§ COMMITTEE. [Progress, 4th December.]
§ [THIRTEENTH NIGHT.]
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 12 (Footpaths and roads).
In page 10, line 7, at the end of the clause, to add the following sub-section:—"(3) When, at the time of the passing of this Act, a surveyor appointed by a Parish Vestry is the Highway Authority, or whenever, by virtue of the provisions of any Act of Parliament, and of any Order of the Court of Quarter Sessions, or of the County Council, or of the Local Government Board, a parish becomes entitled to appoint a highway surveyor, the Parish Council, or, where there is no Parish Council, the parish meeting, shall execute the office of and be the Highway Authority for the parish, and all ministerial acts required by any Act of Parliament to be done by or to the surveyor of highways may be done by the surveyor of such Parish Authority or by or to any other person
as they may appoint, and notwithstanding any restrictions in this Act contained with respect to the levying of rates, they shall levy a highway rate for the repair of highways and footways within their parish."—(Sir J. Dorington.)
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. MACDONA (Southwark, Rotherhithe), who, in support of the Amendment, pointed out that in certain districts small watering places had sprung up, and in order to develop them higher rates were imposed than on the lands in the immediate neighbourhood. Naturally, the people who submitted to be rated thus highly for the improvement of their own district, expected that the money would be expended in their own locality. This, however, had not hitherto been the case, and as the Amendment was designed to remedy such an injustice, he heartily supported it.
§ SIR J. DORINGTON (Gloucester, Tewkesbury)
said, the Debate had been an eminently satisfactory one to him, his Amendment having received support not only from his own side, but from the opposite Benches. The right hon. Gentleman had suggested that he might reconsider this question on Clause 24, and try and find whether it was not possible then to deal with it. The only objection he had to that was that he did not think it would be compatible with the machinery of the Bill. It would not be practicable in that clause to introduce the rating powers and other qualifications with respect to Parish Councils and highways which were absolutely necessary; and he could not, therefore, think that Clause 24 was the proper place in which to introduce this provision. He entirely agreed with the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman that it might be well to bring in the County Council, and he thought that the insertion of the words "with the consent of the County Council" would meet the right hon. Gentleman's view.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. H. H. FOWLER, Wolverhampton, E.)
said, the hon. Baronet now asked him to do what he had said on the previous night he could not do. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. W. Long) said his decision was the result of inexperience; but he had since taken the opportunity of consulting very 496 high authorities on the matter, and the advice he had received was in direct contradiction to the hon. Baronet's Amendment. There was, he thought, some misconception as to the powers of the County Council. The County Council had no power to dissolve a Highway Board or to repair any road except a main road. Only five Highway Boards had been dissolved between 1890 and 1893. Having carefully considered the question, he could not accept either the hon. Baronet's Amendment or his suggested alteration in it; but he was ready and willing to adhere to the pledge he gave on the previous evening that he would consider the matter again before the Committee reached Clause 24.
§ MR. W. LONG (Liverpool, West Derby)
said, he did not mean to suggest that the County Council had power to dissolve Highway Boards; but in many cases they had taken advantage of their powers to make main roads of a vast number of roads which had not previously been main roads. After the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman he thought the matter could not now be carried further, and he would venture to suggest that the Amendment be not pressed.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 13 (Public property and charities).
*MR. STRACHEY (Somerset, S.) moved—
In page 1C, line 8, after the word "hold," to insert the words "property for the purpose of any parochial charity for the benefit of the poor as defined by 18th and 19th Vict., chapter 134, or
He said, this question of charities was very important, and he was inclined to agree with what had been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir C. Dilke) on the Second Reading of the Bill, that the proposals of the Government in this matter were inadequate. He quite recognised that the Government bad to deal gingerly with the matter; but the clause as a whole was practically a permissive one—it had little compulsory about it, and if it were allowed to remain in its present shape, however good the intentions of the Government might be, it would be as valueless and useless as
the permissive Agricultural Holdings Allotments Acts. The only Act which attempted to define a parochial charity was the one mentioned in his Amendment, and he had adopted it because he wished to make it absolutely clear that he did not intend to interfere with any charity that was not essentially a parochial charity. He laid down the principle that all parochial charities for the benefit of the poor, not being ecclesiastical, should, subject to their trusts, go to the Parish Councils. This touched even only a small part of parish charities. Mr. John Darfield asserted in The Contemporary Review of this month that, out of £1,150,000 a year of rural charities, only £400,000, spread over 52 counties, would come under the Bill, because the Local Board districts and small county burghs were excluded by the Bill as it stood. These would, in the great majority of cases, be the smallest charities in the parish. But even of the £400,000 very little would be really touched by the Bill. As a general rule, charities of large amount were outside the Bill, except in the permissive sense, and with regard to them it must remain a dead letter. In Somerset, for example, the most important and largest charities would not be affected by the Bill, because the trustees of them were not official trustees such as Overseers, but were elected by co-optation. There were in one village three charities—one charity with £1,200 capital; the trustees were the Governors of Christ's Hospital. In the second one of £200 capital, the trustees were the Overseers; and in the third of £50, the trustees were the minister and Churchwardens. Of these three, only the two last, or £250, would come under the Bill, leaving £1,200 untouched. Another Somerset parish had two charities, together equal to nearly £2 a head to each cottage, untouched by the Bill. In one case the trustees were elected by co-optation, and in the other by right of ownership of a farmhouse in the village. The writer in The Contemporary Review pointed out in six parishes in Dorset the net result—
Would be that out of £420 a year the Parish Councils would have complete control of six charities producing £29 18s., of which £6 2s. 6d. is probably irrecoverable, and a voice in another charity of £55 a year. Altogether, the Parish Councils would have a voice in one-fifth and control in one-fourteenth of the charities.
Nor is this first half-dozen parishes on the list exceptional. In the next half-dozen, excluding educational charities, the Parish Council would be interested solely as to £3 8s. a year, and, conjointly with the Incumbent, in £10. As to the rest, £32 a year, they would have no interest.
He could not help thinking that the proposal of the Government to allow the Parish Councils to nominate one-third of the trustees of parochial charities did not go far enough. The Committee would remember that in the last Parliament but one the House of Commons resolved that every scheme of the Charity Commissioners ought to provide for a majority of the trustees being chosen by the parish. He had thought that the present House of Commons was considered progressive, but the proposal to allow the parish to nominate one-third only instead of a majority could not be said to be in advance of that Parliament. His hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. Cobb) proposed to adopt the Resolution of that Parliament, and to give the Parish Councils the nomination of a majority of the trustees. But one objection to that was that it allowed the nomination of trustees for life. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman had considered the question, but it occurred to him that the views of the Parish Council might change, and the gentlemen chosen at one time might not at a future time represent their views. There was also the objection that in the case of a great many trusts the number of trustees would be too large. He knew of a small charity in which there were already eight trustees, and under the proposal of his hon. Friend (Mr. Cobb) at least nine trustees would have to be added, making 17 in all. Did not that seem ridiculous? He could not help thinking that if the Committee wished to deal with this question in a progressive sense they should hand over the management of these charities to the Parish Council. It could not be denied that parish charities in too many cases had in the past been wastefully administered and lost; this, however, was not for lack of regulations. But Quarter Sessions had neglected their duty in the matter, and so had their successors, the County Councils. But what was everybody's business was nobody's business, and he thought they
could only improve matters by handing over the charities to the body most interested in them. They could not certainly make it worse by handing over to the country parishes the right to manage charities left to their poor. He was quite ready to recognise the difficulty of the Government, but those who represented agricultural constituencies had to look at this question from the point of view of what the people themselves felt in the matter; and he said, without any fear of contradiction, that this was a matter in which the people themselves, irrespective of Party, took the very keenest interest. He did not think there was any matter in which a greater interest was shown at the last Election in the West of England. He was told that he had gone too far in eliminating the Charity Commissioners. He did that, not because he distrusted the Charity Commissioners, but because of the difficulty of communication between them and the Parish Councils. He did not wish to say anything harsh of the Charity Commissioners, but he must say he did not think the Charity Commissioners were a progressive body. He would give an instance of what he meant. He would give one instance of a parochial charity of which he was a trustee, and which happened to have two schools in different parishes. In one parish the schools were lent to the School Board, and in the other parish they were lent to voluntary school managers—
§ MR. STRACHEY
said, he would only once more ask the Government before they decided definitely that they could not put the control of parochial charities under elective representatives, if there was no possible way in which they could do it? The people in the rural districts would certainly not be satisfied unless they thought that the charities would be administered in the future by Councils elected by the parishioners themselves. For that reason he begged to move the Amendment on the Paper.
In page 10, line 8, after the word "hold," to insert the words "property for the purpose of any parochial charity for the benefit of the poor as defined by 18th and 19th Victoria, c. 124, or." — (Mr. Strachey.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
I do not propose to follow the hon. Member through the speech in which he has discussed a large number of Amendments that are on the Paper, with reference to a subsequent sub-section. I do not think this is the best time to discuss the merits or demerits of my own Amendments, or those of the hon. Member for Rugby, or various other Amendments placed on the Paper, with the object of strengthening the clause with reference to the control which it gives Local Authorities over the administration of parochial charities. What I propose to deal with are my hon. Friend's Amendment, and those consequential upon it, and I hope that one discussion will dispose of the points raised by those Amendments. I may say that the first sub-section of the clause is purely permissive. It is a sub-section, originally introduced entirely with reference to property held for the purposes of a recreation ground, or of public meetings, or of allotments, or for any like public purpose. I may at once say that I am quite prepared to strike out the word "like," so that the clause will cover every public purpose in a parish. The clause has no compulsory force. It enables trustees to transfer their trust to the Parish Council, but what my hon. Friend proposes is that the existing trustees of all parochial charities shall be ousted from their present position, and that the Parish Council itself shall be the sole trustee of all parochial charities. If that be so, and I have correctly interpreted my hon. Friend's Amendment, the Committee will be able to confine its attention to these two points the dispossession of the existing trustees and the substitution of a Corporation—for the Parish Council will be a Corporation. Why should we dispossess the existing trustees? The founders of the charities have selected certain persons possessing special qualifications to administer their trusts. They have, I might almost say in an overwhelming majority of cases with which I propose to deal in a subsequent Amendment, which will, no doubt, evoke considerable criticism, appointed a large number of ex officio trustees—individuals holding certain offices in a parish, some ecclesiastical and some secular. I do not 501 think my hon. Friend has shown any reason why the existing trustees should be dispossessed. I think—though I will not discuss it now—that it is vital that these ex officio trustees who are to some extent representative in their character should give place to others who are really representative, and also I think, as a subsequent Amendment of mine will show, that there should be a distinct and substantial addition to what may be called the representative principle in the administration of the parochial charities. But a far more serious question than the dispossession of the existing trustees is the creation of the Corporation as trustee. Now, I would submit to my hon. Friend that the policy of legislation of this character ever since the passing of the Municipal Corporations Act has been in an entirely contrary direction. Some of the greatest abuses which had accumulated up to 1835 arose out of the practice of constituting Corporations trustees of charities, a practice which resulted in a great deal of corruption and incompetence. I should like to read the words of a gentleman who is not now a Member of Parliament, but who was a Member of the last Parliament but one, by which the Resolution was passed to which my hon. Friend has alluded. He was well known as an advanced Radical reformer. He says, after dealing with other legal objections—The feeling of moral responsibility becomes less strong in a man who, even if only nominally, has merged his individuality in the life of a fictitious entity, and whose acts, even if only technically, are no longer his own. If the same man be trustee of an unincorporated charity, his own name is used in every transaction, his own signature is attached to every deed, and these outward and visible symbols of his action keep alive his sense of responsibility. Both legislators and administrators have laid the lesson to heart. It has been the current of modern practice in the settlement of new schemes for charities, whether by legislative or other special authority, to substitute, as far as possible, individual trustees for previously existing Corporate Bodies. This policy has been signally affirmed by the Legislature in the Municipal Corporations Act (5 & 6 Will. IV., c. 76), whereby the several Municipal Corporations dealt with by that Act were displaced throughout the Kingdom from the trusteeship of the borough charities in favour of bodies of individual trustees.Now, the proposition of my hon. Friend is that, having by legislation which nobody has found fault with, displaced from their position as trustees the great 502 Municipal Corporations throughout the United Kingdom, Parliament should now invest a new and untried body—if I may be allowed to say so without any disrespect to that body for which I have been fighting most strenuously—a body without any official experience, with the important duty of administering the parochial trusts. There is another point involved to which legal Members will see that some weight should be attached. Who is to be responsible in cases of breach of trust? Who is to be liable supposing a Parish Council commits breaches of trust? One reason why reformers sought to get rid of corporate trusteeship was in order to create individual responsibility. I think a shifting body, changing every year, would not be a very safe body to entrust with this power. I do not think it necessary for me to refer to our strong desire that Parish Councils should have a powerful voice—I do not say a predominant voice, but a very large voice— in the administration of these charities. But, Sir, so far as the Government are concerned, we cannot accept my hon. Friend's Amendment, taking it, as a whole, not only for reasons I have mentioned, but because they have through my lips pledged themselves to a directly contrary course. During the Debate on the Second Reading, after contending against hon. Gentlemen opposite that a large number of these charities ought to be put under popular control, I used these words:—Therefore we are prepared to contend that these doles, which are for general charitable purposes and not for ecclesiastical purposes, are parochial charities, and, although we do not for a moment propose that the rector or any trustee properly appointed shall be removed or dispossessed or interfered with in his trusteeship, we claim that the Parish Council shall have the right to elect, instead of the Vestry, trustees in these cases.That, I think, was a distinct statement of the policy of the Government, and it is impossible, as a matter of honour as well as of political wisdom, for the Government to recede from the position that they then took up.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
I confess I have the greatest possible difficulty in believing my own ears while listening to the speech of my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board. It is true that upon many occasions recently I have 503 been taunted by my former friends and colleagues with having become a Tory. Perhaps there is some foundation for that charge; but, at least, I am not so high a Tory or so given up to Conservatism of the worst and least progressive kind as the President of the Local Government Board. What has been the whole of the right hon. Gentleman's argument addressed to an astounded Committee during the last quarter of an hour? It is that these Elective Representative Popular Bodies which we are told to trust, in regard to their dealings with other people's property, are absolutely incompetent to deal with their own. When we were discussing the question of rating—of levying a charge on other people's property—we were assured that all we had to do was to place implicit confidence in these popular authorities. But we are now discussing what shall be the disposition of property which has been left to the parish of which the Parish Council is said to be representative. What can be the danger, if we are justified in intrusting that new body with these large powers, in allowing it to deal with the small sums which have been left for the benefit of the poor of the parish? It has been argued, when dealing with the question of levying the rates, that, inasmuch as the Parish Councils will represent the poor, they are not to be trusted with levying rates upon the rich. We are told by the Government that there is no foundation for such a suspicion. But now we are only asking that these bodies shall be allowed to deal with what is the property of the poor; and as there will be a majority of the poor represented on these bodies, there can be no harm in allowing them to dispose of property left entirely and solely for the benefit of that class. What is the answer of the right hon. Gentleman? It is that the present trustees are so immaculate that it would be a great wrong to dispossess them. That is contrary to everything we have heard on the subject of charities since I have taken any part in public life. We have been told again and again that the management of charities, especially the small charities in country places, have been the subject of the greatest abuses; that dole charities have been misapplied, that they have been used for personal and other objects, and generally that there has been the strongest possible call 504 for the interference of the Legislature or the Charity Commission. Yet we are told that these are the people — the trustees of these charities, who are so immaculate that the right hon. Gentleman looks with horror on the proposal which will relieve them of their work and place it in the hands of the representatives of the people. Then, the second argument of the President of the Local Government Board is that the great Corporations of the country have been relieved of the duties of trustees. What does my right hon. Friend mean? I know a great Corporation, to which I have had the honour to belong for a great number of years, which administers as trustee a great number of charities. I suppose the right hon. Gentleman means that before 1836 the Unreformed Corporations dealt improperly with charities, but the theory even of Conservatives is that since the Municipal Reform Act these Bodies can be trusted with duties which could not properly be placed in the hands of the privileged Corporations which existed prior to 1836. I know that the Corporation of Birmingham administers charities, some of which have been absolutely left to it for the purpose. Surely the right hon. Gentleman does not mean to say that it is illegal to leave money to a Corporation for the benefit of the community whose affairs it controls. That is not the spirit of the law, and as a matter of fact the great Corporations do administer public charities at the present time. We are now giving the Parish Councils the same powers that we have already given to Corporations, and the experience of the Corporations justifies us in giving to Parish Councils the power of controlling their own charities. I must again express my astonishment that at this late period in the discussion of the Bill my right hon. Friend should suddenly have become I will not say a Tory, but a reactionary, and should refuse in this matter to place confidence in the people.
