HC Deb 18 June 1900 vol 84 cc370-87


Order for Third Reading Read.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."

SIR CHARLES CAMERON (Glasgow, Bridgeton)

, who was very indistinctly heard in the Reporters' Gallery, was understood to explain that the object of the motion standing on the Paper in his name was to remove a very great defect in the Bill, and to make the measure a real and substantial advance in regard to the remedying of a grievance which had been recognised in the assessment of ecclesiastical buildings in Scotland. During the discussion at the Second Reading stage it was shown that the Bill was as badly drafted as could possibly be conceived, but the measure was read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee. That Standing Committee sat for only a single day, and was very sparsely attended. Although the Bill required certain amendments in matters of detail in order to explain what it really meant, and although various Amendments were moved by supporters of the Government with the object of making the measure more clear, the Lord Advocate, acting upon a very obvious system of Parliamentary tactics, refused to amend a single word of the Bill, the measure being reported without amendment to the House, thus escaping a discussion on Report. The hon. Member disclaimed any attempt to recommit the Bill for the purpose of making minor or verbal Amendments, but he desired its recommittal for the insertion of an Amendment which would have the effect of making the new power proposed in the Bill a reality instead of a wham. He was not alone in this desire, as no fewer than four Members of the Standing Committee, three of whom were supporters of the Government, had Amendments to the same effect before the Committee, but on a division were defeated, although of the Scotch Members present there were a majority in favour of the alteration. The clause he desired to have inserted was really the handiwork of the hon. Member for Glasgow University, who brought this Bill in many years ago as embodying the wish of; the Church of Scotland in the matter, and the Bill then contained this very clause word for word. He therefore hoped to have the hon. Member's sup- port to the proposal that the Bill be re- committed in respect of a new clause, which motion he now begged to move.

MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid)

