MR. LLOYD MORGAN (Carmarthenshire, W.)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether it is the fact that the Bishop of London has, as alleged in the preamble of the St. Marylebone Churches Bill, consented to the provi- 304 sions of the Bill; and, if so, when was that assent signified; whether the Bishop consulted him, as representing the Crown, before giving his consent; and whether he will state whether any correspondence has passed between him and the Bishop; if so, whether he will lay the same upon the Table of the House before the Bill is further proceeded with?
MR. BRYNMOR JONES (Swansea District)
At the same time may I ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he will state what are the rights of patronage vested in him as First Lord of the Treasury in regard to any and what churches in the parish of St. Marylebone; when did he, as alleged in the preamble to the St. Marylebone Churches Bill [H.L.], signify his consent on behalf of the Crown to the provisions of the Bill; and whether any communications have passed between him, as representing Her Majesty, the patron, and the Vestry of St. Marylebone, on the subject; and, if that be the case, whether he can lay the communications upon the Table of the House before the Bill is further proceeded with?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
The Crown is patron of the parish church and four district churches and St. John's Chapel. On behalf of the Crown I assented to the proposals of the Bill last autumn. I signed the Bill in its present form last month. The vestry have from time to time supplied me with copies of their proceedings and with the Resolution agreeing to the Bill. These proceedings have been published in the local newspapers. The Bishop of London also has approved the Bill, and has been in communication with me from the beginning of the negotiations, although there is no formal correspondence which could be laid on the Table of the House. I believe the Bishop signed the Bill in its present form about the same time as I did.
§ SIR J. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
I wish to ask the right honourable Gentleman a Question, of which I have given him private notice—I could not give him a longer one—namely, whether, when he signified his assent to the provisions of the Bill, he had been 305 informed of the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of the "Queen v. the Vestry of St. Marylebone"?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
As the honourable Gentleman indicated, I only got notice of this Question just before question time, but I have communicated with the Attorney General, who was, I believe, in this case, and he informs me that to the best of his recollection that case has no bearing on the present controversy. But if the honourable Gentleman will put a question on the Paper my honourable and learned Friend will answer him to-morrow or next day.
§ SIR J. BRUNNER
Under the circumstances, to-morrow is the only day on which I can put the Question with any valuable effect.
SIR R. WEBSTER
I shall be glad to communicate with the honourable Member. I do not know whether it is possible for me to be here at Question time to-morrow, but I will give him every information and satisfy him, I think, that the case he mentions has no bearing on this Bill.
MR. BRYNMOR JONES
May I, as a point of order, ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether, having regard to the fact that this Bill deals with a metropolitan parish, that it proposes to confer borrowing powers on a metropolitan local authority, that it affects Crown rights of patronage purchased for £40,000, and provides an addition to the funds and duties of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, it ought not to have been introduced as a public and not as a private Bill?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The honourable Member has been good enough to send me a copy of his Question. This Bill is one which creates a new scheme dealing with churches built and endowed under private Acts a good many years ago, and this being so, unless very strong reasons exist for taking another course, such a scheme should be dealt with by private Bill. I can find nothing in the reasons suggested by the honourable Member to alter that view. The fact that the Bill relates to churches in a metropolitan parish does not affect the Question, a 306 metropolitan parish being exactly in this respect in the same position as any other parish in the country. With regard to borrowing powers, the honourable Member must be aware that very much larger powers are often given by private Bills. As regards the fact that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners are concerned with the Bill, and that Crown patronage is interfered with, these matters are not incompatible with a private Bill. Therefore, I think the Bill is quite in order. I may add that the proper time to have made this objection was before the Bill was read a second time.