§ SIR F. S. POWELL (Wigan)
said, that reference had been made to the Debate of 1886, and the Resolution of the House that was passed on that occasion. The hon. Member who made the reference appeared to have forgotten that 1886 was the great Home Rule year in the administration of the present Prime Minister, and that the discussion of which the hon. Member spoke occurred in May 505 of that year, and was a parenthetical passage in the course of the Home Rule Debate. He would recommend the hon. Member, if he did not go back to ancient history, at least to have some regard for contemporaneous history, with which every Member of the House was intimately acquainted. The Division in question took place at 2 o'clock in the morning, and the numbers were 73 on the one side and 59 on the other. The complaint on that occasion was made against a particular charity in Somersetshire by Sir J. Swinburne, and on the strength of his representation that that particular charity was badly managed; the House, without full consideration, passed a wide and general Resolution. He (Sir F. S. Powell) had suggested during the course of the Debate on the Resolution that it would be well not to arrive at a decision at that time, as a Committee was then sitting to consider endowed schools charities. The subject was considered by the Committee who arrived at a conclusion, but not in accordance with the Resolution of the House. They reported that there should be a partial and even a large adoption of the representative element, but they did not recommend that it should become a majority. He sympathised with what the right hon. Gentleman had said about Corporations. The advantage of the present system was that trustees could be made personally responsible. But a Corporation might neglect any decree of the Charity Commissioners with impunity and without personal liability. He believed that this was a strong reason, and he knew that the Charity Commissioners had been affected by it in their policy. His own feeling was against Municipal Authorities having power over charities. He believed that one reason why Local Bodies had succeeded so well was because they had been kept free from the administration of charities, and had not been liable to the imputation of unfairness and injustice in the administration of charities.
§ MR. W. ALLEN (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
said, that those who sat on that (the Ministerial) side of the House considered this a most important Amendment. They were of opinion that the clause would be of very little value if it were not amended in some way so as to meet their views. As the clause stood, 506 there would be a great many charities that it would not apply to, and where it did apply it would only give, say, two parish trustees out of seven. These would be in a small minority, and would have very little voice in the management of the trust. This Bill had been brought in to extend the powers of the inhabitants of the parish—to give the management of the parish affairs into their hands. One of the most important matters in connection with a rural parish was its charities. The right hon. Gentleman might say that he had met them to some extent by the Amendment he had put down, which would allow not more than one-third of the trustees to be elected by the Parish Council. But by that Amendment he had admitted his belief in the system of popular election to some extent. They wanted him to carry that principle further. Surely, when they were intrusting the Parish Councils with the very large powers already granted by the Bill, they ought to trust them with the management of their own charities. It was surely showing a very small belief in the power of arrangement and ability of the Parish Councils to say that they would not be able to manage their charities, which, in many instances, would not be very large. He thought they had now a little more confidence that the Amendment would be accepted. He had noticed in the course of the Debates that Amendments proposed by Radical Members had been almost invariably rejected. But now they had the support of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, and his words would have rather more weight, as they appeared to have had in the past, with the President of the Local Government Board. He did not think the right hon. Gentleman realised the feeling in the country. The people of the rural parishes considered this a question of vital importance. Hon. Members now sitting on that (the Ministerial) side of the House again and again told the people of the parishes that the Parish Councils Bill would give them control of the charities. He hoped and trusted that the hon. Members who had made these promises to their constituents would remember them in the Division which was about to take place, and would not be led away by the fear of defeating the Government.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)
After the speech of the 507 right hon. Gentleman opposite, I am sure it is not necessary for me to say more than a few words on this Amendment. I took occasion at an early stage in the proceedings in Committee to allude to some of the pledges that had been given us by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board as to the position he was prepared to take on ecclesiastical questions. I then said, and I think I have been justified by the right hon. Gentleman's speech, that I believed he would keep his pledges. On the general question, I am afraid it is not possible to meet the difficulties referred to by the last speaker, who finds himself unable to fulfil the pledges which he gave to his constituents at the time of the Election. I am sorry for the hon. Member and for others who are placed in a similar position, but that does not relieve the Committee from the necessity of looking at the Amendment straight in the face. There are two matters that might fairly be considered. The first is, whether it is right to change the existing trustees. What right have you to do so? Has any attempt been made to show that, as a whole, the existing trustees have not administered their trusts as they ought to do? In the next place, we have to consider how any change such as that proposed will affect the administration of these charities. Surely that is an important point. It is right for us to consider how the charities would best be administered. I venture to say they would be better administered by a permanent body acting upon fixed principles laid down by long experience than by any body like a Parish Council that will have to be elected from time to time. On that ground alone I hope the Amendment will be rejected.
§ SIR G.OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)
said, the simple question was, was it well to leave these parochial charities to be administered by Trustees? To his own knowledge, in a great many cases the Trustees had lost the charities. There was a prejudice, no doubt, against Corporations in these matters. Lord Truro once said that it was not safe to trust Corporations, "because they had no bodies to be kicked and no souls to be lost," but it must be remembered that the Parish Councils would be Corporations of a peculiar character. They 508 would be acting under the fierce light of public opinion, and it would be very difficult for them to go astray in dealing with the property of the parish under the eyes of the parish. It was said that Corporations had no personal liability, but what was the value of the personal liability of the Trustees in whom these charities were now vested? Why, in a great many cases, they were men of straw. ["No, no!"] He knew cases where the trust property had been hopelessly lost, and where it had not been thought worth while to proceed against the persons responsible. Could a stronger argument be adduced than that, if this proposal were not carried, out of the whole of the parochial charities, only one-third would come under the Bill? Under the circumstances, he was not surprised that the Amendment had created more interest than almost any Amendment to the Bill. If a Division were taken he should certainly support the Amendment.
§ SIR C. W. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
said, there could be no doubt that of recent years donors had left money very freely to Elected Bodies in London very similar to the proposed Parish Councils. Large sums of money-were administered by London Vestries and by old Corporations in the country, as, for instance, those of Oxford and Newcastle. The right hon. Gentleman opposite asked by what right they proposed to carry this Amendment to deal with those charities. "By what right?" was a. question which was answered by the whole course of charitable legislation in this country. The creation of the Charity Commissioners and their action under various Statutes showed the public right to deal with this property. As the right hon. Gentleman who spoke just now (Sir G. Osborne Morgan) said, a. great number of those funds had been lost, and the loss was a rural far more than an urban question. He would ask any Member who took a keen interest in this-matter to make for himself a list of the charities in his own Division. He would have to go to four different sources for his information, and he would find numerous instances in which charities had been lost even in recent years. He knew cases in which land which had been left in charity was held by private trustees, and in which no account was rendered, and the right of anyone to interfere was denied. 509 And in those cases it was worth nobody's while to fight those trustees. The Select Committee on Charitable Trusts, which sat in 1884, recommended the concentration of charities within a certain area under one management, as a step which would lead to greater economy and efficiency of administration. It seemed to him that when Parliament was creating these Parochial Authorities there could be no better body in which to concentrate the management of charities than such authorities. If it was said that the whole difference between the Government and himself was as to whether the body should itself be the Trustee, or whether it should merely have power to choose Trustees, his reply was that this, after all, was only a matter of detail. He himself had never spoken on this question before, except in that House; but he knew that the promises which had been made by Members of the Government were promises to give the people the control of their parish charities. Whether such control were given directly or indirectly, surely it ought now to be given. His hon. Friend who moved the Amendment went too far when he quoted the able article in The Contemporary Review as showing that all the urban charities would be outside the scope of the clause, because an Amendment was to be moved by the Government itself to bring urban charities within the scope of the Bill. This was a good reason for appealing to all urban Members for their votes, because whatever could be won on the subject would be shared by all the urban parishes. He had taken some trouble to ascertain the number of charities to which the Bill would apply in his own constituency, but had had considerable difficulty in getting information, because the names of the trustees were not, in one case in four, given in the Returns. Taking the cases where the names were given, he found that out of 107 there were nearly half to which Clause 13 would not apply, whilst, as regarded money value, the portion to which the clause would not apply enormously outweighed that to which it would apply. He found also that the wealthiest charities in the division came under one of two heads: they were either charities with special trustees to which the Bill would not apply, or they were charities with official trustees to which the Bill 510 would equally not apply. It was really a matter of chance or a mere accident whether, in any given case, the people would have control of the charities or not. His right hon. Friend (Mr. H. H. Fowler) had promised to meet this difficulty by an Amendment later on. If the Amendment proposed to give the people a majority of the representation there might be something to be said for it, but it was so guarded that under any circumstances it would only give them a minority. It would give publicity, no doubt, but very little else, because, however strong might be the feeling, and however complete the exclusion of any particular section— the Nonconformists for instance—from the benefits of any charity there was to be no popular control. There were a great number of other charities to which the Bill would not apply. There were, for instance, in his constituency nine, which ought probably to be multiplied by four, to get at the real figures, where the rector was the sole trustee. There were many cases to which he did not know whether the Bill would apply or not, so curiously was it drawn. Some of the most valuable and important charities applied to more than one parish, and these were generally the richest of all the charities with which one had to deal. Yet some of these were in their essence parochial charities because they had always been divided between the various parishes, and were managed by the parish officers. He did not know whether the Bill would apply to them. Without desiring to indulge in any unworthy taunts, he might say that there was no subject mentioned by more speakers or dealt with more strongly by speakers on the Liberal side at the last Election than that of giving local control over local charities. There were, no doubt, cases where the strongest local feeling existed on this question, and, generally speaking, there was no subject which excited greater sympathy in the counties. Yet in spite of the very strong speeches that had been made, some of them by gentlemen who sat on the Treasury Bench—though he did not see them present at that moment—neither the clause as it stood nor the clause as it was proposed to amend it gave popular control over the charities. That being 511 the case, he thought it was the duty of his hon. Friend to press for a Division on the question.
§ MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
thought his hon. Friend (Mr. Strachey) might be congratulated on having laid this subject, which had created the deepest interest in the country, before the Committee in a most able and convincing speech. The interesting Debate which had followed that speech had thrown the greatest light upon the question. He did not believe that the figures given by his hon. Friend as to the proportion of charities which the Bill in its present form would hand over to the control of the Parish Councils were in the least exaggerated. His right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. H. H. Fowler) appeared himself to be convinced that it was necessary to stretch the principle of popular control further in order to give effect to the pledges of the Liberal Party, and to the sentiments of the supporters of the Government in the country. At the same time, he (Mr. Channing) could not agree with his hon. Friend the Member for Somersetshire (Mr. Strachey) in asking for so sweeping an amendment of the clause as he proposed, and in advocating the abolition of the whole of the existing trustees. It would not be desirable to go so far as that in dealing with many charities with which he was personally acquainted. On the Trust Bodies of many charities there were gentlemen who had great experience and whom it would be most desirable to retain on those bodies. He thought the Government would really meet the whole case put forward by his hon. Friend, and would save the Committee the trouble of a Division, if they were to assent to the principle embodied in the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. Cobb)—namely, that the Parish Council should be able to elect such a number of Trustees on the Governing Bodies of those charities as would give a popular majority.
