HC Deb 12 June 1913 vol 53 cc1884-905

Order for Second Reading read.

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


I want to ask your ruling, Mr. Speaker, on the question whether the matters dealt with in this Bill are really not more suitable for a public Bill than a private Bill. It seems to me that the Bill is on the border line, and certainly if it is discussed in the way my hon. Friends wish, the discussion will involve questions in which the public are interested. I am in a position of great perplexity as to, whether it should or should not be a public Bill.


The Bill deals with private interests, and it seems to me it is properly a private one. As the Debate develops I may see that it has some public bearing, but I confess that at present I do not see that it involves public interests.


One reason why I have raised this point is that we have had Memoranda, some for and some against the Bill. The first point stated by those who have circularised us against the Bill is that it involves an Amendment to the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge Act of 1877, and that, therefore, the Amendment of the Act should be made by a public, and not a private Bill. I wished to see what foundation that objection had.


I beg to move, to leave out the word "now," and to add at the end of the Question the words "upon this day three months."

I make no apology for drawing the attention of this House to a remarkable Bill a Bill, in my opinion, the like of which we have never seen before, and the like of which I hope we shall often see again, for although I have a formal notice on the Paper to decline to proceed with the Bill, yet, on further consideration, I do not intend to press my opposition to a Division. I wish, however, that so important and interesting a Bill as this should get some consideration from this House. In the first place, let me point out that this Bill is the first instalment of reform from Oxford University that we have had during the last few years. When Lord Curzon a few years ago, I think in 1907, was elected Chancellor of the University of Oxford a new era, seemed to dawn for that university. He took up the work with great enthusiasm, with the great ability which we all acknowledge, and with the great authority which naturally pertains to him. A short time after he was elected Chancellor he published a book entitled "Principles and Methods of University Reform." I must say this book filled me with new enthusiasm for my Alma Mater—an enthusiasm which has gone on, though hope has been deferred, since that time, because in that book he sketched a whole series of wide reforms of a very democratic nature and of a very radical character. I am sorry to say that none of them has hitherto been brought into operation. I do not think that is Lord Curzon's fault, and I do not think that it is the fault of the resident members of the university. I am inclined to think it is chiefly the fault of that unfortunate body called Convocation, which is not connected really with the university at all, but which acts as a sort of House of Lords, and intervenes as soon as any reform is carried in Oxford itself. It has gone up in large numbers, and has repeatedly during the last few years altogether stopped the hope of any reform at all in Oxford.


On a point of Order. I wish to ask whether in discussing this Bill, which seems to me to deal with only one of the colleges at Oxford, it is in order to discuss Convocation?


I thought the hon. Gentleman was simply referring to Convocation by way of exordium.


You have quite correctly interpreted my position. What I have said is really by way of exordium, and in order that those less acquainted with this large and complex subject might know where they were. I must really be allowed to give a little historical résumé because this Bill explicitly refers to the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge Act of 1877, and the Statutes which grew out of that Act. First of all, I believe that the point taken by my hon. Friend (Mr. Booth) is quite right. This Bill does in a way modify and alter the decisions of that public Act, and in so far as it does so I think it is out of order. I do not press that because I wish to discuss the new provisions of the Bill which, in many ways, are excellent. The right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Sir W. Anson) will explain why they are proceeding by private Bill rather than by public Bill. We have had a number of Bills brought by the charity commissioners dealing with what are really private interests, but they are dealt with in public Bills. I think this, is really on all fours with that legislation. Moreover, it definitely grows out of a public Act, and in one respect modifies its provisions. I therefore invite the right hon. Gentleman to explain why they are proceeding by a private Bill.

The second question which the right hon. Gentleman has to answer is: Why in this Bill is he going entirely contrary to the opinion expressed by the Chancellor of his own University in the book to which I have referred 4 Lord Curzon tells us what the future ought to be for St. Edmund Hall, and says on page 62:— upon which sentence of ultimate absorption was passed by the last Royal Commission, though an effort is now being made to save its independent existence, and there may be many who think that with some improvement it might be rendered of great advantage to poor men. Why should that judgment of Lord Curzon be thrown overboard, and an entirely new scheme for St. Edmund Hall, in the nature of a private Bill, be put before the House?