I rise for the purpose of seconding the motion. Although I am one of those who vote in favour of the disestablishment and disendowment of the Church of Scot- land, yet I am one of those who are always prepared favourably to consider any proposal for the removal of any real grievance of the Church so long as that State connection exists. With regard to this Bill, I am surprised that the Church has brought in a Bill which introduces a principle entirely antagonistic to the principle of justice for which the Church has all along contended. In the first place, it has been strongly objected to that the feuars should be called upon to pay any part whatever of the expense of providing church accommodation and of the manse for the clergyman. I cannot conceive any reason of principle why these feuars of £50 a year should be exempted from the obligation attaching to the land of paying their proportion for the church accommodation in the parish. The parish church has to be erected for the accommodation of the parishioners whoever they may be, and if the population increases owing to the building of parishioners in the parish the parish church has to be correspondingly enlarged. The parish churches in Scotland have to be made sufficient in size to accommodate the parishioners without regard to dissent in the parish. Therefore, when you are dealing with the building of a parish church, you are dealing with a church which the law prescribes should be built in every parish for the accommodation of every parishioner in that parish. Obviously, therefore, what can be more just and reasonable, when the population of a parish increases, than that those persons for whose benefit public accommodation is required to be provided should bear their proportionate share of the cost of providing that accommodation? It is no argument to say that the feuars do not use the accommodation. If a public park is provided, it is no answer to say, "I do not go to the public park, and therefore should not be assessed." The park is provided for you whether you use it or not. In the same way, the parish church, be it right or be it wrong, is provided for you whether you go or not. This burden is one of the obliga- tions on the land, and it is a just burden so long as we recognise the present system of State establishment and the obligation of the State to provide accommodation in the parish church whether the parishioners attend or not. That being so, why is this Bill brought in? It is not because the present law is unjust in principle. The law is perfectly just in principle, assuming the State connection to exist. The Bill is brought in because a great grievance has been alleged on the part of dissenters. They say, "We are providing church accommodation for ourselves, and why should we have to help provide for the parish church?" The same answer could be made by a man who sends his children to a private school. Why should he pay rates for the public schools? The reply to that argument is simply "There is the church and there is the accommodation provided for you. If you do not make use of that accommodation, or if you provide for private worship for yourselves, that is a matter for your own concern." The moment you deviate from that principle you get into difficulty so far as the Church is concerned. If it is not just that the dissenter should provide his fair share of the accommodation in the parish church, it is equally not just that he should have to pay any part of the minister's stipend in respect of the public worship in that church. Once you deviate from a principle of this kind you cannot stop. The Government have always maintained the justice of the principle of this assessment, and until you are able to deal with the subject comprehensively, and abolish the rate altogether, levying the burden of providing parish church accommodation in some other way, it would be much better to leave the incidence of taxation as it stands at present. What is the principle here as regards the first clause of the Bill? As the law stands at present the valuation is made upon the real rent. But there is an old valuation which has been in operation in some parishes which the House of Lords has decided not to be legally enforcible. According to a decision of the House of Lords about eighty years ago, the assessment must be based upon the real rent of the parish. The result is that every man will pay according to the valuation of his house, according to whatever is his value in the parish. That is the present law. At one time there was an old valuation in the parish; that is to say, 200 or 300 years ago the proprietor of land in a parish got his valuation fixed. But obviously such a valuation has no relation to the existing value of his land. Suppose since then minerals have been found in the land. A man who stands perhaps at a valuation of £300 a year may at present be drawing a revenue of £60,000 a year from that land, and yet be assessed at only the valued rent as it was made 200 or 300 years ago, and which has no relation whatever to the existing value. The result of this proposal will be that the men with the large incomes in the parish will be paying very small sums. That will be the effect of this provision in many parishes. No hon. Member would dare to propose in this House to make the old valuation compulsory. I do not believe the Lord Advocate would bring in such a measure, and if he did I do not think a single hon. Member on the opposite side would support him. This Parliament would never declare that it would take as the basis of an assessment the valuation fixed 200 or 300 years ago. The proposal of this Bill is that two-thirds in value may impose upon the other one-third this most unjust valuation. It is unjust that any majority should have it in their power to enforce upon a minority a system of valuation which neither this House nor any Parliament in the world would ever think of imposing. In every instance where you attempt to carry out this clause you will be creating an absolute injustice, because you are giving a majority the power to do that which this House would not itself authorise to be done. With regard to the rent, a statement is to be made about the amount that has to be paid, and the man who is exempted according to this section is not to be allowed to vote in any proceedings connected with the Church. How will you be in a position to ascertain the cost until you have had a meeting to vote upon the plans? This is where the Amendment comes in with great force. The men may be disfranchised at the last moment, but in the meantime how are you to know whether they will be contributors or not unless you have some obligation and guarantee that the money is to be forthcoming? You cannot exclude men from any participation in the voting on the plans, when it will not be known until the very end whether the Kirk Session is to pay this money or not. Look at the position the Church would be placed in. If you have one parish where the money is not contributed by a Kirk Session, there you have a distinct grievance which would be felt us a statutory grievance, because although it is optional for the Kirk Session in the Bill to subscribe the money, yet it is a fair indication of the mind of Parliament that it is the duty of the Kirk Session to find the money, and if one Session does not find the money you create the grounds for an uproar in that parish. Is it not in the interests of the Church, if we are to acknowledge the principle of the Kirk Session contributing any share, that it should be fixed definitely, so that the money provided under the clause in every parish will be put on the same footing, and the possibility will not arise in future of one parish having a Kirk Session which pays, and another which does not pay, with the result that this grievance is ten times worse than under the existing state of the law? The amount is said to be £50. What reason is there for drawing the line at £50, and why should it not be £60 or £100? It is also provided that there shall be no assessment upon the buildings of any religious body. That system has gone on for many years, and there is a good deal of reason for maintaining it. If you have a church belonging to a dissenting body it can be sold to-morrow. The burden is attached to that church of paying its share for the taxation of the parish, and there is nothing wrong in principle in a matter of that kind. But it is different when dealing with the case of the parish church itself, because that church is in the same position as the poor - house. You do not assess the poor-house for Poor Law purposes, because it is the institution which is being supported. You do not charge the paupers with poor rates because they are paupers, and a parish church is in quite a different position from the dissenting church, because it is the object and not the subject of taxation. In the case of dissenting churches it is private property, which may increase in value and which may be sold. On the question of principle I do not see any reason for this exemption. I admit it is done for the purpose of endeavouring to remove a grievance, but when you deviate from a principle in removing a grievance you will find that you land yourself into worse confusion. The moment you deviate from the principle you are carried away to any extent, and I think it is a pity that the Church, if they intend to deal with this question, should not have dealt with it in the more modified degree mentioned by my hon. friend, and which is the object of this Amendment. The payment of this money should be made compulsory on the part of the Kirk Session. If you did that you would have a good reason for excluding people from participation in the voting. I do not see how it is possible without this new clause to go on excluding in this way. I think the Church, in its own interest, has not been well advised in raising this question in this perfunctory manner. The dissenting churches of Scotland not only provide their own churches and manses, but they provide about £1,500,000 a year for their religious teachings. When you consider that the Church of Scotland, which claims to contain the wealthiest portion of the community, only contributes £500,000 a year for all purposes, and when it is borne in mind that the Church of Scotland gets its ministers' stipends paid for out of the teinds, surely it is not too much to say that they should also pay to provide comfortable habitations in which to go to worship. If the principle is just that these small heritors should pay, it ought to be made compulsory, and if it is not just they should be excluded. I beg to second my hon. friend's proposition.