§ SIR J. KENNAWAY (Devon, Honiton)
said, he did not know whether he was quite justified in interfering in the interesting controversy that was being carried on between hon. Members opposite, but he wished to express his gratitude to the hon. Member for Somersetshire (Mr. Strachey) for bringing the 512 question forward, and thus showing the Committee what was the extent of the pledges given by hon. Members opposite during their Election campaign. He wished the Committee to consider for a moment what would be the effect upon intending donors and testators of adopting the principle which had been indicated by gentlemen opposite. He assumed that it was considered to be to the advantage of localities that men should be encouraged to make sacrifices, and to give their substance for the benefit of places in which they were interested. The inhabitants of the country districts were very much interested in local charities, and would view with great jealousy any proposal which would have the effect of taking them away. It was evident, however, that if legislation of the sort proposed was to take place, an absolute stop would be put to the flow of charity, inasmuch as men would not be prepared to make sacrifices in order to establish charities if the administration of them were to be handed over to a body which would be changed year by year. Hon. Members opposite had, therefore, better take care that the effect of the changes they proposed was not to cut off the supply of charity altogether in the future.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir J. RIGBY, Forfar)
I daresay there may be ways of reconciling the views of the Government with those expressed by hon. Members behind me. The present Amendment, as I understand it, would vest all charitable property in the Parish Council as a Corporation, in order that it might carry out the trust. There appear to be very serious objections to the proposal—objections of so far-reaching a. character that the Government cannot by any possibility accept it. My right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. H. H. Fowler) has referred to past legislation with regard to Municipal Bodies. When the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 was passed it was thought to be most desirable that the actual trusteeship should be separated from the body corporate in order that the persons who would administer the trust might be individually and personally responsible. For a time the responsibility as trustees remained in individual members of Corporations, with power to the Lord Chancellor to appoint other trustees in their place as 513 they died off. Subsequently the duty which had been thrown upon the Lord Chancellor was transferred to the Charity Commissioners, and it is now exercised by them. There was consequently a clear indication on the part of the Legislature that, as a rule, it was desirable that Municipal Corporations should be trustees of charities. We do not propose in the main to alter that. There are certain cases which the Amendment deals with where, if the existing trustees agree and the consent of the Charity Commissioners is obtained, there may be a transfer to Corporations; but we do not propose to extend the power in any degree beyond the provisions of the first sub - section of this clause. It is impossible to treat this Amendment entirely without reference to those which we know to be about to follow it. My hon. Friend the Member for Northamptonshire (Mr. Channing) has pointed out that if the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. Cobb) be accepted, he and others would not wish to press the proposal now before the Committee. We are not far from an agreement in this matter. We do wish to strengthen very greatly the powers of the Parish Councils in the direction not of their accepting in their corporate capacity the administration of trusts, but of their nominating trustees who, as individuals, shall be responsible for the execution of the trusts, and the Government see no insuperable objection to that course—no objection which might not be met by accepting the Amendment of the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. Cobb). There is no attempt under that Amendment, or under any part of Clause 13, to remove any trustees except Overseers or Churchwardens in cases of ecclesiastical charities. These are the only cases in which trustees drop out, as it were, and are replaced by others. But in accordance with a Resolution of this House in 1886 I am informed that it has of late been the practice of the Charity Commissioners, in framing schemes, to provide as far as possible that the representative element on a body of trustees shall be in the majority. The principle which the Commissioners act upon appears to be the principle contained in the Amendment of the hon. Member for Rugby, 514 and that principle Her Majesty's Government are prepared to accept.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER (Isle of Wight)
said, he must confess that he had heard with some astonishment the speech of his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General, who had indicated that the Government were prepared to accept, with certain modifications, the Amendment on the Paper of the hon. Member for Rugby. The first thing he desired to know in regard to that matter was this: were they supposed to discuss that Amendment at the present time? because he said unhesitatingly that the statement made by the hon. and learned Member was wholly insufficient in order to enable the Committee to arrive at a conclusion.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER
said, he quite understood that, and he was going to point it out to the Committee, but it had been introduced by the Solicitor General without any call to Order from the Chair. He, however, bowed to the ruling of the Chairman. He thought, however, that they were entitled to ask whether the Government still adhered to the spirit or letter of the pledge given by the President of the Local Government Board on the Second Reading of the Bill? The right hon. Gentleman then said—he was quoting from The Times' report—Although we do not for a moment propose that the rector or any trustee properly appointed shall be removed or dispossessed or interfered with, we claim that the Parish Council shall have, instead of the Vestry, the power to elect trustees.That statement was understood by the House and the country to mean that where a Vestry had rights of election at the present time, the Parish Council would have the same rights in the future. It certainly was not taken to mean that power was to be given to swamp existing trustees. They were entitled to know, were the Government now prepared to sanction a proposal for the control of those trustees by a majority forced upon them at the dictation of the Parish Council? In order to satisfy their rebellious supporters below the Gangway were the Government going to be untrue to their pledges? He assumed, from the assent given by the President of the Local Go- 515 vernment Board, that the Government intended to stand to the true spirit as well as to the letter of the pledge which they had given—namely, that the trustees should not be interfered with by an Amendment of this character. The proposal contained in the Amendments of hon. Members opposite was that there should be a compulsory transfer of trusteeship to the Parish Council, but no case had been made out for such a transfer, and he could only suppose that hon. Members were about to vote for the proposal because they feared that if they were not to do so they would find themselves in difficulties when next they visited their constituents. It would be absurd to overlook the great mischief that would be done if charities were vested in Corporations like Parish Councils. The loss of charities would be much more probable then than if they remained vested in individuals. The Charity Commissioners had recognised the elective principle for some time back, and successive Attorneys General, when these schemes came before them, had insisted that the co-optative trustees should to a large extent disappear and that their place should be taken by elected trustees. A great deal had been done to restore the neglect of past generations in relation to these charities. Legislation had been passed and steps taken to secure the smaller charities and to prevent their being lost by non-collection. He only mentioned this to show that hon. Members who voted for the Amendment were not considering the question from the proper point of view. They overlooked the fact that many of the serious losses to the working classes had been occasioned by such confidential business being intrusted to clerks and officials. The clerks or officials might be dishonest, and the mischief was done. It was all very well to say that these matters would be vested in the Parish Council. That might be considered a popular cry, but he thought it would be a change for the worse, and ought not to be adopted except after the fullest consideration. What they were now discussing was not a question respecting an alteration in regard to the collection of fees, or to what extent a man should be made responsible. The proposition was that all personal responsibility in connection with these charities was to be swept 516 away compulsorily. No one could attach much importance to the Resolution of 1886, which was carried on a snap Division by 73 to 59 votes, and the speeches at that time when referred to showed that. No general sweeping principle of the kind now proposed was then intended to be adopted. The House merely expressed the opinion that the elective principle should be recognised in the appointment of trustees, not that trustees should be abolished altogether. He would not further refer to the proposed Amendment except to say that they reserved to themselves full liberty of discussion. The Committee must not be led astray by the adroit suggestions of the Solicitor General, who was rapidly acquiring the wiles of the Parliamentary tactician. The Committee must remember the speech of the Minister in charge of the Bill, who took the honourable and straightforward course which he always followed, and who, he believed, spoke with the assent of every Member of the Government with, whom at the time he had been in communication. No case had been made out for the proposal on its merits, or could be made; and there was a serious risk of doing a great injustice to those who had hitherto done their duty well, and of doing a great injury to the charities.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
said, as he was Chairman of the Committee of 1884, which had been alluded to, he would like to say a few words. His right hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean had spoken of the Report of the Committee as though it gave sanction to the immediate proposal of the hon. Member for Somersetshire now before the Committee. His right hon. Friend was entirely mistaken. There was no proposition before that Committee for vesting the charities in Municipal Corporations, and he was quite certain that if such a proposition had been made the Committee would almost unanimously have rejected it. All the Committee did was to recommend strongly that the principle of popular representation should be largely extended. The Committee, therefore, were adverse to the proposal of the hon. Member for Somersetshire, and were in favour of that of the hon. Member for Warwickshire. That was the proposition to which his hon. Friend had given his assent. The Government opposed the 517 Amendment of the hon. Member for Somersetshire. They thought that, for the reasons which had been already stated, it would not be a wise proposition. On the other hand, they thought the principle of popular representation should be extended, and with that view they would give their support to the hon. Member for Warwickshire.
§ MR. STRACHEY
said, he regretted the Government were unable to see their way to accept the Amendment. He believed that the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Warwickshire would prove to be contentious and unworkable. He intended to go to a Division in order to place on record what he believed would be the simpler and better plan in practice.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said, they were in a very peculiar position. They had relied on the honour of the President of the Local Government Board, who had over and over again stated that there was to be no interference with these charities. On the strength of the right hon. Gentleman's assurances the Opposition had accepted a great deal in the Bill which they would not otherwise have accepted. And now the Government were changing their position. In saying that he was going to accept this further Amendment of the Member for Warwickshire, the right hon. Gentleman was really taking away with one hand what he had promised with the other. The Government had found that their friends were pledged all over the country to look after the loaves and fishes in the shape of the charities, and that they would not be supported by a great number of them. Instead of abolishing the present trustees in a straightforward manner, they were going to swamp them. Was that a straightforward course? The Government had been false to their promises. He believed that parochial charities might be re-arranged with advantage in some cases, but it was not right to make such a sweeping change simply because one or two had been badly administered. This was the most serious breach of faith the Committee had had on the part of the Government with regard to this Bill, and he hoped the Committee would show their sense of it by doing their utmost to alter the clause and show the 518 country the way in which this question had been treated.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
I cannot understand the action of the hon. Gentleman. You say you are opposed to this Amendment. So are we; and so let us vote together against it.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
When we come to that other Amendment we can discuss it. At present we are dealing with this Amendment, and why can we not agree to dispose of this Amendment? We want to get on with business with as little delay as possible; and when we have disposed of this Amendment and have come to the other Amendment, which you say we ought not to accept, you will be entitled to state your objections, and the Government will receive them respectfully,
§ MR. BARTLEY
Why did the Solicitor General refer to it and say that the Government would accept it?
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
He referred to it as one reason why we should reject this Amendment. I cannot understand why the hon. Member should, in regard to this Amendment, charge the Government or the President of the Local Government Board with breach of faith. We oppose the Amendment and hon. Members opposite oppose it. Let us, therefore, vote to dispose of it, and then come to the Amendment which Members opposite think we ought not to accept.
§ MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's, Hanover Square)
I would ask my right hon. Friend why, if the case is so very simple, the Solicitor General selected this moment for informing the Committee of the intentions of the Government with regard to an Amendment not before the Committee? Was it a blunder on the part of the Solicitor General?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
No; it was not a blunder; it was rather a put-up job. Various communications had been made to the Government as to the state of feeling on the part of hon. Members below the Gangway with regard to this Amendment, and therefore the Government were obliged to enter into this transaction. Now we are in this position: we know what is to be sold, but we are not to discuss the price in the 519 selling. The point of the remarks of the Solicitor General was clearly this: there are certain followers of the Government who cannot be induced to refrain from voting in favour of the Amendment, but the bulk of the supporters of the Government were told incidentally— "If you do not vote against us on this particular Amendment, you may rely on our taking action in regard to a future Amendment." But why may we not discuss that transaction? The Chancellor of the Exchequer advises the Committee to vote against this Amendment because it has nothing to do with the other Amendment which is to follow, but I would point out that the two Amendments have an intimate connection. We would like to know from the President of the Local Government Board, who is in charge of the Bill, how he reconciles the present attitude of the Government with the pledges which he has himself given? It is evidently the feeling on this side of the House that this is a very important departure, and that the course now adopted is practically to take an important part of the Bill out of the hands of the Minister who is responsible for it, and to place it in the hands of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on the other side of the House. The Government may disguise the matter as they like, but the President of the Local Government Board has been let down by his colleagues. Otherwise, it would not have been the Solicitor General that would have replied, but the right hon. Gentleman himself. The right hon. Gentleman is compelled, so far, to sit in silence, whilst his colleagues have taken the matter up, and have pointed out the course the Government intend to pursue on a future Amendment. We would like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to assent to an Amendment which we believe is not in accordance with the pledges he has given? We think the matter so important that our general attitude with regard to the Bill must depend on the Government keeping to their pledges. If the Government are to depart from the lines which have been laid down it will, of course, aggravate the difficulties of the case. Hon. Members opposite have talked as if we were attempting to destroy the Bill. That is not the attitude of the 520 Opposition, but we protest against the Government taking a course which is inconsistent with the pledges they have given. The action of hon. Members below the Gangway opposite is far more prejudicial to the Bill than any action that has been taken on this side of the House.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I congratulate my right hon. Friend who has just sat down upon having achieved the feat of delivering a speech to the House of which not one single word had anything to do with the question before the House. The question before the House is, whether the charge of certain charities shall be transferred to the Parish Councils. That is a Motion which, apparently, my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham intends to support, having declared that, though he does not resent being called a Tory, and intimates that in a certain sense he has become a Tory, he is not high Tory enough to resist this Motion. That is the Motion before the Committee, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite has not said one single word upon it. The arguments in support of the Motion do not require to be dwelt upon at any length. We object to the proposed transfer to the Parish Councils for various reasons, one of which is that the Parish Councils are fluctuating bodies, and are not, therefore, well adapted to carry out a permanent purpose. But another, and much stronger, reason is, that they are under no personal liability for the misuse of the funds. These, we think, are conclusive objections, and we are obliged on that account to resist the Motion. In the course of the discussion my hon. Friend the Solicitor General made a speech in which he stated that, while we objected to the Motion before the Committee, we did not object to enter on the question of the appointment of elective trustees, and that we were prepared to adopt the principle, in regard to the non-ecclesiastical charities, that the elective trustees might even be a majority. That the right hon. Gentleman treats as something unusual and strange in Parliamentary procedure. But if there is one thing more common than another for a Government in charge of a Bill, and responsible for it, to do, it is that when they resist a proposal which contains elements with which they have sympathy, they 521 make an explicit statement as to how far they are prepared to go in giving effect to that sympathy. This has had a tremendous effect upon my right hon. Friend, and it has put him to the exercise of his grand and, I think, unrivalled powers of manipulating the English language. The right hon. Gentleman, in describing this portentous proceeding of the Solicitor General—which is entirely within the lines of Parliamentary Debate, and most common and necessary— said it was " a put-up job." There is a most comprehensive dictionary of the English language now being prepared with the greatest care and ability by gentlemen to whom I need not refer, and I wonder whether it will include among the new treasures of the English language a " put-up job." Of course, the name of the author is also given. If so, the value of the phrase will, no doubt, be very much enhanced—[Cries of "Question! "]— and it will thereby acquire an additional passport on its way to immortality. [Renewed cries of " Question! "] It is a most proper question to discuss. The declaration of the Solicitor General is perfectly compatible with the pledges of my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board. The proper time to discuss the question whether the Government are justified in supporting the Motion of the hon. Member for Rugby is when that Motion is proposed, and not now, when making speeches such as that of my right hon. Friend can only have the double effect of wasting the time of the House by the discussion of a matter which is not before the Committee, and of preparing Members to approach the question, when it does arise, in a warmer spirit than they otherwise would do. I hope we may now be able to dispose of this question whether Parish Councils are to have charge of the charities, and when we come to the Motion of the hon. Member for Rugby we shall be prepared to vindicate in full the course we have taken, and its consistency with the pledges which have been given by the President of the Local Government Board.
§ MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
said, his right hon. Friend had told the Committee that the question before them was whether all parochial charities shall be transferred to the Parish Councils. With all due respect to his 522 right hon. Friend, that was not the question before the Committee. The question was not whether all parochial charities shall be transferred, but whether they may be transferred. The word "shall" was in the Amendment which they would come to later on; and many of them were prepared to support the present Amendment without being prepared to support the later Amendment, believing, as they did, that the questions were quite distinct. The question they had now to decide was, whether power should be given to the trustees of charities to transfer these charities to the Parish Councils, if they so pleased. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment had made a proposal to optionally transfer the property for the purpose of any parochial charity for the benefit of the poor, as defined by the 18th & 19th Vict., c. 124. That, therefore, was an alternative. The Amendment did not say all, but certain parochial, charities, and what these parochial charities were he was unable to find out. His first objection, therefore, to accepting the Amendment as it stood—though he was in favour of the principle of allowing optional transfer—was that it did not convey a clear meaning. His next objection was that, as he understood the Government, though the President of the Local Government Board had consented to omit the word "like" in the fourth section of the clause, the trustees would have the power of optional transfer, which was what the right hon. Gentleman desired to secure. He would, therefore, suggest to the hon. Member that he might very reasonably withdraw his Amendment. The real issue should be raised when it was proposed to substitute "shall" for "may."
§ MR. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN (Kent, Tunbridge)
said, the question before the Committee was not merely the Amendment of the hon. Member for Somerset, but the rejection of the Amendment promised by the President of the Local Government Board. When the Solicitor General had accepted the Amendment of the hon. Member for Rugby, the Government thereby rejected the Amendment promised by the President of the Local Government Board, for both dealt with the question of electing trustees of private trusts; and while the hon. Member for Rugby 523 wanted the majority elected, the President of the Local Government Board desired only to see a certain section elected. He asked the right hon. Gentleman whether or not he intended to withdraw his Amendment?
