§ "(1) Any property transferred by this Act to the Welsh Commissioners which consists of, or is the produce of, or is or has been derived from, property given by any private person out of his own resources since the year One thousand seven hundred and three, and does not come within the description of a church or ecclesiastical residence for which provision is otherwise made by this Act, shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed to be a private benefaction. (2) The Welsh Commissioners shall ascertain and by Order declare what part of tie property transferred to them by this Act constitutes private benefactions within the meaning of this Act, and shall on the request of the representative body hereinafter mentioned, vest the same in that body, subject to the charges and incumbrances and interests saved by this Act."
§ The first Amendment on the Paper was in the name of Mr. W. WICKHAM (Hants, Petersfield), and had for its object the omission of the word "private," but—
said, that this and the following Amendment, which stood in the name of Mr. TOMLINSON, were out of order.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH (Bristol, W.),
on the point of order arising out of this ruling, said, that he certainly thought, when the Committee reported progress nearly three weeks ago, that they had not yet come to the word "private" at all. He, therefore, desired respectfully to ask why the first Amendment was out of order?
said, that if this was to be treated as a question of principle, the Committee had come to a decision which was inconsistent with the first two Amendments.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH,
interposing, said, that he thought the Committee had got into a somewhat awkward position. 1276 He did not question the Chairman's decision in the letter, but he did think the spirit of it was open to criticism.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. H. H. ASQUITH, Fife, E.)
said, that he felt some little embarrassment in approaching the question, because he did not quite understand what the decision of the Committee was which had rendered the first Amendment on the Paper that day out of order. Having said that, he might add that he had been going to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Petersfield (Mr. Wickham), because he thought they had almost come to an agreement as to the happier mode of wording this part of the clause.
said that, after the explanation which had been given, this appeared now to be a merely drafting Amendment, and he would, therefore, allow it to be put.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, that he would suggest that the Committee should accept the first Amendment on the Paper.
§ MR. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN (Kent, Tunbridge)
reminded the Home Secretary of his promise, that if the words in the Bill were insufficient to cover the case of any public company that had made a contribution which ought to be considered a private benefaction, he would bring in words to meet the case. He asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he had considered that point and whether he intended to bring in any words.
§ MR. ASQUITH
I have considered the point, and I am satisfied that the words as they will stand will be sufficient to meet the case.
§ *MR. W. E. M. TOMLINSON (Preston)
said, it seemed to him that the Government were requiring the Church to prove the origin of gifts as to which often no evidence existed.
§ Amendment agreed to.1277
§ MR. LAURENCE HARDY (Kent, Ashford)
who had given notice of the following Amendment—Line 6, after 'resources,' insert 'including all churches, mission rooms, burial grounds, ecclesiastical residences, and any fund for the benefit of any ecclesiastical office or corporation in or connected with the Church in Wales or the holder of such office,'said, he had put down the Amendment in order to give the Home Secretary an opportunity of redeeming the pledge he gave earlier in the Debate that the Church should have exactly the same treatment as was given to Nonconformists. The words were taken from the Dissenters' Chapels Act. If the right hon. Gentleman assured him that the words of the Bill covered the case he would not press the matter further.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, all the, matters enumerated in the hon. Member's Amendment, if they fell within the description of having been property given by a person out of his private resources, will clearly be included in the definition of "private benefactions."
§ SIR JOHN GORST (Cambridge University moved, line 6, leave out "since the year one thousand seven hundred and three." The object of this Amendment, he said, was to challenge the principle that private benefactions could be secularised, provided they were old enough. In the first place, he did not think the principles were at all just, and in the next place, he challenged the particular date which had been fixed. In this matter they got no assistance from the precedent of the Irish Church, except this, that in the case of the Irish Church Act an attempt was made to discriminate between old private benefactions and the more modern private benefactions. The date then fixed in the Bill was 1660, but after a great deal of discussion a lump sum was given to the Disestablished Church in lieu of all private benefactions whatsoever. On what principle were private benefactions to be secularised, provided they were old? When the Irish Church Act was under discussion, and the question of the secularising of private endowments given before 1660 was raised, Mr. Vernon Harcourt, as he then was, broached the doctrine, which had been so often broached as a philosophical principle—that there should be a 1278 limitation placed on all private endowments of every kind; that the power of the testator to leave his property by will for public purposes should be restricted to a certain number of years, and that when that period had elapsed the property should revert to the State, which should have the right to decide what its disposal should be without any regard whatever to the antiquated views of the private benefactor. He did not know that anybody on the Treasury Bench now would uphold a principle of that kind as one that should guide Parliament. But what was the ground upon which the date in the Bill was fixed? In the case, of the Irish Church the principle laid down was that the Church should have all those private benefactions which had been given to her when she was in a condition which could be identified with that of the existing Church. The contention of the Government of that day was that, previous to 1660 the Irish Church was really a different body to that which was then in existence—a body with a different constitution, and not properly capable, of being identified with the Irish Church, which was then being made the subject of legislation. Now, that principle would not apply at all to the Church of England in Wales. There was no breach of continuity. It had for centuries been part of the Church of England. It underwent, like the Church of England, doctrinal changes at the Reformation, but there was no ground for saying, as there was in the case of the Irish Church, that the Welsh Church at the middle of the 17th century was not just as identical with the present Church as the Church in the middle of 18th century. It was quite true that at the Reformation, although there was no alteration in the legal continuity of the Church, there was a change of doctrine. Such a change took place in the articles of religion and in the tenets of the Church as might enable people plausibly to argue that although legally the Church before and after the Reformation was identical, yet practically there was such a change made that persons who gave property to the Church before the Reformation could hardly be held to have intended to give it to the Church after the Reformation. If that had been the principle upon 1279 which the Government had proceeded, some date about the time of the Reformation would have been taken. What the foundation of Queen Anne's Bounty had to do with the benefactions of private persons to the Church in Wales he entirely failed to see. The Home Secretary made an explanation to which he listened with attention, but he came afterwards to the conclusion either that his powers of understanding were very imperfect or that it was one of those occasions when the right hon. Gentleman was affecting to make an explanation when he was really making none at all. He asked the Committee to take the case of a benefactor in the early years of the eighteenth century. Why was the endowment made by that person to be now secularised by Parliament, and why was the endowment made ten years later out of private sources still to be allowed by Parliament to be applied to those religious uses for which it was intended? In 1700 the Church of England was the same Church as in the later period, there was no Reformation, no change of articles. In order to enable some Member of the Government to explain the conundrum and to give an explanation why the date had been selected, he moved the Amendment which stood in his name omitting the date altogether.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. J. BRYCE, Aberdeen, S.)
said, the view of the Government was this—that those endowments which might reasonably be held to have been given to the Church of England in Wales, in respect of her present discipline, ritual, government, and doctrine, ought especially, as apart from that given to any other religious body, to be continued to her, and the date 1703 was chosen as the convenient date, being the date of the establishment of Queen Anne's Bounty. It marked the date when machinery was devised and could be provided, when the gifts could be received without offending the law of mortmain. If an earlier date had been taken it would have been said that the gifts made at an earlier time were made at a time when there was still reason to suppose that the Church was entirely united, and no such thing as Dissent had emerged. The end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth centuries was therefore the time. The 1280 united Church of England then became a separate Church, and then it was made clear that the Roman Catholics on the one hand, and the Protestant Dissenters on the other hand, were not likely to be united to the Established Church The gifts were given to the Established Church in respect of its being the National Church, and the Government were confirmed in the view they took by observing that prior to the Revolution it would not have been consistent with the law to have given any private benefactions to any other Church. He presumed they might take it, therefore, that it would have been impossible before the Revolution to have made any private gift to those who were called Protestant Dissenters or Roman Catholics, because they were aware that the exercise of worship, except in accordance with the rites of the Church of England, was prohibited under severe penalties down to the Revolution. Conventicles were prevented by severe penal legislation, and men like Baxter and Bunyan were thrown into prison. After that date, when, by the toleration Act and other Statutes, the right of Nonconformists to receive gifts and to exercise their form of worship was admitted, gifts could be given to them as well as to the Established Church. Therefore, there was an important distinction between the time when the Church of England in Wales was the only Church whose worship was publicly permitted, and the time subsequently when it was recognised that gifts could be given to Protestant Dissenters as well as to the Church of England. That, speaking broadly, was the view which induced the Government to choose this period as the time when a distinction might properly be drawn, and they had conceived that gifts given to the Church since 1703 might be given to her in respect of her special doctrine and ritual. It was no doubt a question of some interest, but, after all, more of speculative interest than any other.
§ MR. GEORGE WYNDHAM (Dover)
said, the speech of the right hon. Gentleman had left the Committee more in the dark than they were before. The right hon. Gentleman had made a speech in favour, not of 1703 but of 1688; and the argument which might have been a good one if dealing with England, was a bad one when applied to Wales. There 1281 were no conventicles in Wales at the time specified by the right hon. Gentleman, and the problem which arose to any extent there did not justify the argument, which the right hon. Gentleman had just addressed to the Committee. Stripped of the pleas submitted by the right hon. Gentleman his argument amounted to this—that the Church of England in Wales was to be attacked because once she gathered the whole of the population within her folds, and the date chosen was the date at which she ceased to claim the whole of the population of Wales among her adherents. It was impossible to describe the action of the Government in selecting the period of 1703, except on the hypothesis that they wished to punish the Church, not for her comparative failure in the last century, but for he complete success in the preceding.
§ *MR. C. BILL (Staffordshire, Leek)
thought that some better reason ought to be given for this arbitrary selection of the date than that which had been assigned by the Government. Last year the Home Secretary, speaking on the selection of 1703 as the date, said:—We have come to the conclusion that we ought to take as our date 1703, when Queen Anne's Bounty was established, because it was only from that year that it became possible, through the machinery of Queen Anne's Bounty, for private persons, without offending against the law, to invest in property of that description for ecclesiastical purposes.The right hon. Member for West Bristol showed clearly in the Debate on the Second Reading, that for grants of tithe no licence in mortmain was necessary; and as tithe in Wales amounted to nearly £180,000, out of the gross revenue of £233,000, surely the reason for fixing this particular date, to a great extent, fell to the ground. He thought that there was one eminent person to whom the Government were bound to listen—namely, the eminent Prelate, the only supporter of the policy of this Bill on the Bench of Bishops in the House of Lords, the Bishop of Hereford. He was prepared to surrender to the Church private endowments from 1662. In Convocation on May 14 the Bishop of Hereford said:—It seems to me that if we take the endowments which date back, let us say, beyond the Act of Uniformity (and that is the point which I 1282 should be glad to see adopted), those endowments were given virtually for the whole people; and now that the national voice, under changed circumstances, and after a long lapse of time, demands a readjustment, we are not able to see any ground for contesting the reasonableness of that demand.This point was of enormous importance, because they were not merely dealing with a few comparatively small endowments of the Welsh Church, but they were setting a precedent which would presumably be followed when the far richer revenues of the Church of England in England came to be dealt with. What effect was this proposal likely to have on the dispositions of charitable and pious persons after this date? It could not be either the wish or the intention of Parliament to check the flow of pious and charitable endowments, but if this date were adopted it would stand on record that the House of Commons had accepted the principle that after 190 years any property or funds given over to Church purposes might be arbitrarily diverted to secular purposes. No doubt 190 years was a long time in the opinion of some persons, but what would William of Wykeham and the other great founders of Church and educational endowments have said if they had known that in 192 years their vast religious and educational endowments might possibly be swept away? What would they have said if they had thought that all the funds of which they had voluntarily divested themselves for the religious advancement of the nation might be swept away by Parliament for purposes utterly alien to those to which they had been originally devoted? In times past, Churchmen, and Dissenters too, had given large funds to their own religious bodies for all time. In Wales itself, deeds conveying property for the use of Dissenters as well as of Churchmen frequently contained the words, "as long as the rivers flow." Of course, such endowments were always subject to the consideration that these religious bodies went on as lively and effective members of a national organisation. When they had absolutely gone into decay and effeteness, then Parliament might be asked to consider whether these funds should not be put to some better use. But was that the case with the Welsh Church? And why should Church endowments which existed before 1283 1703 be taken away and Dissenters' endowments left? A very large number of Dissenters endowments was given in the 20 years which followed 1703; but there was also many which were given just before; and ho would mention two instances. One was the case of the Baptist Chapel of Llandewi in Pembrokeshire On a wall inside the chapel there was this inscription:—John Evans, of Llwyndwr, bore the expense of this house in the year 1701, desiring it to be for use of those persons who hold the 6 principles in 6 Ch: Heb: 1 & 2 verses.He could not help wondering whether those six principles were still insisted upon. Another case was that of the Dutch Church in Norwich, to which an endowment was given in 1619. It was so contrary to all principles of justice and equity that the private endowments of one denomination should be subject to confiscation at the end of 190 years, while other denominations were to be protected for all time in their endowments, that he felt confident, when the propsals of the Government came to be fully understood in the country, there would be a greater revulsion of feeling than ever against this Bill.