St. Edmund Hall is the last remaining academical hall in the university. There is no other institution like this at Oxford or Cambridge at the present time. For myself I am sorry that, it is to be continued at all, but if it is to be continued, I would be very glad to take money from rich rural parishes for the educational purposes of that hall, and that is what this Bill does. But I see no reason why it should be continued at all, and that is what the right hon. Gentleman will have to explain. An academical hall—and this is the only one remaining—is an institution which has no, foundation, and practically no recognised corporate authority or existence. St. Edmund Hall is an old building, and an old foundation, though it is not a corporate body, and in this hall from time to time a certain man is placed as principal. The present principal has been there since 1856, and therefore he is a very honoured and experienced gentleman—I have nothing to say against him—but there is no wealth attached to a hall as there is to a college. The principal of St. Edmund Hall is appointed by Queen's College, which is in close proximity just across the way, and when once appointed he has power to admit students and fix the fees they shall pay. He has to see that they behave properly, and that they get some sort of instruction, and eventually to present them for degrees if they can be got up to pass the examinations. These halls have done in the past a certain amount of good by providing places where poor men can come, men very often not only poorly equipped in this world's goods, but poorly equipped intellectually also, and by making special terms with the one man, they have been able to become members of the university, and in some cases have taken their degree.

At the present time, St. Edmund Hall has fifty-four undergraduate members, but it has only sixty-three graduate members, that is nine more graduates than undergraduates. These figures are very remarkable. Every college ought to pass a number of undergraduates into the ranks of graduates every year, and the graduate members of a college or hall ought to, and in almost all cases do, exceed by many times the number of undergraduate members. The right hon. Gentleman may say that a number of graduates have taken their names off the books. That may be so. They do not show enough interest in the hall to keep their names on the books in considerable numbers are told that the reason why an attempt is being made to maintain the separate existence of St. Edmund Hall is because a large number of the members have an enthusiasm for the old place of learning. If that were so they would keep their names on the books, but they do not. That makes another reason why the course adopted by this Bill in continuing the separate existence of St. Edmund Hall against the opinion of the Chancellor of the University, and of the Royal Commission, has no justification. I come now to the special nature of this particular case. In the year 1763, an old member of Queen's College made a will, by which she left £1,000 for the university, with the wish that a living was to be bought and held in conjunction with the principalship of St. Edmund Hall. That sum, after the death of the pious donor, accumulated for a number of years. It was not, until 1821 that the living of Gatcombe was actually purchased, and it, was not until three years afterwards that the first presentation took place, and the present occupant of the office, the principal of St. Edmund Hall and Rector of Gatcombe, is only the second man who has been appointed to this living under the will of the pious founder.

The third question I have to put to my right hon. Friend is this: He, I believe, respects pious founders, and especially the wills of pious benefactors, to his and my university. Here is a pious benefactor whose benefaction only came into operation in 1824. Why does he want already to sweep it entirely away? In this matter I am a better Conservative than he. This Bill proposes that the pious benefaction which gave to St. Edmund Hall the Rectory of Gatcombe shall be subverted and the two offices shall not be held in common in future. There may be reasons in favour of that which I quite recognise. I am myself against pluralities, and I think most people are, but if the present principal of St. Edmund Hall is against pluralities, he should not be such a pluralist himself. I want to speak of Dr. Moore, the present head of St. Edmund Hall, with all possible respect. He is a most distinguished gentleman, and a very great Italian scholar, and one of the greatest authorities on Dante in the world—I believe one of the greatest authorities on Dante who have ever lived—but he is not only the head of St. Edmund Hall and Rector of Gatcombe, he is also Canon of Canterbury. If you want to abolish pluralities, here is your opportunity. Suppose we admit the whole case, with all its specious and objectionable incidents, and suppose we admit the principle that the two offices of Rector of Gatcombe and head of St. Edmund Hall should be separate, why, in doing so, do you take £150 from the rural parish and give it to Oxford University? Remember what that money is. It is the original ancient foundation, the property of the parish, and the endowment of the parish.

Only six months ago, in January of this year, we on this side, in connection with the Welsh Church, proposed that ancient endowments should be transferred to the University of Wales; and I have here a Report of the Debate on the 17th January, when the hon. Member for Wilton (Mr. C. Bathurst), who is a moderate man, and does not generally indulge in violent language, spoke of the proposal as a "breach of trust, a sacrilege, a robbery of the Church, and a robbing of God." I am delighted to think that this practice that was denounced by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite six months ago is adopted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University (Sir W. Anson) as the principle of this Bill. As a matter of fact, I think the House ought to assent to a Second Reading of the Bill if one or two modifications are made in it. I put it to the right hon. Gentleman whether he ought to take £150 from this parish and give it to the head of St. Edmund Hall? If he were to give it to the poor students, then I should be with him, but I am not in favour of giving it to the head of St. Edmund Hall. I am emboldened to say so because the Oxford University Commissioners in 1877, as I have already mentioned, said that St. Edmund Hall was not to be united with Queen's College until twenty-four exhibitions of £25 a year were established for the poor students. That has not been done. I submit that in bringing forward this proposal the right hon. Gentleman must advance a good deal in the way of defence of it before it can be accepted in this house. I have put an Instruction on the Paper that the Bill shall only become operative when those exhibitions for poor students are found. Upon that subject I have more to say later on, because I dare say we shall on this side of the House be content to give a Second Reading to the Bill. We are here in considerable numbers. Many hon. Members on this side take a very keen interest in the Bill, and, as far as I can see, only one or two Members for the universities are here. There are two University Members who have been whipped up.


