HC Deb 30 November 1920 vol 135 cc1203-5

Order for Second Reading read.

Colonel Sir R. SANDERS (Lord of the Treasury)

I beg to move "That the Bill be now read a second time."


I think we are entitled to some statement from the representative of the Charity Commissioners. I understand it comes within their purview.


This is merely a Bill in the ordinary form to confirm a scheme which the Charity Commissioners have made. They have gone into the matter and have made out a scheme, which appears in the Schedule, for the application and management of this charity money. It is vested in the trustees of the Congregational Union of England and Wales, and various Clauses in the Schedule show the way in which the money is to be used. To put it shortly, it is to be used for the ordinary purposes of a Congregational chapel.


How is it being used at present?


I am afraid that is a little more than I can tell on Second Reading.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I do not know that we are very much wiser for the hon. and gallant Gentleman's explanation. I should like to make a protest against taking this Bill. The Government again and again tell us, in answer to our appeals, that they have no choice of bringing in what we think very important legislation which formed part of their pledges at the election. I will only refer to one case, the Minimum Wage Bill. We are told there is no possibility of bringing it in now owing to the pressure of work in the House of Commons. There are many others I could mention which are very desirable and affect many millions of poor people, and yet we are told that the House of Commons has not time to bring them in this Session, although the Bills are apparently ready. Here we are, at six minutes to seven on a Tuesday evening, with a number of possibly important Bills, and yet the Government cannot find time to bring in vital pieces of legislation which the country is crying out for. It shows the bad way in which business of the House is arranged by the Government, and their contempt for the real needs of the people and, I think, their very cavalier treatment of the House. The hon. Member for Greenock (Sir Godfrey Collins) is the only Member of the House who has his name on the back of the Bill, and I daresay there is a very good reason why he is not here to explain it. But I should like to have asked why the Bill is brought before the House at all; secondly, what is the amount of money involved; and, thirdly, is there any sort of method in drawing up the Schedules? I have been reading the Schedules, and the Schedules of this Bill and the Baptist Chapels Charity Bills seem to differ, and I cannot see why they should differ. We are passing these Bills with all the ancient forms and usages of the House, and we ought to know what we are doing, and I should like to know what is the principle on which these Schedules are drawn up, and who decides on them. This Bill consists of one page of Bill and six pages of Schedule. It may all be very admirable, but the particular difference I would draw attention to is that this Schedule deals with persons entitled to attend and vote at meetings, at which, I suppose, it is decided how the money shall be spent, and it says, "Persons, whether male or female, who have attained the age of 21 years, and have been members of the Church during at least six calendar months next preceding the meeting. "In the next Bill but one the same provision is laid down for attending meetings, but there the persons must be 18 years of age. If we are to do our duty properly we are entitled to ask why there is that difference. If the Government cannot tell us now, I hope the matter can be explained in Committee.


These are all Committee points that the hon. and gallant Gentleman has raised. They have all been carefully considered by the Charity Commissioners, and all we are asked to do is to give a Second Reading assent to what they think necessary and desirable in the interests of the funds of the Congregational Church. These details can be discussed in Committee, and the Committee will not be taken to-day.

Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for To-morrow."—[Sir R. Sanders.]