§ MR. VICARY GIBBS (Herts, St. Albans)
said, he understood the Government now to state they had selected a date when something happened to alter the relative position of the Church. At any rate, they had chosen the latest date they could consistent with preserving the endowments of Dissenters. But how was it consistent with their professions of religious equality that they should preserve those endowments of Dissenters which accrued just before 1703,while they took away those of the Church? It was true they were few in number; but, if the Government had acted on principle in this matter, he should like them to explain how it was that they proposed to deal out one measure to the Church and another to the Dissenting bodies.
§ *SIR G. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)
said, it would be difficult to fix upon any date which would not be called arbitrary from some point of view. But the date of 1703—the reign of Queen Anne—was that of an entirely new departure, when the Church was cut off from Catholics on the one side and from Dissenters on the other. It marked 1284 a distinct change in the character and position of the Church of England. He should not have objected if the date chosen had been 1688, but he was afraid that no date would be satisfactory to the Opposition. If the two sides could see their way to a compromise he should offer no opposition.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, it was desirable, they should realise what was the effect of the Amendment they were discussing. Oil that Amendment no question of competing dates arose; it was an Amendment to exclude any date whatever, and to secure to the Disestablished Church all private endowments from the beginning of time. Therefore the questions which had been raised, interesting and important as they might be, as between 1703 and 1689 or any other arbitrary date, were not strictly relevant to the Amendment. The Government could not possibly accept this Amendment; the effect of it would be to give the Disestablished Church the whole of the tithe.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Rochester)
I thought the right hon. Gentleman contended that tithes were given by the State?
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, it was an arguable position to take up that, although tithes became a compulsory tax after a certain date, they were originally a voluntary obligation, and were given by private persons out of their own resources; and, if the Amendment were adopted, it might be contended, and it might be open to a Court of Law to say, that practically the whole revenue of the present Established Church passed to the representative body of the Disestablished Church. In other words, this Bill, instead of disendowing the Church, would re-endow the Church. The principle on which the Government had gone throughout was this—that property, whether in the form of money or of land, which was given to the Church, whether out of public funds or out of private funds, at the time the Church was co-extensive with the community, at the time it represented the community organised, as a whole, on the spiritual side, at a time when no other religious body in the country had a legal status, at a time when the endowment of any other religious body could not be legally effected, that such property was property 1285 which, under a Bill for Disendowment, might fairly be taken away and appropriated. Whatever might be the precise point at which the dividing line ought to be drawn, there was such a dividing line, when the Church ceased to be co-extensive with the community, and when the legal status of dissenting bodies had been recognised, and anything given to the Church after that date ought to be treated as given to it distinctly from other denominations, and ought to be retained by the Church after Disestablishment. That was the principle of the Bill; it was a clear and definite principle, which could be easily understood. It was because the Government had adopted that principle that they could not accept the Amendment.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
said, he agreed that there were two questions involved, and the main question was, whether there should be any limit beyond which endowments given by private persons should not be excepted from the operation of this Bill. He was glad to hear the casual admission of the right hon. Gentleman that tithe was private property.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, he had not made any such admission; he had only anticipated a plausible contention which would be adopted by the Opposition if the Amendment were accepted.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
said, the right hon. Gentleman spoke of what a court of law would say. [Mr. ASQUITH: "Might."] The view of the Opposition always had been that tithe was private endowment, but no court would construe tithe as a private endowment under the words they had already agreed to, unless it were proved to have been given out of private resources; and, therefore, the exemption would only apply to those gifts of tithe which might be proved by existing charters or wills, or other documents, to have been so given. They on that side entirely accepted the principle of the Amendment; they saw no difference between property given to the Church out of private resources before 1703 and property given after that date. Examples had just been cited by the hon. Member below the Gangway—and he gave some on the Second Reading—in which, from wills or other documents, it could be conclusively shown that private persons gave endowments to 1286 the Church before 1703, the Church being the same in doctrine and ritual as the Church of the present day. He utterly failed to see any reason whatever, in justice or fairness, why those gifts should not be excepted from the operation of the Bill. Parliament had accepted the principle of the Amendment, as applied to Nonconformist bodies, in the Dissenters' Chapels Act. By that Act a 25-years' possession of an endowment by any denomination was considered conclusive of the right of the denomination to that endowment, even though the denomination might have entirely changed in doctrine or ritual or in any other respect. That being the law with regard to Nonconformist endowments, all that the Amendment asked was that the same principle should be applied to endowments which had been given to the Church by persons out of their private resources, when they could be proved to have been so given by testimony which the courts could accept. But there was another aspect to the question. The House had got as many as three views on behalf of the Government before it. First of all, there was the view of the Home Secretary, who, in announcing the year 1703 as the date to be inserted in the Bill, gave as the reason that it was only from that year that it became possible, through the machinery of the Queen Anne's Bounty Act, for private persons to invest in land for ecclesiastical purposes. That was not true, and the right hon. Gentleman did not say it was true in regard to tithe. It was possible for private persons so to deal with tithe before Queen Anne's Bounty Act; and it was the fact, as could be shown by many existing charters, that many private persons did endow the Church, not only with tithe but with land, before the passing of the Queen Anne's Bounty Act. Therefore, since the speech of the Home Secretary in the Debate on the Bill last year, no Member of the Government had attempted to argue that the year 1703 should have been taken. But the President of the Board of Trade took another view of the matter. In the Debate on the Second Reading of the Bill this year, the right hon. Gentleman said:—Since the Toleration Act of 1689, and the other legislation which marked the epoch of the Revolution, the Established Church had 1287 passed from being co-extensive with the nation into being virtually only a denomination, and something entirely different from the Church of the Middle Ages and the Tudor Epoch. The Established Church was no longer the National Church in the old sense, for it was not now, and had not for a long time been, the only body to which any endowments that were given must be given. When endowments could be bestowed on any denomination of Christians, a gift to the Church of England became, by hypothesis, a gift to it in respect to its special claims, and by the preference of the donor, just as gifts to a particular Nonconformist body would be.The whole argument of the right hon. Gentleman was in favour of 1689, and the right hon. Gentleman was bound, after what he said in that speech, to accept the year of the Toleration Act, instead of the year 1703. Then the Under Secretary to the Home Department, who, if he might be allowed to say so, made, in his opinion, the ablest speech in favour of the Second Reading of the Bill, was not content with either the date of Queen Anne's Bounty or the date of the Toleration Act. The hon. Gentleman said:—If the question is asked why a particular year is chosen, I confess I am not very much concerned to defend that or any other particular year. The essential point is this—the Church will be allowed to retain all that has been given to her by private donors since she has been theologically and spiritually what she is now.That went far beyond the date of Queen Anne's Bounty and the date of the Toleration Act. The hon. Gentleman then went on to say—Surely no candid critic can deny that the theological change made by the Reformation was a significant and a profound one. Surely the 39 Articles embodied an entirely different system of theology from that which prevailed in the pre-Reformation Church, and I cannot convince myself that the persons who made gifts to the Church in mediæval times would have bequeathed their land had they known that, as a body, the Church was about to rebel against the See of Peter, which they regarded as the one source of authority and orthodoxy.The view of the hon. Gentleman was therefore in favour neither of 1703 nor 1689, but of 1559, the first year of Queen Elizabeth, or some date which might be called the date of the Reformation. Therefore, there were three absolutely different views expressed on behalf of the Government as to the date that should be selected for bringing private endowments under the Bill. The right 1288 hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary might not be able to accept the Amendment, but let him carry out his own words on the Second Reading Debate, when he said the Government would treat the Church generously in this matter. Let the right hon. Gentleman carry out the view that had been pressed upon him by his own followers, by the representatives of Nonconformists in this House; by the hon. Member for Monmouth Boroughs, who said, at the Second Reading, he was sorry the Government had not taken the year 1662; and by the hon. Member for West Fife, who said he would not only be generous but lavish in dealing with the Church, and that if it were shown that the proposals of the Government were unjust and harsh to the Church he would aid in any endeavour to resist them. This, at any rate, was true. There had been nothing since the Reformation which could possibly have compelled any man to give or to leave any property to the Church, if he did not believe in the Church. He could understand that in the dark mediæval ages, when men were coerced by spiritual terrors for themselves or for others to leave property to the Church, they might have done so unwillingly. But after the Reformation it was impossible that any man could be coerced by any feeling whatever to leave his property to the Church. He would go farther. He saw no reason whatever for the view of the Under Secretary of the Home Department that those who had left property to the Church in pre-Reformation times would not have done so if they had known that the Church would throw off the authority of the See of Peter. He believed that in Wales and in England in pre-Reformation times men were continually protesting against any attempt of the See of Peter to impose on them any unjust claim in temporal matters.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
said, the hon. Member must know that spiritual claims went on to temporal claims. He thought history showed that the real difficulty arose when the claim of Rome 1289 became a claim to interfere in the absolutely temporal government of the kingdom. He did not think that a single argument had been used which would justify the adoption of any year whatever in this clause, beyond the argument that the Church had altered its doctrine or ritual. But any alteration in the doctrine or ritual of Nonconformist bodies did not deprive them of their endowments. The claim of the supporters of the Amendment was that the Church should be treated in this matter on an equal footing with the Nonconformist bodies; and they contended that it was neither just nor right to do anything else.
§ *MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.)
said, that as he had on the Paper a similar Amendment to the Amendment before the Committee he desired to say a few words. He believed the importance of the question as a precedent could not be over-rated. They were now about to lay down a precedent for diverting ecclesiastical property left before a definite date to the Church by private persons from their private resources to secular purposes. It had been admitted by some of the supporters of the Bill that any date chosen for the purpose must be an arbitrary date. But why should they have any date at all? There was a competent tribunal to be created by the Bill for ascertaining whether or not those endowments were endowments given by persons out of their private resources. If the Welsh Commissioners, with the concurrence of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, or in other cases of Queen Anne's Bounty, determined that endowments came within this clause, then they were to be given back to the Church body, but if otherwise they were not to be given back. Surely they might trust those bodies to determine the question in respect to all endowments without any limitation of date. He reminded the Government that in regard to the fixing of a definite date that great authority, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian, was against them. In the Debate on the Irish Church Bill in 1869, the right hon. Gentleman defended the fixing of the date (1660) then proposed upon the ground that a private endowment must be given to a definite religious system rather than to a Church which was co-extensive with the 1290 nation. As far as he understood them, the principles upon which the present Government defended their proposal were the same in substance as those on which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian defended a very different date. They had the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that "since 1660 there had been different religious systems in both England and Ireland." "That was a time"—said he—"when the Puritans or Nonconformists became a body external to the Established Church." If therefore, the present Government accepted that very high authority, it at once cut the ground from under their feet in fixing such a date as 1703. Taking all the precedents of prior legislation, the Government had no ground to go upon in fixing any arbitrary date in this matter. They could not rely on the Charitable Trusts Acts, or on the Endowed Schools Act. It was only where the purposes of charitable trusts had failed either wholly or in part that there might be a diversion of those trusts to other purposes, and even then the cy près doctrine applied. Those who had followed the discussions on the Endowed Schools Acts knew how carefully the interests of denominational charities had been guarded even by those Acts passed by Liberal Governments. There had been an Act passed whereby a large amount of endowment was diverted from ecclesiastical to civil purposes—the City Parochial Charities Act; but that was done on the distinct ground that the purposes had to a great extent failed. This, therefore, was a new and far reaching precedent, and he thought all those who considered that ecclesiastical charities ought to be safeguarded to ecclesiastical purposes, ought to unite in resisting this proposal and in insisting, at any rate, that if the Government named any date at all, it should be a date sufficiently far back to guard all those endowments which had, without any reasonable doubt been left for the benefit of the Church of England as it at present existed and as it had existed in Wales as well as in England for so many centuries.
