HC Deb 11 August 1919 vol 119 cc1032-3

The date of Disestablishment of the Church in Wales shall, notwithstanding anything in the Welsh Church. Act, 1914, or the Suspensory Act, 1914, or any Order made there under, be, for the purposes of this Act and of the first-mentioned Act, the thirty first day if March, nineteen, hundred and twenty.


I beg to move, to leave out the words "March, nineteen hundred and twenty," and to insert instead thereof the words "December, nineteen, hundred and nineteen."

I do not know why it is proposed to defer the date of Disestablishment to March,. 1920, unless it is for the purpose of including funds which will be at the disposal of the Church for all purposes except for national purposes. Under the Welsh. Church Act of last year tithe has been, fixed for the next seven years at £109, but for the purposes of commutation tithe will have to be commuted at the prevailing septennial average. The average for the present year is £124. Next year it is assumed that it will have advanced to £136. The object of this Amendment is to-limit the expenditure of the Treasury by making the date not later than 31st December, 1919. This will give ample time and will save the Treasury at least £282,000.


I hope that my hon. Friend will not press this Amendment. This question was gone into very carefully. I discussed the whole matter with the Welsh Church Commissioners and the others concerned. There is a large amount of work which has to be done by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, Queen Anne's Bounty and other bodies. That work cannot be done by the 31st of December this year. We appreciated the effect of this, and when we discussed a settlement with the Welsh Nonconformist members and the Church representatives we went upon the basis that the date of Disestablishment could not be before next year. It will not cost the Treasury anything like what my hon. Friend has said, because I am sure that if the period is pro-dated, instead of having it the 31st of March next year to the 31st of December "this year, it will mean so much rushing and so much additional expense that in all probability the gain will not be worth the trouble which it will cost. Therefore, I hope my hon. Friend will not press this. We have discussed the whole matter on the basis on which we have made all our calculations. Of course the sufferer, if there be sufferer at all, would no doubt be the British taxpayer. But 1 do not think it would be anything like so serious a matter as my hon. Friend has suggested, because the whole of the saving would not be gained as between £124 and £136, even if it is £136. By bringing forward the date and causing a rush and the engagement of an extra staff that would have to be created, the effect in the long run would be that the country would not gain at all by it.

Amendment negatived.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.