HC Deb 26 August 1887 vol 320 cc27-8
MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been called to the case of Mr. G. Owen, the people's churchwarden, of Ironbridge, who has been sentenced to 28 days' imprisonment, at the suit of the present incumbent, Rev. G. Wintour, in the Madeley County Court, because, finding the church in debt to a considerable amount, and that the pew-rents (which were divisible between the church and the incumbent) were insufficient for both purposes, he deemed it his duty to pay off the church debt before paying the incumbent; whether Mr. Owen was elected churchwarden against his wish in 1884; whether any dereliction of duty whatever has been proved against Mr. Owen; and, if not, why has he been, punished; and, whether he will direct an inquiry into the circumstances of the case?


(who replied) said: I think the hon. Member cannot have been made acquainted with the facts of the case referred to in the Question. It appears from Mr. Owen's statement that, having been elected churchwarden in 1884, and receiving the pew-rents, some portion of which was undoubtedly due to Mr. Wintour, an action was brought in the County Court, whereupon the question between the parties was, by the consent of all parties, referred to Mr. Beddoe, the Registrar of the diocese. Mr. Beddoe made his award on the 2nd June, 188 7, finding that there was due to Mr. Win-tour the sum of about £23. No attempt was made to set aside the award; but Mr. Owen, on the 11th of June, and apparently in order to prevent the execution of judgment, gave a bill of sale upon his effects for £35. Mr. Owen was a beer-house keeper, and still continues to carry on the business. The proceedings referred to in the Question were to enforce the award; and the award being valid, and not set aside, the learned County Court Judge had no alternative except to enforce payment. The merits of the case, which had been dealt with by the arbitrator, could not possibly be gone into by the learned Judge on this hearing. There is, in my opinion, no necessity for any inquiry, as I cannot see that the County Court Judge has been guilty of any misconduct.