On a point of Order. On what ground does the hon. Gentleman make the observation that I have been whipped up? Not a word has passed between the right hon. Member for Oxford University and me.


I apologise if I have said anything at all offensive, but it is quite notorious that a Whip has been sent out to every Member. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] A statement, then, has been sent out to every hon. Member in this House, and it ends with the request, "In these circumstances it is respectfully asked that the Bill may he read a second time." I have received a great deal milder Whips than that. I really do earnestly and seriously put to the right hon. Gentleman opposite that there are many points about this Bill which require modification. He is a very reasonable man. I am one of his constituents, and although I do not always agree with him, yet, personally, I entirely respect him, and I shall listen most patiently for his explanation, but that explanation must be forthcoming before the Bill gets a Second Reading.


I beg to second the Amendment.

This Bill has in it, it seems to me, many excellent proposals. It does away at least with one plurality. These pluralities in connection with ecclesiastical affairs have ever been offensive to a great many people. This Bill will do away with one. Then it provides that the clergyman, who is rector of this parish, shall reside among his people. That, also, I think, is a very excellent improvement. For a great part of the year, in the case of the present holder, it would be impossible for him to reside among his people, and this Bill provides that he shall live in his parish, or near to his parish. In the next place, it provides £150 a year for the chaplain of St. Edmund Then, if I correctly understand the Bill, or if I am correctly informed—I do not see it in the Bill, though I am told it is what it means—the Bill recognises the right of a layman to be appointed as chaplain—[An HON. MEMBER: "Principal."]—of St. Edmund Hall, and this widens the field of selection. May I refer to what I conceive to be objections to the Bill. I agree with my hon. Friend that it is very objectionable that this measure should be called a private Bill rather than a public Bill. Then it takes from this parish of Gatcombe, in the Isle of Wight, £150 a year, and hands it over to the University of Oxford, though I think that Oxford is rich enough already. The next objection to the Bill is that it will withhold from the parishioners of Gatcombe the right to appoint their own chaplain. I do not propose to elaborate that point, but I think that the parishioners should be given the right to select the clergyman who is to guide them. I agree with all that the Mover of the Amendment has said, but so far as I am personally concerned I have no wish to push the matter to a Division. I hope that the Bill may get a Second Reading, and the House can proceed to deal with it afterwards.


I am quite prepared to offer the explanation that hon. Members desire in respect of this Bill. I am sorry the hon. Member for Somerset (Mr. King) regarded the statement which was send round to every Member of the House as in the nature of a Whip. I had a little conversation with him some days ago on the subject of this Bill, and we clearly decided that neither of us would make any effort to bring our friends on one side or the other on this question. I told him it might be necessary to issue an explanatory statement that would be addressed to every Member of the House in a form without any special demand on Members of one side or another to come forward and support this Bill. On the question of whether this is a private Bill or not, with great submission I would point out that the objects of this Bill are, firstly, to transfer the advowson of a living from one corporation to another, from the University of Oxford to Queen's College, and next to impose a charge of a certain amount of money to be applied to ecclesiastical purposes in accordance with the wishes of the benefactor who endowed it first. I venture to submit that that is essentially the character of a private Bill, and that on that point the objection falls to the ground. This Bill is really part of a much larger scheme with which, I think, almost every Member of the House would be in sympathy really is to preserve the identity and the corporate character of a small, flourishing, and ancient society, the Society of St. Edmund Hall, which has been a place of study since the end of the thirteenth century, and which desires to retain its corporate capacity. The site of the building of St. Edmund Hall some hundreds of years ago was acquired by Queen's College, and also the right of appointing a president. The Hall is an independent body, and the principal was endowed partly out of fees and rents for rooms and so on. As has been stated in the short notice that was sent around, in the latter part of the eighteenth century Dr. Holmes gave a thousand pounds to the university to be expended by the university on the purchase of a living of not less than £200 per year, to be held in trust to give to the principal for the time being of St. Edmund Hall. The university kept the money by for some time, but eventually made a very successful purchase, because the living of Gatcombe is now worth more than £500 per year net.