Amendment proposed— To leave out the words 'now read the third time,' and add the words 'recommitted in respect of a New Clause'" — (Sir Charles Cameron)—instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words 'now read the third time' stand part of the Question."

*MR. J. A. CAMPBELL (Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities)

I think the hon. Member for Mid Lanarkshire has gone very wide afield in seconding this motion. He has conjured up a very formidable list of dangers and difficulties that will happen if this Bill is passed. They are mostly imaginary, and in so far as they are not imaginary I do not think it is beyond the wit of man to find some way of avoiding them. I may remark, however, that there was much in what the hon. Member said about the question of assessments which I would commend to the notice of my hon. friend whose motion he seconded. With regard to the motion of the hon. Member for Bridgeton, the hon. Member claims my support because he says the same clause was contained in a Bill in 1884, which I had the honour of introducing. I am not ashamed of that clause in its original position. I think it was a good clause in the Bill of 1884. But we are now no longer concerned with that Bill, for we have another Bill before us which contains a provision which makes the clause unnecessary. The object of the clause was to give security that the promoters of the work for which an assessment was to be imposed would produce funds to replace the sums lost to the assessment by the exemptions or deductions due to the operation of the Bill. The Bill made certain exemptions or deductions from assessment in favour of certain heritors, called feuars. In order that no additional burden be thereby imposed on the other heritors the deficiency in the product of the assessment caused by these exemptions must be found otherwise, and the clause proposed that a bond of security should be given by persons of satisfactory standing that this money should be forthcoming. That is the clause which my hon. friend proposes to add to this Bill. It was necessary in the Bill of 1884, but the present Bill provides that the money must have been actually raised and paid by the Kirk Session to the collector of the assessment. In other words, instead of asking for security, it requires a cash payment. There is therefore no longer any need for the clause. The question has been asked, why continue the burden upon land of maintaining the church and manse buildings? The question should rather be, why should land be relieved of this burden? Estates in Scotland for generations past have been subject to it, have changed hands under it, and have come into the possession of the present owners with this burden upon them. Purchasers have paid so much the less for their estates because of this burden. I would ask our friends on the Opposition side do they propose to make

