HC Deb 26 July 1883 vol 282 cc683-7

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Bryce.)


said, he hoped his hon. Friend (Mr. Bryce) would not persevere with the Motion at that hour of the morning. The hon. Member was quite mistaken in supposing that this was an unopposed measure. There had been no adequate discussion of its principle, which was a mistake, because it was one affecting great interests in the City. Though it was a Bill for the reform of London Charities, its proposal was to confer powers on Commissioners and officers who themselves required reforming; and, for his own part, he thought that, bad as the state of things in the City in regard to these Charities was, it would be more desirable to allow them to remain as they were than to make the alteration in the law proposed in the Bill. A year's delay in this matter was riot to be deprecated, and it would be much better than allowing these things to be rushed through Parliament. He could not congratulate his hon. Friend upon the provisions of the Bill; and he should like to have some assurance that the objection he took to them would be in some way met. If such an intimation were made to him, lie should be glad, as he was sorry to be obliged to have to detain hon. Members, at nearly 3 o'clock in the morning, by discussing the Bill. If he received no intimation from the hon. Member, it would be necessary for him to move the Adjournment of the Debate before he sat down, and to point out some of the objections which, to his mind, existed against the scheme. At the proper time, there would be a question to be raised as to the composition of the Charity Commission. It was impossible that that Commission, as at present constituted, could possess the confidence of either London or the country. The Bill proposed to confer upon them very large powers, and there was to be an increase of the Commissioners for the time being; and, to his mind, there should be some understanding that that Commission should be better composed before the Bill was allowed to pass. His hon. Friend was proposing to reform these Charities; but, as a matter of fact, he was leaving more than half the funds to remain unreformed, and was, therefore, guilty of a retrograde step. His hon. Friend was going to hand over an immense amount of property to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; and he (Mr. Illingworth) ventured to say that there was no Department of the Public Service about the utility of whose functions there was so much obscurity and so much doubt. The Report of that Commission was never examined in that House, and large amounts of money were distributed by few individuals, who were in no real sense responsible for their action to the House of Commons. He should be sorry to load that Department, therefore, with additional duties, and to place in its hands still larger ecclesiastical patronage. They had no reason to think that those interested in these Charities in the City were alive to what the Bill proposed to do. In reality, the dis- cussions upon this measure had taken place at such an hour in the morning that there had been no reports of them in the newspapers. Therefore, this great Metropolis was ignorant of what was being done in its behalf. For these reasons, and for others which he would urge at a more suitable time, he would venture to move that the debate be now adjourned.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Illingworth.)


said, he would not defend the merits of the Bill just now; but as to rushing the measure through, he wished to say that the Bill was brought in in 1881, and was debated for a considerable time on a Wednesday afternoon. It had gone to a Select Committee, which sat 17 or 18 clays upon it. It came down to the House in 1882, and it was again referred to a Select Committee. It, therefore, came now, for the third year, before Parliament with the sanction of two Select Committees, and having had a great deal more discussion than Bills of this nature usually received. It affected the interests of 4,000,000 of people, to whose benefit it proposed to apply about £200,000 per annum. He would ask the House whether progress should not be made with the Bill, instead of their allowing it to be delayed, in consequence of some abstract proposition of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Illingworth), who did not like the Charity Commissioners.


said, he hoped that the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Illingworth) would withdraw the Motion for the Adjournment of the Debate, and that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bryce) would then content himself with getting the Speaker out of the Chair. The Bill had been seriously considered on several occasions; in fact, no Bill had ever passed the House which had been so materially considered in all its bearings. The hon. Member (Mr. Bryce) had now an opportunity of advancing it a stage; and he, therefore, thought it would be hard to deprive him of it.


said, that, although the Bill had come on at a late hour, and no reports of the discussion could appear in the papers, it was a fact that it had been discussed in the City, and that in the Metropolitan districts the public were alive to its nature.


said, the question had been more or less before the House and the country for 16 years. So far back as 1866 the very great evils pertaining to the question of these Parochial Charities were brought before the Government, and several times subsequently the matter had been broached in the House. As the opportunities private Members had of advancing Bills were very meagre, he trusted that the hon. Member (Mr. Illingworth) would not press the House to go a Division upon his Motion.


said, in fairness to the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce), he must say that he hoped the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Illingworth) would withdraw his Motion. He said that in fairness to the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets, as lie recognized in the hon. Member an honourable and gallant opponent. He (Mr. Warton) had opposed the Bill most heartily in 1881 and 1882; he had for a long time blocked it, with the object of coming to a certain arrangement with the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member had, at length, consented to an arrangement; and if he (Mr. Bryce) would keep his word, he (Mr. Warton), on his part, would adhere to his pledge.


sympathized with what had fallen from the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Illingworth) as to the desirability of not pressing on this Bill. The Bill was the result of a compromise which had been arrived at; and many hon. Members were disposed to agree to it, lest, by-and-bye, what they considered worse changes should take place. There had been a sop of £30,000 a-year given to the Church of England to buy them off. The Bill was a most important one, dealing with the Charities of the City of London—


The Adjournment of the Debate having been moved, the hon. Gentleman is out of Order in speaking to the principle of the Bill.


said, he would suggest to his hon. Friend the Member for Bradford that, seeing, from what they could gather, that the general feeling of the House was in favour of Mr. Speaker leaving the Chair, he should withdraw his proposal. He (Mr. Stanley) entirely sympathized with the hon. Member; but it would be well to withdraw the Motion for Adjournment if they got a promise that on whatever night the Committee stage was taken they would not be expected to sit up for an indefinite length of time—at any rate, not later than 1 o'clock—to discuss it.

Question put, and negatived.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

Bill considered in Committee.

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.

House adjourned at Three o'clock.