HC Deb 28 May 1952 vol 501 cc1438-57

Any money given or bequeathed wholly for the repair or reconstruction of places of worship of any denomination shall be exempt from death duties.—[Mr. Wood.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Richard Wood (Bridlington)

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The names which stand at the head of the proposed new Clause are not quite so distinguished as those which stood at the head of it last year. It is worded in identical terms, but last year it was moved by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. It is interesting to recall that when he moved it he said: I do not think a proposal of this kind … would either cost the Treasury very much or harm any of the ordinary sound principles of taxation. On the other hand, I am quite satisfied that it would go a long way towards helping in the difficulties of those who have the responsibility of looking after places of worship of every denomination."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 19th June, 1951; Vol. 489, c. 300.] I was most encouraged by those words to hope that the present Chancellor, or the Financial Secretary to the Treasury who is going to reply, and whose personal sympathies with this object are very well known, might find some means this evening of helping in this direction.

There is not very much that I can add to the eloquence and the persuasion which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House used in moving the Second Reading of this new Clause last year. It seems to me that the arguments he used in 1951 are just as compelling in 1952, if not more so, and that they will continue to be more and more compelling as the problem grows in the years to come. It is worth remembering that on that occasion we had a typical, trenchant and forceful contribution from my hon. Friend the Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn), who is now the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education.

The then Chancellor of the Exchequer, the right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell), had to harden his heart and to make the point that he did not think he could single out the repair or reconstruction of places of worship as a particularly charitable object; but he continued, and added these words: We all feel that this is a worthy cause and I am prepared, where there is evidence of serious difficulty, to see whether there is any way in which we would be justified, as a community, and as the Government representing the community, in doing something to help."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th June, 1951; Vol. 489, c. 305.] I hope that in the year which has passed between then and now the Treasury have been able to think along those lines and to find some means by which to accede to this very reasonable request.

I hope that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury will not use the argument of the then Chancellor last year that we cannot distinguish between various objects. It is obviously common knowledge that the State does very often distinguish between more desirable and less desirable objects. It favours, for instance, earned income to unearned income, agricultural land to land used for other purposes, and insurance and national savings against other forms of saving. There are plenty of distinctions which the State makes in favouring one kind of income or property to another.

7.15 p.m.

I believe this case to be particularly strong. We agree that the State must bear some of the responsibility for the immensity of this problem. The proposed new Clause would not have been put down either last year or this year but for the enforced postponement of repairs ever since 1939. That decision resulted in the lack of licences granted to the churches to make repairs. However necessary we may think that decision was—we probably all agree that it was necessary—it was taken by the State. Churches and other places of worship have suffered by reason of that State decision.

In the next 10 years,£4 million will be needed to overcome this situation and to overtake the arrears of repairs which are outstanding. Every hon. Member knows what failure to get that £4 million will mean. I am very doubtful whether, however hard the churches try to raise the money, it will be possible to raise it, unless the churches are given some relief, either by the proposal in the new Clause or in some other way.

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House expressed doubts last year whether the new Clause he had moved was the way to deal with the problem. I certainly would express my own doubts about it this year. There may be other ways to appeal to the Treasury, and by which the Financial Secretary might deal with it. It might be possible to allow a taxpayer to deduct from his income for the computation of Surtax any money which he had requested for this charitable purpose under a covenant. A second means might be that contributions by business firms for the preservation of the local church would be looked at in the same light as contributions toward the local hospital or any other charity of that kind. I realise that I must not pursue this line or I shall be out of order.

All I am suggesting is that there may be other means by which the Government can give help, apart from the one I am suggesting in the proposed new Clause. I am not asking for an Exchequer grant—although I would remind the Financial Secretary that after the Great Fire of London in the 17th century the rebuilt Wren churches—I believe I am right in saying—were financed out of a tax which the Government of the day put on coal. We are not trying to establish a new principle.