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON (Shropshire, Oswestry)
never heard such a muddle as had been given to the House by the Government Bench in their support of this proposal. The President of the Board of Trade made it out that in 1291 1702 there was a break in the continuity of the Church, and although a little time ago the Home Secretary smashed up Lord Rosebery's idea that there was a break in the continuity of the Church at the time of the Reformation. He now contended there was a greater break up of the Church in 1703. The right hon. Gentleman made another extraordinary error when he said that before 1703 Dissenters were not allowed to hold property. Dissenters did hold property before that time, as was proved by the dates on some of their chapels. Let them put aside the question of continuity and deal with the simple question—When did a private benefaction become not a private benefaction? The Home Secretary answered the conundrum by saying "1703." Why? Because Queen Anne's Bounty was formed in 1703. What had the one to do with the other? The President of the Board of Trade said "There were so few of these endowments before the year 1703," but the Home Secretary said "Oh, no! there were such a number." De minimis non curat Secretarius domesticus. Again, it was said the title of the Church was old. He once heard a barrister say to a Judge, "This is old law, but it is none the worse for that." He believed most people were rather proud of old titles. Why was an old title worse than a new one? He appealed to the Home Secretary to reconsider the question. One gentleman defended the proposal on historical grounds, and declared that Dissenters had no money given them before 1703. They read that Dissenters went in a body to William, and that he gave the chief of them an annuity of £500 and each of the others an annuity of £50. Dissenters had received money for a great length of time. Why did not the Government fix on the date 1648? The Church did cease to be the Church of the Nation then because Mr. Oliver Cromwell got rid of the Church of England for ten years and put the whole of the property in the hands of others. On historical grounds, as well as on grounds of justice, he hoped the Committee would reject the proposal of the Government.
§ *MR. W. E. M. TOMLINSON
said, the President of the Board of Trade had told them that the poorer they could make the Church the better it would be for the 1292 Church. He sometimes wondered why the right hon. Gentleman did not go a little farther. It was said the blood of martyrs was the seed of the Church. Was it not a wonder the President did not try a little martyrdom? But that was by the way. It had already been shown that the three grounds on which different Members of the Government had supported this clause were entirely distinct, and mutually self-destructive. He could understand a date being fixed if it was on a give and take principle, if the Government said—Everything acquired after a particular date shall be given to the Church, and everything given before that date shall be taken away.But they did not say that. If they were to prove the origin of a benefaction in order to keep it they ought not to be limited to a particular date. Surely the most elementary principles of justice were violated by fixing an arbitrary date of this kind. Right hon. Gentlemen might think they had the country or some outlying parts of the country with them upon this Bill, but there was proof now that, at all events, the Scotch people were not quite so fond of robbing churches as the Members of the Government supposed.
§ MR. E. HENEAGE
said, he regretted that alternative dates had been brought forward at all, for the mention of them only weakened the Amendment. He objected altogether to any private benefactions or any public money, the property of the Church of England, which had been given to the Welsh dioceses in their poverty, being used for secular purposes. These benefactions were given to the Church entirely for Church and religious purposes, and neither Her Majesty's Government nor the Commissioners, whom they proposed to set up, had any more right to divert those moneys from religious to secular purposes than a trustee would have a right to divert trust-money to his own uses. If the Church in Wales had no longer any use for these benefactions, it would be far better that they should revert to the representatives of the donors, or to the Mother Church in England. There were plenty of populous places in England and Scotland where the moneys could be employed to great advantage. There was a fallacy running throughout 1293 the whole of the principle on which the Home Secretary had advocated the financial clauses. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that, because money had been left to the Church in Wales, it therefore belonged to the Welsh people to do with as they wished. He denied that proposition altogether. After all, the discussion of this Bill would be almost a farce, if it were not that they believed that this Bill would be the precedent in the future for a Bill to disestablish the Church in England. Therefore it was necessary to point out its objectionable features. But not only might the provisions of this Bill be extended, perhaps by a single clause, to Northumbria, or East Anglia, or any other part of England, but some future ecclesiastical highwaymen might extend it to other religious denominations. It must not be supposed that this spoliation could be limited to the Church of England. In future the question would be asked: What virtue is there in Ecclesiastical Endowments or money given for Church purposes? The Endowments of the Roman Catholic and Nonconformist bodies were of much greater importance to them than those of the Church were to the Church. The election of Saturday had shown what the members of the Free Kirk and the Roman Catholics of Inverness-shire thought of the Disendowment clauses of this Bill; and he knew that in Lincolnshire there were a large number of thoughtful Nonconformists who, while desiring equality between all denominations, also disapproved strongly of these Disendowment clauses. He knew how many Nonconformist bodies held as their Endowments the sites on which their chapels stood; and they did not see what would prevent, if this Bill passed in its present shape, their property from being confiscated and diverted to parish purposes at some future date. He supported the Amendment in its integrity, and hoped it would be carried in the interest of the Roman Catholic and Nonconformist bodies.
said, that, there had been one or two useful admissions made that afternoon. First of all, the right hon. Baronet the Member for East Denbighshire admitted that this date (1703) was an arbitrary date——
§ *SIR G. OSBORNE MORGAN
I did not say that. I said it would be difficult to find a date which hon. Members opposite would not regard as arbitrary.
§ *MR. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
said, that he was glad to have the right hon. Baronet's assent to the proposition that the whole Bill was an arbitrary Bill. Then there was the still more useful admission made by the Home Secretary, that there was a strong probability, if the case were taken into the Courts of Law, that the tithes would be considered under this amendment to be private benefactions. [Mr. BRYCE dissented.] If the clause were framed on any principle of justice, why not give the Church tha benefit of any doubt? Why take away Endowments which were at least very likely given by private individuals? Professor Freeman had written—The nearest approach to a regular general endowment is the tithe, and that is not a very near approach. The tithe can hardly be said to have been granted by the State. The case rather is that the Church preached the payment of tithe an a duty, and the State gradually came to enforce that duty as a legal exaction afterwards.If a private individual gave property, and the State said that the property was to be respected, that did not constitute a grant by the State. If it did, why preserve any of the private benefactions to which the State was giving its sanction by this very clause? The President of the Board of Trade had stated that the date 1703 was chosen because it was only after that date that money could legally be left either to the Church or to Nonconformist bodies. But whether money could be left legally or not, it certainly was left before that date, and such private benefactions could easily be traced. There was the case of a Nonconformist endowment at Bardon Hill, near Leicester, where a Congregational Chapel received in 1666 a benefaction of farm lands and tithes. Then, as an instance of a gift to the Church, there was the case of Worthenbury, Flintshire, in the English Maylor. In 1653 John Puleston of Emral, Serjeant-at-Law and Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, who was an adherent of Cromwell, appointed Philip Henry Minister of Worthenbury, and built a house "for him and his successors for ever," and gave him a rent-charge on his estate for his maintenance. At 1295 the Restoration this bequest was confirmed, and there was added, "all the tithe corn growing yearly within the parish." Could anyone contend that a confirmation, made before 1703, was not intended for the Church as we knew it now? The contention was absolutely ridiculous. The right hon. Baronet the Member for East Denbighshire must have been writing a new history of England and Wales to suggest that there was a new departure in the Church in England or Wales at the Accession of Queen Anne. The only real precedent was that of the Irish Church. In that case the right hon. Member for Midlothian recommended in Committee the year 1660 as a limit, in the following words:—The reason that has recommended this to us is the fact that the Restoration was really the period at which the Church of Ireland assumed its present legislative shape and character. In Ireland Presbyterianism and Episcopacy were struggling powerfully together during the reigns of James I. and Charles I. But when we come to the times of Charles II. the ecclesiastical condition of England became perfectly distinct, and we know historically that a man at any rate knew what he was doing when he left property to the Church after that date; and the fair presumption arises that, if he gave the money for the Church, it was for the support of that form of religion to which it is now applied.If that was the case in Ireland in 1660, why not in Wales also? Why should it be supposed that the Church in Wales crystallised into its present shape at a later date than the Irish Church? That supposition was disposed of by another statement made by the right hon. Member for Midlothian. On Mr. Watkin Williams' Motion on 24th May 1870, the right hon. Member for Midlothian said—There is not a more curious fact in history than this—there are but four sees in Wales, and yet between the reign of Henry VIII. and the Revolution no less than 44 Welshman were appointed to fill them … What was the consequence? Puritanism, which was strong in England in that period, did not exist in Wales at all.The Puritan or Presbyterian period, which made it necessary in the Irish Act not to go before 1660, had no existence in fact, with regard to Wales. If any date were taken they must, in common honesty and justice, admit that 1296 the only reasonable date was that at which they knew a real change did take place in the Church of England or Wales—namely, the Reformation. No one wished to exaggerate the changes made then, but the strongest Protestant, who attached the greatest importance to the change made at the Reformation, if he left money to the Church after 1559 knew it was for the Church, as he understood it now, and it was most unfair and unjust if any date were taken at all to take any date subsequent to 1559. He would not argue whether there should be an alternative date. It was not the question before the Committee. He took his stand on the broad principle which he had always understood was the principle of the Liberation Society. If they must take from the Church any national money or property found in her coffers, and hand it back to the nation that gave it, he could not see in that principle how they could possibly assume at what certain date private benefactions began, and that anything given before that was not a benefaction although given by a private individual. He was at a loss to understand why the Government would not assent to this Amendment. When the country read that evening's discussion it would find out what they had already learnt from the Member for East Denbighshire that this was an arbitrary date in an arbitrary Bill.
§ EARL COMPTON (York, W.R., Barnsley)
said, the hon. Member had spoken of himself and his friends as Church Members. He forgot that there were Church Members on the Ministerial side of the House who were as fond of the Church as, if not fonder than, he was himself. [Opposition laughter.] He did not think this was a laughing matter. On his side of the House they were anxious, in disestablishing and disendowing the Church, to do what was fair for the Church; and at the same time believed, and honestly believed, that it would be to the advantage of the State Church to be disestablished and disendowed. Chuch Members were not all on the Opposition side.
§ MR. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
said, he had not the slightest desire to exclude the noble Lord as a Church Member. If he would vote with Members of the Opposition on this Amendment they 1297 would be glad to enrol him as a Member of the Church Parliamentary Committee.
§ EARL COMPTON
thanked the hon. Member for the invitation, but he had not the slightest intention of voting for the Amendment. He had voted for the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the English Church in Wales, but by this Amendment they would be distinctly voting against, instead of for, Disendowment, which was the real question the Amendment was intended to bring before the House. In his opinion, it was impossible to omit a date altogether, though the substitution of another date might be argued.
§ MR. PENROSE FITZGERALD (Cambridge)
pointed out that, in the case of the Irish Church, a date was inserted and passed through Committee of the House at the instigation of the right hon. Member for Midlothian. But when the Bill left the House of Lords no date was inserted at all. This was not a question between the State and the Church, but one of private endowments. If it were a question between the State, and the Church, he would remind the House of what Dean Hook said on the subject:—Honour alike your father the State and your mother the Church, but if your father strikes your mother, you are bound to take your mother's part.''This was not a matter between the State and the Church. They were trying to save the private endowments of pious persons in the past. For himself he entirely opposed, and always would oppose, the taking of any money given by anybody, private or public, for religious purposes and making use of it for secular purposes.
§ MR. CAMERON CORBETT (Glasgow, Tradeston)
said, he was not a member of the Church of England, but of the Scottish Free Church. But when the noble Lord was speaking he could not help feeling that the Amendment distinguished between those who desired to bring about Disestablishment, because they loved religious equality, and those who desired it from denominational jealousy. He was, and had always been, a rigid advocate of religious equality, believing all intervention by the State in religious matters tended not to help 1298 but to weaken the religious influence of the Church. If any one held that view, and at the same time sympathised with the work the Church was doing, he must sympathise with the protection of private funds which had been given to the Church by private individuals. Those who had advocated Disestablishment in the past had done so partly on the ground that to remove all State intervention tended to increase individual Christian liberality towards the Church; but would it encourage the Christian liberality of men of to-day to take away property given by the sons of the Church in days gone by? The only argument he had ever heard used in favour of this was that divisions had taken place in the Church since 1703, and secessions having come about they could not tell to which of the divided bodies pious donors would have given their money had they foreseen those secessions. That was a dangerous argument to use by anyone who believed in the wealth of any of our Churches, voluntary or otherwise. The Methodists in Wales had been subdivided from time to time; but did anyone maintain that it would have been fair if the State took away the whole funds of the denomination and devoted them entirely to secular purposes, because you could not tell to which section the pious donor would have given them. He supported the Second Reading of the Bill, because he was in favour of Disestablishment. He should oppose the Third Reading of the Bill if it remained unchanged, because the principles of religious equality were infringed more by taking away money given by individual sons of the Church than they were even by the maintenance of the Church as it now existed.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 231; Noes, 214. (Division List, No. 127.)
