§ Whenever it shall appear to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, whether on their own motion or any representation made to them, that inquiry ought to be made as to the desirability of uniting two or mare benefices, or one or more benefice or benefices, and one or more sinecure or sinecures, being either in the same parish or neighbouring to each other, they may address a request to the Bishop of the diocese, in which that one of those benefices which has the largest population shall be situate, to cause a commission to be issued under his hand and seal addressed to three persons to be nominated as in the next Section mentioned, authorising and requiring them to inquire and report to him whether such union may, with advantage to the interests of religion, be made, and to inquire into and report on all such matters in anywise affecting such union, or connected therewith, as they may deem necessary, and to recommend terms for effecting any union in favour of which they report, including the regulation of the course and succession 620 in which the patrons (if there he more than one patron) shall present or nominate to the united benefice from time to time as the same shall become vacant. The Bishop shall thereupon issue the commission, and the Commissioners shall thereupon make a local inquiry in the prescribed manner as to the matters referred to them.
§ Sir S. HOARE
I beg to move, to leave out the word "three," and to insert instead thereof the word "the."
The object of this Amendment, and the subsequent Amendments which stand in my name to Clause 2, is a very simple one. The machinery for settling the union of benefices is a Commission composed of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the Bishop and the patron. The object of this Amendment and the other Amendments is to give the parishes a direct say into the question of whether the benefices shall be united or not.
The result will be if this Amendment be carried that the four churchwardens of the parish concerned would be empowered to appoint a member of that Commission. The Commission would consist of four persons, and the chairman would have a casting vote in the ease of the votes being equal. I think this is an improvement. The proposal has been unanimously agreed to by the various Church representatives who have promoted the Bill.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.