Order, order! I would point out that while it is in Order to refer to the Amendment it is not in Order to discuss it.
§ MR. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
said, the whole argument was affected by the fact that the Government had pledged themselves, through the Solicitor General, to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Rugby, and therefore he thought he was entitled to refer to that Amendment. The Solicitor General had said that there was no reason whatever for dispossessing the trustees of private trusts. But what was the good of that, when they would be swamped and outvoted under the proposal of the hon. Member for Rugby. The hon. and learned Gentleman had also said that there were ways of reconciling the Amendment of the hon. Member for Somersetshire, and he held forth the promise of accepting the Amendment of the hon. Member for Rugby as a means of reconciliation. He ventured to tell the Government that so far as the Opposition were concerned there would be no reconciliation on this subject. They said the Government had no right whatever to interfere with private trusts. The object of the Bill was to entrust elected Parish Councillors with public duties. If a trust was a public trust the Government had a perfect right to transfer it to the Parish Council; but why should they hand over private trusts which had never been administered by public officials—trusts, for instance, in the hands of the Incumbent. This proposal was altogether outside the scope of the Bill; it was an excrescence; it would mean a violation of the pledges of the Government, and for those reasons they could not make any reconciliation with the Government on the point.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
said, he could hardly mention a question on which the rural population were so set, or which so exercised their minds as this question of the parochial charities. It was all very well to say that nobody understood what parochial charities meant. They had been defined over and 524 over again. They meant the property of the parishioners with which the parishioners had not hitherto anything to do. The First Commissioner had also said that the Charity Commissioners had of late years adopted the recommendation of the Trustees Committee Report, and had barely introduced the representative element into the trustees. But the Charity Commissioners had never given direct representation. The representative element was confined to appointments by School Boards, Magistrates, or some other bodies. Therefore, that had nothing to do with the proposal in the Amendment. The Government, by their resistance to this Amendment, said that the Parish Council was not only not to have the management of this property, but that they should be for ever incapable of having the management, which was a more far-reaching decision? And why not? Because it was said that the County Council was a fluctuating body. But the Government had entrusted the County Council with other forms of property; and if a fluctuating body could manage property of one description it could manage property of another description. The First Commissioner of Works had also said that the Select Committee on Charity Trusts in 1884 did not recommend that the management of the trusts should be put in the hands of Municipalities of any kind. But he would remind the President of the Local Government Board that he himself on that very Committee moved an Amendment directly with that object, and that his argument was that it was in that direction the required reform would be found rather than in decentralisation.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
said, that if the right hon. Gentleman did not move the Amendment, he certainly supported it, for his name would be found in the voting list. Therefore, he thought the right hon. Gentleman should not refuse to adopt this present Amendment. Of course, they had been told that the subsequent Amendment of the hon. Member for Rugby would answer the same purpose. But he would point out that that Amendment bad nothing at all to do with the ,present question, for it would only permit the Parish Council to elect 525 trustees from outside their own body which would take the trusts outside the purview of the Parish Council. This Amendment proposed to give to the Parish Council power only to administer these parochial charities for the benefit of the poor. If the hon. Member proposed that any Parish Council should vary the trust in any way he could quite see the argument of an hon. Member who said it would be dangerous to entrust that power to them; but there was no proposal of the sort; they were simply to be the administrators of a scheme. There was no mistake as to the nature of the proposal, which was whether the Parish Council should be trusted to be trustees in one of the most elementary matters concerning them, or whether the Government showed such distrust of the Parish Council that they were going to refuse them even the power to be a trustee simply to administer their own property. He trusted the hon. Member would go to a Division.
§ MR. LOGAN (Leicester, Harborough)
was quite at a loss to understand how it was that hon. Gentlemen on either side of the House could refuse to the people the management of these charities. His view of the situation was this: that the founders originally left the money or property for the benefit of future generations—that was to say. they left this money or property for the benefit of the people, and the only interest the trustees had in the matter was to see that the property was properly managed in the interests of those to whom it was left. To hear some people speak, one would imagine these charities were left for the purpose of creating trustees, or founded with the purpose of finding certain gentlemen something to do. But he would remind those who thought so that the charities were left for the benefit of the people, and in his judgment the people were reasonable in desiring—nay, he would go further, and say in demanding—a dominant voice in the management of those charities. This question of charities was very important in the division he had the honour to represent, for he found that by the Return of 1862–3 the gross annual charities amounted to £6,490. Of that amount there was only £577 which was devoted to Church purposes proper, for secular purposes there remained £5,900, and in 526 all secular purposes he included that of education. In a very large number of the cases of these charities, the clergyman of the parish was the ruling spirit, and had come to regard this post as a right. He would remind the Committee that the reason there were so many clergymen appointed under these bequests arose from the fact that in years gone by the clergyman was amongst the few educated people in the village, and was recognised as a safe and honest man, and, furthermore, it was recognised that he would be succeeded by another man of the same class, and that no such circumstance could be held out with regard to any other class. They did not state that the clergymen should be excluded from the management of these charities; they recognised fully their advice was frequently most valuable, but what they asked was that if their valuable services were to be made use of they might have the privilege of electing them to that position. They asked that as these charities were left to the people, with the people should be left the chief part of the management of them and the expenditure and distribution of the funds. They had no desire to interfere with charities that had been left exclusively with the church; all they wished to do was to assert their right to those charities which they regarded as their own. That, in his opinion, was the intention of the founder, and all they desired was to carry out that intention, and for that purpose they thought the Representatives of the people who were answerable to the people were the fit and proper persons to carry out that object. Believing as he did in that principle, he should, if the hon. Gentleman went to a Division, feel it his duty to vote with him.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
said, he should like to make a humble attempt to bring the Committee back to the paths of relevancy. As the clause stood it gave powers to the trustees, for it said trustees might transfer to the Parish Council any property which they holdFor the purposes of a public recreation ground, or of public meetings, or of allotments, for the benefit of the poor of a rural parish,and all the Amendment proposed to do was practically to extend the description of property. The Amendment proposed nothing else, for it did not propose to 527 make the transfer compulsory, although perhaps consequential Amendments might have that effect. The Solicitor General had thrown over the President of the Local Government Board most completely, for he said they trusted the Amendment would not be accepted because they were going to accept another Amendment which it would be improper to discuss now. The Solicitor General also told them there was no attempt to remove any of the trustees, but he proposed to gerrymander the trustees, for he had said if this Amendment was not sufficiently supported by followers of the Government, so as to place the Government in a difficulty, the Government would throw over the Amendment of the President of the Local Government Board and accept another that would give a parochial majority against the existing trustees. He thought the President of the Local Government Board was entitled to and would receive the sympathy of the Committee on the treatment to which he had been subjected by his own colleagues. They did not all agree with the President of the Local Government Board, but they all accepted the declarations he made in perfect good faith, and when the right hon. Gentleman told them he did not intend to interfere with the trustees, they accepted that; therefore, it was painful to see the Solicitor General come down and throw over his colleague and then get the Prime Minister to endeavour to confuse the issue by excursions into the regions of philology and lexicography. It was not the proper way to treat the right hon. Gentleman, and when the President of the Local Government Board was asked to forego an Amendment already considered by himself, in order to make provision for a bad and hurried attempt to gerrymander the trusteeships of popular charities, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would remember that he too had a certain self-respect which should be. considered by his colleagues in the Cabinet.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 67; Noes 251.—(Division List, No. 356.)
§ SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)
said, the clause contained the words "the poor of a rural parish," and as upon another clause, when the question was 528 discussed, the word "poor" was struck out and the word "inhabitants" inserted instead, he would suggest that the word "inhabitants " should be substituted for the word "poor" in this instance. The matter was discussed at some length upon a previous clause, when it was shown that allotments might with benefit be provided for small tradesmen who would not come under the term "poor," and as he thought it would be well to do the same here he would move the Amendment, though he would not press it if the Government did not accept it.
In page 10, line 10, to leave out the word "poor," and insert the word "inhabitants."— (Sir J. Lubbock.)
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ SIR J. LUBBOCK moved, after the word "parish," in the same line, to insert the words "any of them."
After the words " rural parish," in the same clause and line, to insert the words " or any of them."—(Sir J. Lubbock.)
§ Question proposed, " That those words be there inserted."
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ MR. JOHNSON - FERGUSON (Leicester, Loughborough)
said, the right hon. Gentleman indicated earlier in the evening he would be prepared to accept an Amendment to leave out the word "like," in line 11, and as that met the Amendment standing in his name lower down he begged to move that the word "like," in line 11, be left out. He believed there were a great many cases where bodies of trustees would be glad, if they had the power, to transfer their trusteeship to the Parish Councils.
In page 10, line 11, to leave out the word "like."—(Mr. Johnson-Ferguson.)
§ Question proposed, " That the word 'like ' stand part of the Clause."529
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
I accept the Amendment, but if that word is omitted we cannot allow the words after the word "same," in line 16, to remain in the Bill.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER (Isle of Wight)
said, he hoped the Government would hesitate before accepting this Amendment, as it was much wider than the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think. The clause provided there should be this optional transfer in the case of property. He agreed that in regard to allotments it was well to include small tradesmen, but now the proposition was that the transfer should be for any public purpose in connection with a rural parish. If the word "like" was to be left out he could not see why the earlier words were put in, and he could not understand on what ground his right hon. Friend was departing still further from the spirit of the clause. He presumed the right hon. Gentleman intended that the words "with the approval of the Charity Commissioners" were to stand.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER
said, the concluding words were obviously intended to deal with any special case, and as the right hon. Gentleman had pointed out if the word "like" went out those concluding words would be inconsistent with the rest of the clause. He would point out that the Bill had been framed by the Government, deliberately put down, published, and circulated with the idea there should be this optional transfer in the case of trusts connected with the interested inhabitants of the parish, and, therefore, they ought not to put in wide general words "for any public purpose." It might be for purposes of a bridge or a breakwater, and there was an important charity case that the learned Solicitor General would be acquainted with where land was taken for the purposes of a sandbank on the coast of Northumberland. If they were to have the extension he should like the right hon. Gentleman to inform the Committee what class of property he proposed should come in. He thought the omission of the word "like" was as far - reaching as the Amendment of the hon. Member which they had just negatived. It was certainly inconsistent with the spirit of the decision which had just been arrived at, and while he wished in 530 every way to make this clause a workable clause from the point of view for which it was originally framed, he thought it would be departing from the principle of the Bill if this particular word should be omitted, and he must, therefore, ask the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider his decision.
§ SIR J. RIGBY
said, that undoubtedly this clause was originally introduced with a view to recreation grounds, allotments, and public meetings; but on consideration it appeared to the Government open to a great deal of doubt as to what the real construction would be. In the first place, it provided for recreation grounds; in the second, for public meetings, and, in the third, for allotments. They were unable to see how these three could be brought under the same description, and they thought that the word "like" would obviate the difficulty. As there were Amendments to leave out the work "like," they thought, on the whole, it would be better to agree to such, omission which, with a subsequent variation at the end of the section, would obviate the difficulty, and that there would then be no danger in a case of this kind, because, the assent of the existing body of trustees being required, and also the approval of the Charity Commissioners, and the acceptance by the Parish Council, it was not at all likely that all these assenters would agree in any case where any difficulty would arise. To a certain extent, no doubt, the present Amendment looked in the same direction as the one which the Committee had rejected. But the Amendment which had been rejected was objectionable on the ground that the words were not clear or correct, but it was also the first of a series of Amendments which would have fundamentally changed the meaning of this clause. The Government had given a larger extension to the clause by consenting to the omission of the word "like;" but when they struck out the words which allowed of other trusts being agreed upon, it would be seen that this was really nothing more than the transfer of a legal estate without any sort of alteration whatever in the trust affecting the property which was so transferred.
§ SIR J. GORST (Cambridge University)
desired to call the attention of the Committee to the lamentable waste of 531 time which, upon the admission of the Solicitor General, had taken place this afternoon. The hon. and learned Gentleman did not for one moment attempt to dispute the construction put upon the words by the hon. and learned Member for the Isle of Wight; therefore, they might take it that that construction was admitted by the Solicitor General. The Government, in fact, were admitting by the Amendment to which they were now giving their assent the very charities to which for three and a-half hours they had been raising the most strenuous objection, because although the Solicitor General might say there was a technical objection to the Amendment, because it was unintelligible, that was not the ground the Government took. They did not tell the hon. Member that the only objection was that his words were not technically correct, because if they had made that objection the hon. Member would at once have agreed to a modification of the words which he supposed the Government would have accepted. The resistance the Government made was not to the words, but to the thing itself. They had been for three and a-half hours arguing and urging upon the Committee that it was not safe to admit the charities which were the subject of the last Amendment, and then they got up and told them that by this slight Amendment now they would admit all these charities and some others to boot. All he could say was, it was a most lamentable waste of time, and it would have been very much better if the Government had announced this intention some hours ago. [Mr. H. H. FOWLER: It was announced]. They no doubt stated they would accept an Amendment of this kind, but they did not point out to the Committee the consequences of that acceptance and what was the meaning and effect of their declaration. The Government had really wasted all this time in fighting an Amendment which they afterwards accepted.
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON
said, they were in the difficulty that they did not know what property and trusts were to be handed over. The Solicitor General had thrown no light on the subject, simply stating that the Amendment gave the clause a rather wider interpretation. What sort of trust property would pass over to the Parish Council if the 532 word "like" were left out? Would property left for public meetings? He never heard of any property in a rural parish being left for a public meeting. [Mr. H. H. FOWLER: For the purpose of a public meeting.] Yes, but he had never heard of such a trust, and it did seem to him a little absurd. Of course they had heard of recreation grounds. There must be something in the right hon. Gentleman's mind which they did not understand when he said he was going to strike out the word "like." He should like to know what the right hon. Gentleman meant. He did not see why the striking out of the word " like " should prevent the trustees from forming any agreement with the Parish Council and the Charity Commissioners for the alteration of a trust where such alteration would be beneficial.
§ MR. F. S. STEVENSON (Suffolk, Eye)
said, the hon. Member who had last spoken had asked what kind of property was to pass under this Amendment to the Parish Council. He would point out that the clause was permissive and not compulsory. He would give the hon. Member an example of the class of property which, by the omission of the word "like," might be transferred: a parish reading room or club. There were reading rooms and village club associations in various parts of the country, and these associations would be very glad indeed to hand over the clubs to the Parish Council, and the latter would be very pleased to receive them. He should like to ask a question of the President of the Local Government Board. He did not quite follow the reasons the right hon. Gentleman gave as to why the last three lines of this sub-section should go if the word "like" went out. If there was to be agreement as to various trusts between the trustees, the Parish Councils, and the Charity Commissioners, they could not have a greater safeguard than was provided by means of that triple agreement, and he did not see why the handing over of certain property from the existing trustees to the Parish Council, with the consent of both parties, should prevent any future variations in the terms of a trust, with the consent of the Parish Council, the trustees, and the Charity Commissioners.
