HC Deb 12 August 1890 vol 348 cc703-4
MR. SEALE-HAYNE (Devon, Ashburton)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that a public auction of the ground rents and reversions of about three-fourths of the town of Newton Abbott was advertised to take place on the 7th instant, under "The Devon Estate Act, 1884," that no information was given them that the vendors reserved the right of previous sale by private contract; that many of the tenants who were intending purchasers, and most anxious to improve their houses, were informed that prices would not be quoted before the auction, and that, nevertheless, the whole property was purchased by the Corporation of Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty immediately before the advertised day of sale; and whether the Corporation of Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty have obtained powers of purchase of reversions of land for investment purposes as distinguished from the powers of purchase and acquisition of land for the specific objects of the Corporation, namely, the provision of parsonages and glebes, and augmentation of the maintenance of the "parsons, vicars, curates, and ministers" officiating "where the liturgy and rites of the Church, as now by law established, are or shall be used and observed," conferred upon the Corporation by 2 £ 3 Anne, c. 11; 1 Geo. 1, c. 10; and 43 Geo. 3, c. 107; and, if so, whether, having regard to the established policy of the Statutes of Mortmain, and the recommendations of the recent Report of the Town Holdings Committee, he will take some steps to discourage or prevent such accumulations of land in the hands of an Ecclesiastical Corporation?


I am not aware in what way the Secretary to the Treasury has any responsibility for the action of the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, and I can therefore only give the hon. Member the information as to the facts of the case which the Secretary to that Corporation has been so good as to furnish to me, leaving untouched the questions of law and policy referred to in the second part of the hon. Member's inquiry. I am informed that by the published conditions of sale the vendor reserved The right either before or at the auction of amalgamating or subdividing any of the lots and of varying the order of sale, and withdrawing any lot or lots. and that the High Court of Justice had fixed a reserve price for sale by private treaty.