§ The average amount by which the grants made out of the Royal Bounty Fund for the purposes of the Church in Wales in 1279 the seven years ending the 31st day of December, 1911, have exceeded the average annual amounts received by Queen Anne's Bounty in those years by way of first fruits and tenths in respect of ecclesiastical offices in the Church in Wales.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I beg to move, in Part 1, after the word "before" I "before the twenty-fifth day of April"], to insert the words—the date of Disestablishment annexed or appropriated to any ecclesiastical office or cathedral corporation in the Church in Wales by way of grant, or is the produce of, or is or has been derived from, property so annexed or appropriated, and which is not Welsh ecclesiastical property within the meaning of this Act; but the amount of property so transferred shall not be less than the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had up to.The Amendment which stands in my name has the appearance of being a rather complicated one, but in fact it is nothing of the sort. It is simply an alteration in the date from which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and Queen Anne's Bounty may calculate the amount of property which they are to be allowed to hand over to the Church in Wales. The reason it starts in this elaborate fashion is that if the date which I suggested was rejected by the Government it would still be in order to propose some alternative date, but all that I propose is that the date in the Bill should not be the 25th day of April, but the date of Disestablishment. The Home Secretary has already gone some way to meet us in proposing that it should be the passing of this Act. Therefore the issue between us is whether it should be the passing of the Act or the date of Disestablishment. This, of course, is not a -very important point. The question of whether it should be the 25th of April, 1912, or some date after the provisions of the Bill were made known was the really important question. What particular date after the provision of this Bill becomes known should be selected is, in my opinion, comparatively an unimportant question, but I should like to argue in favour of the principle that the later the date can be the "better it will be for the interests of the Church, and I am sure in a matter of this sort the Government and hon. Members opposite would not desire that any arrangement should be inserted in the Bill -which can in any way be injurious to the 1280 Church without carrying out the primary object of this measure. The reason why I should prefer the date of Disestablishment instead of the passing of the Act is simply the question of time. I want the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and Queen Anne's Bounty to have plenty of time to go through their accounts, to examine their resources and calculate how much money they think they will be able to give to the Church in her disestablished state—how much money they can afford from their English resources—so that they can appreciate exactly what the needs of the Church will be and what opportunities they will have of giving and what amount they will have to give. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners and Queen Anne's Bounty will have to think of the future as well as the present. They will have to consider in what danger their funds and their revenues stand in the future.
We have been told by the President of the Board of Agriculture that this Bill is only a preliminary to a Bill for the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church of England, and therefore, in handing over to the Church in Wales moneys which are really the property of the Church of England, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners will have to take into consideration the question of the possible Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church in England as well as the question of the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales, and it is because they will have to look into the future in regard to their revenues that I desire to give them as much time as possible before they make this final allocation of the money to the Church in Wales. Then it is not only a question of the possible future Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church of England that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners will have to bear in mind. They derive their revenues from certain forms of property which are at present the target for a great deal of abuse and challenge from hon. Members opposite, such as mining royalties and rents from urban properties, and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners will have to go carefully into the whole question of the source of their revenue and how far future legislation will be likely to invade upon their property in these respects. Therefore, this question of allocating property will be a very momentous and a very difficult one for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, and therefore they should be 1281 given the maximum amount of time that is possible to make up their minds and to fix the salary, and that there should be no attempt to hurry them in any way.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The Noble Lord has really built a huge superstructure on a very slender basis. His Amendment would not have the effect he desires, nor would it in the least matter to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in making up their minds whether I put in this date or any other date. The date in the Clause is only for the purpose of calculation. It is not the date upon which they have got to decide. It is nothing to do with the length of time they will have, but only the date which is to be taken for the purpose of calculation. I quite agree that the date of 25th April, 1912, is not as good a date as the date of the passing of the Act, but I think for the purpose of calculation we ought to have the passing of the Act. In regard to his other point, the Noble Lord must remember that this only relates to property which has already been appropriated by the Commissioners to the Welsh Church with the intention that the property shall be permanently appropriated to the Welsh Church. They have already arrived at their decision on the point, and they have informed me that, although the property is handed back to them for the purpose of this Bill, they intend to reappropriate it for the purposes of the Welsh Church. I think, therefore, we might agree without further discussion that the passing of the Act is the best date, and to accept that as the date for this purpose.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I have not made my point quite clear. What the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have given in times past to the Church in Wales is not really relevant to what the property of the Church ought to be after she has been Disestablished and Disendowed. It may quite well be that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners will say, "When the Church in Wales has been Disestablished and has had two-thirds of her property taken away, it would be only fair and right that we should give to the Church in Wales more money and more property than we have hitherto given in years past," and that is why I objected so strongly to the date, 25th April, because it really took away all initiative from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in the matter. The only issue between us is whether it should be the passing of this Act or the date of Disestablishment, and I think the opinion of 1282 the Ecclesiastical Commissioners might be very materially influenced by the business they will have to go through between the passing of this Act and the date of Disestablishment. They will have to go through a great deal of business in clearing up the mess which will have resulted from the passing of this Act, and they will, by the time the date of Disestablishment comes, be in a far better position to know what the funds of the Church in Wales are and how far every particular parish and church has been robbed and despoiled than they would foe at the time of the passing of the Act; therefore I make a very particular point that they should be given as long a time as possible to make up their minds, and, if necessary, to make a further increased grant to the Church in Wales. Surely the right hon. Gentleman has no objection to that.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Because the Noble Lord's Amendment does not do it. It gives them no longer opportunity to make up their minds.