I am seeking rather more limited help than was given by the Government of the day in the 17th century, but the principle seems similar. We represent the people of this country and it seems patently obvious that the people of this country really want these churches preserved. We have the power, if we so decide, to help in their preservation by giving some relief of this kind. I would remind the Financial Secretary that the help needed by these churches is relatively small and the achievement of stopping these churches from falling down would be enormous. It will be too late to think about these things when the churches have fallen down.

Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)

I want to support strongly what has been said so moderately by my hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood). Everyone here is aware that the incredible burden of repairing places of worship of all denominations has fallen upon those who seek to sustain this work when they are least able to bear it. Indeed it is a tragedy today that the support to organised religion in this country is declining. But we are still, I sincerely trust, something more than officially a Christian community and we, as the elected representatives of the people, have a high moral duty, as well as a factual one, to seek to influence the Government of today to grant what is only a moderate concession.

The problem is somewhat peculiar in South Wales where my constituency is situated. The Anglican church there is a disestablished body and I can say from personal knowledge that the financial position is far from happy. Recently a special appeal for other purposes was launched, and the burden of maintaining some of the churches in the smaller districts cannot easily be sustained.

Similarly with regard to most of the Nonconformist bodies. In several districts the memberships have maintained by incredible exertions buildings which were erected at a time when the support, both as regards the numbers of their congregations and finance, was far more than it is today. While in other spheres of life as expenses have increased so have incomes, in this case expenses have increased without any similar increase in their annual income. Like the disestablished churches in South Wales, the Nonconformist chapels and churches are having a most difficult job to maintain their buildings.

I sincerely hope the Financial Secretary will be able to say definitely that assistance will be given through taxation, not by way of grant, and not necessarily on the lines of this Clause, as my hon. Friend said. Where these bodies are so fortunate as to receive some small bequest, such exemption would be of practical assistance at small cost to the Treasury.

Mr. T. Driberg (Maldon)

I am glad to say a few words in support of the new Clause and of the Motion moved so tellingly by an hon. Member who is himself the grandson of a distinguished benefactor of the Church. I hope the Financial Secretary will tell us that Her Majesty's Government will take the same view as they took last year. Last year it was not a new Clause moved by a mere back bencher, but one moved officially by the Opposition, by the present Leader of the House, and the Opposition divided on it. So I hope we may expect a favourable answer from the hon. Gentleman

The hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) referred to the Wren churches. Perhaps I might take this opportunity in parenthesis to draw the attention of hon. Members to a White Paper which has crept unobtrusively into the Vote Office in the last few days. It is the Report of the Select Committee on City of London Guild Churches Bill, which will be before this House for discussion perhaps within the next few weeks. As hon. Members will see when they study this document, a fairly elaborate procedure has been found necessary to make possible the very desirable process of rebuilding and restoring these Wren churches which were damaged during the blitz.

There are, however, many other churches all over the country which it is quite impossible to subject to a similar process, but which it is equally desirable on several grounds to restore. The hon. Member was quite right when he stressed the difficulties of raising the necessary money, and this would seem to be one way of doing it. He was right to say that the State already distinguishes between various more or less desirable objects. I might strengthen his point by saying that similar gifts and bequests to the National Trust are already exempt from Death Duties. The hon. Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong there.

Furthermore, speaking from memory, I think it was in the 1951 Act that similar gifts and bequests were exempt when they were made to the Government direct, to local authorities and to universities. It seems to me reasonable to argue that if gifts and bequests to universities and to the National Trust can be exempt, gifts to churches might be roughly regarded as comparable to those.

I can just conceive that an argument might be put up against this by people who point out that, fortunately or unfortunately—unfortunately as most of us think—the Christian churches in this country command only a small minority of the population now among their active adherents. It might be argued: why, therefore, should the community as a whole subsidise in this or in any other way the beliefs or creed of what is a minority amongst us? I would say to people who put up that argument that it is not only on those grounds that this new Clause has been moved, though it is primarily so.

Churches of various periods in our history are among our foremost architectural treasures. That is true of the mediaeval cathedrals and of these Wren churches to which I have referred. It is true even of some modern churches in what we hope is the evolving architectural style of this century. The architectural heritage which we pass on to posterity would be infinitely poorer if it consisted only of museums, castles, domestic architecture and private houses and did not include churches and cathedrals as well. And yet there is, as has been pointed out, a very serious risk that in the next few years it will become increasingly impossible to raise the money needed to restore and maintain these buildings.