That was the position of Edmund Hall at, the time of the University Commission. It was a place to which poorer students resorted, it was flourishing and independent, with a strong sense of cor- porate existence. I may tell the hon. Member that it does not follow that because the names of the members of a college or hall are not on the books that they relax in any way in their loyalty and regard for the foundation from which they came. I think I could point to very distinguished Members in this House of some colleges who have not kept their names on the books. I will not go into further detail, but their loyalty to the colleges, to which they owe a great deal, is undoubted. The fact that there are between forty and fifty undergraduate members of St. Edmund Hall, and not more than sixty or seventy more on the hooks, simply means that being a body of poor men they have not thought it worth while to extend the sum which is necessarily expended on the university degree in order to keep their names on the books. The University Commission in 1877 proposed that when the present principal retires or dies St. Edmund Hall should be entirely merged in Queen's College. Queen's College was to retain the fabric and to take over the advowson of Gatcombe, and also to take over all the fees and other payments by the students of the hall, and as a return for that it was to create those exhibitions to which the hon. Member alluded, namely, twenty-four exhibitions of £25 per year each, to be held by students in the hall. Whether it is desirable that a college should have an annex of poor students ear-marked as poor students is a question I do not wish to discuss now, but that is the origin and the reason why this charge was imposed on Queen's College for those exhibitions. That now has fallen to the ground, because it seemed to the University that it should not he carried out. An amending Statute has the assent of the King in Council. The liability, therefore, depended on a certain state of things which never took place, and cannot now take place.

St. Edmund Hall was extremely anxious as time went on to retain its independent existence, and that feeling has lasted for a good many years during which efforts have been made to come to terms so as to secure the continued independence of the hall. Under the Statute of the University Commissioners the hall remained in this state of uncertainty for a number of years. The hon. Member alluded to Dr. Moore's tenure of these separate offices in the Church, the living, the canonry, and the principalship. Dr. Moore has really retained the principalship because directly he resigned it the Statute of the University Commissioners would come into force and the hopes of the hall would be frustrated as to retaining their independent existence. The hon. Member has referred to a document published by Lord Curzon, but I may tell him that the arrangement which has been now come to between the college and the hall was brought about mainly through the efforts of Lord Curzon himself. He felt, as I think most people would feel, that it is net desirable to destroy the separate identity of a small and flourishing institution. Therefore the desire of the hall to retain its corporate life with its college, its hall, its chapel, its boat on the river, which is not without distinction, and all the symbols and symptoms of college and corporate life, has been carried into effect by the Statute which the King in Council gave his consent to early this year. The purport of the Statute is that the Queen's College retains the hall in fee simple and the power of appointment of principal. The position of the university as trustee of the endowment is not touched, because the Statute contemplated the passage of the Bill which is now before the House by which it will be possible, as it was not possible under such a Statute as was passed by the King in Council, to impose a charge on the living for the benefit of the religious services of the hall.

What is the result? The hall has the advantage that the area of choice of principal is widened by the opportunity of taking a layman as an alternative to a clerical principal. At the same time, security is taken, as it was never taken before, for the maintenance of the fabric, for teaching, for discipline, and for the publication of the accounts of the hall, for the benefit of the authority which looks after the finances of the university, and of the public who may be interested in the matter. If the hall is to remain independent it ought to get some benefit from the gift of Dr. Holmes in the eighteenth century. If it is to get any benefit, I feel, in accordance with the principles which prevail, on this side of the House, that the benefits should be appropriated to the ecclesiastical services and purposes of the hall. Any member of the university in this House is probably aware that under the Act which abolished university tests, there is a statutory requirement which makes a chaplain a necessity for very college and every hall. There is no more appropriate use for Dr. Holmes's endow- ment than that of providing for the chapel services of the hall, and this consistently with the well-being of the living at Gatcombe. The question is can Gatcombe afford this charge of £150 a year, which it is proposed to lay upon the living? I have here the latest figures, which I may say are later than those given in "Crockford." The annual value of the living is £505 5s. 11d., with a good house and garden. The population in the last fifty years has varied from 150 to just over 200, and it is now between 160 and 170. Therefore, the population, though it fluctuates, does not show any tendency to increase. The acreage of the living is 1,300, so that there is no very great strain on the incumbent. That is a serious consideration, in calculating the value of the living, because if the incumbent has to travel large distances, he must be a man of physical endurance, or have some pecuniary means.


Has the hon. Member any facts about the glebe? "Crockford" puts the glebe at thirty acres.


I think the glebe brings in a certain number of pounds a year.


In addition to the £500?

