HC Deb 10 July 1903 vol 125 cc1160-1

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, whether, having regard to the poverty of many of the clergy of the Established Church of England and Wales, and the importance of making adequate provision for the maintenance of the parochial ministry, His Majesty's Government will advise the early appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the present distribution and administration of ecclesiastical funds and properties, the necessary or possible measure of re-adjustment of episcopal and other ecclesiastical endowments, together with methods of securing such re-adjustment, and into other schemes for benefiting the pecuniary condition of the clergy; and to report thereon without delay.


I think this Question is substantially in agreement with the Question which the hon. Member put last year. I then replied that I entirely agreed with him about the poverty of the clergy, but I could not assent to the appointment of the Royal Commission. Perhaps I may remind the hon. Gentleman that the work of diminishing this evil is being actively carried on by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and, in the case of very small livings, by Queen Anne's Bounty. If the hon. Member will look at the Report he will see how considerable are the endowments contributed by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and how substantial are the amounts contributed from private sources.

SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)

May I ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, after what he has just said, he proposes to proceed with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners Bill, which virtually proposes to take away from what is available for the augmentation of small livings a capital sum of £30,000 or £40,000 in order to increase the staff of the Ecclesiastical Commission, which is already one of the most expensive departments of the State?


I think it is important to proceed with that Bill.