MR. GRANT LAWSON
proposed to omit the words "One thousand seven hundred and three" in order to insert the words "One thousand five hundred and fifty-nine." The grounds upon which he based his Amendment were, in the first place, that in the latter year the Second Act of Uniformity was passed, the first having been repealed by Queen Mary, the Roman Catholic. By the Act of 1559 the present order of 1299 things with regard to the Church had been established which had existed ever since. Another reason why he had proposed to select the date 1559 was—that it had been proposed by no less an authority than the then Archbishop of Canterbury to take that date in the case of the Irish Church Act. An Amendment, similar to that he now moved, had been moved in the House of Lords in the course of the discussion on the Irish Church Act, and the only reason why that Amendment was not pressed was, because the Government of the day had agreed to drop the question of dates altogether and to give a lump sum as a compromise. That Amendment of the Archbishop of Canterbury would certainly have been carried in the House of Lords, and in all probability it would have been accepted in that House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian had given a definition of private benefactions which was the clearest that he had met with either in the speeches of hon. Members or in the writings of historians. Speaking in the Debate on the Irish Church Act, on the 29th April 1869, the right hon. Gentleman said—Let us consider what are the points necessary to make up the definition of private endowments, such as we are justified in keeping from the general mass. In the first place, it must be an endowment from the private resources of a private person; in the second place, it must he devoted to the endowing of a particular religious persuasion; and if it is given to an Establishment, it must he given to it, not in its character as an Establishment, but in its character of a definite religious persuasion; lastly, it must be a gift to the same distinct religious persuasion as that on whose behalf it is proposed to be severed from the general mass.He submitted that all benefactions given by private persons out of their private resources since the date of the Act of Uniformity entirely fulfilled the conditions which had been laid down by the right hon. Gentleman, because since that date the Church of England had been a distinct religious persuasion. It was in that view that he begged to move his Amendment.
§ MR. BRYCE
said, there were three or four dates before the Committee as to the time which should be selected after which any benefaction given to the Church of England in Wales should be 1300 deemed a private benefaction. The years 1559, 1662, and 1689 were all advocated, while 1703 was the year at present in the Bill. It was not likely that since the year 1559, the date of the Reformation, that any Roman Catholic would have made any considerable benefaction to the Established Church. The Protestant party at that date included all those sections of Protestants who had subsequently become divided into the different denominations which they knew to-day. He thought it might safely be said that there was no one in the reign of Elizabeth who could have prophesied that 250 years afterwards there would have been a large number of powerful Protestant denominations all acknowledging the general doctrines which were embodied in the theological settlement of 1559, and yet differing from each other in many minor points. He thought it would be generally admitted that the dominant tendencies and spirit of Parliament at that time were very largely Puritan; but the Puritans of Elizabeth's reign considered that they were right in remaining in the Church of England, and remained there in the hope and persuasion that they would be able to effect reforms in the Church of England which would bring them nearer to the ideal that they had conceived. All through the reign of Elizabeth, James I., and Charles I., those then called Puritans, whose views approximated to those of Nonconformists of later times, were members of the Church of England not intended in any way to separate from it. That being the case, they could not treat the Church of England as being anything but one body up to that time, and they must assume that during the whole of the reign of Elizabeth, and at any rate down to the end of the Commonwealth, all the bodies which subsequently became Protestant Nonconformists were still included in the Church of England, and all benefactions which were given to the Church must be assumed to have been given to her as one body, and as a national Church. They were obliged, therefore, to resist the Amendment of the hon. Member for the Thirsk Division, that 1559 should be the date, because, at any rate down to 1662, all the bodies which subsequently developed out of the Church had an equal claim to be considered the 1301 heirs of the Church. Though not quite to the same extent, still, to a large extent, they conceived that the argument which applied to the Church down to 1662 applied to her at any rate down to 1689. At that time a Bill was brought into that House to carry out a scheme which, if it had passed into law, would have avoided, at any rate, the main divisions which then became permanent, and would have kept a very great number of Protestant Nonconformists in the Church of England. They were entitled, therefore, to say that down to 1689 the hope of union had not been abandoned; there was still, down to that date, the possibility that the Church of England might have retained all, or nearly all, the Protestants of the kingdom. It was only the policy of the Conformation Scheme of 1689 that wrecked that hope. Down to 1689 they might fairly contend that endowments given were not given to the Church in its present form, and might equally well have been given to her by persons who would find their proper representatives in some of the dissenting communities to-day. The same result would follow if they adhered to the principle that endowments given while the Church of England was still the only church recognised by law, belonged to the Church. While she was the only religious body that was capable of receiving endowments, those endowments could only be given to her as a National Church, and not in respect of any special doctrine which she possessed. The hon. Member for the Tunbridge Division had, in a previous Amendment, cited the case of an endowment given in 1666, which he argued ought not to be dealt with in the way proposed; he was not in possession of the fact, but he would remind the hon. Member that it was at that time a penal offence, which was severely punished, to frequent a conventicle, and an independent chapel would certainly fall under that description. It was quite clear that the endowment of a conventicle at that time was an illegal act.
§ MR. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
said, there was such an endowment, and also many others, even before that date.
§ MR. BRYCE
said, that as it was an illegal act, severely punished in 1666, it was hard to see how any endowment 1302 could have been given then. However, he would not pursue that matter further, as he desired to tell the House the conclusion to which Her Majesty's Government had arrived. They had been very desirous of dealing in a lenient spirit with this matter, and they had stated more than once that they were by no means anxious to press what they thought the extreme rigour of their principles might require against the Church of England in Wales where an appeal was made to them. They had therefore come to the conclusion that although strictly the year 1689 would be the proper year to fix as being the time when the Church of England and the Protestant Nonconformists became separate, they might consent to the year 1662 as being the definite date at which that separation took place. They were willing therefore to accept the Amendment which stood in the name of the hon. Member for the Bow Division of the Tower Hamlets, to the effect that 1662 should be taken as the date after which any benefaction given to the Church of England in Wales should be deemed a private benefaction. He hoped he had sufficiently explained the view the Government had taken as well as the principle on which they based it, why they could not at all accept the date 1559, and the reasons for which they were willing to accept the date 1662.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER (Isle of Wight)
said, the right hon. Gentleman had addressed to the House, as might be expected, a very interesting speech on the subject, but it was one containing absolutely no arguments. He thanked the Government for their concession in taking the year 1662. At the same time he was sorry that it deprived him of showing, as he could have done, that the date 1703, to which the Government had committed themselves, was about the most illogical period they could have adopted; but he was obliged to abandon that contention, inasmuch as the Government were going to accept the Amendment for the date of 1662. When he heard the argument of the right hon. Gentleman as to 1559 about various Nonconformist bodies, it seemed as though they were discussing a scheme of concurrent endowment; for all that they heard from him about the condition of 1303 the Church, the ritual of the Church, and the doctrine of the Church from 1558 to 1662, it might be supposed that the various Nonconformist bodies, who were believed to represent the Church more nearly at the time of Elizabeth than the Church of England in the present day, were entitled to this money. Had the right hon. Gentleman forgotten that not one sixpence of this money was to be devoted to religious purposes at all, but that the whole of it was to be applied to secular purposes? Not more than three-quarters of an hour ago he had listened to a speech in which the right hon. Gentleman laid down three principles relating to the ritual, the doctrine, and the government of the Church, which might be strongly used on behalf and in support of the date they had advocated. If these three tests were to be applied, he did not hesitate to say that the year 1558 more nearly corresponded with those conditions. No one would deny that fact with regard to ritual; and as to discipline, beyond the fact that discipline had been altered by statute, they might fairly say that, subject to the development of modern times, discipline was still the same. He would remind the Committee that they were not now dealing with a scheme of concurrent endowment, but that they were fixing this date with reference to the intended diversion of the funds of the Church from religious to secular purposes, and that being so, and that being the question they had to consider, what was the proper form in which this problem should be presented to the House? He submitted it was this—what the Church most nearly represented from 1558 down to 1662. What was the case, then, for shifting the date of 1703 back to 1662, and for not bringing it back to 1558? It was, he supposed, that the right hon. Gentleman and those who supported him felt that they could not upon any principle support the date 1703; and without really giving any reason to the House, but putting it as a matter of favour, he said the Government would take the date back to 1662. Supposing it were proved that private individuals gave property to the Church for religious purposes, what claim had the Welsh ratepayers now to put their hands upon it, and to appropriate it to their purposes? The right hon. 1304 Gentleman had referred to the Commonwealth, as if it were a period from the history of which some conclusions could be drawn to support some date other than 1558. But from his reading of history he should say that during the whole of the Common wealth the Church in Wales was the National Church. This question, however, was not being argued so much as a Welsh case for Disendowment and Disestablishment, but it was being debated with a view to developing arguments to be used in the future for the Disestablishment of the Church of England. It was scarcely possible to believe that men who worthily represented the Church could look with feelings other than those of shame upon any attempt to rob the Church of that which was given to it as private endowments for religious purposes, and he believed there were many Churchmen on the other side of the House who, but for Party ties, would support the Opposition in the arguments they were using to protect those private endowments. They were not discussing property supposed to have been left to the State, but rather what was the origin of some of that property, and they started from the position that they were dealing with private benefactions. By the very test the right hon. Gentleman himself had laid down—the points of government, ritual, and discipline—they were entitled to say that the Church in Wales represented the ecclesiastical body which was established in 1558, and they contended that to deprive that Church of private endowments given to it by private individuals from love of religion and love of the Church, during the period from 1558 to 1662, was to take away gifts which were given purely for religious purposes, and he hoped that even yet some Churchmen would rise and say that the Church in Wales ought not to be deprived of the endowments granted to her at any time since 1558.
§ EARL COMPTON
, after remarking that he was in favour of the Amendment which had just been moved, said, the arguments which applied to 1662 would apply also to 1558. He had always felt that the question, of the Disendowment of the State Church must involve great difficulty. Disestablishment was quite another thing, but he knew that Disestablishment could not be carried 1305 out without Disendowment, and he was ready to admit that the great mass of Nonconformists were prepared to act generously towards the Church. It was because he believed that it could be said that the money really belonged more, to the Church than to any other body that he supported the Amendment. He was in a very unfortunate position, owing to his defective eyesight, and was unable to see hon. Members opposite. He was paired until 10.30, but if the Division took place after that hour he should vote for the Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said, that he was sorry to hear of the state of health of the last speaker, as, otherwise, the Committee might have hoped to hear from him many speeches such as they had just listened to, and to have, on other occasions, the vote which he trusted that the hon. Member would be able upon the present occasion, to give. He confessed that he did not see upon what ground this Amendment could be resisted, except upon the ground that no date of any kind ought to be inserted. The date now proposed was certainly a better date than 1662. Although he had listened attentively to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, he must say that no speech had ever had a less convincing effect upon his mind. According to the right hon. Gentleman every endowment conferred at any time might be afterwards called in question if the people could be shown to have had a tendency in a particular direction. This was a most amazing doctrine, and was totally inconsistent with the policy of the Government, because upon what ground did they propose 1703 or any other date? The gifts some years subsequently to 1703 might well be assumed to have been given by persons who had a tendency to follow John Wesley. There was afterwards a High Church tendency, which led to a certain number of secessions to the Church of Rome, and money given at that time might probably have been given by some persons who had a tendency towards Romanism. And why, then, did not the Government scrape all the gifts, subsequent to 1703, into the holocaust? Were all the gifts made to the Church about those periods to be vitiated? He could not understand any man so betraying his knowledge of history as to put 1306 such an argument as that of the right hon. Gentleman before the House of Commons. He did not thank the Government for the concession which they had made in accepting the date of 1662 in place of 1703. Forty years was all that the Government were conceding to the Church, for which he and his friends were claiming the property for hundreds of years. If the Government were going to disestablish and disendow the Welsh Church, he asked them to disestablish and disendow it like gentlemen, and not like hucksters who took credit to themselves for giving up 40 years. He asked the Government to give that which, in justice, the friends of the Church had a right to demand.