For all these reasons, therefore, I hope very much that we shall get a favourable answer from the Government tonight.

7.30 p.m.

Mr. Assheton

I should like to say how much I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood), who introduced the Clause, and with what has been said in support of it from other parts of the Committee. There are two or three definite reasons which would justify us in asking the Government to do something to help the churches at the present time.

In the first place, I do not think anybody would deny that the State owes a great deal to the churches. Take education alone: half the schools of the country have been provided for the State by the churches. Look also at the fact that the churches are, as the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) said, a national heritage from the architectural point of view, quite apart from the religious point of view. Some method of helping them must be found.

In the 17th century, after the Great Fire, a way of helping the churches was found. In the 19th century, after the Napoleonic wars, a direct grant was made. I ask the Financial Secretary to see what he can do to help in finding a way now. When I see £20 or £25 million a year being voted for the universities—a very good thing, I have no doubt—I think it is possible that the State might find a little money over the next 10 or 20 years to help to keep our churches in repair.

Mr. E. Fletcher

I should like to add just a few words in support of the Clause and I earnestly hope that in view of the representations that have been made from both sides of the Committee, the Government will feel able to accept the Clause.

As has been made clear in earlier speeches, the Clause is put forward not merely on religious grounds, but can be well sustained on much wider, national grounds. A great many of our churches and cathedrals, for the preservation of which we are pleading, are national monuments. It would be in line with our history and tradition if a Clause on these lines were adopted by the Government. I imagine that most of our great cathedrals owe their existence to benefactions from testators and others, and one doubts whether they would have been built if Estate Duty had in those days been running at the rate at which it is today.

There is no need whatever to dwell upon the requirement that something should be done to preserve some of these monuments. Hardly a month goes by without one reads in "The Times" or elsewhere an appeal for funds for the preservation of some church of historic value and with historic associations. Reading those appeals in "The Times," one begins to wonder where the funds come from to enable these national memorials to be preserved.

One day it is Lincoln Cathedral. Another day it is Exeter Cathedral. Last year it was the Saxon church at Arreton, in the Isle of Wight. Only a month ago the Prime Minister, as Warden of the Cinque Ports, together with the Archbishop of Canterbury, was appealing for funds to restore the ancient church of Lydd, in Kent. A week ago it was Bosham, renowned because of its representation in the Bayeux tapestries; and so it goes on.

There is no need, therefore, to dwell upon the urgency with which funds should be made available for the preservation of these priceless heritages, to which we owe so much. It is not right that they should be dependent upon the spasmodic response which may result from public appeals, and there may be many worthy objects which do not get supported by the publicity of an appeal sponsored by such eminent names as those I have mentioned.

The case would be met if the Chancellor could adopt some method such as is proposed, which would enable those who are interested in these places, either for religious reasons or on the wider, national grounds, to leave funds for this particularly worthy purpose.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter)

As my hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) rightly said, I have a good deal of personal sympathy with the objects of his proposal. I think that most of us, on both sides of the Committee, are not only aware of, but equally perturbed by, the financial difficulties with which a good many of the churches are faced today.

It was particularly appropriate that an attempt to assist the churches should be embodied in a Clause which was intro- duced by an hon. Member whose family for some considerable time back have had a very honourable and illustrious association with the church to which I also happen to belong. My hon. Friend's speech was well in the tradition which one would expect of him.

Under the existing law, gifts for public or charitable purposes—and the purposes set out in the Clause are, of course, in that category—are subject to Estate Duty only if given within 12 months of the death of the donor. This compares with the five years' rule in the case of gifts made not for charitable purposes, with which hon. Members are familiar.

For the general charitable category, therefore, a very substantial concession is made under the existing law. The real difficulty arises when one tries to discriminate further. My hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington and, I think, the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher), both said, and quite rightly, that the State in various financial aspects of its affairs does discriminate between activities in general which it desires to favour, and activities for which it has, perhaps, rather less enthusiasm.

