HC Deb 12 April 1869 vol 195 cc581-3

said, he wished to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether it is within the know- ledge of the Colonial Office that a Bill for the withdrawal of public Grants for ecclesiastical purposes in the Bahamas, after being twice carried by (he House of Assembly, has been rejected by the Legislative Council, notwithstanding that in the interval between, its first and second, introduction, the policy of the measure was affirmed at a General Election in the Colony; and, whether it is intended to take any step to ensure that respect shall be had to the wishes of the Colony, as constitutionally expressed? He wished further to ask, What was the state of the Revenue in the Colony at the time, and what proportion the Episcopalians bore to the other inhabitants of the Colony?


said, he would beg to inform the hon. Gentleman that, in the month of April last, the House of Assembly of the Bahamas passed a Bill for the disendowment of the Churches of England and Scotland. That Bill was thrown out by the Legislative Council. In consequence of the action of the Council, the Assembly asked the Governor to take the sense of the community by dissolving the Assembly. This the Governor refused to do, whereupon the House of Assembly adjourned for three weeks without passing the Appropriation Bill. The Government was, in consequence, left without any funds for carrying on the public service, and the Governor was compelled to dissolve the House of Assembly. In the month of August they again re-assembled, and passed a Bill with the same effect; but this time the Legislative Council did not actually reject the Bill, but merely postponed its further consideration until next Session. Meanwhile, a new Governor had gone out to the colony, and the Assembly had met again in February; but he (Mr. Monsell) had no further information of any further action with regard to Disendowment Bills. As to the latter part of the Question of the hon. Member, he might state that the pre-sent revenue of the colony was about £30,000;. but the colony was spending about £40,000. With 'respect to the proportion of Episcopalians to the whole population, the hon. Gentleman would find the information in a Return which had been moved for; but, according to his (Mr. Monsell's) own recollection, the proportion of Church of England members was about one-tenth, and the en dowments of that Church were about £3,700 a year.