the landlords of Scotland a present of £42,000 a year? That is the sum which the burden was found to amount to, some years ago. The heritors of Scotland as a body do not complain of the burden, and never have done so. It is only a section of their number, the small feuars, who have complained. Their position is somewhat peculiar. They hold that for many years it was not understood that they were liable to any share of this burden. For fifty years after the law was declared it never was put in force, because there was no valuation roll to enable the assessors to get at the value of the feuars' properties, and when the Valuation Act was passed in 1854 and it was made possible to reach the feuars, they not unnaturally felt that they had a certain grievance when an assessment of this kind was levied upon them. The Church now wishes to relieve the small feuars, but in such a way as not to impose any additional burden upon the other heritors. Such is the reason for this Bill. The Bill is applicable to the original parishes only—some 900 out of 1,350. As regards parishes with a large urban element, in which any assessment if imposed would be on the real rent, and in which the number of heritors, including feuars, would be very great, I believe the practice, when outlay on church building is required, will increasingly be to have no assessment whatever, but to raise the money wholly by voluntary subscription—as has recently been done in the instances of St. Cuthbert's, Edinburgh; Barony, Glasgow; and Abbey, Paisley. But that is not inconsistent with retaining the obligation of heritors for such assessments. Even when the money is raised by subscription individual heritors are found as a rule to contribute willingly, recognising their obligation as heritors although it is not enforced by an assessment. But cases will occur when recourse to assessment is necessary, and this Bill will make it possible to carry it out without such friction as has been caused in too many instances in the past.

Question put.

The House divided: — Ayes, 145; Noes, 55. (Division List No. 147.)

Allhusen, Augustus Henry E. Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire) Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r)
Anson, Sir William Reynell Bailey, James (Walworth) Balfour, Rt. Hn. Gerald W. (Leeds)
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Balcarres, Lord Banbury, Frederick George
Bartley, George C. T. Green, W. D. (Wednesbury) Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury) Plunkett, Rt. Hon. H. Curzon
Bethell, Commander Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord George Pollock, Harry Frederick
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm. Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Blakiston-Houston, John Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo. Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward
Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn) Heaton, John Henniker Purvis, Robert
Brassey, Albert Henderson, Alexander Renshaw, Charles Bine
Bullard, Sir Harry Hermon-Hodge, Robt, Trotter Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.
Butcher, John George Hoare, E. Brodie (Hampstead) Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Campbell, Rt. Hn J. A. (Glasgow) Hornby, Sir William Henry Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Jebb, Richard Claverhouse Royds, Clement Molyneux
Cavendish, V. C. W (Derbyshire) Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm) Jessel, Captain H. Merton Rutherford, John
Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r) Kennaway, W. Hn Sir John H. Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)
Charrington, Spencer Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William Sharpe, William Edward T.
Coghill, Douglas Harry Kimber, Henry Shaw-Stewart, M. H.(Renfrew)
Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole Lafone, Alfred Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)
Cubitt, Hon. Henry Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn) Sidebottom, William (Derbysh.)
Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.) Lawson, J. Grant (Yorks.) Skewes-Cox, Thomas
Curzon, Viscount Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart
Dalkeith, Earl of Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(Swans.) Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.
Dalrymple, Sir Charles Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R. Stone, Sir Benjamin
Denny, Colonel Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Strauss, Arthur
Dickinson, Robert Edmond Lopes, H. Yarde Buller Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Digby, John K. D. Wingfield- Lowe, Francis William Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxfd Univ.)
Doughty, George Lowles, John Thornton, Percy M.
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Loyd, Archie Kirkman Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. M.
Dyke, Rt. Hon Sir William Hart Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred Tritton, Charles Ernest
Faber, George Denison Macartney. W. G. Ellison Tuke, Sir John Batty
Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward MacIver, David (Liverpool) Wanklyn, James Leslie
Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Man'r) Maclure, Sir John William Warr, Augustus Frederick
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Welby, Sir Chas. G. E. (Notts.)
Firbank, Joseph Thomas M'Iver, Sir L. (Edinburgh, W.) Whiteley, H.(Ashton-under-L.
Fisher, William Hayes Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F. Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
Flower, Ernest Middlemore, In. Throgmorton Williams, Joseph Powell-(Birm)
Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk) Monckton, Edward Philip Willox, Sir John Archibald
Fry, Lewis Monk, Charles James Wilson, J. W.(Worcestersh, N.)
Gedge, Sydney Moon, Edward Robert Pacy Wodehouse, Rt. Hn E. R. (Bath)
Gibbons, J. Lloyd More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire) Wrightson, Thomas
Gibbs, Hn A. G. H. (City of Lond.) Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford) Wyndham, George
Gibbs, Hon. V. (St. Albans) Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C. Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong
Goldsworthy, Major-General Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute) Young, Commander (Berks, E.
Gordon, Hon. John Edward Nicol, Donald Ninian
Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Goschen, George J. (Sussex) Pease, Herbert P.(Darlington) Sir William Walrond and
Goschen, George J. (Sussex) Peel, Hon. W. R. Wellesley Mr. Anstruther.
Goulding, Edward Alfred Percy, Earl
Billson, Alfred Griffith, Ellis J. Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.)
Birrell, Augustine Gurdon, Sir Wm. Brampton Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Broadhurst, Henry Haldane, Richard Burdon Steadman, William Charles
Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Hedderwick, Thomas C. H. Stevenson, Francis S.
Bryce, Right Hon. James Horniman, Frederick John Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea) Thomas, David Alf. (Merthyr)
Buxton, Sydney Charles Labouchere, Henry Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland) Wason, Eugene
Channing, Francis Allston Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington) Webberburn, Sir William
Crombie, John William M'Crae, George Whiteley, George (Stockport)
Dalziel, James Henry Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Dewar, Arthur Morgan, W. Pritchard (Merthy) Wilson, Frederick W. (Norfolk)
Douglas, Chas. M. (Lanark) Mortnn, Edw. J. C (Devonport) Wilson, John (Durham Mid)
Duckworth, James Moulton, John Fletcher Wilson, John (Govan)
Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas Oldroyd, Mark Yoxall, James Henry
Emmott, Alfred Price, Robert John
Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan) Reid, Sir Robert Threshie TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Fenwick, Charles Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion) Sir Charles Cameron and
Goddard, Daniel Ford Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees) Mr. Caldwell.
Gourley, Sir Edward Temperley Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)