That is broadly true, but the difficulty begins to arise if one tries to stretch that discrimination too far and to press it on to the point of discrimination, as in this case, inside the general category of charitable gifts. That is the real difficulty which my hon. Friend's Clause poses.

If what my hon. Friend has said has force—and, of course, it has considerable force—with relation to the repair of churches, it would surely be argued, by other hon. Members if not by him, that other activities—social work in the crowded quarters of our great cities, the healing of the sick, church missionary activities abroad—all have similar claims to special attention. That is the difficulty which arises when we are confronted, as we are this evening, with a proposal to take one—it is true, highly commendable, highly deserving—category out of the general category of charitable gifts and to confer this exemption.

Mr. Driberg

Would the Financial Secretary deal with the comparison which I tried to make with the National Trust and universities?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Yes, but I prefer to do it later in my speech, at the point at which I have prepared to do it.

There is a further point, which those who are familiar with the somewhat tangled story of the relations between church and State in, for example, the field of education, will appreciate. There are complications, even so far as the churches themselves are concerned, if the State in taxation matters makes very special provisions for them. There are very real difficulties there. Hon. Members will appreciate that we are on the edge of a very serious problem, and on the edge of raising fears which I think most of us would far rather were left dormant.

The hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) referred to the provision for the National Trust. That is a peculiar provision, and I think I can summarise it in this way. It provides that there is an exemption for bequests to the National Trust if they accompany the building which has to be maintained by the National Trust. That, in general, though not legally precisely expressed, is the substance of the matter. The hon. Member will appreciate that it is the essence of that matter that unless an adequate grant goes with the bequest of a large house which will have maintenance costs, the whole object of the bequest may fail, because indeed it may not be financially possible for the National Trust to accept the building at all. As I understand it that was the reason for the exemption.

The point about the universities is more complicated. I understand that in the Finance Bill last year there was some provision to limit the special circumstances and that to some extent was a discretionary limit. That is my recollection of the provision. I do not think that these cases, though the hon. Member for Maldon was perfectly right in quoting them, really enabled us to deal with the difficulty which. I ventured to pose to the Committee; the difficulty of going into the general charitable category and selecting an object with which most of us have great sympathy and saying, that while other objects with which others may have the same sympathy are not deserving of recognition, this particular example ought to have it.

The hon. Member may say, "Why not exempt the lot?" That is not the proposal before the Committee and, in any event, it would be a proposal which in the present financial circumstances my right hon. Friend could not accept. Exemption over the whole sphere of charitable activities would cost something of the order of £4 million. I cannot give the financial element in this case. It is somewhat imprecise and it is not really the subject of the objection. It is not the strictly financial side; it is only the difficulty of separating it and distinguishing it from the other charitable activities which forces us to the conclusion that this is not the right way to deal with the problem of the churches.

Other hon. Members were good enough to suggest that there were other methods which might be explored. Obviously, without further consideration I can give no commitment with respect to any of these matters. But I can make clear our general attitude. We realise the financial difficulty of the churches and that it goes far beyond the purely building aspects of their work which is dealt with in this Clause. We fully realise that.

We realise also, in connection with the matter I touched upon a moment ago, the great difficulty of assisting. It is really self-delusion to distinguish so very sharply between an Exchequer grant and a tax concession, because in both cases the assistance is given at the cost of public funds. And although one may be a more painless and perhaps less ostentatious way of doing it, there is a certain similarity in the nature of each which I think hon. Members will not wholly overlook.

We have not, however, closed our minds on the general issue. We realise that the position of the churches is a matter of public concern. We realise that it goes beyond the concern of those who are, as so many of us are, members of the churches concerned. We believe it has a great public importance. We realise also that there is no matter which can raise more powerful feelings in rather opposing directions.

Therefore, our attitude is that we do not, for the reasons I have given, feel that help, if it is to be given, can be given in this way. We feel it produces an impossible discrimination between one form of charitable activity and another. But we do not exclude consideration later of other proposals which will help to meet the object with which as I have already indicated we have so much sympathy.

