HC Deb 01 May 1893 vol 11 cc1617-8
*MR. COBB (Warwick, S.E., Rugby)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that it appears from the published reports and accounts of the Commissioners of Queen Anne's Bounty that they have in recent years invested large sums in the purchase of ground routs and reversions on long leases in various places; whether the Statutes under which Queen Anne's Bounty is administered contemplate the purchase of real estate by this Ecclesiastical Corporation for the purpose of making additions to glebes, but not for the purposes of investment; whether he is aware that in every case in which the Commissioners have purchased ground rents and reversions on long leases, and notably at Newton Abbott, the leaseholders in possession were and are anxious and willing to purchase the freeholds of their holdings, but were prevented from doing so by the purchase of the Commissioners; and whether he will suggest to the Commissioners the desirability of selling the ground rents and reversions to the leaseholders in possession at prices sufficient to prevent any loss as contemplated in similar cases in the Report of the Town Holdings Committee?


It is true that the governors have from time to time invested part of their capital in the manner stated in the first paragraph. Out of a total capital of some £5,000,000 about £540,000 are so invested. I understand that the governors have been advised on the highest legal authority that their procedure in this respect is within their legal powers. As to the third paragraph, I am informed by the governors that in no case except that of Newton Abbot has any desire been expressed to them by leaseholders to purchase the reversions or their leases. The case of Newton Abbot was peculiar, the reversions purchased by the governors being that of a building estate which had been laid out as a whole with special regulations as to roads, buildings, and sea-views. Out of 300 lessees only 10 wished to purchase the freeholds, and except in one case (that of the college) the governors did not feel justified in the interests of the estate as a whole in selling. As 1o the last paragraph, the governors are a statutory authority with an independent discretion in the matters referred to by my hon. Friend, and I have no right to suggest to them the particular way in which their discretion should be exercised.


Am I right in understanding that if a large number of leaseholders at Newton Abbot wish to buy their freeholds, the application to do so will be favourably considered?


I cannot say that definitely. I know that out of 300 only 19 have so applied.