HC Deb 25 April 1899 vol 70 cc530-2
MR. LOYD (Berks, Abingdon)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether his attention has been called to the fact that the opposition of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and. other Members of both Houses (on behalf of the tithe-owning clergy) to the Poor Rate Exemption Act, 1840, was withdrawn on the express undertaking of the Government of that day that the duration of that Act should be for one year only, and that the injustice of allowing clerical tithe owners to remain subject to rating under the statute 43 Eliz. c. 2, while exempting all other inhabitants from liability thereunder in respect of profits arising within the parish, should be remedied in the following Session; and whether, seeing that the Act of 1840 has notwithstanding been annually renewed, and that numerous other rates have been imposed on clerical incomes for purposes from which they derive no benefit, the Government will undertake that the Poor Rate Exemption Act, 1840, shall not be included in the Schedule of the Expiring Laws Continuance Act of this year unless, in the meantime, the condition upon which its passing was obtained has been fulfilled by the passing of a Government Bill to remove or mitigate the injustice to which the tithe-owning clergy are subjected under the present rating laws?


I am not sure that my honourable Friend's narrative is an accurate one. I rather think he has been misled in some particulars, for the Act of 1840 was brought in in order to make it possible to co11ect the rates, and the grievance alleged to attach to this Act was a. grievance dealing with the question of the proper burden as between realty and personalty, and not specially in connection with tithe rent-charge. If we were to adopt the course suggested, and not renew the Act of 1840, the result, I am informed, would be that no rates could be collected throughout the country—a result which would be impossible. The whole matter, however, is, as my honourable Friend knows, under the consideration of the Government, and though we do not propose this particular remedy, it is by no means to be implied that we have no remedy to propose.


Will the right honourable Gentleman say that the Expiring Laws. Continuance Bill shall be brought in at an earlier period than usual this Session so as to give an opportunity of discussing this very important question of tithe rating?


No, Sir; I should deprecate making the Expiring Laws Continuance Act an open battlefield for controversy upon the various Acts included in its schedule.