§ MR. THOMAS SHAW (Hawick, &c.)
I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland whether his attention has been called to the contravention by the Kirk Sessions of the parish churches of Scotland of the provisions of the Poor Law Act of 1845, which ordain the application of the ordinary church collections for behoof of the poor of the parish; whether he is aware that these established churches have diverted to other purposes in years past sums amounting to about £30,000 per annum, or altogether over £665,000 of this poor fund; what has been done by the Board of Supervision to prevent this course of action; and whether the Government will take steps to prevent further encroachment upon the rights of the Scottish poor by means of the above-mentioned practice?
§ SIR G. TREVELYAN
I cannot say that the provisions of the Poor Law Act, 1845, ordain the application of the ordinary church collections for behoof of the poor of the parish. It might be contended that they do so by implication, but the view generally taken is that they merely alter the administrative body, and do not change the purposes to which church collections were previously applicable, and it was previously the practice to apply part of them to purposes other than the relief of the poor. It is the case that large sums derived from church collections have been applied to purposes other than the relief of the poor. The Board of Supervision have regularly published the results of the Reports furnished to them annually by Kirk Sessions, as required by the Act, relative to the application of monies arising from church collections, and it was open to any persons having interest to take steps for testing the legality of the application, if they thought fit. The case does not appear to be one for interference on the part of the Government.
§ MR. T. SHAW
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he is aware it has been repeatedly decided in Scotland that the Act of 1845 expressly provides for the application of this money to the poor of Scotland?
§ SIR G. TREVELYAN
I have had to consult certain legal advisers, and that is not the view they take. A conference could easily be arranged between them and the hon. Member, and I should like to know what comes of it.