9.0 P.M.


No; the tithe and glebe included amount to a little over £500. Therefore, the incumbent will have an income of £350 a year; Gatcombe will have what it has not had for nearly a hundred years, a resident incumbent; and St. Edmund Hall will have a chaplain provided. Under these circumstances the principal will be expected to pay back some proportion of the revenue of the hall to the tuition fund, and if the principal is a layman the chaplaincy will be held by the vice-principal, with an endowment of £150 a year. What will happen if this Bill is rejected by the House? The university holds the living in trust to present to the principal of St. Edmund Hall, if he is in orders. If, therefore, when the present principal resigns, Queen's appoints a person in orders, the old trouble of a partially resident incumbent at Gatcombe will be perpetuated. On the other hand, if Queen's appoint a layman, the university will have a nice piece of patronage, and the whole purpose of Dr. Holmes' gift will be frustrated. I submit that the case for the passing of his Bill is made out. It would be an advantage to the hall for whose benefit the endowment was intended, and it is not possible to impute to the Promoters of the Bill the appropriation of ecclesiastical revenue for secular purposes. I hope, therefore, that the Bill will be permitted to pass.


We are much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his very lucid and temperate explanation on the provisions of this Bill. We are very pleased to hear from him that St. Edmund Hall maintains its boat on the river with honour. A few months ago the fear was expressed, I believe by the right hon. Gentleman himself, that the example of the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Church in Wales would be followed in England. I hope to show that it has been followed to-night, although we did not expect it to come so soon, especially from the quarter from which it has come. The right hon. Gentleman has given us a recital of the facts from his point of view. I propose to state them as they appear from my point of view. If I err in any way I shall be very pleased if the right hon. Gentleman will pull me up. Here is the story from my point of view. A pious founder, of whom we heard so much a few months ago, and of whom we shall probably hear a great deal next week, left in his will a thousand pounds for the specific purpose of connecting the principal of St. Edmund Hall with the actual work of a rural parish. If he had been giving the thousand pounds merely for the maintenance of the principal, he would have said nothing about purchasing an advowson. He would have given the money to the university, and left it there as a provision for the principal. It is quite obvious that the whole purpose and intention of this pious founder in the year 1763 was permanently to join the principal of this hall with the practice of religion in the actual work of the parish. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman has told us, this money was accumulated until 1821. What happened then? This money given by a definite will and testament of this pious founder in 1763 to the University of Oxford does not purchase a living close by Oxford, to which the principal might attend, but they go all the way to the Isle of Wight to purchase it. See what happens in the Isle of Wight?

There is this ancient parish of Gatcombe and the old church foundation dating from the thirteenth century with the various arrangements associated with the parish, adequate and necessary for the people like those there—the patronage of this old living of Gatcombe with its ancient glebe was undoubtedly established by another very pious founder away back in the days before wills and testaments were drawn up. This was the case with the bulk of endowments of our own Welsh Church. That right of patronage vesting in the property attached to the Manor of Gatcombe right down to the present time, was purchased by the University of Oxford, so that this pious donor's £1,000 disposed of the earlier pious donor without any consideration whatever for the trust or its sanctity. Instead of the Manor of Gatcombe acting as manors used to—vicariously for the people upon the manor of an estate and arranging who should have the cure of souls amongst the people of that parish, there is an automatic arrangement that whoever might be selected for his learning or scholarship by the principal of St. Edmund Hall should henceforth impose himself upon the parishioners of Gatcombe and the manor because they have been bought out by this £1,000. That is the first interesting item in the story.

The second which interests me—because the parallel is so exact and the analogy so complete—is this: that by the confession of the promoters of this Bill themselves, for it is printed in the Preamble, and a longer and more astonishing Preamble I never heard of, one of the principal reasons why they want this Bill is that the people in Gatcombe have not been served by the principal of this hall, but have been left there in charge of a curate. That does not surprise me. The thing that interests me is that the right hon. and learned Gentleman and his friends have at last put into print what we have been contending here; that is what has been the matter with us in Wales all along, that the people who have the endowments kept some very ineffective curates looking after the cure of souls of the people. That is the second feature of this very interesting Bill, the introduction of which I welcome to-night with what sincerity and joy I can possibly exhibit. We carry ourselves a stage further—to the stage proposed in this Bill. What is it? Here I repeat again that the pious founder in 1763 arranged for a patronage of a little parish in a rural district and for the disposal of an endowment which he left. That has all been torn up, because the hon. and learned Gentleman cannot point, I know, to a single line in the will and testament of that founder that said the Money was to be given for a chaplain of St. Edmund Hall. This testament of this pious founder was to purchase a living, and he left it to that parish, the whole of this endowment, for the ministration of the souls of that parish. What is very remarkable in the matter is this, that it is not merely the tearing up, and pillaging, and plundering of a sacred trust of which we have heard so much, and about the origin of which and the terms of which there is considerable doubt and no certainty and dispute! Mark, we in Wales have never, never come within miles of the actual wills or testaments—


The hon. Member is now discussing the Welsh Church Bill and not the Bill which is before the House. Time is short, and I would invite him to give his attention to the Bill we are discussing and to leave the other historical aspects of the case till next week.


