HC Deb 09 June 1899 vol 72 cc772-3
MR. HEDDERWICK (Wick Burghs)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether his attention has been drawn to a complaint that the Episcopalian chaplains attached to the Army in India object to Presbyterian services being conducted in the churches provided by Government for Her Majesty's troops, and that in consequence Scottish Presbyterian soldiers are compelled to worship in riding schools, theatres, and other even more unsuitable places; whether there is any foundation in fact for this complaint; and, if so, upon what grounds the exclusion of Presbyterian soldiers from the use of churches provided by Government for the purpose of worship is defended; and whether he has taken, or means to take, any steps to remove the grievance complained of.


For some time past I have been in communication with the officials of the Scotch Church with a view of facilitating the use of existing building for divine service by Presbyterians in India. In consequence of representations which reached the Government of India, certain changes were made about a year ago in the rides which govern the use of Government churches. The tendency of those changes was to facilitate the use of such churches by denominations other than the Church of England. Since then, as I stated in this House on May 9, the only changes made in these rules have been (1) to define more accurately the religious bodies who may hold services in these churches, Presbyterians being expressly included; and (2) to make the final appeal, in ease of difficulty, lie to the Metropolitan, whereas up to last summer the final decision lay with the Bishop of the diocese. No cases of difficulty or hardship under the new rules have as yet been reported to me, nor am I at present aware of any reason for taking action in the matter.