7.45 p.m.

Mr. John Edwards (Brighouse and Spenborough)

All who have spoken in this debate will, I think, feel the greatest disappointment at what has been said by the Financial Secretary. The hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood), moved this new Clause in very restrained terms, and showed very adequately that here there was a real problem. He was not concerned—and I think that the Financial Secretary misunderstood him—with the financial difficulties of the churches in general. He was concerned solely with the position in respect of the buildings of all the denominations and in the relationship of those gifts which this Clause seeks to relieve from Estate Duty.

Here is a problem which, as has already been shown, is a national problem. I would say to the Financial Secretary that it does not involve any likelihood of trouble about religious denominations at all. The Financial Secretary implied that we were sitting on the edge of a volcano, and so on. The Clause is perfectly free from any kind of discrimination, and it has the additional merit of being a Clause which can be defended by those who have no religion at all, but who are interested in maintaining these places, some of which are of great beauty and antiquity.

Had the Financial Secretary said, "I understand the problem; I cannot do this, but I will do that," or had he said, "I will look at it in this way," we might have felt a little more satisfied. But he did not do that. He produced an argument with which I am perfectly familiar; indeed, it was the argument about the difficulty of drawing the line, which was advanced last year by my right hon. Friend. This is a familiar Treasury argument, and there are two ways in which we may talk about the difficulty of drawing the line.

One way is to talk about the technical difficulty of definition. I do not believe there is the slightest difficulty of definition here. It is easy to say what we mean. It is difficult to draw the line in another sense. It would be difficult to sustain the line if we could draw it. and that is an argument with which I have a great deal of sympathy. I think it is true that if we were to do precisely what is asked for here we should be landed in a very great difficulty with other related groups, and, therefore, I expected the Financial Secretary to say something about some possible alternative.

I am sorry to have to refer to what happened last year, because, so far, nobody has really rubbed home the point. though it has been referred to very delicately. Let us consider what happened last year. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman who is now the Leader of the House moved a new Clause which was precisely the same as this one. The hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Baker White) supported him, and the hon. Gentleman who is now the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education said: … I hope that the Treasury Bench's withers wherever situated, are not unwrung by the two urgent and moving speeches to which we have listened."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th June, 1951; Vol. 489, c. 302.] I remember the short, rather peremptory and very sharp intervention of the then right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bournemouth, now Lord Bracken. who now decorates another place.

I remember what the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris) said when he commented on this Clause. But what happened? My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell), got up and while —like the Financial Secretary today—not prepared to accept the Motion, made what I thought at that time to be a generous and forthcoming undertaking. In spite of that sympathetic and forthcoming undertaking, the then Opposition took everyone into the Division Lobby.

The present Leader of the House, making the final speech for the Opposition on that occasion, said: … in my disappointment I shall certainly go into the Lobby in protest against his decision."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th June, 1951; Vol. 489, c. 310.] Today, we have had a reply which does not go anything like as far as my right hon. Friend went last year. He recognised the danger that some of these buildings might fall down. He said that if there was any way in which he could help, he would be prepared to do so. But right hon. Gentlemen opposite went into the Division Lobby although he had given that undertaking.

I should like to know from the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Leader of the House and the Financial Secretary, all of whom voted on that occasion, how they can possibly reconcile what was then said and done with an answer today which does not go as far as the answer which my right hon. Friend gave last year which presupposed that work would be done on the matter in the intervening 12 months. I have no doubt that work was done, but now we cannot even get the remotest of hope.

There are limits to actions of this kind to which we should draw attention and about which, if I were sitting on the other side of the Committee, I seriously say that I should be a little ashamed on this occasion.

Mr. Wood

I must admit that I ant profoundly disappointed by the reply of my hon. Friend. His tone was extremely sympathetic and conciliatory, but there was not much content behind it. I must complain in the strongest terms at the short distance, or the negative distance, at which he was prepared to meet me.