§ Viscount WOLMER
The date of Disestablishment is after the time of the passing of the Act, perhaps a year, or perhaps six months—it all depends on the political situation as to when the Government think an election is coming—but, at any rate, at a later date, and in that interval between the passing of the Act and the date of Disestablishment the Ecclesiastical Commissioners will have had occasion to go through the accounts of practically every parish in Wales, and they will know, in a way in which they cannot know at the passing of the Act, what the detailed facts of the ravages of this Bill will be on the individual parishes, and, therefore, they will be in a much better position to know, if it is necessary, and if they can afford, and if it is wise and right for them to make an increased grant to the Church in Wales.
May I point out that this matter is in no way affected by the Schedules, but by paragraph (c) of Clause 6—It shall be lawful for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and Queen Anne's Bounty, if they think fit, within one year after the date of Disestablishment…1283 That is the date. They can fix any date up to that time one year after the date of Disestablishment to make up their minds, and no alteration of the Schedule will affect that.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The hon. Member, I think, is mistaken, and so, I think, is the Home Secretary. It is quite true that paragraph (c) begins in the way the hon. Member read, but they cannot transfer more than the whole of that specified in Part I. of the Third Schedule. The whole must be that which exists in Part I. of the Schedule. Part I. is the property vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners which has at a particular date been appropriated by them to the purposes of the Church in Wales, therefore not more than was appropriated by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners at that date.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
"Property vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners or has by them been before the passing of this Act annexed or appropriated to any ecclesiastical office." That is the amount which is specified in Part I.—the amount which has been appropriated before that date. They cannot transfer to the Church in Wales more than would have been appropriated at that date, therefore it is true to say that the discretion of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners is limited to this. They may transfer everything which was appropriated at that date. They cannot transfer more, though they may transfer less, than was appropriated at the passing of this Act, if we assume that the Amendment is put in. If, therefore, you extend that time you give them the opportunity of appropriating more up to the date of Disestablishment, and then they can transfer more. That is the argument of my Noble Friend and, as far as I can see, that argument is right. Assuming that it is right, what is the substantial reason for it? I think it is a strong one. It is quite right that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should have the opportunity of considering the position of the Church as soon as they see the form in which this Bill finally passes Parliament. It seems to me they have a right to a little time for consideration after that to see the effect of the Bill. Once they see the final form—and that would be provided for by the Amendment of my Noble Friend—they would be able to say 1284 whether the Church in Wales is to receive more than has hitherto been appropriated under Part I. of the Third Schedule. I think it is right that they should be able to say that, but the question whether the whole policy is right is a different matter, and a good deal may be said upon it. The question whether it is right that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should be required finally to fix a certain sum which is to be transferred from English purposes to Welsh purposes without any possibility of going back upon it, and whether it is right to provide for the Re-endowment of the Church in Wales from English sources is a very serious question. But that is not the question raised by the Amendment proposed by my Noble Friend. I observe that "the date of Disestablishment" is referred to in paragraph (c), Clause 6, and it is within one year after that date that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners are to decide whether they will transfer the whole or part of what they have appropriated. That seems to me to indicate that the date contemplated is the date of Disestablishment. I think it would have been more symmetrical to put it in the Schedule as well.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The Noble Lord has not shown how the Amendment would extend the time for the Commissioners to make up their minds. All the knowledge would be in their possession at the date of Disestablishment. They have a year after Disestablishment to make up their minds whether the Noble Lord's Amendment is accepted or not. It cannot extend the time which the Commissioners will have at their disposal for making up their minds. At the date of Disestablishment all the materials and facts will be known to the Commissioners, so that they will have all the information necessary to make up their minds. The only conceivable difference which the acceptance of the Amendment might make is that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners might, six months or a year after the passing of the Act, pay slightly more than at the passing of the Act. That is the sole object of the Amendment.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Oh, no, they could not really do that. The Noble Lord did not complete the reading of paragraph (c), Clause 6. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners are only entitled to appropriate to 1285 the Welsh Church what they have given in the past, but they are allowed to take into account what might have been given to the Church in the future. I have offered to give them unfetterd discretion as to how much they should give if they ask me for it. