HC Deb 21 June 1883 vol 280 cc1139-41

asked the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department, If he has observed a Return, entitled "Churches, Chapels, &c.," intended to give the relative number of places of worship belonging to the Established Church and to Nonconforming Bodies; whether the latter list includes every building or "room in a building" registered for worship, whilst the list of "Places of Worship belonging to the Established Church" includes only those "in which marriages are solemnized"; whether there are not a great number of chapels, mission rooms, and school rooms used as places of worship, according to the Service of the Established Church, in which marriages cannot be solemnized; and, whether a more fair enumeration of such places of worship could have been obtained, the Return lately issued being useless for any purpose of comparison?


also asked whether the Return contained no account of Nonconformist Chapels which existed before 1852, unless such chapels had since been certified under the Act passed in that year; whether the official list of churches and chapels published by authority of the Registrar General did not show that in the registration district of London alone there wore no less than 117 Nonconformist chapels not given in this Return; and, whether there were not similar omissions of Nonconformist chapels and mission rooms situate in all parts of the country not certified under the Act of 1852?


The Return, as issued, contains the most accurate information available for the purpose in the Office of the Registrar General; and I have no reason to doubt that the particulars which, according to the headings, the Return purports to give are strictly correct. The list, so far as churches and chapels of the Established Church are concerned, is limited to those in which marriages are solemnized, the Registrar General having no information with respect to the number of chapels, mission rooms, and school rooms used as places of worship, but in which marriages cannot be solemnized. The Return also does not give all Nonconformist places of worship, as it does not include those chapels which existed before 1852, unless they have been certified since that date. As regards the 117 Nonconformist chapels in London which are stated to be omitted, at present I have no information, but will communicate with the Registrar General if it is desired. It is admitted that the Return does not give accurately a list of all churches and chapels; but it was realized before the preparation of the Return was proceeded with that the information required for a complete list was not available, as there were no local officers who could be called upon as part of their duties to furnish all the particulars required. This was intimated to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler), who moved for the Return. It is a matter of regret that the Return is not more complete; and I must add that I should be very sorry if the Return which was prepared at the request of an hon. Member should become a bone of contention between members of the Established and Nonconformist Churches.