I listened with great interest to the remarks of the hon. Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. J. Edwards). I do not agree with him that his conscience is as clear as it might have been. The undertaking of his right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) was not terribly encouraging, and that was the undertaking on which the hon. Gentleman went into the opposite Lobby. Although I do not think that our conscience is very clear on this matter, I do not think that his is any clearer.

Mr. J. Edwards

I should not have brought the word "conscience" into this discussion. I am as interested in this matter as is any hon. or right hon. Gentleman opposite, and in the light of what my right hon. Friend said last year I had every reason to suppose that, between then and the next Finance Bill, work would have been done to deal at least with the urgent cases. That is what I thought at the time, and that is what I still think. I did not say that I have a clear conscience, but there is the world of difference between that attitude and the attitude taken by the Financial Secretary.

Mr. Wood

I am sorry if I offended the hon. Gentleman by introducing the word "conscience." He used the word "ashamed." I was always taught that that somehow applied to whatever is our conscience. He says that work might have been done in the last 12 months. It seems to me that, whether or not work has been done, the Treasury, for reasons best known to themselves, have come to the conclusion with which I personally do not agree that they can make no distinction in this matter. I should have thought that it was not difficult for the Financial Secretary, who is a Member of a Government of a supposedly Christian country, to agree to give help to the Christian Church without any discrimination between the denominations.

The hon. Gentleman told us that he felt that it would be difficult to make distinctions between giving money for the repair and reconstruction of churches, on the one hand, and such objects as social work, on the other—missions abroad and so on. The distinction which I see, and which I think is most important, is that in all other cases the churches, if it is the churches which are affected, will not take on extra work which they cannot afford; but in this case we have the churches here and they will fall down unless we give the relief which they badly need.

The last point I wish to make to the Financial Secretary is that I should have thought that there was a case for singling out benefit to the places of worship from all other charitable objects. Probably we should all agree that there is nothing that means so much to everyone in this country as the places of worship, the churches and the chapels all over the land. All people may not go into them, but they all look at them, and I am certain that they all admire them. Apart from those who may be without any appreciation at all, I am certain that nearly everybody is intensely proud of them and delighted that they exist. They would be most upset if they fell into disrepair. That is the first difference which I see between these and all other charitable objectives.

The second point is that in no other case does the combination exist so strongly. On the one side, there is the responsibility which the State must bear for the disrepair of these churches—for the very good reason that licences have not been allowed—and, on the other side, there is the point that these churches, many of them very old ones, are just those buildings which must quickly fall into disrepair. Therefore, we have the combination between the State responsibility and the extreme vulnerability of these buildings. In my conscience—if the hon. Gentleman the Member for Brighouse and Spenborough does not object to that word—I cannot honestly ask leave to withdraw the new Clause unless my hon. Friend persuades himself to some kind of deathbed repentance.

Mr, Driberg

I should like to add a few words to what has been said by the hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood). Incidentally, it would be a great pity if an issue which is above party degenerated in any way into an inter-party argument—this argument about what was said and done last year. I rather share the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. J. Edwards) that it was just a little unreasonable to divide last year in view of what had been said by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer. However, I do not want to labour that point unduly.

8.0 p.m.

I must confess I cannot see how the Financial Secretary can really reject this new Clause this year, in view of the action of the official Opposition last year and the very eloquent speeches made on that occasion. However, it will be a pity if this should become an inter-party dispute when it is not a party point at all.

There is one point about what he said about the National Trust. It occurs to me that, at any rate, Nonconformist churches, or many of them, must be in the same position as the National Trust. since they are in the hands of trustees, and that would provide some basis for a comparison.

On the general argument advanced by the Financial Secretary, he seemed to say two things. First of all, he used that terribly familiar argument that, because we cannot do everything, we will not do anything. After all, this new Clause has been put down on the Order Paper, and there is not a whole series of new Clauses advancing the claims of different charitable organisations, and I should have thought that the question of doing everything does not arise at all at this stage.

The other argument seemed to me to be a little misleading, because the hon. Gentleman seemed to be trying to indicate that he and the Treasury would perhaps try to think of some other way of achieving the same desirable result, but, surely, from his point of view, the same criticism would apply to that other method of achieving the same result?