I shall try to avoid giving too much of that side; but I was only dealing with the stages of this Bill with a view for the guidance of the House to bringing out their particular significance. I shall try to respect your ruling and avoid going too far. The point I wish to call the attention of the House to in this Bill is that you are actually tearing up the actual instrument, because I notice that in Clause 4 it is said that this property shall

"be vested in Queen's College for ever freed and discharged from any trust under the recited will or otherwise, but subject to the provisions of this Act."

There never was a more flagrant example of the abuse of trusts—if it be an abuse—in the knowledge of hon. Gentlemen opposite than in this Clause 4. It is here that they say in cold, callous print that they are tearing this instrument up and disposing for ever by this Act—a, private Act—not a public Act—of all the recited terms of the will of this particular pious founder. I follow the Bill one stage further, the last stage. Not only do hon. Members through this Bill thus tear up an ancient trust and nay no regard to its actual terms and conditions, but they do not even follow the doctrine of cy près. It is followed in the other Bill. This £150 that is being forcibly taken away is not, as has already been said, to poor people with the parishioners, or poor scholars to be sent up by the Commissioners. It is given to the principal of the college. It is true that there is a provision here as to something about a chaplain. That is all very well. That can be provided for in other ways. The point cannot be got away from that if the principal or the vice—principal of the college is in any way in holy orders they take this £150. The right hon. Gentleman knows there was no need—no absolute need—to take £150 away from the parish. In addition, I will call attention to another feature and the manner in which this money is taken away. It is not a new arrangemnent made for allowing the people of Gatcombe to select their own incumbent for the future and to arrange this money. The incumbency is handed over to Queen's College, a body that does not appear in the will of the founder or the original testament, and, who knows? perhaps there was nothing that, the pious founder abominated more than Queen's College, because the rivalry between the colleges in Oxford was notorious. In, addition, there is this other point the manner in which it is provided that this £150 shall he disposed of. They do not make new arrangemnets and say that for the future there shall be, say, £300 a year in Gatcombe, and that there shall be £150 in Edmund's Hall. They go about it in the worst possible way and the most invidious way that could be conceived, because they leave the living at Gatcombe and its endowments as a perpetual charge upon the rector which proves, I might say, that those who a month ago were gamekeepers had now turned poachers. I ask the House to turn to Clause 6, where they will find a most remarkable arrangement between the vicar and the hall that has ever been put into an Act of Parliament, and such as certainly never was proposed and never would be proposed in any Act of Parliament by a Welsh Member. Clause 6 states that should this unfortunate rector at any time be in arrears with his payment of £150, the principal of St. Edmund Hall is to have power to put in a Receiver and to take charge of the endowment to secure his £150, and is to have the power of the Conveyancing and Law of Property Act, 1881, and all his powers are to be like those of the mortgagee of an estate. You talk of the robbery of God! What about the mortgage of God? I just wanted to recite the terms of the Bill, because I think they speak for themselves, and I hope they will speak next week as they ought to speak. I cannot refrain from expressing my regret that the Noble Lord the other Member for Oxford (Lord Hugh Cecil) could not have managed to be present. I could not help observing that he is in the Lobbies outside. I can suspect why he is not here to support this Bill. I can quite understand that a Member who proposes to oppose the Welsh Disestablishment Bill next week could not support this Bill. I make a present of these considerations to hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I hope their views on ancient endowments will be as broad and liberal next week as they are here to-night.

The CHAIRMAN of WAYS and MEANS (Mr. Whitley)

The Chairman of Ways and Means has to listen to many speeches, but he does not make many, and I hope the House will therefore bear with me for a few minutes while saying one or two words. 8.15 is the proposed time for taking opposed private business. An hour and some minutes has been occupied by a number of hon. Members saying what an excellent Bill this is, so it would appear it ought never to have come on at the time for opposed private business.


I am in opposition to it.