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is for the House to decide."] I am willing to give the Commissioners power to give as much as they like if they ask me for it. As a matter of fact, I do not think they will ask me for it, and I think they are quite right not to ask it. But that is neither here nor there. So far as I am concerned, I do not mind inserting "the date of Disestablishment," but these arrangements have been made with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and I do not think I ought to be pressed to put in conditions which would enable them to give more money to the Welsh Church unless I am asked by them to do so.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Everybody who has spoken has expressed grave doubt as to the propriety of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners being allowed to use English money for the purpose, as they call it, of re-endowing the Disestablished Church in Wales, and yet at the same time efforts are made by hon. Members opposite to enlarge the latitude of the Commissioners in the exercise of that policy about which they have such grave doubts. If we are to adopt the policy of perfect freedom for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, I think that ought only to be done on the request of the Commissioners themselves. If, on the other hand, we are to enter into arrangements with the Commissioners, and to treat them as trustees for this property who ought to be consulted, then I say the Bill carries out the arrangements, so far as I have been able to understand them. If, however, the Commissioners prefer, not the Noble Lord's Amendment, but the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Kingston, I would be willing to put in "the date of Disestablishment." I do not think the Commissioners would prefer that.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
On a point of Order. I desire to ask whether the Amendment of the Noble Lord is in order as proposed, or whether it ought to be divided into two? It seems to me to incorporate words already in the Schedule, and also at the end to introduce some fresh ones. It seems to me that the first part of the 1286 Amendment should be put as a separate Amendment, and that subsequently the words—but the amount of property so transferred shall not be less than the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had up to"—should also be put as a separate Amendment.
§ Viscount WOLMER
Is the Noble Lord in order in asking whether the Amendment is in order after it has been called by the Chairman, and debated for a considerable time?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
When I called the Amendment I considered it in order, and I see no reason to change my mind even after the Noble Lord's appeal to me.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
Is it in order to move an Amendment which inserts certain words and then goes on to insert further words which are already in the Schedule?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I do not see anything inconsistent in the original Amendment as it stands on the Paper.
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I think the argument of the Home Secretary is an extraordinary one. He says he cannot do what is asked without first consulting the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. I have a great respect for them, but they are not the Church, and certainly they are not Parliament. Parliament is now legislating for the Church in Wales. It is enacting that certain funds should be taken away and giving power that other funds should remain. It is a matter for Parliament to decide what is to be done, and in no sense is it a matter for the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and I protest against the suggestion of the Home Secretary that before he can make an Amendment desired by any section of the House of Commons, he must first consult an outside body, it is quite clear that the Amendment of the Noble Lord is not necessary if the Ecclesiastical Commissioners exercise the widest possible option, or if, in fact, the Home Secretary had incorporated the Amendment which I think I moved on Clause 6 to allow them to give an unlimited amount out of English resources to the Church in Wales. That has not been incorporated in the Bill. All we know is that the Home Secretary says he cannot incorporate it unless he is asked by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. I think that the position is a very ridiculous one. At the same time, 1287 having regard to what the Home Secretary has said, I think we had better leave the matter as it is. I understand that he is quite prepared to consider it and that he will consult the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and will take an opportunity later on either of giving the Ecclesiastical Commissioners the full option to give as much as ever they could out of English resources or else take the minor course of putting in the date of Disestablishment instead of the date of the passing of the Bill. In those circumstances I suggest that the Amendment should be withdrawn, and we can further consider the matter on Report or whatever opportunity may arise.
§ Mr. KING
I have got very deep sympathy with hon. Gentlemen opposite who cannot possibly occupy the time profitably until half-past ten when we conclude the Committee stage. So I offer one remark which is of importance. It is that we ought to have one of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners here; two of them are Members of this House; they are the chief people to whom this Schedule refers. One of them, I am very sorry to hear, is unwell, but the other is here in the House, and has been constantly within the precincts during the whole of the proceedings on this Bill. Why cannot he be here at the very time when the Schedule which affects him more than anybody else is under discussion. I call the attention of the Committee to this because it is a very remarkable circumstance which ought to be explained.
§ Amendment put, and negatived.
§ Government Amendments made:—
§ In Part I., leave out the words "twenty-fifth day of April, nineteen hundred and twelve," and insert instead thereof the words "passing of this Act."
§ In Part II., leave out the words "twenty-fifth day of April, nineteen hundred and twelve," and insert instead thereof the words "passing of this Act."
§ In Part III., first paragraph, leave out the words "twenty-fifth day of April, nineteen hundred and twelve," and insert instead thereof the words "passing of this Act."
