HC Deb 10 March 1856 vol 140 c2110

Sir, I rise to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department a question; and I do so in consequence of the announcement made last week by Her Majesty's Government of their intention to support a prospective proposal for the total abolition of church rates. I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in the opinion of the Government, this House and the country ought not to be put in full possession of the amount received for church rates, and the mode in which it is applied? It is now some ten or fifteen years since we had any statement of the amount of church rates; and it would be satisfactory to know whether the Government will now furnish the House with a statement of the annual produce of church rates during a certain period of time—say ten years, and also with a statement as to the districts and parishes in which church rates are now levied, and of those in which the making and levying of those rates have been refused or discontinued.


On the Motion of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets, a return on the subject of church rates was ordered last Session. I do not know whether it included the precise information now called for by the right hon. Gentleman. There would, no doubt, be great difficulty in getting from every parish in the country those returns; there would be a great deal of time consumed in procuring returns from about 1,000 parishes, when we have no means of compelling those parishes to give those returns. However, if the returns already made out do not include those required by the right hon. Gentleman, I have no objection to ordering a supplemental return, though I am afraid a long time will elapse before it can be presented to the House.