§ MR. CYRIL DODD (Essex, Maldon)
thought, that after the speech the Committee had just heard it was a little difficult to speak quietly on this subject; but, notwithstanding the language of the noble Lord, he asked the Government to consider the facts, and to say how much money was involved between the one time and the other. So far as he had been able to gather information on the subject he believed that the amount of money involved was very small indeed, and that it would make very little difference whether the one date or the other wore to be inserted. If the information in possession of the Government confirmed this he would ask his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary whether, notwithstanding the violence of the language which had been used on the other side, it might not be worth while to accede to the Amendment.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 188; Noes 199.—(Division List No. 128)
§ MR. J. A. M. MAC DONALD (Tower Hamlets, Bow) moved in page 3, line 6, to leave out "Seven hundred and three," and insert "Six hundred and sixty-two." He said he was quite content to rest by what had been said on behalf of the Government on this matter. No stronger arguments could be used than those which had been advanced by the President of the Board of Trade, and he did not believe that any better dividing line could be adopted. He would content himself by moving the Amendment.
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT
said, he did not know whether it was of any use to 1307 address a last appeal to the right hon. Gentleman opposite, but after that Division it was possible that the Government might be a little more disposed to to meet the objections raised on his side of the House. The majority that had decided against the Amendment of his hon. Friend was so infinitesimal that it did not establish the authority of the Government in this matter at all. His noble Friend opposite (Earl Compton) who had made an interesting speech earlier in the evening had said that if he had been present he would have voted for the Amendment, and that would have reduced the majority to nine. He did not know whether this Bill was intended to pass the House, but if it were to do so, it ought to be carried on in some spirit of conciliation and concession. There were cases of Nonconformist endowments before the year 1662. At Cardiff a chapel was established in 1622, and there was a case in another locality of a Baptist chapel having been founded in 1652. There was also an educational endowment founded in the time of the Commonwealth, and so imperative were its conditions that the trustees were to be two clergymen of the Church of England. That showed that the Nonconformists were active long before 1662. Why the year 1662 should be chosen he could not imagine, except to show that the Government in pretending to meet the wounded feelings of the friends of the Church were doing nothing that could possibly offend their allies in Wales. He was opposed to all dates. He claimed for the Church all her endowments, and the only reason why he voted with his hon. Friend was that he was anxious to save anything he could out of the melting pot.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, that in this matter the Government were acting on what had been said by his right hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian in the Debate on this question in the Irish Church Act in 1869. His right hon. Friend then said—In fixing upon the date 1660 we were actuated by the feeling expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, when he said—if he did say so—that the Bill would be a gracious and a generous one, and we felt that in fixing that date we had reached the furthest limit to which we could go and yet preserve intact the principle of the Bill.1308 It was in that spirit that his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade agreed to accept the date 1662. With regard to the existence of Nonconformist endowments previous to that date, he did not believe there was any accurate information to be got upon that point. His strong belief was, having made such inquiry as he could, that such Nonconformist endowments as existed previous to 1662, consisted chiefly of meeting-houses; and under this Bill every church now belonging to the Church was to be left in the hands of the Church. He had not heard a single instance of a Nonconformist endowment falling within the language of this section of an earlier date than 1662. It was true that there were Independents and Presbyterians at the time of the Commonwealth, but they were in the Church of England. One of the greatest Independents was John Owen, who was Dean of Christ Church in the very University which the hon. Gentleman represented.
§ MR. ASQUITH
The ejected Dean of Christ Church was in exactly the same position as the expelled Nonconformist Ministers in 1662. During the seventeenth century the benefactions and endowments of the Church were handed over to those persons who happened to be in sympathy in point of doctrine and ritual with the predominant power. Many of the most valuable of benefices were held by Independents and Presbyterians—men who were nowadays Nonconformists.
§ MR. ASQUITH
They were taken by the governing authority which then existed in the State, just in the same way as in the reign of Henry VIII. a number of other things were taken. He could not, therefore, admit that the hon. Gentleman's reference to the Commonwealth invalidated the position which the Government had taken up in accepting the Amendment. He agreed with the President of the Board of Trade that, logically speaking, they ought to have taken a later date, because it was not until Nonconformity became a legalised and tolerated thing that endowments could properly and lawfully be left to Nonconformist bodies; and he conceived that, in going back to the year 1662, 1309 they were going at least as far as was consistent with the principle on which the Bill was founded.
§ MR. VICARY GIBBS
said the Home Secretary sought to draw an inference in favour of the Government from the fact that the Independents were in the Church at the time of the Commonwealth. They were forced on the Church by a military despot, whom the Government proposed to do honour to later in the evening. The right hon. Gentleman said that the endowments given to Nonconformists before 1662 were endowments of actual meetinghouses, and that, as the Church buildings were to be retained by the Church, there was no injustice in the Dissenters retaining these endowments. That was not the point. The point was, that the fact that these endowments existed showed that people before 1662 recognised the distinction between the Church of England and the various Dissenting bodies, and chose between them according to whether they were in agreement with one or the other.
§ MR. MACDONALD
said, he had refrained from arguing in favour of his Amendment because he had hoped the Committee would accept it without Debate. He thought it was true that before 1662 endowments or benefactions given to the Church were given to the Church as representing the nation, and as being co-extensive with the nation. There was no other recognised religious community in the country. Of course, before the Reformation the Church was co-extensive with the nation. Between the Reformation and 1662 there was a hope on the part of contending factions that they would become the sole representatives of the religion of the people. It seemed to him to be rather a bold thing to say that the ancient donors of gifts to the Church of England would have held towards the Church as established by the Act of Uniformity of 1662, precisely the same attitude as they held towards the religious organisation when the gifts were actually made. He did not agree with the argument either of the Home Secretary or of the President of the Board of Trade with regard to the date of 1669. It had been said by both that at that date no Nonconformist body could legally hold property. But that 1310 was not the point. The point was whether or not any private benefactions given to the Church after 1662 were given by men who were in harmony with Dissent; whether the donors of Church gifts after 1662 were not men who distinguished between the Church and Nonconformity just as much as any who gave benefactions after 1689. Did the benefactors to the Church really intend that these benefactions should be used in the promotion of the religious life as settled by the Act of Uniformity, or in the promotion of some form of religious life as understood by one or other of the Nonconformist bodies. That was the dividing line which appeared to be finally settled by the Act of 1662. It could be quite truly said that benefactions given before 1662 were given by the Church as representing the religious life of the nation. After that date they were given to the Church as distinguished from Nonconformity.
§ MR. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
said, the hon. Member opposite was in a very inconsistent position. He said the money given before 1662 was given for the religious life of the whole nation. Then why should it now be taken away and devoted to secular purposes. He could understand the hon. Member saying the money should be divided among the various sects. But his proposition was to give it for baths and washhouses and other secular purposes. Where was this process going to end. There might be people in the Church now who might set up Nonconformity hereafter, and the same argument might be used for taking from the Church property given to her during the present year. Any man had an absolute right to dissent from any Church he pleased. The question was—Had he the right if he dissented to walk off with part of the property of the body from which he dissented?
§ *MR. TOMLINSON
said, that to put the burden of proof upon the Church was, certainly, in many cases, to put the Church at a great disadvantage.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. ASQUITH moved, after the last Amendment, to add "or money raised by voluntary subscriptions since that year."1311
SIR R. WEBSTER moved to amend the Amendment by inserting after the word "subscriptions" the words:—
Were voluntarily given since that year out of funds not liable under any provision, statutory or otherwise, to be applied to ecclesiastical purposes by the holder of any ecclesiastical office.
§ Amendment agreed to.
SIR R. WEBSTER moved to add after the last Amendment:—
And all interest reserved and capitalised on grants made by Queen Anne's Bounty.
This Amendment, he explained, was intended to meet cases in which the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty had withheld their annual payments in consequence of the non-residence of an incumbent, or of some other special cause. The interest on the grants in these cases had been reserved, and formed part of the general fund. It could hardly be contented that such reserved interests was Welsh national property.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, that the point had not been brought to his attention before. He understood the cases which the hon. and learned Member had in his mind were cases in which grants from Queen Anne's Bounty had lapsed through some temporary matters in consequence of the death or non-residence of an incumbent. These were cases in which the grants had been retained and added to the general fund of the Bounty. The question was whether this income, which had not been paid over and which had been capitalised, had been treated as appropriated to the Welsh Church. [Sir R. WEBSTER: "No."] Then he did not think that it would pass to the Commissioners. But he would ask the hon. and learned Member to withdraw the Amendment now, so that he might have time to inquire into the subject with which it dealt.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER
said, that the funds in question were formed by the accumulation of incomes which had not been paid over, and which had passed into the general fund. He would take the course suggested by the right hon. Gentleman, and withdraw his Amendment for the present.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.1312
SIR R. WEBSTER moved to add after the last accepted Amendment:—
And all grants (other than grants out of moneys voted by Parliament) made by lot or otherwise by Queen Anne's Bounty.
Having regard to the origin of first-fruits and tenths, he held that it was wrong to regard the income derived there from as national property which could properly be appropriated to secular purposes. Up to the thirteenth century, the clergy enjoyed their incomes in full, and then this tax was imposed upon them. Subsequently, he maintained, that the tax was paid to the Crown. It was not paid by the whole of the population; it was exclusively paid by the clergy. On what ground, therefore, was that tax, levied specially and solely on the income of the clergy, to be regarded as national property? Money so given by the Crown, or by individual clergy, was just as much private benefactions, as far as the law was concerned, as incomes from any private source. He thought that Churchmen were justified in raising this protest.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, that this question had been, in substance, already discussed in Committee, and he did not know that there was any argument on one side or the other which had not been already adequately stated and considered. While accepting the hon. and learned Member's account of the history of this fund, he did not accept the inferences which were drawn from the hon. Member's historical statement. The inference he drew from that history was that these first fruits and tenths at an early time in our history were a tax levied on the clergy exactly as compulsory in its character as the tithe which was levied from the lands of the landowner. This tax had formed as much a part of the general revenue of the Crown as any revenue subsequently granted by Parliament. That being the origin of the fund, it was, under Statutory authority under Queen Anne, devoted to the purpose to which it had since been applied, and it was impossible to distinguish between the character of that fund, whether in origin or use, and the great mass of the endowments which, rightly or wrongly, the Government were devoting by this Bill to other than ecclesiastical purposes. It was, therefore, 1313 impossible to exclude it from the operation of the Bill.
§ *MR. W. E. M. TOMLINSON
said, it was clear that the first fruits and tenths constituted a tax laid on the clergy by Henry VIII. Parliament had just as much right to remit a special tax on a special class as any tax levied generally, and special taxes or special interests had been remitted from time to time. Queen Anne thought it to be for the benefit of the Church that those sums which had been previously levied on the clergy should be made into a fund for the benefit of poor livings. He would ask, however, whether it was worth while to confiscate any part of the property derived from Queen Anne's Bounty. When the cost of ascertaining what part of a benefaction had arisen from private donations and how much from so-called public funds, there would be very little left for secular purposes.
§ Amendment negatived.
SIR R. WEBSTER moved an Amendment to the Home Secretary's Amendment with the view of including within the category of private benefactions—
all grants (other than grants out of moneys voted by Parliament) made by Queen Anne's Bounty in excess, of the total amount of first-fruits and tenths derived from the Church in Wales.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Home Secretary's Amendment agreed to.
*SIR F. S. POWELL moved to insert after "three" in line 7—
or which has not been derived from endowments of the Church arising in Wales or Monmouthshire.
