§ MR. FREELAND
said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether Her Majesty's Government intend to reintroduce the Ecclesiastical Commission Bill of the late Government, or to introduce any new Bill of their own during the present Session? Whether or not the attention of Her Majesty's Government has been called to the concluding paragraph of the Eighth Report of the Church Estates Commissioners, from which, and from the evidence annexed, it appears that between the mode of valuing the Reversions of Church-house property employed by the Surveyor to the Commissioners and that contended for by the Lessees of such property there is a difference in cases of Enfranchisement on the part of the former of £800,000 on the whole in favour of the Church, or the Ecclesiastical Commission, and, by consequence, adversely to the Lessees? Whether or not it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to leave such Surveyor in future to value without appeal, or to provide that the Lessees of such property shall be at liberty, in cases of enfranchisement, to claim a reference to arbitration?
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, it was not the intention of the Government to propose during the present Session any Bill alter- 1054 ing the relative positions of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and the Lessees: but it was their intention to submit to the House a Bill containing some clauses intended to facilitate the operation of the Acts relating to the Ecclesiastical Commission. With respect to the second question of the hon. Gentleman, it was true that the Church Estates' Commissioners had, in their Eighth Report, stated that the principle on which they acted had been disputed, and that if that principle were admitted it would make a difference to the amount mentioned by the hon. Member; but the Commissioners entertained no doubt of the rectitude of the principle on which they acted, and they therefore did not recommend the adoption of any conflicting principle. With reference to the third question, Her Majesty's Government had no power in the matter. The question was entirely under the regulation of Acts of Parliament, and it was not their intention to propose any legislation on the subject.