I have risen to make a very serious appeal to hon. Members. I am the unfortunate person who is charged by this House with the supervision of the work of 110 private Bills through their various stages of this These private Bills have all to go through an elaborate series of stages. They have to comply with the Rules made by the House itself, and Rules which involve the promoters of private Bills in very serious expenses. I am bound by my office to make this appeal to hon. Members, and to every hon. Member, to recollect that we make those Rules for the promoters of those private Bills, and we ought to bear that in mind in our proceedings. And if we are to spend so much time over stages which are not apparently very contentious, it will mean interference with the general public legislation, which will have the effect of the prolongation of our proceedings which perhaps hon. Members do not realise. As long as I am charged with the care of these private Bills I will discharge my duty and I must see that they have fair opportunity of going through their various stages. I recognise, of course, that there are Bills that the House is justified in refusing and overruling decisions of its Committees, but the presumption of our private business is that we send Bills, as a general rule, upstairs to be examined in detail by hon. Members to whom we delegate that duty. I do ask the House, without a too long consideration of this stage of Second Reading, to allow this Bill and similar Bills to go to the appointed tribunal, the Private Bill Committees, where a class of work is done which the more I know of it the more I am proud of it. I do think we ought not to take upon ourselves here upon the floor of the House duties so competently discharged by Committees upstairs, and that appeal includes an appeal to hon. Members who have put Instructions upon the Paper that they should leave the matters proposed in these Instructions to be dealt with by the Committee to which I hope this Bill will be sent and which has more time and more opportunity of looking into the details of the Bill than are possible upon the floor of the House.


I do not at all take exception to the appeal of the Chairman of Ways and Means that criticism of this Bill at this stage should he confined to moderately concise protests from those opposed to the main principles of the Bill. But I scarcely think he should appeal to the House to give a Second Reading to a Bill like this until someone is heard who is opposed to its principle. I rose at each favourable opportunity in order that I might address a few words to the House, not at all upon the lines of Disestablishment in Wales—Members who support that very rightly welcomed this Bill, because it represents their case to the utmost limit—but as one who takes the view of the Church of England parishioner in this rural district. I want to suggest that there is no justification, if we turn our minds to the village of Gatcombe and the worshippers there, in the Church of England, for a rank measure of spoliation of this description, which must be really painful to anyone in this House concerned in the rural parishes with the Church of England. My objection is this: I do not deny that the right hon. Gentleman proved to the House that an income of £505 for a parish consisting of 160 people, of whom I dare say a considerable proportion are Nonconformists—and my information is that there are a considerable body of Nonconformists in this parish—is a large sum. But I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, and to every Churchman in this House, whether merely to make a case for the Disestablishment Bill next week we ought to pass a measure of this description. Surely the money should be devoted to other parishes. I ask the House whether it is fair to consider St. Edmund Hall, Oxford. It may be in need of money, and may be an excellent institution. I am not challenging that; but surely we have men on the other side of the House who could take care of St. Edmund Hall.

There are many parishes of the Church of England where the emoluments and the remuneration of the country vicars are modest beyond degree, and they cannot maintain their wives and children in consequence, and give them an education. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University knows very well that throughout the country there are clergymen in the Church of England working for a mere pittance, and the proper thing to have done was not to take this money from the parish of Gatcombe and take it away to Oxford, but it should have been taken for some of the poor parishes in the Church of England. To forget these poor curates in this way, and for the right hon. Gentleman to take this money for the university he represents, does not at all meet the justice of the case. The right hon. Gentleman apparently wants to get hold of a little for his constituents, so that he can go back and say, "Look what I have got for you." I appeal to the House and to the promotors of all such Bills as this that they should remember the poverty-stricken parishes where the clergy are struggling under very adverse circumstances. I am surprised that the Member for the Isle of Wight is not present to prevent, a parish in his constituency from being robbed by such a Bill as this. The hon. Member for Somerset turned the discussion upon the university foundation, but the people who should be considered are the parishoners in this small parish of Gatcombe. If there is any Division against this Bill, I shall certainly go into the Lobby against it, in the interests of the poor clergymen of the Church of England, whose interests do not seem to have any concern for hon. Members opposite.


In view of the statements which have been made by hon. Members opposite, I should be sorry if those outside imagine for a moment that those statements are an accurate representation of the Bill before the House. I have no interest whatever in this Bill, and I do not wish to intervene in the domestic differences between the hon. Member for Oxford and the hon. Member for Somerset. The statement which has been made and which is absolutely incorrect is that this Bill proposes to devote money which is at present devoted to ecclesiastical purposes, or to what has been called the services of God, to secular purposes. That is absolutely inaccurate.




I have read the Bill and I will recite what it does in a moment. There is all the difference in the world between devoting money used for ecclesiastical purposes of any kind, whether Church of England or Nonconformist denominations, to purely secular purposes, such as libraries or public bodies, and devoting the money, as this Bill does, from one ecclesiastical purpose to another ecclesiastical purpose. There is a great difference between the two. The proposal of the Bill may be good or it may be bad, but it proposes that in future the two duties should be separated and the sum of £150 is to be taken from the parish of Gatcombe and applied to the salary of the chaplain, who must be a member of the Church of England, at St. Edmund Hall in the University of Oxford. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I am going to quote the words of the Statute. The £150 has to be paid to the principal of St. Edmund Hall if he is a priest of the Church of England, and he will have to do the duty of chaplain. He must be in orders in the Church of England. I am not arguing whether that is wise or not.


