§ MR. BUCHANAN (Perthshire, E.)
I bag to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, in view of the fact that many of the notices of ejection from their manses recently served on ministers of the United Free Church expire on May 28th, he will take care that provision be made by legislation, or otherwise, that such ejectments shall not be carried out until Government legislation on the whole subject has received the assent of Parliament.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
The objections to interim legislation are great and obvious, and I am sure the hon. Gentleman is well acquainted with them. He is also acquainted with the statement I made the other day that in our view nothing that could happen in the interval between the inquiry undertaken by the Commission and legislation would alter the character of that legislation when we are able to propose and carry it through the House. I understand that the object which the Free Church have had in issuing these notices is to obtain the use of the manses where they have already got the use of the church. I make no pronouncement on the propriety or impropriety of that course in particular cases; but the grounds for their action, at all events, are so far, if I rightly state it, quite intelligible. I understand, however, that after notice of ejectment has been given there is power of appealing to the Courts on the subject, and that that appeal may last an indefinite period, going up from Court to Court to the House of Lords. As regards interim possession in such cases, it would rest with the judge, I think, 325 having regard to all the circumstances of the case, to decide whether convenience and justice were best served by leaving existing occupants in possession or requiring them to leave. Those are all the facts known to me; and I think the lion. Gentleman will perceive that it is quite impossible for us to bring in, in those circumstances, an interim Bill, pending the final legislation we hope to introduce.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
May I take it from the right hon. Gentleman that the interests involved with regard to manses will not be prejudiced in any case by action taken in the meantime?
§ MR. BUCHANAN
The right hon. Gentleman is somewhat in error in his statement of fact. I can give at least one case of a manse being claimed without the church being taken, and I believe there are other cases.