HC Deb 22 July 1941 vol 373 cc852-3
Colonel Sir George Courthope (Rye)

I beg to move, That, in accordance with the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act, 1919, this House do direct that the Diocesan Reorganisation Committees Measure, 1941, be presented to His Majesty for Royal Assent. This Measure is the essential response of the Church Assembly to Section 39 of the War Damage Act, which provides that the War Damage Commission shall have power, instead of making a value payment or a cost of works payment, to pay lump sums to bodies representing Churches and similar organisations, and it was quite obviously necessary that the Church of England should bring its Church laws into conformity with the public Statute law represented by the War Damage Act. As things stand at present, there is an obligation upon incumbents of the Church of England and churchwardens to undertake with reasonable promptitude the restoration of damaged churches. Unfortunately, as everybody knows, a very large number of churches have been either destroyed or seriously damaged. This Measure provides for the necessary delay. It removes the existing obligation from the shoulders of the incumbents and church-wardens, and places the responsibility for providing for the delay and for the necessary reorganisation upon the diocesan committees which will be set up under this Measure. It has already been arranged under the War Damage Act that local matters should be dealt with regionally. The regional officers require a body, other than individual churchwardens and individual parsons, to negotiate with, and further there is this matter to be provided for, that particularly in the great cities, and notably the City of London, where a large number of churches have been destroyed, it will probably be found unnecessary that all those churches should be rebuilt. The Diocesan Reorganisation Committees set up by this Measure will have the power to re-arrange, and make fresh plans, for the provision of necessary churches for the public worship of any given area. I do not think it is necessary to go into a greater detail than this, and I beg to move.

Question put, and agreed to.