§ In Part III., first paragraph, after the word "grant," insert the words "or provision."—[Mr. MeKenna.]1288
Government Amendment proposed: In Part III., after the word "Schedule," insert the words
or charges transferred to the property mentioned in paragraph (1) of the First Schedule to this Act, except so far as that property is not able to bear them."—[Mr. MeKenna.]
§ Mr. McKENNA
It is simply to correct a double negative, but I had not followed the Amendment to its last stage, and if the Committee will allow me to consider the matter for a few minutes I shall be very happy.
§ Mr. BOOTH
It seems to me that the object is to deal with that property which is not able to bear the burden. No one wants to put any burden on property which cannot bear it. Even the most extreme single-taxer never suggests putting on more than property can bear, and the object of this Amendment is specially to protect that property from having to bear an unfair share of the burden.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
Is not the point that under the First Schedule of the Act they provide for mortgages—that is to say, that it should be possible for the Commissioners to allow certain charges to stand? Then, when we get to this Third Schedule, it is necessary to safeguard the rights which are given by the First Schedule and to secure that Part III. of the Third Schedule and Part I. of the First Schedule should stand together. Therefore, they have got to put in these words to prevent them putting too large a mortgage or burden upon any particular property. Subject that the two Clauses can be read together.
§ Mr. McKENNA
The Amendment should reador charges transferred to the property mentioned in paragraph (1) of the First Schedule to this Act, so far as that property is able to bear them.1289 I confess that I was so full of the other Amendment that it was not so easy at first sight to follow this. The charge on the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for the bishops and chaplains in Wales now amount to £29,000. The amount, of property which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners hold to meet these charges is £26,700. There is consequently a balance of £3,000 a year which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners now pay, but which does not spring from Welsh money. Part of the payment of bishops and chaplains in Wales does not spring from episcopal estates, and it is in order to dispose of this £3,000 a year that these words are added. Otherwise there would be a balance of £3,000 a year which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would not have been able to pay to the Welsh Church, although they have paid it hitherto, and, on the principle of the Bill, we propose to allow them full liberty to go on paying whatever they paid in the past.
§ Mr. CAVE
I am not quite sure the effect of the Amendment is to enlarge the amount which the Commissioners give, and I am rather disposed to think that it limits it. The words we are dealing with are charges in respect of the property mentioned in Part I. of this Schedule, "not being Welsh ecclesiastical property within the meaning of this Act."
§ Mr. McKENNA
To increase it. The words "so far as the property is able to bear them" would limit the amount of the reduction to £26,700. The total amount of the property is £29,000, so that this limitation upon the reduction does produce an increase.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I have stated the purport of the Amendment, but I will reconsider the language employed. I was satisfied that the language was right, but in these very complicated matters it is not always very easy to see what effect language has. I will, however, go care- 1290 fully into the matter again. The object is to secure that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners shall go on paying the additional £3,000 a year which is derived from English sources.
§ Mr. McKENNA
It is immaterial to me. I will put it down on the Report stage, if the hon. and learned Gentleman feels seriously about it. I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment that the words may be reconsidered. Undoubtedly we have got a restriction upon the limitation, and both the limitation and the restriction upon the limitation will be considered in relation to the original grant. I quite admit that it becomes an extremely complicated question, but it is merely one as to the language to be used.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendment made: In Part IV., leave out the word "eleven" ["December nineteen hundred and eleven"], and insert-instead thereof, the word "twelve."—[Mr. Cave.]
§ Question proposed, "That this Schedule, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I do not wish to keep the Committee more than a moment in discussing this Schedule, although there is a very great deal which could be said about it. It is a very curious proposal, and really the result of the Schedule is that the Church of Wales may be subject to a second Disendowment if at any time the Church of England should be Disendowed. I merely wish to ask permission to say that we do protest very strongly against the most unskilful and absurd allocation of time made in connection with the Committee stage of this Bill under the 1291 guillotine. The result has been that big Clauses like Clause 1 and Clause 8 were insufficiently discussed, and to-night and other nights we really have had more time than is necessary. I do think that if the Government choose to deal by means of the guillotine with important Bills like this a little more care ought to be exercised in the allocation of time. As it is, great and important parts of the Bill have been insufficiently discussed or not discussed at all because of this faulty allocation. I think we have very just ground for complaint of the manner in which we have been treated in regard to this Bill.
§ Mr. KING
I must just offer a word in reply to what has fallen from the hon. Gentleman opposite. In my view, the Debate has broken down now because the Opposition have been completely outclassed on every point. They have been answered again and again. We have convinced many on their own side that they are in the wrong, and we have so completely triumphed over them in the course of this long discussion that they have nothing more to say.
§ Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Monday next, 3rd February.
§ The Orders for the remaining Government business were read, and postponed.
§ Whereupon Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of 14th October, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."