with.
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said, it would very much surprise him to find that any interference had been attempted with any institution supported wholly by voluntary contributions. He thought it would be found that the application to the Nottinghamshire charities had been for accounts relating to their income arising from endowments. With respect to the question of introducing measures early in the Session as had been alluded to in the course of the discussion, he had himself brought in measures of great public importance as early as the end of February, but he had been wholly unable to find an opportunity of again bringing them on, and he had in consequence been compelled to withdraw them. Indeed, until some division, was made between what might be called the legislative and the political business of the House, it would be hopeless to expect that measures of legislative importance would not often be postponed to matters of more pressing political interest.
§ MR. MOWBRAY
said, after the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baines), that he would introduce a Bill on the subject next Session, he would withdraw his Amendment. But not feeling quite so satisfied of the disposition of the 968 Government on the subject, he should in Committee move that the Bill be extended only to the 1st of July, instead of, as proposed, the 1st of September.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read 2°.