§ MR. BRODRICK
could not say that he hoped the Parish Councils would undertake to run village clubs and associations of that kind. It would, on the contrary, be most undesirable that a body of that character should undertake to run village clubs in which refreshments and other things were supplied, and, in fact, to set up business, which would be the case in many instances in which trustees were at present the holders of village halls with refreshment rooms attached. He had in his own constituency more than one case of this kind, and if the trustees wished to surrender these institutions to the Parish Council they would encourage the Parish Council by this clause to set up village clubs with all kinds of conveniences, and to carry on business which was not contemplated by Parliament. If it was intended that they should carry on business it ought to be so distinctly stated among the powers given to the Parish Council, and ought not to be conveyed to them indirectly by these permissive powers given to trustees to transfer to the Parish Councils powers which Parliament did not intend to give.
§ SIR J. RIGBY
said, in regard to the question put by the Member for the Eye Division, the wordsOr on such other trusts and subject to such other conditions as may be agreed on between the trustees and the Parish Council with the approval of the Charity Commissioners,were objectionable on this ground, if on no other—that they gave a jurisdiction to these retiring trustees — who would have nothing further to do with the matter—to the Parish Council, who became trustees, and to the Charity Commissioners, far wider than anything given to the Charity Commissioners in any other Act of Parliament, or than was possessed by the High. Court of Justice itself — namely, a power to vary the trusts without limitation, and to declare new trusts. On that ground they were objectionable. It was the consideration that they should have to alter the clause, among other considerations which made the Government conceive that the simplest plan was to allow the word "like" to be struck out, and at the same time to strike out these lines at the end.
§ MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
said, they had listened to a very extraordinary explanation from the Solicitor General as to what the Government intended to do. They had a clause dealing with certain specific things — namely, recreation grounds, public meetings, and allotments, and the rest of the clause was limited to "for any like public purpose." They were told, first of all, that it was desirable to leave out the word "like," and the consequence of doing so was, that they must leave out the provision in the end of the clause enabling arrangements to be made for the carrying out of these trusts. The Solicitor General now came forward and gave them as a reason for leaving out this provision that it had no application except to charities covered by the word "like." They were told that this Bill had been prepared with enormous care, but really things were left in such a condition that they had a right to ask what were the charities which were to be brought in by omitting the word "like." Why were these words put into the clause at all if its extension to other charities rendered them unnecessary?
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
said, there was no mystery about the matter. These things were not done in an off-hand manner, and there had been a reason for every step taken. When this clause was originally drawn it was intended to have a very limited application, and it was necessary in that case to comply with the provisions to a certain extent of the Act 53 & 54 Vict., c. 15. which dealt with open spaces and allotments. What was the clause in that Bill which they were bound to comply with in such a case? It stated—The trustees of land held upon trust for the purpose of public recreation may, in pursuance of a resolution duly passed as provided by Section 2 of the Metropolitan Open Spaces Act, 1881, transfer by free gift absolutely, or for a limited term, to the Local Authority of the district in which the whole or the greater part of the area of land is situate the land so held by them if such authority is willing to accept such transfer, to be held by the transferees on the trust and subject to the conditions on which the transferors held the same, or upon such other trusts and subject to such other conditions, so that the land be appropriated for the purposes of public recreation, as may be agreed upon, by the transferors and transferees with the approval of the Charity Commissioners.535 That being the existing legislation, they thought it wise in empowering this transfer to repeat it here. But when a series of Amendments were put down, and it was then intimated that it was a crime for the Government to accept any such Amendment in a Bill which had been circulated for six months, he did not think that was very much encouragement for them in their anxiety to meet any reasonable objections. A series of Amendments were put down dealing with Mechanics' Institutes, halls, parish rooms, and other buildings which those who advised the Government considered would not have been included in the Bill as it stood. As, however, this clause was a purely optional one, it seemed to the Government that if all parties agreed it was not undesirable that a parish room, if not ecclesiastical, held now by trustees, should be transferred to the Parish Council if all the parties were willing. That did not come within the purview of a charity, and if all the parties approved the Government saw no objection. But they could not, when they had widened the clause to include that description of property, allow that provision as to changing the trust, which was simple enough so far as open spaces was concerned. That was the history of the mystery.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER
said, the right hon. Gentleman had given a perfectly fair and clear explanation from his point of view, but there were one or two matters which should not be lost sight of. He agreed with the Solicitor General that the last words were not consistent with the word "like" being struck out, because they included fresh trusts, and it would not be desirable in a limited transfer to admit a fresh trust. Therefore, when the right hon. Gentleman omitted the word "like" he was obliged to confine the trusts to those trusts already existing. There was one other matter, and that was that words would have to be put in excepting trusts for ecclesiastical purposes. The object of this clause was to be carried out by the consent of trustees. Would the liability in respect of such things as buildings, or clubs, or parish rooms be transferred to the Parish Council? He had suggested to the right hon. Gentleman that this was a great enlargement of the clause, 536 and it would be more satisfactory to him (Sir R. Webster) and many who acted with him if they did not know what were the class of charities which were in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman when he consented to the omission of the word "like." He regarded with some apprehension what the hon. Member for Guildford had pointed out; that was to say, by a side wind they were, practically speaking, indirectly giving the Parish Council power to incur expenses and liabilities for which they did not give them the direct power in the Bill. If that power were confined to such a matter as a parish room he did not think he should object. He was not prepared to say he should object to a reasonable enumeration of purposes, but to have no distinction at all would practically put in any other purpose, and would be rather a dangerous thing. He quite recognised that the President of the Local Government Board had, in the Amendments he had put down in many instances, tried to meet the views of the Opposition,, though possibly these Amendments did not go quite far enough; but he said that by striking out the word "like" a very large extension had been given to the clause, and they did not hear till to-night that the Government had assented to the clause in its extended form.
§ MR. TALBOT
desired to say that they on that side of the House did not object to any of the Amendments put down by the right hon. Gentleman except such as seemed to alter the tone and spirit of the Bill. That spirit they understood from the right hon. Gentleman's statement to be to safeguard entirely all ecclesiastical charities. They were afraid that under this Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman was now accepting these safeguards might disappear. He frankly confessed that the right hon. Gentleman's words had been most friendly and considerate to their feelings, but kind words were of very little value unless they were embodied in an Act of Parliament. They had seen that night, under pressure from hon. Gentlemen opposite, a great change introduced into the Bill. They were not allowed to discuss that change, because they were told that opportunity would come later on. Now, when this word "like" was proposed 537 to be omitted; the Solicitor General told them that was in connection with other words at the end of the section which they could not now criticise and comment upon. This was not, to his mind, the way in which the Bill was likely to he advanced. If the Government desired the Bill to become law in a reasonable time they must remember they were dealing with interests very dear to a large number of persons outside, with interests connected with institutions, which went very deeply to the root of our rural life, and upon which strong public feelings were entertained. No doubt a great deal of alarm was expressed as to the inception and the purpose of the Bill, and they (the Opposition) had been trying to soothe the feelings of their friends by assuring them that the President of the Local Government Board had met them quite fairly, and was going to exempt all such charities as they were concerned for. If the right hon. Gentleman departed from these understandings in consequence of pressure from his own supporters, of course their consolation would fall to the ground, and it would be very necessary for them to narrowly scrutinise every Amendment proposed and very emphatically to discuss all the propositions that were made. He ventured to think that if the right hon. Gentleman was anxious that this Bill should pass into law with as little friction as might be, it would be much better for him, even at the risk of a temporary separation from his more extreme supporters, to adhere to the decision he had made and the assurances given, and maintain the honourable undertaking between all sides of the House, which he was quite certain the right hon. Gentleman was anxious to do.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
I would point out that this is a purely permissive clause, and nobody can part with anything except by their own consent.
§ SIR M. HICKS-BEACH
would like to be clear upon that point, because the Amendment widened the scope of the clause very greatly. Would the right hon. Gentleman object, as the clause had been so widened, to provide that the trustees should be unanimous in making this transfer? Unless this were done, it seemed to him that a transfer might be effected against the wish, say, 538 of one of three trustees, which would be unfair, and possibly objectionable. Was there any rule laid down by law in regard to the action of the Charity Commissioners in giving their approval in such cases? He would suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should insert the words, "not being for ecclesiastical purposes."
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
observed, that this was not an Amendment, but an earthquake. The right hon. Gentleman in his clause enumerated certain specific subjects of endowment as to which trustees were to have the power, and he then swept the whole of this away, and said that these powers were to be applied to any public purpose whatever. The right hon. Gentleman did that immediately after having successfully resisted another Amendment which proposed to enlarge the property only to public charities. This went far beyond the Amendment which was negatived, because he made it apply not merely to charities, but to any public purpose whatever. By the omission of the word "like," the whole of the first part of the clause might be left out—in fact, it threw the whole of the first part out of the window. He contended that was a ridiculous and absurd position in which the Government had placed them by their action in this matter.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said, that no notice had been taken on the point which had been pressed by the hon. and learned Member for the Isle of Wight with regard to this clause allowing the Parish Council to carry on a business.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
I do not think it would be possible. That is the reason I did not reply to the point.
§ MR. BRODRICK
asked what was to prevent a Parish Council from carrying on, say, a Co-operative Stores or some kindred business which might be transferred to them by trustees? Could they not under the clause accept the transfer from the trustees of a proprietary chapel or of the funds of a village Friendly Society? If it was intended to give that power to Parish Councils', it ought to be clearly stated instead of by a side issue, not merely enlarging, but actually revolutionising the Bill. As the Member for the Oxford University had said, this 539 was not the way to make progress with the measure.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 62; Noes 138.—(Division List, No. 357.)
SIR F. S.POWELL (Wigan)
said, he had to move the next Amendment, which provided that property "for an ecclesiastical charity" held by trustees, should be excepted from transfer to the Parish Council.
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON (Shropshire, Oswestry)
was understood to press the Government to accept the Amendment.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
said, it was not proposed that the Parish Council should have control of the affairs of the Church.
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON
That was very likely the intention of the Government, but they should make the matter clear.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)
said, he was going to move an Amendment to leave out certain words in the sub-section; but as the Government are going to leave out the latter part of the sub-section there was no necessity for his moving. He begged, therefore, to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment which stood in his name.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; Committee counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. H. HOBHOUSE
said, he wished to move an Amendment with the object of enabling the property dealt with under the clause to be transferred to appointees of the Parish Council instead of being managed by the Parish Council itself. He thought the arguments they had heard from the various occupants of the Treasury Bench were sufficient support for. the Amendment. They had heard that it was objectionable on many grounds to invest trust property in Corporations which were not subject to the same responsibilities in the matter of trusts as private individuals. Though that argument was good in itself, it was 540 made still stronger by the change which had been made in the clause by including other kinds of trust property than that originally dealt with. He did not think there could be any objection to his proposal that could not have been urged to the original clause.
In page 10, line 14, after the first "parish," to insert the words " or to persons appointed by that Council."—(Mr. H. Hobhouse.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ SIR J. RIGBY
said, he did not see any great objection to the Amendment, but consequential alterations would be necessary. It would be well to amend the clause, so that it would readAnd the Parish Councils, if they accept the transfer, or their appointees,and so on.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
The following Amendments were agreed to:—
In line 14, to leave out the words " if " and "they," and insert after Council "if they," and after transfer " or their appointees.
Leave out from "on the," in line 15, to "commissioners," in line 19.
§ SIR C. W. DILKE
asked whether the drafting of the clause could not now be changed, in view of the Amendments already accepted? It would apply to trustees and not to managers, and in many cases the Overseers or the Churchwardens, or both, acted not as trustees, but as managers. In his own constituency there was a charity which was under the control of the Haberdashers' Company in London, but they appointed an elective committee to manage it. That condition of things, which was very common in the country, was not provided for in the clause, and he wished to know how the Government proposed to deal with it?
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
said, that the word "trustees" included persons administering charities. At any rate, the point raised by the right hon. Baronet would be dealt with when line 29 was reached.
§ MR. J. GRANT LAWSON
said, he desired to move, in page 10, line 20, to 541 leave out "or some of them," in order to insert " as such." It would be obvious that the object of the Amendment was specifically to exclude from the clause cases in which the Incumbent and Churchwardens bad the administration of the trust, or the Churchwardens alone. As everyone knew, the Churchwardens were ex officio Overseers, so that if the words stood as at present, where the Overseers of a rural parish were, either alone or jointly with any other person, trustees, they would clearly cover the case where the Churchwardens were the trustees, either by themselves or in conjunction with somebody else. He desired to make it clear that they were dealing with trusts of which the Overseers, as Overseers, were trustees, and not with cases in which the Churchwardens were trustees on account of being ex officio Overseers. Clauses 5 and 6 of the Bill spoke of "Overseers and Churchwardens or Overseers alone," and there was no ambiguity whatever about them. If the Government had intended by the present words to include trusts in which the Incumbent and Churchwardens were the administrators of the charities, why did they not put in plainly, as they did in Clauses 5 and 6, the word "Churchwardens" for everybody to understand? As a matter of fact, this sub-section made matters extremely confused. He had not the least idea what the words at the end meant. The cases in which the Incumbent and Churchwardens were trustees were extremely numerous. The other day, in answer to an inquiry addressed by the hon. Member for the Rugby Division, the hon. Gentleman representing the Charity Commissioners gave them some idea of the magnitude of this question. He said he could not give actual statistics, but that he had taken out 311 cases of rural parochial charities and had made an analysis of the trustees of those charities. The result of his inquiries was that out of the 311 cases, 152 were found to be cases in which the Incumbent and Churchwardens or the Churchwardens alone were the trustees. From that statement the Committee could gather what an important question this was. There were 12,500 rural parishes in England. If the income averaged only £1 a year, and Incumbents or Churchwardens were trustees in half the total 542 number of cases, the aggregate income for which they were trustees would be £6,250. He did not think that the last word had been spoken on this question of tampering with trusteeships, and he put it to the Committee whether it was for the good of the poor that trusts should be tampered with. Was it to the interest of the poor that Parliament should disappoint the hopes and the expectations of ancient benefactors, and discourage future benefactions by tampering with the intentions of pious founders? It was a bad thing to tamper with trusts when there was any doubt as to the intentions of the founders, and it was ten times worse to do so when the intentions of the founders were perfectly clear. He thought a very fair compromise might be arrived at on the question. In some cases the donors of charities had distinctly shown the intention that there should be elective trustees. He thought it was too late in the day to do anything for people who had given charities in this way. They must be left to reflect wherever they were now on their disappointment in the good faith of future generations. But when people had deliberately left their money to the care of church officials, as such they ought to have their intentions carefully carried out. There could be no doubt about what a man meant when he said that the Incumbent and Churchwardens or the Churchwardens alone should be the administrators of his benefaction. This clause only affected charities left by Churchmen. He should very much like to know of a case in which money had been left to the discretion of the Incumbent and Churchwardens by any man who was not a member of the Church of England, but he believed that such cases were absolutely unknown. The Nonconformist charities were not in any way affected by the clause. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. H. H. Fowler) on the Second Reading of the Bill dealt with the question of Church charities and read a long judgment of the Master of the Rolls on which he founded the statement that these charities, because of the recipients being drawn from all classes, all sects and all religions, were not Church charities. The point which the right hon. Gentleman then met, however, was not the point raised. The question was one 543 not of recipients but of trustees. He could quite understand that the Church of England, being the Church of the people of England, would not confine its benefactions to any particular class, but if the founder of a charity had confined its trustees to a particular class, surely it was the duty of Parliament to maintain the intentions of that founder. Was it to be brought against the intentions of such a founder that he was so wide in his generosity that he had allowed all to come in and share equally in his benefactions? He hoped that by inserting the words "as such" and omitting the concluding words of the clause he would make it plain that all charities which, though they might be intended for the benefit of all people, were yet clearly meant to be distributed by the church officials, should be left to the distribution which the founders intended.