It is not correct.


That is the point which I wish to make absolutely clear. The Bill provides that £150

"should be paid by the Principal to the Vice-Principal of the Hall, and that if the Principal should be a Priest in Holy Orders he should, after the passing of such Act, receive the annual sum of £150, being the amount of such charge for his own use and benefit, that the Principal should exercise the offices of Dean and Tutor in the Hall and take part in the instruction of its members, and if in Priest's Orders should act as Chaplain for the performance of Divine Service in the Chapel of the Hall."

Clause 16 further provides:—

"That he should from time to time appoint a Vice-Principal of the Hall, such Vice-Principal to be a Priest in Holy Orders if the Principal were not a Priest in Holy Orders, and in that case to act as Chaplain for the performance of Divine Service in the Chapel of the Hall."

so that the £150 is bound to be devoted to a person in holy orders, and who has to do the duty of performing Divine Service in the chapel of the hall.


Where does it say that?


If I might be allowed to offer an explanation I would like to point out that the application of this £150 is governed by a University Statute, and the money can only be used for the purpose I have described.


When that operates there must be a chaplain, therefore it will leave another £150 to be devoted to secular purposes.


The £150 goes to the person who is the chaplain.


And it leaves £150 for secular purposes.


That certainly is not so. This £150 is taken by the Bill and it goes to the person who is the chaplain. That is the only effect of this measure, and the money goes to the person who does duty as chaplain. It is possible that you may set a certain sum of money free elsewhere, but the money has to go for an ecclesiastical purpose and to an ecclesiastical body, and if the person it goes to is not in holy orders does not receive it. Therefore it is not a case of devoting a sum of money from ecclesiastical purposes to secular purposes, and it was for that reason that I got up to contradict what is absolutely a wrong impression.


I have in mind the remarks which have just been made by the Chairman of Ways and Means, and therefore I will not attempt to follow the arguments of the hon. and learned Member who spoke last except to say that on this side of the House we do not agree with him. The only point I wish to make is that there is a serious question of principle involved in this Bill, and unless we refer to it now the Committee might not pay that attention to it which ought to be paid to the matter, and the Bill might suffer in consequence on the Third Reading. The House should really recollect the facts. We are here overriding the wishes of pious benefactors, and are starting out afresh to say what shall be done. I want particularly to express the hope that the Committee will seriously consider whether the allocation as set out in the Bill is really the best allocation in the interests of religion and learning. If they are satisfied on that point, we, of course, will naturally follow them, but I have no reason to suppose that the agreement between Queen's College and St. Edmund Hall is necessarily the best possible agreement, and I trust the Committee will consider that point.


I rise as a warm supporter of this Bill. I believe that it is a necessary and practical Bill, but I must say that I listened with surprise to the remarks of the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson), and with some surprise to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir W. Anson). They are prepared to take, as the House is prepared to take part of the, endowment of a living and devote it mainly to educational purposes, and all we ask is that they should have the courage of their convictions and say so. As to the taking of the endowment, that is perfectly plain. It is expressed quite clearly in the Preamble of the Bill.

"And whereas the celebration of Divine Service and the other parochial duties relating to the Cure of Souls within the said Rectory have for many years past been performed by a Curate in charge of the said Rectory and under the provisions of the last recited Statute it will be impossible for the Principal of the Hall to perform such duties in person:"

You would have thought that all further claim upon the endowment of the living would have been resigned. Not at all. They take from the living £150 a year, which was intended by the founders of the living to be devoted to the cure of souls, and it is obviously intended by those who framed this Bill, that it should benefit St. Edmund Hall. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University said quite clearly, every college and every hall in the university is bound at present to appoint a chaplain who must be an ordained member of the Church of England, and even if this Bill did not pass, St. Edmund Hall would still be bound to provide its own chaplain. If this Bill passes it is a very convenient way of providing the salary which the chaplain requires. I think that is a good thing. I think it is a good thing to set free £150 a year which Edmund Hall would otherwise have to provide for the chaplain in order to use it in this way; but, at any rate, let Oxford University and the right hon. Gentleman who represents it have the courage to say so. The right hon. Gentleman said it was not possible to impute an appropriation of ecclesiastical property. What else is this House asked to do to-night but to legalise the appropriation of ecclesiastical property? I am not surprise the Noble Lord who also represents Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) is not in his place.

Question, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed.

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