Surely, there again, he would come up against the difficulty of discriminating between one good cause and another. If he found some quite different method of taxation relief to help the churches, he would be confronted again with the same query—why single them out from all other charitable causes? I cannot see that that was a very sound argument to put to the Committee, in view of what the Financial Secretary had said just before about not being able to single out the churches.

I was very glad to hear the hon. Member for Bridlington say that he was not prepared to ask leave to withdraw the Motion, and I hope, that, if we proceed to a Division, we shall have a completely free vote on an issue of this kind.

Mr. R. A. Butler

I support every word that the Financial Secretary said in his answer. We have looked at this matter most carefully, and we do not under-rate the sincerity of the hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood), the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg), right hon. Gentlemen opposite or anybody else.

Frankly, as I have said in a letter, a copy of which I have here, to the Commission for the Repair of Churches, and to Mr. Ivor Thomas, who was an hon. Member of this House some time ago, in a correspondence into which he entered with me on behalf of the churches, I cannot make a differentiation between these and other what I may describe as good and high causes. If I could have found a method, I would have authorised the Financial Secretary to say so.

Not being able to find another method, I have liabilities too heavy for me to undertake at the present time, and, however carefully we have looked into the matter, we have not been able to find a solution. I have so informed the churches, and I am afraid that, with great regret, I must leave matters where they are.

Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The Committee divided: Ayes 168; Noes, 197.