He regretted the absence of the Home Secretary, and certainly thought it unreasonable that when an Amendment of this importance was on the Paper the right hon. Gentleman should not be able and willing and ready to assist the Committee in their deliberations. The Amendment was absolutely necessary, in order to make the Bill complete, perfect, and just Under Clause 4 of the Bill property vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners situate in Wales was to go to the Welsh Ecclesiastical Fund, but property
belonging to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners which was not situated in Wales, but in England, was to be retained by the Church in the English dioceses. He took the word "property" as meaning landed property—farms and estates of that character. His object was perfectly clear and simple; it was that what was enacted in regard to property vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should apply to property not so vested. Subsection (a) of the third clause spoke of property vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and Queen Anne's Bounty, and then it dealt with property not so vested, and it was the latter class of property which was the subject of his Amendment. Property situate in Wales he was ready for the purpose of Debate to leave it as Welsh Ecclesiastical property, but his contention was that landed property situated in England, although appropriated or used for the Church in Wales, ought to be regarded as a private benefaction. He did not see why one law should be applied to property vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and another law applied to property not so vested, and he complained that the treatment of the property which remained in the English dioceses should be adverse to the Church of England. There were many cases where the proceeds from farms situate in English counties were appropriated to the use of the Church in Wales. It would, he maintained, be a great injustice if that property were not in the future to be appropriated and used for the purpose of the Church in Wales exactly as other private benefactions would be. They who had any knowledge of feeling of the country knew how great was the jealousy of removing the proceeds of any landed property from the parish. When those proceeds were transferred from the parish and used for the purposes of the National Church of England and Wales there had been so far little dissatisfaction; it was taken as part of the general arrangement. But if the clause stood as now framed, proceeds of farms situated in England would be no longer devoted to Church purposes in Wales, but to the miscellaneous and absurd purposes mentioned in the schedule of the Bill. Such a proceeding would assuredly create a feeling of injustice. He believed the great majority of the
properties so situated were the fruits of private endowments. The evidence might fail in some cases, but he believed there would be, in the great majority of cases, in the absence of legal proof, a moral claim to which no fair or just resistance would be made. He was acquainted with the case of a native of Westmorland, who made a fortune beyond the boundaries of that county. That man gave a farm in his new home for the endowment of a vicarage in Westmorland. The vicarage remained and the endowment remained. Would it not be felt to be a great injustice if the proceeds of that endowment were devoted to some purpose not only utterly strange to the liberal founder, but unpopular and unknown and distasteful to the inhabitants of the parish wherein the farm was situate? It was for such foundations he appealed. He appealed on behalf of parishioners to whom injustice would be done if the proceeds of property were devoted to objects with which they had no sympathy, if, indeed, they knew anything at all about them.
§ MR. GEORGE WYNDHAM
said, it was in no spirit of disparagement either of the capacity or courtesy of the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department that he regretted the absence of the Home Secretary. Although they differed from the principles of the Home Secretary, and although they had some quarrel with his definitions of those principles, the right hon. Gentleman was always logical, and endeavoured to deal with points they raised. Clause 5 was really complemental of Clause 3. Under the third clause the whole body of property appropriated to the Church in Wales was transferred en bloc to the Welsh Commissioners. Under Clauses 4 and 5 certain exceptions were made so as to put the machinery in working order. The principle of the Government was to divert from the Church of England in Wales so much property as could, according to their own definition, be called in any sense the national property of the Welsh people. In the third clause the property was divided accidentally and for convenience into two sections: property vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and Queen Anne's Bounty, and property which was not so vested. All his hon. Friend had asked the Government to do was to deal 1316 with the two classes of property on the same principle. The Government argued that some of the property was private benefaction, and could not be called the public property of the Welsh people by any abuse of language. Between Clause 3 and Clause 5 there was a lacuna. They begged the Government to fill up that lacuna in the Bill; and since they excepted from vested property transferred by them that which was private benefaction, and that which arose from lands not situate in Wales and Monmouthshire, let them carry out the same principle in regard to non-vested property. Perhaps the Government would urge that this did not fit in with their drafting of the Bill; but that would only be a formal objection, for it would be perfectly easy to find suitable words to give effect to the object of the Amendment. A few days ago the Home Secretary had thrown a little doubt on the point by saying that he had been so generous in the case of vested property that he was within his right in being less than just in the case of non-vested property. But as a matter of fact he had not been so generous. He had been just according to his own rules of the game; but he had taken every sixpence which could be called Welsh or public by any stretch of language. But assuming that the Government were quite justified in taking from the Church all property which could be called national or Welsh; assuming that Wales ought to include Monmouthshire, and that a hard and fast line should be drawn at the year 1662 with regard to private benefactions,—then they asked the Government to treat the property not vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners on the same lines as that which was so vested. The Government excepted vested property situate in England simply because in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners they had a body of men in existence who were able to do the necessary book-keeping for them. They did not except non-vested property simply because they would have to invent a body to keep the accounts or to draw up rules for the purpose. The Government were the last men who could refrain from this duty on the ground that it was intricate and difficult. Years ago the right hon. Member for Midlothian pointed out that one of 1317 the great obstacles in the way of carrying out Disestablishment of the Church in Wales lay in the overwhelming difficulty attaching to the task of disentangling the endowments of the Church on one side of the border and on the other. That being so, it ought to be a point of honour with every hon. Member opposite not to shirk the difficulty.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, that the Government could not accept the Amendment. The historical and statistical inquiry as to the origin of these various endowments which would be involved would be an interminably complex process; and he could not agree that Parliament ought to exclude from the capital value of the property of the Church, as it would stand on the day of Disestablishment, sources of income, where so ever situate, which had been, in fact, regarded and treated as the property of the Church. The argument of hon. Members was really a repetition of that brought forward in connection with Queen Anne's Bounty. In that case it was true that if an account were taken going into the past and disentangling the various sources of revenue, it would be found that a larger proportion of the income of the Church was contributed by sources situated in England than by sources situated in Wales. But the Church of the two countries having been treated by the Queen Anne's Bounty Commissioners and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners as a single Church, no such distinction had ever been made. On the books of these Commissioners would be found certain properties and funds attributed to the Church in Wales which, if Disestablishment did not take place, would continue to be enjoyed by that Church. The Government were not bound to enter into questions which would never be entered into at all but for this apportionment proposed in the Bill. The principle of the Government was that, in ascertaining which portion of the property of the Church ought to be attributed to the Church in Wales, regard must be paid to the existing accounts of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, Queen Anne's Bounty Commissioners, and private benefactions. That which was not appropriated to the Welsh dioceses should be attributed to the Church in England.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER
said, that the Government had set up two principles. With regard to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners the Government paid regard to the geographical situation of the property; with regard to Queen Anne's Bounty they paid regard to the application of the property. In respect of private benefactions the former principle ought to be followed.
§ MR. W. R. BOUSFIELD (Hackney, N.)
said, that the Home Secretary's argument, derived from the fact that the Churches had been treated as one in the past, might be a good reason for not dividing them now. But it was not an argument, for those who were going to make a violent severance between the Churches, against going fully into the accounts. In the past funds, derived from English property had been freely devoted to the Church in Wales, and now, when ecclesiastical property was being appropriated to Welsh secular purposes, it could not be right to take advantage of the connection of the Welsh Church with the English Church to secularise the funds of the whole Church, which, upon the hypothesis of the right hon. Gentleman, had never been separately devoted to the Church in Wales.
§ MR. GEORGE WYNDHAM
said, that if the vested property of the Church in Wales exceeded the vested property derived from lands in Wales by £35,000 a year, there was no generosity in not diverting that £35,000 to secular purposes. It was money which came from England, and it would be monstrous, because a majority of Welsh people objected to Establishment and Endowment, to secularise the money derived from England, where a majority were not in favour of Disestablishment and Disendowment. The Home Secretary was inconsistent in declining to put upon the Ecclesiastical Commissioners the labour the Amendment would involve, seeing the research he had imposed upon them by the sub-sections of Clause 4, with reference to the income derived by them from property in Wales. Having thrown so much on the shoulders of the Commissioners, why should be not now grant the request made upon him with regard to property about which there was no dispute at all? A good case had been made out according to the Home Secretary's own position.
§ *SIR F. S. POWELL
said, that the effect of the adoption of the Amendment, instead of being to open accounts and produce discussion, would be to close accounts and prevent discussion. It would very much simplify arrangements. This Amendment was really one step towards the arrangement made in the Irish Act to prevent litigation with respect to private benefactions; and it was in harmony with the framework of the Bill with respect to property vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. It was just to the donor and fair to local inhabitants. He was satisfied the Bill as it stood would cause mischief which the Government themselves would earnestly deprecate.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, he would put the hypothetical case of a man contributing to the endowment of a church in Wales by means of a rent-charge on land in England, and he asked on what different footing did it rest from a similar amount derived from land situated in Wales devoted under similar circumstances to similar objects. The only difference was the locality of the piece of land on which the rent-charge was placed. It was true he had provided that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should hand over to the Welsh Commissioners only so much property as arose from estate in Wales; the rest consisted of payments made out of their common fund in aid of Welsh benefices. Here you were dealing with a case in which a donor specifically indicated by the terms of his gift that his land or money was to go to a Welsh benefice. The objection to the Bill would not be made if the motive were not to rescue the property from what were called secular uses.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said, the right hon. Gentleman had put the case of a Welshman providing a Welsh endowment from property in England, but suppose an Englishman endowed a church in England from property in Wales. Under the Bill that property, devoted to ecclesiastical purposes in England, but arising in Wales, was vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, to be handed over to the church in Wales, subject to the payments provided for in Clause 21. If that happened in the case of an Englishman who endowed 1320 an English church from property in Wales, the converse ought to happen in the case of a Welshman who from English property enriched a Welsh church.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, that the only effect of Clause 21 was to provide for a readjustment of charges. It was thought to be undesirable that where property in Wales was appropriated to English purposes, and property in England was appropriated to Welsh purposes, the properties should continue to be so applied; and the only effect of the Bill was to provide that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should make such a redistribution that the proceeds of the Welsh property should go to Wales and that of the English property to England.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, the common fund would be relieved of an enormous sum which it advanced to Wales.
§ MR. GRIFFITH BOSCAWEN
asked why did the Home Secretary not apply the principle of the 21st Clause to the 5th Clause, and be consistent all round? Sub-section 2 of the 9th Clause said:—In the application of property under the Act, due regard shall be had to the wants and circumstances of the parish in which the property is situated or from which it has been derived.If that were the case, the parish that ought to benefit under the Bill, supposing the property in England were to be regarded as private benefaction, was the ecclesiastical parish in which it was situated. It was ridiculous to hand over glebe, tithe, or real property in England for the benefit of a Welsh parish.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, it was clearly provided that, in the case of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, what was taken from England was given to Wales, and vice versa. By this Amendment it was proposed to deprive the Church in Wales of property situate in England without an equivalent at all.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
said that, if the Government would accept this Amendment, it would be only fair that whenever there was property in Wales appropriated to some benefice in England, the Parish Council should be allowed to make 1321 representations to the Welsh Commissioners, and have a transfer made. Unless the Home Secretary could draw a distinction between vested and non-vested property, he would not have an argumentative leg to stand on.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
said, the Home Secretary had thrown useful light on the operation of the 21st Clause, but had not entirely explained its effect financially. He himself had always understood that the bargain was, that, whereas the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were to hand over to Wales all ecclesiastical property in Wales vested in them, on the other hand the common fund was to be relieved of all the grants which at the present time were made to Wales. But the right hon. Gentleman had stated that, under the 21st Clause, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were also to receive property not vested in them—property in Wales vested in some ecclesiastical corporation in England. They were to take that property and hand it over, under the 4th Clause, to the Welsh Commissioners, and to pay the ecclesiastical corporation in England what it was entitled to out of the common fund of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Obviously that would make a much more considerable sum transferred to Wales than was contemplated in the financial statement (if he might so call it) by the right hon. Gentleman with reference to the effect of the Bill upon the Ecclesiastical Commission. He did not know what the amount might be, but there might be very considerable property to which Clause 21 might apply. They had had no estimate whatever of the amount of that property from the Government, and he thought before the clause was reached they should have some explanation from the Home Secretary of what its financial operation would be. He was bound to say that, having regard to what the Home Secretary had stated, he agreed with his hon. Friends behind him that it was only right—assuming this to be the plan of the Government—that property in England, of whatever nature it might be, which had been devoted by private donors to ecclesiastical purposes in Wales, should not be taken from the Church in Wales.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, that when they came to Clause 21 he would be able to show, in regard to earlier clauses, that 1322 what he stated on previous occasions was true—that the Church in England, as distinguished from the Church in Wales, would, as far as the operations of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were concerned, be an enormous gainer by this transaction.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
pointed out that Clause 21 did not deal with property at present owned by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, but property arising in one country and devoted to the other. He gathered from the Home Secretary that he was prepared to make a statement on Clause 21, when the Opposition would take care to give an opportunity of doing so.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 136; Noes 162.—(Division List No. 129.)
