§ MR. BILLSON (Halifax)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture if he can state the number of the clergy who will benefit by the provisions of the proposed Tithe Rent-charge (Rates) Bill.
§ SIR H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentle-man if he can supply the House with a statement, or if he proposes to explain in his speech on the Second Reading, how he arrives at the figures £87,000.
I do not propose to make a statement in moving the Second Read 592 ing, but I have no doubt that in the course of the Debate I shall be able to justify the figure of £87,000. If necessary, I will consider whether it is possible to give it before.
§ MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Nottinghamshire, Mansfield)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture whether, under Sub-section (2) of Clause 2 of the Tithe Rent-charge (Rates) Bill, the clergy of the City of London and other parts of the metropolis, and elsewhere, whose receipts from payments in lieu of tithes have suffered no abatement as a result of agricultural depression, will be relieved from the payment of half their rates.
The Bill is not based upon the fact that the value of tithe rent-charge has been diminished by reason of agricultural depression, but upon the excessive burdens which clerical owners are called upon to bear as compared with other classes of ratepayers. It therefore applies to all payments in lieu of tithes, whether such payments vary with the price of agricultural produce or not; but the Bill has, of course, no application where the payments are not rateable, as is very frequently, if not usually, the case in the instances to which the hon. Member more especially refers.