HC Deb 17 August 1894 vol 28 cc1389-90
MR. A. C. MORTON (Peterborough)

I beg to ask the Parliamentary Charity Commissioner whether the attention of the Charity Commissioners has been called to a letter published in The Globe of the 25th July, signed M. Clementi, in which it is stated that the official surveyor to the Charity Commission reported that the full value of the estate on which St. Paul's School was erected was £32,000; that the Charity Commissioners authorised the purchase of the same at £41,000; that, on the 11th April, 1878, the owner and Assistant Charity Commissioner conveyed this land to a purchaser for £27,000; and that this purchaser on the next day conveyed the land to the Governors for £41,000; and what action the Commissioners intend to take in the matter?


The land which now forms the site of St. Paul's School was valued in 1877 at £32,000 by a surveyor nominated by the Charity Commissioners, who thereupon refused to sanction the proposal at that time made by the Governors of St. Paul's School for the purchase of the land at £46,000. The Governors, however, urged the purchase strongly upon the Commissioners, who eventually agreed to sanction the purchase at an accommodation price not exceeding £41,000, which was ultimately, and after much negotiation, accepted by the vendor. The Commissioners have reason to believe, though there is no official record of the fact, that one of their officers (not an Assistant Commissioner), who is now dead, was, shortly before the date of the purchase of the land by the Governors of St. Paul's School, the owner of or was the representative of the owners of the land in question; that he had agreed with the vendor who offered the land for sale to the Governors for its sale to him at a price of £27,000 or £28,000, but that this sale had not been completed by conveyance at the date of the agreement for sale between the vendor and the Governors; and that consequently the sale to the Governors was completed by the conveyance to them, by the direction of the vendor, of the legal estate which still remained in him, by the above-mentioned officer of the Commissioners, the effect of the transaction being that the said officer received a sum less by some £13,000 or £14,000 than that at which it was sold to the Governors. The officer in question was in no way officially engaged with the transaction, and it is believed that the Charity Commissioners of that day were not aware until after the completion of the agreement between the vendor and the Governors that the officer in question had any interest in the land sold.