HC Deb 31 May 1886 vol 306 cc502-4
MR. INCE (Islington, E.)

asked the honourable Member for Launceston, as an Ecclesiastical Commissioner, Whether the order for the eviction of 1,000 poor people, in 1874, from land near Bream's Buildings, Chancery Lane, by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, was actually given by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners themselves, or by the Church Estates Commission, and, if by the latter, whether the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had not the power to make rules to restrain wholesale evictions; what were the names of the Commissioners who were present at the meeting when the above order for eviction was given, or who were otherwise responsible for it; whether the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would undertake that, before any order for the giving of notice to quit, or for evicting more than fifteen persons of the labouring classes in any one locality was made by them, precautions should be taken that notice of such intended order, specifying number of persons to be evicted, locality in which they lived, and reasons for eviction, should be given to each member of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and the like notice should be laid for one month upon the Tables of both Houses of Parliament; whether the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, after having evicted the 1,000 poor people, were now sanctioning the destruction of their church, viz. St. Thomas in the Liberty of the Rolls, on the alleged ground that there was now no population; whether it is a fact that, at present, there is a large day population in the parish or district belonging to the church, comprising large numbers of young men, among whom a clergyman might usefully work, and that this will be greatly increased when the Ecclesiastical Commissioners let the land which has now stood vacant for many years; and, whether the Ecclesiastical Commissioners will give a Return of the sums which they deduct for "commission" on money which passes through their hands and the rates of commission which they charge, and to whom eventually such sums are paid, and also the amount charged during the past year to donors of land by them or their solicitor for the legal expenses, exclusive of stamps?


In reply to the first paragraph of the Question of my hon. Friend, I have to state that the order for clearing the ground alluded to was given by the Estates Committee. The removal of the inhabitants took place gradually. There was no wholesale eviction. Any regulations made by the General Board have by law to be laid on the Table of the House; but none have hitherto been required. I am not prepared to give the names asked for in the second paragraph; nor am I prepared to make any such undertaking on behalf of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners as is asked for in the 3rd paragraph. The contemplated removal of the church named in the Question was initiated by the late Bishop of the diocese, and is entirely approved by his successor, who is fully aware of the circumstances of the case after careful inquiry. The Commissioners do not agree in the opinion conveyed in the 5th paragraph; but the resident population is not likely to increase. With regard to the 6th paragraph, the Commissioners are at a loss to understand to what the first part of it refers; but if it relates to receivership, the figures appear in the Appendix to the Commissioners' annual Parliamentary Report. The amount charged for the legal expenses mentioned was, I believe, £309 7s. 7d.