Main Question again proposed.

MR. BIRRELL (Fifeshire, W.)

I condole with the Lord Advocate, who is a man of virile intelligence, on having to take charge and pass through the House-this measure, which even those who sit behind him regard as the smallest bantling ever introduced into this House even by a Minister of the Crown. It is the smallest and most pedantic measure ever seen, a microscopic measure of the poorest description. You might describe it in Shakespearean language as "the baby of a girl." The hon. Gentleman referred to the fact that from time immemorial there has been this charge upon the land of Scotland, and it is news to me to be told that any Scotchman who has acquired a portion of soil of his country should wish to be relieved of the burden of the maintenance of the fabrics of the Established Church, except, indeed, upon fair terms—namely, that the burden should be put upon the shoulders of those who derive advantage from them. That is a fair and reasonable solution, but why the existing state of things should be altered as it is to be altered by this Bill, simply because a number of feuars hold a small portion of soil, I am at a loss to understand. We are told there is a grievance, but it is not a grievance which has ever pressed itself upon my attention, at any rate. When I was in Scotland I never heard that the small feuars of the county of Fife had a burden more unbearable than that of anyone else as to the payments of local charges. It is not a thing to be disclaimed, and the small feuar should not be allowed in this House to disclaim it. It was on account of the existence of this charge that he obtained his land cheaper than he otherwise would. No doubt there is some misapprehension on this question in Scotland; the small feuar thought he was absolved from this burden, but it is now a long time since the obscure part of the law was made clear. The small feuar and the large landowner are both charged, but the way in which this Bill deals with the charge is highly characteristic of modern legislation. The small feuar is to be absolved from this burden on terms; that is to say, if the Kirk Session, by means of a bazaar or charitable contributions, is able to make good the deficiency, this Bill is to come into operation; but, unless the funds are forthcoming, the obligation remains. I think it is the first time in the history of Parliament that a person has been relieved of a burden in such a manner. This Bill is a very contemptible measure, and I think it is only fair to draw attention to this fact, that the small feuar is to be relieved of a burden which has been borne from time immemorial, if any persons in Scotland—good, bad, or indifferent— are prepared to make good the deficiency out of their own pockets. I see no reason why the land should be relieved from a burden which it took in exchange for something very valuable. It has got off uncommonly easily from its other obligations, with regard particularly to education. However that may be, from time immemorial the land in Scotland has borne this burden, and if the question is to be dealt with at all it should be dealt with on a bolder and more honourable principle.