In page 10, line 20, to leave out the words "or some of them," and insert the words "as such."—(Mr. J. Grant Lawson.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ SIR J. RIGBY
said, he thought the most convenient course would be for him first to state as clearly as he could the intention of the Government in this clause, and then inquire whether it was carried out or not. It was intended in every case in which Overseers were nominated as trustees or managers of any charity, seeing they would be henceforward mere nominees of the Parish Council, that the Council should have the power of nominating other persons to be trustees in place of them. He thought, however, that the Amendment might make the clause clearer. But as the hon. Member had indicated what his object was with regard to the Churchwardens, it must be clearly understood that while the Government did not intend to interfere at all with the status of Churchwardens as trustees of ecclesiastical charities, they intended in all cases where the charity was not of an ecclesiastical character to deal with them precisely as they dealt with Overseers, inasmuch as all their powers as secular officers were to be taken away from them.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER
thought the Solicitor General had given the very best 544 reason for accepting the Amendment. If the words of the sub-section remained as they were, he thought it would be extremely difficult to exclude a case where a particular Overseer happened to be mentioned by name. The Solicitor General had rather enlarged the scope of the discussion by referring to the latter part of the sub-section.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER
I must, of course, bow to your ruling, Sir; but it really does put me in a difficulty when a Member of the Government is allowed to refer to the latter part of the clause, and I am not.
§ SIR J. RIGBY
I only referred to it so that there should be no misapprehension as to our intentions.
§ MR. J. GRANT LAWSON
said, he had intended to move that the words "as such" should follow the word "are."
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
In page 10, line 20, after the word "are," to insert the words "as such."—(Mr. J. Grant Lawson.)
§ Question proposed "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. H. HOBHOUSE
asked whether the effect of leaving in the words "or some of them" would not be to introduce the Churchwardens as well as the Overseers?
§ SIR C. W. DILKE
said, that some such words must be introduced, because there were many cases where a single Overseer was a trustee.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER
said, he should have thought that the best plan would have been to have inserted "as such" after Overseers.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said, if the Amendment now proposed were adopted the opening of the sub-section would read as follows:—Where the Overseers of a rural parish, or some of them, are, as such.—that was to say, "are, as some of them." It seemed to him that the proper place for "as such" would be after "parish."
§ SIR J. RIGBY
said, it was not the intention that the Churchwardens should be affected in any way by the earlier part of the sub-section.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER
asked whether, if the Amendment were withdrawn, the words "as such" could not be inserted after the word "parish?"
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER
said, he wished to move the substitution of the words "Overseers of a rural parish as such," for " the Overseers of a rural parish or some of them."
In page 10, line 20, to leave out the word "the."—(Sir R. Webster.)
§ Amendment agreed to.
On Motion of Sir R. WEBSTER, the following Amendments were agreed to:—
In page 10, line 20, to leave out the words " or some of them.
In page 10, line 20, to insert the words " as such.
§ SIR C. W. DILKE
moved formally the omission of the word "trustees." He said, he had a constitutional objection to passing words of which he did not understand the meaning, and he certainly did not understand the scope of the word as used in this case. In the Interpretation Clause the word was explained to include the managers, and he wished to know whether the clause was limited to trustees in the ordinary or strict sense of the word? This was an important question for rural parishes. It often happened that the trustees were a body in London while the charity was managed by people in the parish. Now were they to send the elected representative to the Local Body or to the body in London? This point certainly must be made more clear. It should be remembered that in a case in which say the trustees were a London Company, the sole power rested with them and not with the local managers, who could only make recommendations. Under such circumstances he did not know how the clause would work.
In page 10, line 21, to leave out the word "trustees."—(Sir C. W. Dilke.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'trustees,' stand part of the Clause."546
§ SIR J. RIGBY
said, he quite appreciated the point raised by the right Baronet, but he was of opinion that no difficulty could arise with the words as they stood. If the Overseers of the parish as such were trustees in the ordinary acceptation of the term, then the elected representatives would be substituted for them in that capacity. As by the Interpretation Clause the word "trustees" included "managers," where the overseers acted in the latter capacity they would also be supplanted by the elected representatives.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER
said, that under Clause 58 the word "trustees" was interpreted to include "persons administering or managing any charity." He thought the word would need qualification if it were intended that the substitution should take place only in respect of the trustees' fiduciary possession of property.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
said, the object of the Amendment he had to move was to secure a definition of the words "parochial charities." At present they had a definition of "ecclesiastical charities" but none of "parochial charities." Some charities were administered by people in one parish for the benefit of people in another parish. Other charities were administered for people in more than one parish. In such cases how would the trustees be appointed? Would the Parish Council in both parishes appoint trustees? Lastly, there was the question of ecclesiastical charities. They had a deficit of these charities with which some agreed and some disagreed, but they had never been told whether a parochial charity included an ecclesiastical charity or not. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to accept these words, and himself put in a clear definition of a parochial charity in the Interpretation Clause. He begged to move the Amendment.
In page 10, line 22, after the words " parochial charity," to insert the words "as defined by this Act."—(Mr. Griffith-Boscawen.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
We could not insert these words, because we should have had to insert them in a variety of cases. It is our intention to insert a definition of a parochial charity in the Interpretation Clause. The Solicitor General is already considering words which we hope, when submitted, the Committee will approve of. With reference to the case raised of a parochial charity being applicable for the benefit of more than one parish, we propose to deal with that case.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
would just like to point out one or two things which would have to be considered in order to make the definition a satisfactory one. Supposing the charity extended to more than one parish, in what proportion were they going to be represented? When the benefit was unequally distributed between different parishes, were they going to be represented according to the difference of the benefit or not? Again, where the population was unequally distributed, was the population to be the element of distinguishing the representation between one parish and another? Lastly, where part of a charity was attached to a place and the rest was not confined to the parish, but remained open to the world, were they going to deprive a parochial charity, and give to the people of that one parish the powers proposed in the Bill? He raised these as points worthy of consideration, not with a view to occupy time, and he should await with interest the definition of the Government.
MR. J. LOWTHER
would like to point out that there were many instances where charities were allocated to a particular township in a parish. He hoped this would not escape the right hon. Gentleman's notice.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. J. GRANT LAWSON moved an Amendment in page 10, line 22, after the word "parish," to insert the words "or other persons." He said, it did not appear at all necessary that the Parish Council should contain suitable trustees of a parish trust in a parish. A minister of the Wesleyan Connexion changed his post every three years. It was quite possible that such a man might be a 548 most fit and proper trustee of a parish charity, and yet might not be a trustee. The Parish Council should have the power to nominate such persons.
§ SIR F. S. POWELL
said, he had an Amendment before that of the hon. Member — namely, after the words "parochial charities," to insert "and not being an ecclesiastical charity." It was quite evident that, to make this clause workable, these words would have to be introduced.
§ SIR J. RIGBY
said, the Government intended, when the Overseers of the poor were trustees either of an ecclesiastical or of any other charity, that they should be replaced by nominees of the Parish Council. When they came to Churchwardens who had a double position—one partly ecclesiastical and the other partly secular—they should make the distinction in the earlier part of the clause. That was the meaning of the Government.
In page 10, line 22, after the word "parish," to insert the words "or other persons."—(My J. Grant Lawson.)
§ Question, " That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
*MR. H. HOBHOUSE rose to move the following Amendment:—
In page 10. line 24, to leave out from the word "place,'' to the end of Sub-section (2), and insert the words,—" Provided that this enactment shall not apply to Churchwardens in the case of any ecclesiastical charity, and in any other case shall only apply to Churchwardens where they are trustees conjointly with the Overseers of the parish, and with no other person.
He considered the last two lines of the Government clause both incomplete and unsatisfactory. The President of the Local Government had told them all through that the Bill was not intended in any way to prejudice the Church of England or any officers of that Church, but that it was simply intended to deal with Churchwardens in their civil capacity as civil officers; and, so far as they had hitherto gone, the right hon. Gentleman had fully carried out that intention. In the earlier clauses of the Bill a line had been drawn between Churchwardens in their purely civil capacity as Overseers and Churchwardens in their
capacity as ecclesiastical officers, and all he asked the right hon. Gentleman to do by this Amendment was to carry out that in the present clause. The Amendment was in two parts. The first was to provide specifically that this enactment would not apply to Churchwardens at all in the case of ecclesiastical charities, and the other part of the Amendment raised a more difficult question, being an attempt to draw a distinction between the cases where a Churchwarden was a purely civil officer and where he was an ecclesiastical officer as the trustee of a charity. There were many charities under the trusteeship of Churchwardens, and there were others where the Incumbent was joined with these officers, but there were others where the same officers were joined with other persons. He admitted that where a Churchwarden and an Overseer were named alone in the trust the presumption was that the Churchwarden was named as a civil, and not as an ecclesiastical, officer; but in cases in which a Churchwarden was named, not in company with the Overseer alone, but with the Incumbent or with the Incumbent and the Overseer, together with other persons, the presumption should be that he was so named as an ecclesiastical officer, rather than as a civil officer. There were many particular cases in which the Churchwarden was named in the trust as a purely Church officer, and this remark applied to many recent trusts. Again, there might be cases in which the trust was vested in the Incumbent and Churchwardens, together with the minister and deacons or other officers of another Church. It was clear that in such cases there had been the desire to represent the various denominations in an impartial way in the trust. Yet the effect of the clause would be to destroy the balance, to replace the Churchwardens, and leave the deacons untouched. The President of the Local Government Board would not be acting up to the professions he had made to the Committee unless he excepted every one of those cases in which the presumption was in favour of the Churchwardens having been appointed in their ecclesiastical character, for the right hon. Gentleman had said that he did not by this Bill desire in any way to injure or to prejudice or to interfere with in any way the interests of the Established Church or its
officers. This was purely a Bill for local government. Of course, there were many Members who would be glad —and no one could blame them from their point of view—to avail themselves of any clauses of the Bill to advance the cause of Disestablishment which they had so much at heart. But the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had stated that the measure was not intended to prejudice the interests of the Church by a side wind or by any incidental action, and the Amendment was in consonance with that profession. He therefore begged to move it.
In page 10, line 24, leave out from the word "place," to the end of Sub-section (2), and insert the words,—" Provided that this enactment shall not apply to Churchwardens in the case of any ecclesiastical charity, and in any other case shall only apply to Churchwardens where they are trustees conjointly with the overseers of the parish, and with no other person."—(Mr. H. Hobhouse.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'and when the charity is not an ecclesiastical charity' stand part of the Clause."
MR. H. H. FOWLEE
The provision in the sub-section with which the Committee are now dealing relates exclusively to parochial charities which are non-ecclesiastical, and under the clause the Parish Council are to appoint trustees in the place of Churchwarden trustees where the Churchwardens, either alone or jointly with other persons, are trustees. The effect of the Amendment would be to make the clause apply not only to Churchwardens where the charity is not ecclesiastical, but to every case where the Churchwardens are trustees jointly with other persons than the Overseers. Let us see whether the view I take on this matter is inconsistent with what I said on the Second Reading of the Bill. The position I have taken up from the first is that the ecclesiastical charities should not be touched. But I pointed out on the Second Reading of the Bill that I cannot admit that the mere appointment of an officer of the Church, or of an ecclesiastical person, as a trustee constitutes the charity an ecclesiastical charity. That is not the law of the land. I quoted a judgment in which the Judge laid it down distinctly that the appointment of a Churchwarden or a 551 rector as a trustee of a charity did not constitute that charity an ecclesiastical charity. Now, the supporters of the Amendment, as I understand them, maintain that not only ought trustees not to be appointed in the place of Churchwardens in the case of charities which are certainly ecclesiastical, but that in any case in which a Churchwarden is appointed a trustee the fact of his appointment makes the charity a Church charity, which must not be diverted from Church purposes. I would draw the attention of the Committee to some figures in order that they may appreciate the magnitude of the interests with which we are now dealing. In 1876, as reported by the Committee of which my right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works was Chairman, the Charity Commissioners reported that the incomes of charities of which they had particulars amounted to £2,200,000 a year. They classified that income in this way: £666,000 was devoted to education, £199,000 to medical charities, £39,000 to Nonconformist purposes, £203,000 to purposes exclusively connected with the Church of England, and the remainder, amounting to more than £1,000,000, to the poor in the shape of doles of money and articles of clothing, of almshouses, and the payment of apprentice fees for children. I may take it, therefore, that we are now dealing with £1,000,000 per annum, and the issue we have to decide is, whether the appointment of Churchwardens as trustees of a charity involved in that £1,000,000 constitute it an ecclesiastical charity. My own decision on the issue is an uncompromising negative. I contended on the Second Reading of the Bill that where charities are devoted to purely eleemosynary purposes you cannot go back to the religious faith of the original subscribers, founders, or donors and say that because they held certain religious beliefs or advocated certain religious tenets the charities are clothed with a denominational or sectarian aspect. I will take a very familiar case, the case of a hospital. In my own parish there is a charity appropriated to the purposes of a dispensary and a parish nurse. That could not be called a Church charity, although the money was probably given by a Churchman, for, as I have said, unless the donors themselves by 552 their foundation deed devoted their money to specific ecclesiastical purposes, the mere fact that they held certain religious opinions and chose persons belonging to their own denomination as trustees of their charity does not convert the charity into an ecclesiastical charity, to be devoted to one denomination only. We are here dealing with enormous sums of money devoted to charities. There are 11,800 civil parishes in England in which charities exist, so that practically there is no parish in which there is not a charity of some kind or other. The view I ventured to submit on the Second Reading of the Bill, and the view which I have maintained from the first is, that while I do not think it right or fair to deal with ecclesiastical charities as such it would not be right or fair either to attempt to convert into ecclesiastical charities eleemosynary gifts and bequests which are intended for the benefit of all and ought to be administered for the benefit of all. There are hundreds of thousands of pounds devoted to charitable purposes which cannot be looked upon as ecclesiastical. The money is intended for the relief of human want and suffering, and on the Boards charged with its administration the parish is entitled to have its own representatives. Upon the broad ground of principle I cannot assent to the Amendment of my hon. Friend. The view of the Government is clear and decisive, and I hope the view of the Committee will be clear and decisive. I think the sooner we come to close quarters on this question the better.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
I must first enter a protest against the right hon. Gentleman selecting the place where we are to discuss Amendments. He has frequently told us that we cannot discuss this subject until we reach the Definition Clause of the Bill. Now he seems to find it convenient to discuss it on the present Amendment; but I must say that we will discuss it again on the Definition Clause, whatever may be the decision arrived at now. The right hon. Gentleman has pointed out that on this subject he is not open to the charge of breach of faith. That is absolutely true, for the right hon. Gentleman upon the Second Reading laid down that 553 upon this question he held a very strong view, and he cannot be expected to depart from it. Of course, if there had been a satisfactory definition of ecclesiastical charities in the Bill, this discussion would not have taken place. The whole point is, what is an ecclesiastical charity and what is not? I do not deny for a moment that, in many cases, the purposes to which the charities are to be applied are not Church purposes. But what I do maintain is that, in a large number of cases, the intention of the testator in putting in the Vicar and Churchwardens as trustees of the trust was to make the Church the agency by which the charity was to be distributed. I did not contend on that account that it was the express intention of the testator that the charities are to be confined to Church people. I quite understand that in some very old endowments the Vicar and Churchwardens may have been put in because they were looked upon at the time as the only proper persons, or the most convenient persons, that could be found for administering the charities. But that cannot be the case with modern charities. There are now other agencies by which charities may be distributed, and I think we may fairly argue that, as regards modern charities where the testator named the Churchwarden or the Vicar alone, it was meant that the charity should be distributed through the Church. I will mention a curious case. In a very recent case, in a parish in Devon, a lady who died in 1886 left a bequest of £1,000 to the Vicar and Churchwardens upon trust for 13 poor men and 13 poor women. The right hon. Gentleman contends that that does not constitute an ecclesiastical charity. The next paragraph of the will is as follows:—Also £1,000 to the minister and stewards of the Wesleyan chapel upon a similar trust for 10 poor men and 10 poor women.That is not to be considered an ecclesiastical charity, but ought it to go to the Parish Council under the Bill? It is perfectly clear to me that in that particular instance it was intended that the Vicar and Churchwardens in the one case, and the minister and stewards of the Wesleyan chapel in the other, were alone intended to administer the trusts. I say, therefore, that a great injustice would be 554 done not only to the Church, but to the Wesleyan Body, in taking away the administration of the trusts from them, and handing the trusts over to the Parish Council.