COLONEL LOCKWOOD moved to omit the following words—
and does not come within the description of a Church or ecclesiastical residence for which provision is otherwise made by this Act.
He moved this Amendment with the view of finding out exactly, if possible, what the right hon. Gentleman meant by this phrase. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would give the Committee some information on the subject. Would not the clause be equally effective if the words referred to in his Amendment were left out?
§ MR. ASQUITH
suggested that the Amendment should be withdrawn. The words proposed to be left out were inserted for the purpose of leaving open the question which would have to be discussed on Clause 7, namely, whether cathedrals and bishops' residences in Wales should be treated in the same way as other Church property in that country.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said, that he had placed upon the Paper an Amendment similar to that of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. He must confess that he could not quite follow the explanation that had just been given by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. He should like to hear from the right hon. Gentleman what was the precise use of these words. As regarded the ordinary Churches the words were entirely unnecessary, because the same thing was to be done with the private 1323 benefactions, namely, they were to be handed over to the representative body. These words therefore could only apply to the cathedrals and to episcopal ecclestical residences which had been provided since 1652, and which were to be treated differently from other property which had been acquired before that date. These words would either be unnecessary, because they applied to Churches which had been provided for in some other way, or they constituted a difference between private benefactions generally, and those which had been devoted to cathedrals and episcopal residences. If capitular residences, or a cathedral, had received pecuniary value since 1662 it ought to be exempt from the operation of the Bill, just as any other private benefactions. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had put these words in under a misconception, and had not taken into account what followed in Clause 6. The right hon. Gentleman was really making a great distinction between these cases and other private benefactions, and the effect would be that if benefactions had been devoted to the cathedral they were to be secularised, and if they had not they were not to be secularised.
§ MR. ASQUITH
thought the words were necessary, and did not in the least prejudge the question as to what was to be done with the cathedrals or the capitular residences. If the Committee decided to adopt the proposition in the Bill to hand over the cathedrals to the Commissioners to be held in trust for the Church, these words would be necessary. There was the cost of a cathedral, which existed long before 1662, which had been restored or embellished since that date.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, it certainly had occurred in Wales, and unless they adopted some rude method such as Solomon adopted with the child, they could not say that one part of a cathedral should belong to the Welsh Commissions and the other part to the representative body, they could not act as was proposed. It was quite obvious that they could not deal with buildings of that kind according to the manner in which it had, or had not been constructed.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said, there was a case of a capitular residence which had been wholly constructed since 1662.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, such cases would be dealt with under the clause. When that was the case they would make ample provision for it. This was really not a contentious point.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER
did not think his right hon. Friend opposite had given the best reason for the insertion of these words. If he intended that the Church Cathedrals, the ecclesiastical residences, should pass without any inquiry at all, then probably these words had better remain in.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
said, it was quite conceivable that ecclesiastical residences which were of an exceptionally expensive character to maintain might have been partly, and perhaps largely built by private contributions, and yet the Church body might not exercise their power to take over and maintain those residences because of their expensive character. In such cases they would be deprived of benefactions which were admittedly from private donors. He thought the right hon. Gentleman ought in common fairness to provide somewhere that in such a case the representative body should be entitled to receive as a private benefaction any money that could be proved to have been spent on the residence by private donors.
§ MR. ASQUITH
suggested that the proper way of dealing with such cases would be under Section 7. He admitted that a residence made since 1662 by a person out of his own private resources, whatever its worth, ought to go to the representative body.
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON
said, he had understood the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary to say that every cathedral or capitular or building built since 1862 would be exempt from the operation of the Act. He instanced the Palace of Llandaff as a case in point. He and his friends objected to the sweeping away of the voluntary contributions which had gathered round the cathedrals and capitular buildings since 1662, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would explain that this was not contemplated under the Bill.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, it was unnecessary to waste time by premature discussion. Full opportunity would be given 1325 on the next clause, and on Clause 7, for discussing the whole question of the cathedrals and other Church buildings. The only effect of the words objected to was to leave open the question for discussion, and they would not at all prejudice it in any way.
COLONEL LOCK WOOD
said, that under those circumstances he would ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
said, he moved to add the following words at the end of Section 7:—"And shall be held for, and applied to, the same purposes as those to which it was applied at the passing of this Act." So far as he had been able to gather, this Bill did not follow the precedent of the Irish Church Act. The right hon. Gentleman proposed to recognise private benefactions, and they knew what the interpretation of private benefactions should be, because since a certain date they had been given by individuals, or by subscription, or whatever it might be, for the benefit of the Church in certain parishes and localities. This clause recognised the validity of those benefactions and would retain them; but, instead of handing them over to the locality, vested them in the Church body without any trust for the benefit of the locality to which they certainly belonged. What he desired, by proposing the words he had submitted, was, to ascertain from Her Majesty's Government their intentions with respect to this point. He did not see how it could be considered fair to the localities that benefactions given to them, either by way of building, or endowment, or towards the living of any particular parish, should be handed over to the Church body to be applied possibly by that body to the benefit of some parish or another at the other end of Wales. He could not imagine that that could be the object of the Government, and he had moved the insertion of the words he had read in order to hear what were the intentions of the Government on the point.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, he did not in any way quarrel with the Amendment of the right hon. Baronet. The only reason why the Government had made no proposal of the kind was that they 1326 thought the matter might well be left to the representative Church body to deal with. It could scarcely be believed that the Church body would divert those benefactions from the purposes to which they had hitherto been applied. If the right hon. Baronet thought it desirable that they should create under statute a trust to ensure that this property should continue to be applied as at present, he had no objection, and he would assent to the Amendment.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
said, he had drawn up the words hastily, simply in order to raise the point. As the right hon. Gentleman had accepted the principle of his proposal, he thought it might be better that he should withdraw the words in order that an Amendment might be submitted hereafter in a more technical shape. He wished to leave reasonable freedom to the Church body consistently with the legal interests concerned. Having elicited from the Home Secretary the statement which the Committee had just heard, he would prefer to withdraw the present Amendment in order that the words should be carefully considered.
§ MR. ASQUITH
thought that a very reasonable course, because he thought that when they came to Clause 22 it would be desirable to have the clause drawn up in apt words providing that there should be a general regard for the representative body.
§ *MR. TOMLINSON
pointed out that the representative body would have a certain amount of property vested in its hands, and objected to the object of the Amendment being described as protecting individual interests from the vagaries of the Church body.
§ Amendment by leave withdrawn.
The next Amendment upon the Paper standing in the name of Mr. BOUSFIELD, was as follows:—
Clause 5, page 3, line 10, at end, insert:
'(2) Where, in the case of any such property given since the year One thousand seven hundred and three, the source from which such property was derived is unknown, it shall be presumed to have been given by a private person out of his own resources.'
§ MR. BOUSFIELD
, in rising to propose his Amendment, remarked that if the Government were dealing with one 1327 class of cases, they would assume that the money came from public sources. If, on the other hand, they were desirous of treating the Disestablishment of the Church with a certain amount of generosity in these cases, then they said that they would be willing to make a presumption that in such cases where the origin of the fund could not be traced, it should be assumed that the fund had come from private sources. After what the Home Secretary had said he had some reason to suppose that the Government would accept the Amendment. One or two alterations would be required in the wording of his Amendment since it was put down. The year 1662 would have to be inserted instead of 1703. Then, also, the Government had accepted another Amendment. In addition to the property transferred which had been given from property derived from private sources, they now had money which had been raised by private subscriptions, The new sub-section which he now moved would, therefore, run as follows:—(2) Where, in the case of any such property given, or money raised since the year 1662, the source from which such property or money was derived is unknown, it shall be deemed to be a private benefaction within the meaning of this Act.This would, he thought, meet the changes which had been made or contemplated in the section.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir F. LOCKWOOD, York)
said, that he had reason to know that his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary was willing to entertain favourably the Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend as it originally appeared upon the Paper. But his hon. and learned Friend had made not only considerable additions to his Amendment, but also a very important alteration in the terms in which that Amendment was originally drawn. It appeared to him that the Amendment was almost unnecessary, but he was willing to admit that as the Committee had altered the date, there was really more necessity for the Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend than there was before the Amendment in the date was accepted by the Government and passed by the Committee. He would suggest something of this kind:—that it shall be deemed to have been given by a private person out of his private resources, or raised by voluntary subscription.1328 He did not know what was meant by the word "deemed." The word "presumption" was one which all lawyers ought to understand, but he did not appreciate the meaning or legal significance of the word "deemed."
§ MR. BOUSFIELD
said, that he had used language which had been employed by the Government and already passed in Section 5.
§ THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL
replied that the word used by his hon. and learned Friend was used in a different sense from that in which it was used in the particular section referred to. He thought his hon. and learned Friend would achieve his end better by words setting forth that in cases where there was any doubt as to the origin of the gift or of the sum raised by voluntary subscription, the legal presumption should be that the gift was made on the voluntary subscription raised after 1662.
§ MR. BOUSFIELD
hoped he was not out of Order in saying that he submitted two alternative forms to the Home Secretary, the one being that which the Solicitor General had just suggested, and the other the form in which he had himself moved it. Both alternatives occurred to him, and it was a matter of indifference which form might be adopted. It was not so much a question of construction by a court of law as of working directions to the Welsh Commissioners.
§ SIR EDWARD CLARKE (Plymouth)
submitted that it would be well to follow as far as possible the wording of the Bill itself. Now, the expression "deemed to be" occurred in the first sub-section of the present clause, and also in the 33rd clause, which was the Interpretation Clause, and, therefore, he hoped it would be allowed to pass. The phrase "deemed to be" was familiar in legal phraseology and more familiar than "presumed to be."
§ THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL
said, it appeared to him that the word "presumed" was used in the technical sense of the legal presumption which would arise on certain conditions. But the object which they all wanted to ensure was the same, and, therefore, on behalf of the Government, he was prepared to accept the words as his hon. and learned Friend read them.
§ Amendment agreed to.1329
The following consequential Amendments standing in the name of Mr. ASQUITH were agreed to:—
Clause 5, page 3, line 11, after 'The,' insert 'Ecclesiastical Commissioners and Queen Anne's Bounty, as respects any property transferred from them respectively, and the.'
Clause 5, page 3, line 11, after 'Commissioners,' insert 'as respects any other property transferred to them by this Act.'
Clause 5, page 3, line 12, leave out 'transferred to them by this Act.'
Clause 5, page 3, line 14, after 'and, insert 'the Welsh Commissioners.'
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, the substance of the next Amendment, subject to certain questions which were raised by Amendments on the Paper, would probably be assented to. It provided the machinery by which the orders to be made by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should be made effective. He begged to move:—Clause 5, page 3, line 16, at end, add,—'(3) Every order of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and Queen Anne's Bounty under this section shall be made with the concurrence of the Welsh Commissioners, and every such order of the Welsh Commissioners under this section as relates to a benefice with respect to which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners or Queen Anne's Bounty have sent to the Welsh Commissioners full particulars of any private benefaction made thereto through them, shall be made with the concurrence of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners or Queen Anne's Bounty as the case requires.' (4) 'if any concurrence required by this section to any order is not given, the order shall be made with the approval of Her Majesty the Queen in Council given on the advice of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.'
§ MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.) moved to amend the Amendment by leaving out the word "such" in line 3. His object was to raise the point that the Welsh Commissioners should not be the one authority to decide under this clause what were private benefactions, but that the concurrence of a body like the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should be required on behalf of the Church before the question was determined. The Home Secretary had met his view to this extent, that where the property was actually transferred from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners then they would have a voice in the matter. But there would be a great deal of other property which was now in the hands of individual Corporations, and it would be in the absolute discretion of the Welsh Commissioners to say 1330 whether it consisted of private benefactions or not. He thought that just, as Clause 4 required the concurrence of the Welsh Commissioners to orders made by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners under that clause; so here it would be only fair and right to require the concurrence of the body representing the Established Church in an order under the present section.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, his hon. Friend would see that the Amendment was really unnecessary. Section 12 allowed an appeal to the Queen in Council against any decision of the Welsh Commissioners with respect to any question as to what constituted a private benefaction. Therefore the Welsh Commissioners had not absolute discretion to determine whether or not a benefaction should be deemed private; and he did not think it would be desirable to bring in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners or Queen Anne's Bounty. They would demur to having cast upon them the duty of expressing concurrence in a matter in which they had no special knowledge, and which might involve them in an expensive and troublesome inquiry. It would be more convenient that the concurrence of these two bodies should only be required when they themselves had some proprietary or other interest in the question.