I think the hon. Member for West Fife has scarcely appreciated the object of this Bill, and his comments have been characterised by the same fault which ran through the speech of the hon. Member for Mid Lanark, who dealt with the technical points of the measure. The hon. Member for Mid Lanark complained, as the hon. Member who has just sat down complained, that feuars should be exempted from a burden which now falls upon them, and which has always been on the land in Scotland. But the hon. Members seem to forget that this burden did not always press upon the feuars, because they are a newly created class. It is really out of the question to say, as the hon. Member for Mid Lanark says, that every feuar has a right to a seat in the parish church. That is a legal fiction. St. Cuthbert's, Edinburgh, is a good illustration. Why, if the hon. Gentleman's argument were enforced the Waverley Market would not be nearly big enough. If the hon. Member for Mid Lanark had devoted his gifts to the ministry and had been minister of the church of St. Cuthbert's the oars of the greedy parishioners would have been open in vain to the voice of my hon. friend. The hon. Member went on to say that he objected to the clause in the Bill which exempts the churches of other denominations, and he asked why they should not pay. "Why do you not," he asked, "charge poor rates on paupers?" "Because," he said, "paupers are the objects and not the subjects of the poor rates." When he said that I could not but remember a proverb with which, no doubt, he is familiar. "You can't take the breeks off a Highlandman," because he does not happen to possess them. That is why you do not levy poor rates on paupers. This Bill is not meant to do any more than permissibly allow the people to obviate a grievance which practically creates friction. The hon. Member for West Fife says it has never been brought to his notice that the feuars there object to bearing their burden. There is a simple reason for that. In the Division of West Fife, which he represents, the parishes are almost entirely and purely landward, and of course it is not in such places that opposition can emerge. It is in parishes which are not purely landward, parishes which are partly landward and partly burghal, and where there are large populous places, that the real difficulty arises. I hope the House will give this measure a Third Reading. I am content to allow the people of Scotland to decide as to whether the epithets of the Member for West Fife are deserved. We can well afford to wait for the measures he will introduce when he gets a well-deserved seat on this bench. But this Bill will as a matter of fact remove what has been an unfortunate cause of friction in the past, and stimulate the Church to greater activity in Scotland.

*MR. HALDANE (Haddingtonshire)

