HC Deb 04 July 1890 vol 346 c804
MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)

I beg to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Senior Member for the University of Oxford (Sir J. Mowbray) what is the value of the estates formerly belonging to the Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey, now vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; were those estates subject to any obligation with respect to keeping the Abbey in repair; and whether considerable outlay is now necessary for the preservation of the Abbey; and, if so, what course will be taken by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners as to providing funds for these repairs?

SIR J. MOWBRAY (Oxford University)

In 1868 the estates of the Westminster Chapter passed to the Commissioners, subject to various beneficial leases, many of which have not yet expired. An annual income of £20,000 was provided for the Chapter, such income being considerably larger than what they had heretofore enjoyed. An increased provision was made for maintenance of the fabric, and £20,000 was granted for substantial repairs. It was afterwards estimated that a further expenditure of £40,000 was necessary to insure the safety of the Abbey. In 1886 an Act was passed under which the Commissioners advanced £10,000 as a loan, which subsequently became a grant, to the Chapter. In 1888 another Act was passed, which secured to the Chapter the full income of £20,000 originally contemplated, which had been reduced about one-tenth by agricultural depression. Under that Act provision was made that not less than £3,250 per annum was to be devoted to a Fabric Fund, and the Commissioners have advanced on security of the Fabric Fund £10,000 at a low rate of interest, and they will be prepared to make a further advance, if necessary. Under that Act one canonry of the value of £1,000 per annum has been suspended to meet the Fabric Fund. The Commissioners believe that these measures have adequately provided for the preservation of the Abbey.