§ SIR C. W. DILKE
said, that the Courts had decided this question over and over again. But the legal decision that the fact that a Churchwarden or a Vicar was a trustee of a charity did not constitute that charity an ecclesiastical charity was not the only thing on which the Government had to rely. It would be found that there was a number of matters in which the Rector and Churchwardens had been put in as the mere representatives of the parish by Parliament. He alluded to 20 special charities, in nine of which Churchwardens had been appointed trustees, because they were the most convenient distributors. In the 107 charities in his own Division, to which he had previously referred, there were 60 in which Churchwardens were named, and 50 out of the 60 would be knocked out by the Amendment. Therefore, in his own case, the Amendment would render nugatory the second sub-section of the clause in five out of every six cases. It was hardly necessary to discuss an Amendment which went to the root of the Bill in that fashion.
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, he had very little ecclesiastical jealousy, and he did not wish to treat as ecclesiastical charities those charities which were intended for the benefit of the parish at large, nor did he wish to put an over-strong construction upon the intention of a testator who, in leaving money for the benefit of the parish, had chosen the Vicar and Churchwardens as trustees. But there were many cases which required consideration, and the position taken up by the President of the Local Government Board was too indiscriminate. If money were left by a pious person to the pastor and deacons of a chapel for the benefit of the town, the object of the charity being purely eleemosynary, and not restricted to the frequenters of the chapel, it would be hard to put forward any proposal which took away from the pastor and deacons of the chapel the administration of the charity; and it would be equally hard to take away from a syna- 555 gogue the administration of charities connected with the synagogue, but not restricted to persons of the Hebrew faith. He was, however, prepared to go with the right hon. Gentleman if he restricted the operation of the clause to charities the foundation of which was not more than 50 years old. Bequests had in many cases been given to the Vicar and Churchwardens for distribution in a particular area, and where they were chosen not because they were parish officers, but because they were persons of a particular religious body, propriety and justice alike required that respect should be paid to the wishes of the testator.
§ SIR F. S. POWELL
said, he had investigated many cases where the founders of institutions established during the last two years intended to make them auxiliary to Church work, but where it had not been thought right to tie up the trustees too severely. Where the terms of a trust were severe and harsh, the institution remained in conformity with conditions of the trust; where the terms were liberal and large, the management passed into the hands of a different class of trustees and the charity practically be came alienated from the Church. Such an injustice was never intended by Parliament. He did not think that a just condition of affairs, and he was quite sure his right hon. Friend never intended such a thing to be accomplished. He hoped the Church would not be treated with injustice. He knew of a case in which, so lately as 1890, a trust had been created with the intention that it should remain in connection with the Church, the trustees being the Incumbent and two Churchwardens, and he thought it would be a hard thing to change them. He wished to retain for the Church institutions which bad grown up during the last 40 or 50 years out of Church liberality and activity. He believed that a limit of time, which had been suggested by the right hon. Member for Bodmin, would be the best course to take.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he thought it might throw some light upon this matter if he stated what of late years had been the practice of the Charity Commissioners. Hundreds of cases had come before them. In dealing with schemes which required reforming, it had been their invariable practice not 556 to look to the trustees or the constitution of the trust, but to look to the object of the trust itself. In fact, during the last 20 or 30 years they had been doing very much what was proposed to be done under this Bill. Practically no injustice had been done by the Commissioners, and none would be done by the Bill. Very often the Commissioners amalgamated the trusts of different parishes and put them under a new trust. The Oxford charities were very numerous, and were vested in the Rectors and Churchwardens of the different parishes; and the Commissioners amalgamated all under one Board of Trustees, consisting of 21 members, of whom 12 were ex officio and nine were elected. Therefore, the Commissioners had not been in the habit of dealing with these dole charities as ecclesiastical charities, notwithstanding the fact that they were invested in Rectors and Churchwardens. He repeated that they invariably looked to the object of the trust and reconstituted it in the interests of the inhabitants generally.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)
said, his right hon. Friend who had just sat down had made a most unfortunate defence of the Government. It was quite true the Commissioners dealt with trusts in the manner stated; but it must be remembered that they dealt with old charities. In the Act of 1869 it was expressly stated that they were not to deal with any trust not constituted more than 50 years before the date of the Act. That limit was clearly put in because it was possible that injustice might have been done if they had come down to recent times. In these days property was invested in continuing bodies rather than private trustees, because the benefactors thought that a Public Body would be more under the influence of public opinion. The hon. Member for Horn-castle was in error when he said that under the Bill the Parish Council would take possession of the bequest to a Wesleyan minister and his stewards. The clause would not touch him at all. He had received a private letter from a friend in the Midland Counties, mentioning the case of a successful gardener, a staunch Churchman, who in his lifetime gave property, money, and houses to be administered by the Vicar and Churchwardens of the parish, and who would scarcely have made the gift if there had 557 been any probability of his arrangements being superseded. Suppose this property had been left by a staunch Wesleyan to be administered by a Wesleyan minister and Wesleyan stewards would it be fair to put the Parish Council in their place? He wanted to know whether they were acting fairly in meting out one form to one denomination, while they did not mete it out to another? He thought the case might be met by adopting the suggestion made by his right hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin that there might be a limit of time. It had been recognised by Parliament in times past that charities left some time ago were in a somewhat different category from charities left quite recently. In recent years there was a choice of trustees which men in old time had not got. As he understood it, the clause would prevent for all time any Churchman leaving any property at all to the clergymen of his Church. He would ask his right hon. Friend whether the members of one denomination were to be prevented by law from doing that which members of another denomination might do? He was not speaking of old charities at all; he was speaking of the present and the future, and he would ask his right hon. Friend whether he could not meet the case by putting in some limit of time?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, the right hon. Gentleman was entirely mistaken with regard to the limit of time. The 50 years' limit only applied to the Endowed Schools Act.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
said, the 30th clause of the Endowed Schools Act brought doles of all kinds within the purview of the Act. That clause was a charitable Act in itself.
MR. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith)
said that, as he had the honour for some four or five years of representing the Charity Commissioners in this House, he desired to interpose for a short time in regard to what fell a few moments ago from the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works. As he understood the argument of the right hon. Gentleman in favour of retaining the clause, it was this: He quoted the action of the 558 Charity Commissioners, and he said they would never go behind, the foundation, but would simply, in framing a scheme, look at the objects of the charity. He was disposed to agree to that to the extent that in forming any new scheme the Commissioners would be bound by the law, because they were only a branch of the Court of Chancery. He would take the case referred to by the hon. Member for Horncastle. Surely the Charity Commissioners would have neglected their duty in that case if they had closed their eyes at the end of the first paragraph and said—"This testatrix gave £1,000 to be administered for the benefit of the poor by the Incumbent and Churchwardens," and did not further proceed to read that with regard to another £1,000, she handed that over to the Wesleyan minister and his coadjutors for the like object. It was perfectly obvious that in that case the Charity Commissioners in framing new schemes would have dealt in the same way as regarded the objects of these two foundations, but as regarded those who administered them they would have dealt with them in a totally different way. In one case they would have limited the trustees to Church people, and in the other case to members of the Wesleyan Body. In regard to this Amendment the case stood in exactly the same position. Where the intention of the testator was perfectly clear—however general the object of the trust might be—that those who were to administer it were limited to a particular faith, then surely this House would not be acting rightly if it took away the administration from those to whom the testator desired to hand over that administration.
MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Notts, Mansfield)
said, it had given him great satisfaction to hear the declaration of the President of the Local Government Board. The hon. Member for Somerset wished to limit the operation of the clause, but he (Mr. Williams) thought its operation was too limited already, and they had had proof of that fact in the answer given to a question by the hon. Member for Merionethshire. According to that hon. Member, out of 311 cases he had taken promiscuously, there were at least 200 which would not come within the operation of this Bill, because the Incumbent was either sole trustee or joint 559 trustee. If this fact was to be taken as a sample of the whole, the Committee would be able to judge to what a very small extent, comparatively, the charities of the country would be administered in future by the local Councils. His own opinion was that the Bill was somewhat weak in the provisions dealing with charities, and he was glad to hear the Solicitor General say that it should be strengthened in that respect. He hoped not only that this Amendment would be rejected, but that some Amendments would be adopted to make the Bill a much more effective one than it was at present.
§ SIR J. GORST (Cambridge University)
said, he thought that the Government had taken a rather narrow and restricted view of the nature of these parochial charities. In addition to religious charities so called, with which he understood this Bill did not interfere, there were secular charities of which the object was the promotion of the welfare of poor people quite irrespective of any particular creed or denomination to which they might belong. The Government evidently forgot that there were two distinct categories of secular charities. There were secular charities in which the administration was purely secular, and which were transferred by the Bill to the administration of the Parish Council. But there were charities whose object was secular but the administration of which the persons establishing them had thought fit to put in the hands of a Religious Body. This showed that there was a large number of persons who had greater confidence in the administration of a Religious Body than in the administration of purely secular trustees. There were general charities for the people at large which were administered by the Church. There were numerous charities which were administered by the Roman Catholic Church, by the Wesleyans, and other Religious Bodies. He did not know whether the Government wished to sweep away all religious administration, but as the clause stood it was unjust in its application, because, while it swept away the administration of the Church, it did not touch the administration of any other Religious Body. Surely that was not fair. Every one should be treated alike.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
Allow me to correct you. You must read this clause in connection with the Amendments standing in my name on the Paper. Wherever there is a parochial charity there the elective principle applies. There is no taking away from, or interference with, the clergy.
§ SIR J. GORST
asked if he was now to understand from the right hon. Gentleman that the Government were going to apply to every Religious Body in the country the same principle in respect of parochial charities which they applied to the Church of England? If that was the ease, then he said that the Government were going to embark on a very foolish enterprise. They would be running counter to the general opinion and feeling of the charitable people in the country. Were persons who wished to put the administration of their secular charities in the hands of a Religious Body to be debarred from selecting such a body? He would give an instance in recent times. An enormous sum of money had during the last few years been placed in the hands of the Salvation Army to be administered for a purely secular purpose. That was not a religious charity; it was a purely secular one. Were the Government now going to say that the people who subscribed the money on the faith of the charity being administered by the Salvation Army must submit to see that charity taken away from the Salvation Army and intrusted to the Parish Councils? There was a great Charity in the County of Essex, a farm colony where poor people were put to work and clothed and fed, and were made to earn a living. That was entirely in the parish of Hadleigh in Essex, and he did not know whether it would come under the designation of a parochial charity. Were they going to take such a charity out of the hands of the Salvation Army, where the people who had subscribed had chosen to place it, and give it over to the Parish Council? If that was the effect of the Amendment, which the right hon. Gentleman was going to move, he would be running counter to the general sentiments of the people of the country. The right hon. Gentleman might say that that was an extravagant case, and no doubt it was a 561 very strong case, but there were plenty of cases in parishes throughout the country exactly analogous to it, though not so extensive. There were cases in which people gave funds for secular purposes, who had chosen the Church of England, or the Wesleyan Body, or the Roman Catholic Church, or some other Religious Body, to administer the funds for this secular purpose; and if the Government were wise, he thought they would content themselves, at all events in the first instance, with vesting in the Parish Council those parish charities which were secular in their object and administration, leaving those parish charities which the donors had thought fit to intrust to Religious Bodies to be administered by such Religious Bodies. It was not an unwise or foolish thing for a person who left a charity to entrust its administration to some Religious Body. He thought persons who were officers of Religious Bodies, and who were animated by the principles of such bodies, would be likely to prove much better administrators of a secular charity than those who undertook this duty merely from political motives, or in order to gain influence in the parish, or even from philanthropic motives. At any rate, the Legislature ought to have regard to the general sentiment of the people of the country, for whom they were legislating. There was no doubt that the people had confidence in the Religious Bodies, and as long as they chose to make these bodies the administrators of their secular charities, he thought it was a very unwise thing in this Bill to attempt to legislate contrary to this sentiment, and to hand over these charities which were administered by Religious Bodies for secular purposes to the Parish Council.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, they should never really get to the end of this Bill if on every Amendment they discussed, not the particular Amendment before them, but what would be a better Amendment to have, instead of the one submitted. The right hon. Member for Bodmin had made a very interesting and valuable speech, but it had nothing whatever to do with the Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman said he disapproved of the Amendment, and that if it had been something else he might have approved of it. Let the right hon. Gentleman bring this something else before the Committee at the 562 proper time and they would discuss it, and possibly show it was not so valuable an Amendment as he seemed to think. Again, the right hon. Member for Bordesley got up and said he did not agree with the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman opposite, but he thought he could state his case so very much better than the hon. Gentleman himself that he would suggest a few arguments which he thought might be used by the hon. Gentleman. Really they ought to state their own arguments. He (Mr. Labouchere) had not got up to state arguments which might be used by the Conservative Party, but to make a few Radical observations upon this particular Amendment. What was this Amendment? The Bill made a distinction between ecclesiastical and secular charities, leaving ecclesiastical charities to be administered as they were; and it was now proposed, in some cases, to replace the administration of parochial secular charities. Hon. Gentlemen opposite representing the Church of England objected to this, and they said that charities which had been given for the benefit of all the persons in the parish and administered by persons connected with the Church of England ought to be left to them to administer. He should like to know why. What did they gain by administering these charities? He would tell the Committee what they gained. They gained political influence. Sorry indeed was he to say it, but they used these charities to gain influence, and they did gain it. Let any hon. Member opposite go down to one of our villages and masquerade as a Liberal, and ask why the men did not attend Liberal meetings in great numbers. [The CHAIRMAN intimated that the hon. Gentleman was out of Order in these observations.] He objected to this Amendment because it sought to place in the hands of members of the Church of England parochial secular charities which had been left to them by the testators to administer. The charities consisted of the distribution of certain doles— blankets, coals, and such like—and the only possible object which the Church of England could have in retaining these troublesome powers was not to administer them fairly and honestly, irrespective of differences of creed, but to administer them for the benefit of members of the Church of England, and 563 to threaten those who did not vote in favour of persons who were prepared to support the Church of England that they would not be given their fair share in these charities.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER
ventured to think the Church of England might be content to leave unnoticed the observations of the hon. Member for Northampton, who knew so much about the general working of the Church, and who had so much personal experience of the way in which its affairs were conducted.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Will the right hon. Gentleman excuse me? I said nothing about its general working. I said I know what takes place in our villages, and so I do.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER
must retain his own opinion as to the extent of the experience of the hon. Member for Northampton. He rose, however, for the purpose of putting one point to the right hon. Gentleman in consequence of his reply to the Member for Cambridge University, which came upon him with some surprise. They were discussing the clause whereby, ipso facto, the Churchwardens were to disappear from the trusteeship in the case of a non-ecclesiastical charity where the circumstances were the same as those of Overseers. When the right hon. Member pointed out that as they (the Opposition) read this Bill a similar rule would not be applied in the case of the Wesleyan Body, and that there was no Amendment and no clause in the Bill which provided that an officer of the Wesleyan Body who was in a similar position to a Churchwarden would be, ipso facto, removed, and someone appointed and substituted for him, they were told that they were in error, and that there was an Amendment down which proposed to deal with Wesleyan and Nonconformist Churches in the same way. All he could say was that he was ignorant of any such Amendment, and he would ask the right hon. Gentleman to be good enough to tell them in whose name that Amendment stood.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER
confessed he had not hitherto appreciated the Amendment to which the right hon. Gentleman referred.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
said, that the Amendment was as follows:— 564Where the Governing Body of a parochial charity other than an ecclesiastical charity does not include any persons elected by the ratepayers or parochial electors, or inhabitants of the parish, or appointed by the Parish Council or parish meeting, the Parish Council may appoint additional members of that Governing Body not exceeding the number allowed by the Charity Commissioners in each case, and not exceeding in any case one-third of the whole number of the Governing Body, or, if that number is less than six, not exceeding two.That would introduce the elective principle in the case of every parochial charity, no matter what the church or chapel might be with which it was connected.