I stand before the House as a valued heritor threatened with ecclesiastical assessment for the building of a new church. I want to remove this controversy from the air of abstraction hitherto attending it, and to present to the House the spectacle of my own grievance, if it is possible to get the House to listen. I am sure I shall succeed when I relate my tale. I live, in those times of the year when I am not compulsorily drawn to attend the sittings of this House, near a town where there is a parish church which for years has amply satisfied all my spiritual requirements. We have recently called a new minister. Little did we know what that would entail upon us. He says the sitting room is insufficient and that the fabric must be repaired. Under the law of Scotland as it stands at the present time he is in a position to call upon the heritors, and not only the valued heritors, to deal with the case. In that town there are a large number of people called feuars. The feuars of Auchterarder are a robust body. Their ancestors were out in the '45, and shed their blood in those days. Later on they brought about the Disruption. As they attend the parish church much more frequently than it is possible for me to do, they are naturally the persons who, under a reasonable construction of the law, should meet this assessment. But how will things stand if this Bill passes? Why, the heritors will be the persons who will be primarily liable to the incidence of this tax, because if the Bill means anything it means that some relief is to be given to the feuars. The feuars of Auchterarder are net people who are excessively attached to the doctrines and associations of the present Government. They have, some of them, been very much opposed to the Established Church since the Disruption, and, as far as I can conceive the motive and purpose with which this Bill is introduced, it is merely to reconcile the feuars of Auchterarder and many similar places to a continuance of the principle of Establishment. What is this Bill brought in for? To remedy any grievance? No. It is like a number of other Bills brought before the House by the Government to redeem pledges given by private Members. For another example, there is the extension of the Compensation Act to farm servants. Without any manifestation of a desire that they should bring in this ecclesiastical assessments measure the Government at the last moment, when it is comparatively far on in its life, brings it in, I presume, with the object of being able to say to the people of Scotland that they have done something substantial for the Establishment. I am advised by experts on the spot that if this Bill passes it will not have the slightest effect on the minds of the people of Auchterarder. There is not the smallest probability that any contribution will be got out of the valued-rent heritors which they are not required to pay at the present time. I am glad to see from the first clause of the Bill that it cannot come into operation except with the consent of a two-, thirds majority in value. The clause states that— It shall be lawful for any valued-rent heritor to request the clerk to the heritors to summon a meeting of valued-rent heritors in the manner prescribed by Section 22 of the Ecclesiastical Buildings and Glebes (Scotland) Act; and if at such meeting it is resolved by a majority of not less than two-thirds in value of valued-rent heritors, voting personally or by proxy, that the amount shall be imposed according to valued rent, then such assessment shall be imposed according to the valued rent, any law to the contrary notwithstanding. That gives me some confidence that the Government does not really mean that this is a serious measure. Why should hon. Members opposite in this House who have no interest in Scotch ecclesiastical matters be tormented with a Bill which can effect no practical change in the position as it is at the present moment?

*SIR MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbrightshire)

The hon. and learned Member for Haddington says that there is no possible grievance to be remedied. I utterly deny that proposition. In the year 1887 I had the honour to back a Bill brought in by my right hon. friend the Member for Edinburgh University, and I myself brought in a Bill in a subsequent year, very much of the same character as this one. A question very commonly asked at the last General Election was "Why cannot you do something in the direction of

relieving the feuars of this burden?" It has been invariably the Liberal party who has opposed this kind of legislation, while the Conservatives have always been quite willing to remedy the present state of things. The hon. and learned Member for West Fife says that this is a microscopic Bill to deal with a microscopic grievance. It may be a small Bill and a small grievance, but there is such a thing as a sentimental grievance which is more hardly felt than a real big one. I have never been personally annoyed as a valued-rent heritor by the payment of the rate on valued rent, and I believe that most of the valued-rent heritors are willing and ready to pay their full quota of the rates. I heartily thank the Government for bringing in this Bill, and I hope it will be passed to-night.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 154; Noes, 61. (Division List No. 148.)

