HC Deb 07 April 1952 vol 498 cc2447-8

11.27 p.m.

Mr. John E. Crowder (Finchley)

I beg to move, That the Church of England Pensions Board (Powers) Measure, 1952, passed by the National Assembly of the Church of England, be presented to Her Majesty for Her Royal Assent in the form in which the said Measure was laid before Parliament. The object of this Measure and the effects of its various Clauses are, I think, completely explained in the Appendix to the Report of the Ecclesiastical Committee which met the other day, and which was presented to the House on 13th March last. The Clergy Pensions Measure, 1948, to which this Measure refers, consolidated and, to some extent, amended various Clergy Pensions Measures which have been passed from 1926 onwards. It covered the whole present system of pensions to the clergy and provided a constitution and powers to the Church of England Pensions Board.

Under the 1948 Measure the Board have power to establish and to operate two voluntary funds for relief of the needy amongst retired clergy, their wives, widows and dependants. The Board also has power to use these funds for the acquisition and maintenance of property to be employed as homes for the residence of retired clergy, their wives, widows and dependants. Since this power was obtained in 1948 the Board has had some experience and have acquired seven homes which now accommodate about 154 persons.

As a result of the experience gained the Board has received a number of requests from the trustees of diocesan and other boards operating in the same field to take over the management of their property. One of these trusts represents a considerable sum of money left to the trustees for the purpose of providing accommodation for widows of clergy. The greater part of this Measure is designed to extend the powers of the Board to meet these requests. At the same time, power is taken to deal with certain technical difficulties which have arisen chiefly in connection with the acquisition of property, the owners of which are sometimes unwilling to sell, although they are prepared to let their properties on a long lease.

This Measure gives the Board power to take on such leases. The present accommodation has been run on hotel lines which, from many points of view, is not satisfactory and to which there are obvious objections. It is hoped that as and when further funds are available it may be possible to build or convert existing buildings to provide small houses and flats for these retired people. It is for this reason the powers of a housing association are set up in Clause 4.

In conclusion, I would say a word of explanation about Clause 7, which gives the Board power in connection with the benefits of the scheme to workers other than clergy. There is no satisfactory single scheme for members of the laity, men or women, working in the service of the Church. There are a number of individual schemes of comparatively small scale and it is hoped this new power will enable the Board to co-ordinate these into a satisfactory scheme which will meet the needs of lay workers male and female. This Measure went through the Ecclesiastical Committee without a division, was fully discussed by it when it met three weeks ago and I commend it to the House as being non-controversial.

11.34 p.m.

Sir Patrick Spens (Kensington, South)

I beg to second the Motion.

This Board is taking most useful powers to become trustee of trusts which have the same objects as those for which it was formed, and it will enable similar trusts to be included.

Sir Richard Acland (Gravesend)

I wish to say a word in support of the Motion from this side of the House. The work of the Board and the matter covered by the Measure is of increasing importance because of the rise in costs of all kinds. It is increasingly difficult for clergy in their retirement to find anywhere at all to live, and it is, therefore, of importance that the Board should have increased powers for dealing with the problem that then arises.