§ 32. Mr. W. GRAHAM
asked the Secretary for Scotland whether, in connection with the proposed introduction of the Teind Bill, agreement has been reached with the representatives of the Church of Scotland regarding the terms of the Bill; whether the draft has been submitted to the Committee on Fiars Prices of the General Assembly of the Church; whether, instead of minor differences being remitted to the Secretary for Scotland, the position was that points of difference of vital character were merely reported to him; and whether, in these circumstances, the authorities of the Church of Scotland will be fully consulted before the Bill is introduced?
§ The SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND (Mr. Munro)
As the result of conferences between committees representing the Church of Scotland and the Scottish Land and Property Federation, a large measure of agreement has been reached as to the lines on which legislation dealing with teinds and stipends might proceed. Of this agreement advantage has been taken in the drafting of the Bill which I hope soon to introduce. Several committee points emerged on which the parties were unable to agree, and, as regards these, I have, without binding the respective parties, taken the line which I considered equitable. In framing the draft Bill, much valuable assistance has been received from the expert advisers of the two committees, but I do not think that any advantage would be derived from a formal submission of the draft Bill to the two bodies. I hope, however, that, when the Bill is introduced, it will be accepted by all concerned as a fair solution of the problem.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the proposals are opposed most strenuously by a very large number of clergymen of the Church of Scotland, and that it would be well before introducing this Bill to have some regard to their views, in view of the fact that they consider that a very grave injustice would be inflicted on the Church in Scotland?
§ Mr. MUNRO
My experience teaches me that in any Church question there is always a minority as well as a majority. I would remind my hon. Friend that this Bill is 986 the result of very patient and protracted negotiation between two committees representing both sides, and that any points of difference still remaining are purely Committee points which can be discussed after Second Reading.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are members of the Committee of the Church of Scotland who regard the differences as so substantial as to render it necessary in the interests of justice that there should be further negotiations before the Bill is introduced?