Anson, Sir William Reynell Faber, George Denison Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(Swnsea)
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw. Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.
Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire) Fergusson, Rt. Hn Sir J. (Manc'r) Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine
Bailey, James (Walworth) Finlay, Sir Robert, Bannatyne Long, Col. Chas. W.(Evesham)
Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J.(Manch'r) Firbank, Joseph Thomas Lonsdale, John Brownlee
Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Leeds) Fisher, William Hayes Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller
Banbury, Frederick George Flower, Ernest Lowles, John
Bartley, George C. T. Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk) Loyd, Archie Kirkman
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol) Fry, Lewis Macartney, W. G. Ellison
Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe Gedge, Sydney MacIver, David (Liverpool)
Bethell, Commander Gibbons, J. Lloyd Maclure, Sir John William
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (Cy. of Land.) M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)
Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans) M'Iver, Sir L. (Edinburgh, W.)
Brassey, Albert Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.
Bullard, Sir Harry Goldsworthy, Major-General Middlemore, J. Throgmorton
Butcher, John George Gordon, Hon. John Edward Milward, Colonel Victor
Campbell, Rt. Hon J A (Glasgow) Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon Monckton, Edward Philip
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (St. Geor.) Monk, Charles James
Cavendish, V. C. W.(Derbysh.) Goulding, Edward Alfred Moon, Edward Robert Pacy
Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, E.) Green, W. D. (Wednesbury) More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm.) Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury) Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh.)
Chamberlain, J. A. (Worcester) Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord George Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)
Charrington, Spencer Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert W. Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.
Chelsea, Viscount Henton, John Henniker Murray, Rt. Hn A Graham (Bute)
Coghill, Douglas Harry Helder, Augustus Nicholson, William Graham
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Henderson, Alexander Nicol, Donald Ninian
Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens
Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasg'w) Hoare, Edw. Brodie (Hampst'd) Pease, Rt. Pike (Darlington)
Cubitt, Hon. Henry Hornby, Sir William Henry Peel, Hon. Wm. Robert W.
Curzon, Viscount Jebb, Richard Claverhouse Percy, Earl
Dalkeith, Earl of Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Dalrymple, Sir Charles Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton Plunkett, Rt. Hon. Horace C.
Denny, Colonel Kennaway, Rt. Hon Sir John H. Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Dickinson, Robert Edmond Kenyon-Slaney, Col. Wm. Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward
Digby, John K. D. Wingfield- Kimber, Henry Purvis, Robert
Doughty, George Lafone, Alfred Remnant, James Farquharson
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn) Renshaw, Charles Bine
Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.) Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.
Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton Lecky, Rt. Hon. Wm. Edw. H. Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter
Royds, Clement Molyneux Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley Willox, Sir John Archibald
Russell, T. W. (Tyrone) Talbot, Rt. Hn J. G. (Oxf'd Univ. Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.
Rutherford, John Thorburn, Sir Walter Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)
Sharpe, Wm. Edward T. Thornton, Percy M. Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew) Tomlinson, Wm. E. Murray Wrightson, Thomas
Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire) Tritton, Charles Ernest Wyndham, George
Sidebottom, Wm. (Derbysh.) Tuke, Sir John Batty Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong
Simeon, Sir Barrington Vincent, Col Sir C E H (Shefield) Young, Commander (Berks, E.)
Skewes-Cox, Thomas Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)
Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.) Warr, Augustus Frederick TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart Welby, Sir C. G. E. (Notts.) Sir William Walrond and
Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M. Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset) Mr. Anstruther.
Strauss, Arthur Williams, J. Powell- (Birm.)
Asher, Alexander Hazell, Walter Smith, Samuel (Flint)
Billson, Alfred Hedderwick, Thomas C. H. Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Broadhurst, Henry Horniman, Frederick John Souttar, Robinson
Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Jones, David B. (Swansea) Steadman, William Charles
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Kinloch, Sir John Geo. Smyth Stevenson, Francis S
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland) Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Burt, Thomas M'Arthur, William (Cornwall) Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)
Buxton, Sydney Charles M'Crae, George Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Caldwell, James Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Cameron, Sir Charles (Glasgow) Morgan, W. P. (Merthyr) Wason, Eugene
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport) Wedderburn, Sir William
Charming, Francis Allston Moulton, John Fletcher Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Crombie, John William Oldroyd, Mark Williams, J. Carvell (Notts.)
Dalziel, James Henry Price, Robert John Wilson, Frederick W. (Norfolk)
Dewar, Arthur Reckitt, Harold James Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark) Reid, Sir Robert Threshie Wilson, John (Govan)
Duckworth, James Rickett, J. Compton Yoxall, James Henry
Dunn, Sir William Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)
Fenwick, Charles Robson, William Snowdon TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Goddard, Daniel Ford Runciman, Walter Mr. Haldane and Mr. Birrell.
Griffith, Ellis J. Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Gurdon, Sir William Brampton Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)

Whereupon Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again "—(Mr. Caldwell)—put, and agreed to.