HC Deb 18 July 1933 vol 280 cc1726-8

5.40 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 9, line 6, after the word "part,"to insert the words: and by whose predecessor in title such ground or part was originally granted or disponed without valuable consideration for the erection of the church or manse. Sub-section (3) of Clause 9, which was inserted in Committee, is too wide in its terms. It gives to any adjoining heritor the right of pre-emption of any land which the Church no longer requires. In that respect it follows the proviso to Section 37 of the principal Act with regard to teinds. In the case of churches or manses, the more reasonable course would seem to be that the right should be confined to the adjoining heritor whose predecessor in title gave the site for the erection of a, church or manse without consideration received. My hon. Friend the Member for Stirling Burghs (Mr. J. Reid) has on the Paper an Amendment the effect of which would be to confer a right of pre-emption even in cases where the predecessor in title of the adjoining land has given the site for valuable consideration—it might be for full consideration. We have carefully considered this matter, and we think that, if the right of pre-emption is to be conferred, it should be limited to cases in which the predecessor in title of the adjoining land has given the site for nothing. Accordingly, I move the insertion proposed in my Amendment, and I hope that my hon. Friend may see his way not to press his Amendment.

5.43 p.m.


While I recognise that the Government have gone a long way to meet the objection which I took on this Clause, I would venture to ask whether it is not possible to accept the rather wider Amendment which I have put on the Paper—In page 9, line 6, after the word "part,"to insert the words: and from whom, or whose predecessor in title, such ground or part was originally acquired. It is not as though the heritor who is acquiring the site is getting any favourable consideration. He is not getting it for nothing, or for an inadequate price. The reason for the Amendment, in my view, is not so much that he may be recompensed in respect of his ancestors' generosity, as to make that an estate shall not be damaged by reason of persons being entitled to come in and acquire sites without any restriction on their use, thereby, it may be, seriously interfering with the amenities of the neighbourhood. After all, a heritor is very willing either to give or sell land for a purpose such as church or a manse, to which no possible exception can be taken, but it is a very different thing to say that, after the purpose has become obsolete, the land shall still be used and the heritor shall have no right of pre-emption. Will not that consideration weigh with the right hon. Gentleman in order that the somewhat wider proposal may be adopted?

5.46 p.m.


The Amendment really does not meet the point raised Committee, or it only goes a short way towards meeting it. It is limited to the case where the grant in question has originally been disponed by the heritor without valuable consideration. I have not the slightest doubt that there are many cases where some consideration has been given and accordingly, it falls under the category of valuable consideration. But the heritor giving the land for Church purposes has given it for a consideration which was totally inadequate and, for this reason, I feel that the wider Amendment of my hon. Friend ought to be accepted. It is not as if the land was going to be taken away from the Church without the Church getting full payment for it because, if the heritor is not willing to give such a sum as the Church thinks it ought to get, the matter will be referred to arbitration.

Amendment agreed to.