§ SIR J. GORST
said, this did not appear to him to meet the case. What he pointed out in his speech was, that the Government were not dealing with other Religious Bodies in the same mode as they were dealing with the Church of England. The Amendment did not certainly provide for a similarity of treatment. In the case of the Church the Churchwardens disappeared. It was not that additional persons were brought in and put on the Parish Council to sit in the same committee with the Churchwardens, and control their action and be heard in that matter. The Churchwardens disappeared bodily, and the charity was bodily transferred by the clause as it stood to the Parish Council. [Mr. H. H. FOWLER dissented.] This would be the effect of the clause with the Churchwardens substituted:—When the Churchwardens of a rural pariah, as such, are, either alone or jointly with any other persons, trustees of any parochial charity, such number of the Councillors of the parish not exceeding the number of the Churchwarden trustees, as the Council may appoint, shall be trustees in their place.In the case of the Church the Parish Council were to appoint trustees, who were to take the place of the Churchwardens, and turn them out altogether; in the case of the Wesleyan Body they were merely to appoint a number of persons who were to sit, not in the place of the Wesleyan officers, but to sit with them.
§ MR. DARLING (Deptford)
thought this case was a little stronger than the right hon. Gentleman had made out, because, whilst in the case of the Churchwardens they were to be replaced altogether—every one of them—by the Bill as it stood, if it was a Wesleyan or a Jewish charity, or any other form of 565 charity but a charity of the Church of England, there were only to be people elected provided there was already no elected persons among the trustees of the charity. If there was even one elected person among the trustees of the charity this Amendment did not apply at all. If there was no elected member among the trustees, and the Amendment was to apply in its integrity, then the Parish Council could only elect one-third, not the whole body, as in the case of the Church of England. In the case of the Church of England the whole body went out and the Parish Council elected the lot; but if it was anybody else but the Church of England, only one-third was to be replaced. And suppose it was a body added to, and not replaced, even then only one third was to be added, and supposing the number of trustees was less than six, then the number to be added was not to exceed two. This, therefore, became not a question of theology, as the hon. Member for Northampton seemed to think, but of arithmetic. He should like to know if these were the notions which prevailed among those who fancied they were doing justice to the Church of England. He should like to hear the language which would be used from the Benches opposite if it was proposed to deal in this arithmetical fashion with any body but the Church of England. He should like to hear what would be said if a clergyman of the Church of England were to behave as unjustly in the administration of a parish charity as the Government were behaving to the Church of England in the drawing up of this clause. There was no claim in the world on the part of the Church of England to be treated differently from other Religious Bodies in this matter, but if Churchwardens were to be excluded from the administration of charities, let those who occupied an analogous position in other bodies be excluded also. If it could be shown that the clause would do for every Nonconformist Body what the clause did for the Church of England, he would vote for that clause, and against the Amendment now before the Committee. Surely it was fair that they should arrive at some principle of treating all these churches alike. There was no reason why the Church of England, because it had existed the longest, should be penalised the most. He in- 566 vited the right hon. Gentleman to show them how the Amendment would do what he said it would. All the trustees were to be swept out in one case, and not more than one-third added in the other, and he should like the right hon. Gentleman to demonstrate to them how one-third was equal to the whole.
§ SIR J. RIGBY
said, he wished at once to answer the question—Why do you not deal with the Nonconformist Bodies, as regards their officers, as you deal with Church of England officers by this clause? Simply because there were no Nonconformist Bodies which had officers in an analogous position. There was no Nonconformist officer in such a position as that, or as would be an elective officer elected by the Vestry of the parish. They were looked upon as mere private individuals, and were mere private individuals. But with regard to Churchwardens, they had a public position, which they enjoyed by virtue of the special privilege that attached to the officers of the Church of England. A Churchwarden was not necessarily even a member of the Church of England; he might be a Nonconformist, and in many cases he was. But, as regarded the clause, the only reason why they interfered with the case of secular charities was that they enjoyed an exceptional position which the Government proposed to take away from them, and which had nothing corresponding to it in the case of Nonconformist Bodies. But when they were dealing with an increase in the number of trustees, in the Amendments that were to follow, they treated Church officers and Nonconformist officers precisely on the same terms. If there had been an officer of any Nonconformist denomination who had been elected by the Vestry, and by virtue of that election was put forward in an exceptionally favourable position, they would have dealt with him exactly as they did with the Churchwardens in the case of secular charities.
§ MR. ARCH (Norfolk, N. W.)
did not wish to take up the time of the Committee for more than two or three minutes, but he desired to say he thoroughly endorsed the statement of the hon. Member for Northampton. That hon. Member had been twitted by the other side with not knowing anything of village life. Hon. Gentlemen could not twit him with that. He had never had a farthing's- 567 worth of charity in the whole of his life, and he had brought up a large family. Surely he had a right to the respect of this House, being the only Representative the agricultural labourers had. [Opposition cries of "No, no!"] He was the only bonâ fide labourer in the House. He expected that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite did not want to be agricultural labourers. He hoped they would not be. But the reason why he had never received a farthing's-worth of charity was because he was a Nonconformist in religion and a Liberal in politics. He had known numbers of instances where men like himself, who had lived in our country villages, no matter how decent they were, or what their character was—[A laugh]—he claimed to have as honourable a character as any other gentleman in this House —[Laughter]—could not get a fraction, simply because they were Liberal in polities and Nonconformist in religion. He had, on the other hand, known many instances where the greatest sloven of a wife and the greatest drunkard of a husband—but who were not Nonconformists and Liberals—could freely have these charities. It was time this Church despotism and trickery was done away with. At election times when a Liberal put up for a division, as he did, who was it who went round with their charities in order to draw the voters away? The Church clergymen. He hoped the Government would stick to their guns and sweep away this abominable Church patronage, and let the agricultural labourers have their rights.
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON
said, the President of the Local Government Board had told them that this clause would affect in precisely the same way the charities connected with Nonconformist places of worship as it did those of the Church of England. The Solicitor General had told them exactly the contrary, and he left the two right hon. Gentlemen to settle the matter between themselves.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE
said, that after the learned argument the Committee had listened to, he wished to address a few plain words to the right hon. Gentleman. When a pious Churchman had bequeathed a sum of money to be distributed among all sorts and conditions of men through the agency of the Vicar and Churchwardens, 568 hey would be violating the wishes and intentions of the founder of the charity if they dispensed with the intervention of the Churchwardens. Such conduct would amount to a breach of trust, and it could not fail to discourage such bequests in the future, because Churchwardens had good reason to distrust the proposed arrangement.
§ MR. WINGFIELD-DIGBY (Dorset, N.)
said, he should like to draw the attention of the Committee to the case of a charity with which he was acquainted. It was a charity founded within the last four years, and it consisted of coal doles. It was no doubt fashionable now-a-days to cry down the system of doles, but this particular charity existed in a place where coals were very dear and hard to get; it was established by a landowner in his own district, and the management was placed by him in the hands of the Vicar and Churchwardens, he acting jointly with them. The effect of the proposal of the Government would be to take the management of the charity out of the hands of those in whose care the administration of it had intentionally and avowedly been placed. He did not wish to be egotistical, but the founder of this particular charity was himself. He had given the land from which the income arose, and it had been his intention that the administration should be in the hands of the Church. It would be a great injustice if his intentions were frustrated, and great injury would be done to the poorer classes by adopting a policy which must dry up the sources of charity.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 163; Noes 126.—(Division List, No. 358.)
§ MR. TOMLINSON
said, he took it the effect of the last decision of the Committee was to draw a distinction between ecclesiastical and non-ecclesiastical charities. He would now move an Amendment which would introduce something like a spirit of fairness into the mode of treating this question. His proposal was—To leave out from the second "charity" to the end of the sub-section, and insert—"and the Churchwardens of a rural parish are either alone or jointly with any other persons trustees thereof, the Parish Council may appoint one of the Councillors of the parish and the incumbent of the parish may appoint one of the Church- 569 wardens to be a trustee of the charity, and the persons so appointed shall be trustees in the place of the Churchwardens: Provided that nothing in this enactment shall affect the powers, duties, or liabilities of the Church-wardens in respect to ecclesiastical charities.The Solicitor General when he last addressed the Committee spoke of the Churchwardens as having a public capacity and of their being elective officers. There was reason to believe that in olden times both Churchwardens were elected by the Vestry, but now in most parishes a custom had grown up by which one Churchwarden only was elected, the other being nominated by the incumbent. This custom was now so general that it might be assumed that where the donor of a charity had nominated the Churchwardens as trustees of a charity, his intention was to commit the custody of that charity to persons, one of whom only was elected, the other being nominated by the incumbent. It might also be assumed that in making one of the custodians a person not elected by the parish, but nominated by the incumbent, he was selecting a person who would be likely to be friendly to the Church. If, therefore, they were to respect the donor's intentions, it would be a gross injustice to take the custody of the funds entirely out of the hands of those to whom he had entrusted it; and where one of the custodians was a man whose main qualification was that he had been nominated by the incumbent as a fit person to have charge of the ecclesiastical affairs of the parish, it would be a great wrong both to the donors and to the beneficiaries to put in the place of that Churchwarden a man elected by the Parish Council. In Reference to the election of trustees by the Parish Council, he would like to remark on one fact which had not been noticed in the previous Debates, and that was that as the Bill now stood the members of the Parish Councils might be non-resident in the parish, and not even ratepayers. The idea in the minds of many hon. Members seemed to be that this Bill dealt only with the administration of ancient charities; but, as a fact, modern charities were equally affected. He was able now to cite a case in which the present incumbent of a parish had, to a great extent out of his own money, built schools and a parish room, had established a parish club, and had appointed 570 the Church wardens ex officio trustees and managers. But his informant added that the fact that he had done all this would not save the property from the hands of the spoiler, and he ventured to assert that this method of dealing with the Church charities would be regarded by the people at large as an act of spoliation. He had couched his Amendment in as moderate terms as possible, but he did desire that at any rate one of the Churchwardens should continue to be associated with the administration of the charities. He did not believe that in such a case as that which he had cited, the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill desired to dissociate the Churchwardens from its management, but the effect of the clause was to violate the donor's wishes. In order, therefore, to mitigate the mischief, he proposed his Amendment. Reference had several times, in the course of the Debate, been made to the decision of the Master of the Rolls in a particular case, but he would like to point out that the question really raised there was as to whether the recipients of the charity were intended to be limited to persons belonging to the Church of England. The Master of the Rolls simply held that the fact that the trustees were ecclesiastical people did not give the charity an ecclesiastical aspect, and that the charity was intended for the benefit of all the parishioners.
In page 10, line 25, to leave out from the words "ecclesiastical charity," to the end of the subsection, and insert the words "and the Churchwardens of a rural parish are either alone or jointly with any other persons trustees thereof, the Parish Council may appoint one of the Councillors of the parish and the Incumbent of the parish may appoint one of the Churchwardens to be a trustee of the charity, and the persons so appointed shall be trustees in the place of the Churchwardens: Provided that nothing in this enactment shall affect the powers, duties, or liabilities of the Churchwardens in respect to ecclesiastical charities."—(Mr. Tomlinson)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'this enactment shall apply' stand part of the Clause."
§ SIR J. RIGBY
said, that among all the curious anomalies of our political system nothing was more remarkable than that the incumbent of a parish might hand over the control of charities 571 to an officer who was in no way representative of the views of the majority of the parish. He might, in fact, appoint a Nonconformist as his Churchwarden. There was no intention on their part to interfere with the functions of the Churchwardens in ecclesiastical matters, but the Government objected to allow the Churchwardens to exercise control over the secular affairs of the parish, and the policy of the Bill was that no Churchwardens, elected or nominated, should have any further concerns with purely secular matters. They could not, therefore, accept the Amendment.
§ MR. J. GRANT LAWSON
said, that as the Government had declined to accept the Amendment, he would like to point out the unfair position in which the Church of England was being placed. The Government had decided that in the administration of all charities there should be an elective element.
§ It being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.