Division No. 150.] AYES [8.5 p.m.
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis) Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)
Awbery, S. S. Herbison, Miss M. Proctor, W. T.
Bartley, P. Hewitson, Capt. M Pryde, D. J.
Bence, C. R. Hobson, C. R Reeves, J.
Benson. G. Holman, P. Reid, Thomas (Swindon)
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth) Rhodes, H.
Blenkinsop, A. Hoy, J. H. Richards, R.
Blyton, W. R. Hubbard, T. F. Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Boardman, H. Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Bowles, F. G. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Royle, C.
Brockway, A. F. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Schofield, S. (Barnsley)
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Hynd, H. (Accrington) Shackleton, E. A. A
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Burton, Miss F. E. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Short, E. W.
Carmichael, J. Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.) Shurmer, P. L. E.
Castle, Mrs. B. A Johnson, James (Rugby) Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Champion, A. J. Jones, David (Hartlepool) Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Chapman, W. D. Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Slater, J.
Chetwynd, G. R. Keenan, W. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Clunie, J. King, Dr. H. M. Sorensen, R. W.
Coldrick, W. Kinley, J. Sparks, J. A.
Collick, P. H. Lee, Frederick (Newton) Steele, T.
Cove, W. G. Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Strachey, Rt. Hon J
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Lever, Leslie, (Ardwick) Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Cullen, Mrs. A. Lindgren, G. S. Sylvester, G. O.
Daines, P. Logan, D. G. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.) MacColl, J. E. Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) McInnes, J Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)
Davies, Harold (Leek) McKay, John (Wallsend) Thomas, David (Aberdare)
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) McLeavy, F. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Deer, G. MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Thurtle, Ernest
Dodds, N. N. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Timmons, J.
Driberg, T. E. N. Mann, Mrs. Jean Tomney, F.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Manuel, A. C. Viant, S. P.
Edelman, M. Marquand, Rt. Hon. H A. Wallace, H. W.
Edwards, John (Brighouse) Mayhew, C. P. Watkins, T. E.
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Messer, F. Weitzman, D.
Ewart, R. Mikardo, Ian Wells, William (Walsall)
Fernyhough, E Mitchison, G. R. West, D. G.
Field, W. J. Monslow, W. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Fienburgh, W. Moody, A. S. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Forman, J. C. Morgan, Dr. H. B. W. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Wigg, George
Freeman, John (Watford) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.) Wilkins, W. A.
Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale) Mort, D. L. Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)
Grey, C. F. Moyle, A. Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Murray, J. D. Williams, David (Neath)
Grimond, J. Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Oldfield, W. H. Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Hall, John (Gateshead, W.) Oliver, G. H. Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Hamilton, W. W. Oswald, T. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Hardy, E. A. Paling, Rt. Han. W. (Dearne Valley) Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Hargreaves, A. Pargiter, G. A. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.) Paton, J. Wyatt, W L.
Hastings, S. Pearson, A.
Hayman, F. H. Plummer, Sir Leslie TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Snow and Mr. Eric Fletcher.
Aitken, W. T. Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Birch, Nigel Cole, Norman
Alport, C. J. M. Bishop, F. P. Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton) Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J. Boyle, Sir Edward Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.
Arbuthnot, John Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.) Crouch, R. F.
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Brooman-White, R. C. Crowder, John E. (Finchley)
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Bucks, Wycombe) Bullard, D. G. Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)
Baker, P. A. D. Bullock, Capt. M. Deedes, W. F.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Bullus, Wing Commanler E. E. Dodds-Parker, A. D.
Baldwin, A. E. Burden, F. F. A. Donaldson, Cmdr. C E. McA
Banks, Col. C. Butcher, H. W. Donner, P. W.
Barber, A. P. L. Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Doughty, C. J. A.
Baxter, A. B. Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Drayson, G. B.
Beach, Maj. Hicks Carson, Hon. E. Drewe, C.
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston) Cary, Sir Robert Duncan, Capt. J. A. L
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Channon, H. Duthie, W. S.
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Roberts, Peter (Heeley)
Erroll, F. J Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Fell, A. Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.) Robson-Brown, W.
Finlay, Graeme Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Fisher, Nigel Lucas, P. B. (Brantford) Roper, Sir Harold
Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Fletcher-Cooke, C. McAdden, S. J. Russell, R. S.
Gage, C. H McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S. Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.
Galbraith, Cmdr. T D. (Pollok) Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight) Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Galbraith, T. G. D (Hillhead) Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas
Garner-Evans, E. H. McKibbin, A. J. Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)
Godber, J. B. McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Scott, R. Donald
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A MacLeod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.) Shepherd, William
Gower, H. R. Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries) Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Graham, Sir Fergus Maitland, Patrick (Lanark) Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Gridley, Sir Arnold Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E. Snadden, W. McN.
Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin) Speir, R. M.
Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Marshall, Sidney (Sutton) Stevens, G. P.
Harris, Reader (Heston) Maude, Angus Stoddart-Scott, Col, M
Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Maudling, R. Storey, S.
Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.) Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Heald, Sir Lionel Medlicott, Brig. F. Studholme, H. G.
Higgs, J. M. C. Mellor, Sir John Sutcliffe, H.
Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton) Molson, A. H. E. Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythonshawe) Monokton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)
Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Nabarro, G. D. N. Thomas, P. J M. (Conway)
Holland-Martin, C. J. Nicholls, Harmar Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich) Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham) Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Hornsby-Smith, Miss M P Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E) Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)
Horobin, I. M. Nield, Basil (Chester) Turner, H. F. L.
Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P. Turton, R. H.
Howard, Greville (St. Ives) Nugent, G. R. H. Vosper, D. F.
Hulbert, Wing Cmdr N. J. Odey, G. W. Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Antrim, N.) Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Jenkins, R. C. D. (Dulwich) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Jennings, R. Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.) Watkinson, H. A.
Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Osborne, C. Wellwood, W.
Johnson, Howard (Kemptown) Partridge, E. White, Baker (Canterbury)
Jones, A. (Hall Green) Peake, Rt. Hon. O. Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W Perkins, W. R. D. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Kaberry, D. Peto, Brig, C. H. M Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Keeling, Sir Edward Pickthorn, K. W. M. Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Lambert, Hon. G. Powell, J, Enoch Wills, G.
Lancaster, Col. C. G Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Langford-Holt, J. A. Profumo, J. D. York, C
Law, Rt. Hon. R. K. Raikes, H. V.
Legge-Beurke, Maj. E. A. H Rayner, Brig. R. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Legh, P. R. (Petersfield) Redmayne, E. Mr. Heath and Mr. Oakshott
Linstead, H. N. Renton, D. L. M