§ MR. H. HOBHOUSE
said, he should have thought that to put every person aggrieved to the expense and trouble of appearing before the Privy Council might be to inflict very considerable hardship. He would not, however, press his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN moved in line 6 of the proposed Amendment to omit the words "through them." The practice of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and of Queen Anne's Bounty was to make a contribution on condition that a sum was raised from other sources, and that sum was, of course, a private benefaction. The object of the Amendment, he understood, was—that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners or Queen Anne's Bounty might make a declaration that that sum was a private benefaction, and he wanted to know why the words "through them" were necessary.1331
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, it was only in cases where a benefaction, not from their own funds, passed through their hands that the concurrence of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners or Queen Anne's Bounty would be required, because it was only in respect of these grants that they would have any knowledge as to the date on which they were made, and as to the sources from which they came.
§ Amendment to Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. ASQUITH'S Amendment agreed to.
MR. ASQUITH moved—
(5) Where part only of any glebe is a private benefaction within the meaning of this Act, the glebe shall either—
(6) Where a part only of any tithe rent-charge is a private benefaction within the meaning of this Act, the whole of that tithe rent-charge shall be retained by the Welsh Commissioners subject to the payment by them to the representative body either of an annual or a capital sum, as the Welsh Commissioners determine in respect of the value of such part of the tithe rent-charge as is a private benefaction.
(7) The Welsh Commissioners and the representative body may make and give effect to agreements for carrying into effect the provisions of this section respecting the division, vesting, and retention of glebe or tithe rent-charge of which part only is a private benefaction and the payment in respect thereof, and in default of agreement in any case the question shall be determined by arbitration.
§ MR.GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN moved to insert in line 13, after "shall," "at the option of the representative body" He said that glebe often surrounded the parsonage house, and argued that the clergyman who lived in that house ought to have the right through the representative body of saying whether he wished the glebe to be divided, or reserved, or parted with.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, that this question could not of course be raised until after the existing interest had expired. He could not accept the Amendment. The effect of it would be this. Take the 1332 case of a glebe, 99 per cent. of which was an ancient endowment, and 1 per cent. had been added since 1662. The whole of the glebe would be vested in the representative body, and the Welsh Commissioners would have to take in payment or in rent-charge an equivalent for their share. This would be an undesirable state of things. It was clearly better to leave the arbitrator to say which of the two competing bodies had the preponderant interest or whether there were any local circumstances which suggested a different solution. It was better to rely on the good sense and judgment of the arbitrator to have full regard to the special circumstances which the hon. Member had indicated to do justice between the parties; and thus he preferred to leave the provisions in the elastic form in which it appeared in the clause.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
asked the right hon. Gentleman to consider the case of a glebe, part of which was ascertained by an impartial tribunal to be a private benefaction within the meaning of the clause; and, therefore, belonged to the representative body of the Church. Why should there be any arbitration in the matter? Why should not the representative body be given the power to purchase at a fair price if they chose the rest of the glebe as well as the portion to which it was entitled under this clause? It might be a matter of the greatest importance with reference to the position of the incumbent in the living. All that was given to the representative body by adopting this Amendment would be the chance of making the parsonage and its surroundings more agreeable to the incumbent and more convenient as a place of residence in future. Surely that was a small concession to ask.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, the Government had to consider not only the representative body, but the interests of the Welsh Commissioners, or rather the interests of the parish. It might be most important to the parish that the glebe should be used for the purposes contemplated by the Bill. The effect of the Amendment would be to allow the representative body if it so chose, by virtue of the possession of a single rood of a large glebe, to withhold the whole of the glebe altogether from the enjoyment of 1333 the parish, and on the payment of a sum of money to retain it for the purposes of the representative body. This was very undesirable, and in the interests of the parish and the Welsh Commissioners he did not think that the option ought to be with the representative body any more than with the other authority. He thought it was better to leave a question of that kind to arbitration.
§ MR. J. GRANT LAWSON
pointed out that the representative body in these arbitration schemes would at least have to pay a large share of the cost, and as far as he could see the whole scheme of the Bill was one to endow the legal profession at the expense of the ecclesiastical. There was one other point which appeared to be overlooked, and that was that this glebe at present belonged to one of the parties, and all that was asked was that they should be allowed to say whether they preferred to retain it, and pay ransom for it, or give it up. It appeared to him that this was an exceedingly reasonable Amendment.
§ *MR. E. W. BYRNE (Essex, Walthamstow)
said, that in the clause as it stood there was no guide given to the arbitrators. That was not common or usual in arbitration. There was generally a guide given to the arbitrator as to who primâ facie had the choice, and therefore he would ask the Home Secretary to reconsider the Amendment. On the one hand, there were the parties who were to take a property which they had never held before—and in 999 cases out of a 1,000 it would be better for them to take the money than to have the land; and, on the other hand, in a very large number of cases, it would be important for those who had the land to have the option of retaining for a number of various reasons. He put it to the Home Secretary whether it was not reasonable to say—You, who have hitherto held the land, shall have the right to say whether you will retain the land or whether you like to give up the primâ facie right and take the price.
§ MR. PENROSE FITZGERALD
ventured again to call attention to what happened in the case of the Irish Church. The representative body were allowed to purchase all the glebe lands, and they did so purchase them. What happened after that? In cases in which two parishes had to be united, the representative body had to sell what glebes they did not 1334 require, and they would again come into the open market. In the case of the Church of Ireland, the sitting tenant, the rector, and the representative body, had the right to be the purchasers of every acre of glebe, and for the life of him he could not see why the same measure should not be meted out to the Church in Wales. If the land was not wanted for church purposes it would come into the open market, and could be purchased by the county or district council. This concession to the Church in Ireland gave her a fair start.
§ MR. VICARY GIBBS
urged on the Home Secretary that this was not a matter on which any section of his supporters had any strong feeling. All that was asked was that the owner should have the choice and not somebody else, and surely to every reasonable mind that was a fair proposition. If the Home Secretary would not accept the Amendment, would he not deal with the question raised by his hon. and learned friend beside him, and indicate what was to govern the arbitrator if the unnecessary cost of arbitration had to be incurred owing to the action of the Government? He would also urge the Home Secretary to concede that if the larger portion of the glebe arose from private benefactions, then the owner should have the option.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, he was quite willing to accept an Amendment, in the sense that where the larger portion of the glebe was private benefaction, the representative body should have the option, if that would meet the view of hon. Gentlemen opposite. He thought perhaps they might arrange a compromise with these words.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER
appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to go a little further. They had not, he ventured to say, been unreasonable in the manner they had brought forward their Amendments, and had not discussed any points that had been previously debated. Why should the Welsh Commissioners be entitled to dictate or ask the arbitrators to say that a man should not be left with the property when he was willing to pay the full value of it? There was no principle involved in this. If he thought he was asking the right hon. Gentleman to infringe any of the fundamental principles of the Bill, he should have no hope of his appeal being successful, but he 1335 was not asking for any infringement of the fundamental principles of the Bill. Surely, a person who was being deprived of property ought not also to be deprived of the right of saying, in the case in which it was taken from him, whether he would buy it back at its full value, or whether, where it was not so taken from him, he would have the money instead of being left with the property. Surely it was a reasonable thing to ask that this option should be given.
§ MR. ASQUITH
did not care to keep up a controversy of this kind on a comparatively small point, and he would consent to accept this Amendment. In doing so, however, he must make one or two conditions. He observed a similar Amendment also in the name of the hon. Member for the Tunbridge Division, lower down on the Paper, dealing with the tithe rent-charge. He did not desire, nor would it be in order from him, to discuss that subsequent Amendment now, but he thought it was perfectly clear that it was most undesirable, in the interest of all the parties concerned, that the Representative Body should be be in the position of tithe-owner and tithe collector. They could not be injured pecuniarily by the tithe rent-charge being invested in the Commissioners, and, therefore, if the hon. Gentleman would withdraw that subsequent Amendment he would, on this question, accept the Amendment under discussion.
§ MR. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
intimated that he would not, under these circumstances, move his subsequent Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.
SIR RICHARD WEBSTER moved the following Amendment, which, he explained, was necessary in order to make the meaning of the Amendment perfectly clear:—
Line 17, after 'glebe,' insert 'subject to any life interest preserved by this Act.'
The Amendment was accepted, as was the following, also Moved by Sir R. Webster:—
Line 24, leave out 'Welsh Commissioners,' and insert 'Representative Body.'
§ MR. ASQUITH'S Amendment, as amended, was then formally put from the Chair and agreed to.1336
§ On the Motion that Clause 5, as amended, stand part of the Bill,
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said, he did not think anybody could say otherwise than that the clause had been discussed in a businesslike spirit. There was, however, one aspect of the clause to which he desired to direct attention. The Home Secretary had agreed to exempt Private benefactions from the operation of the Bill, not to the extent to which they ought to be exempted, but at least to some extent. Under the scheme of the clause, as amended, all private benefactions since 1662, with the exception of Queen Anne's Bounty, were exempted. He contended that the refusal to include Queen Anne's Bounty in the exemption constituted a breach of faith on the part of Parliament towards private benefactors, because a large number of private benefactions for Church objects were made to meet an equal sum from Queen Anne's Bounty for the same objects, and would never have been made at all were it not for the grants from the Bounty. He personally had some little experience in the matter. It happened that not very long ago he was engaged in a scheme for cutting a large parish in England into two smaller parishes. A generous private donor having come forward with a certain sum of money in aid of the endowment of the parishes, a similar grant was given for the same purpose from Queen Anne's Bounty. That money would not have been given by the private donor only he knew that a like advance would be made from Queen Anne's Bounty. There were thousands of cases of the same kind, and the refusal to exempt Queen Anne's Bounty from the Bill was in every one of these cases a distinct breach of faith on the part of Parliament towards the private benefactors, who gave their money in consideration of the grants from Queen Anne's Bounty. He thought the clause showed, more than any other clause, the logical and argumentative difficulties in which the Government had placed themselves by the Bill. He did not suppose any of his hon. Friends desired to take a Division upon the clause, and therefore he did not propose to challenge one, though he very much regretted the Home Secretary had not seen his way to go further and take a more generous view of private benefactions.
§ MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY
said, he was anxious to give the reasons why he thought the clause ought not to pass without a Division. This was the first time in the history of Parliament when it was proposed by a clear enactment to devote private benefactions for religious purposes to other purposes. The Home Secretary had given way in several directions; he now seemed impressed that the was robbery greater than he at first imagined. This proposal constituted an entirely new departure. Tithes rested on a different footing, and this clause did not affect tithes; it really affected private benefactions, many of which had been given by deed, and given absolutely and definitely for religious purposes. Parliament was now for the first time setting aside these benefactions to secular purposes. It seemed to him the opponents were obliged to protest against the act of spoliation which was involved in the clause, and therefore he hoped his hon. Friends would divide against the clause.
§ *MR. TOMLINSON
thought they ought to make a final protest against the misappropriation of funds which, during successive centuries, had been set aside by Parliament to the purposes of the Church.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
said that he entirely agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Islington in protesting against the idea that any endowments given to the Church by private persons should be appropriated by the State for secular purposes, at whatever date those endowments were given. But he suggested to his hon. Friend that the clause which committed this iniquity was Clause 3, and that the present clause, as far as it went, was in mitigation of the evil of Clause 3. The Opposition had endeavoured to extend the mitigating effects of the clause, and had failed, but by a majority so small that he hoped the proposal might be raised again at another stage with greater success. He hoped his hon. Friend would not divide the Committee against the clause. If it were struck out he did not know what would happen to the Bill or to the Government, but it would make the Bill infinitely worse from the Opposition's point of view. The Committee had made considerable progress with the Bill during the evening; Clause 6 entered upon new ground, and he hoped the 1338 Government would not ask the Committee to proceed with the Bill at that sitting.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Committee, report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.