HC Deb 26 October 1953 vol 518 cc2558-9

10.1 p.m.

Sir John Crowder (Finchley)

I beg to move, That the Benefices (Suspension of Presentation) Measure, 1953, 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. A copy of the Measure is available in the Vote Office, together with the comments and explanations submitted by the Legislative Committee to the Ecclesiastical Committee. There is also the Report of the Ecclesiastical Committee of this House, which met last Wednesday to consider this Measure.

The Measure seeks only to consolidate two existing Measures, passed in 1946 and 1949, and to extend the period until 1965, with certain amendments which are clearly set out in the paper to which I have referred. When the 1946 Measure was passed it was, I am informed, generally hoped that its provisions would not have to be permanent. It therefore provided that the creation or extension of suspension periods should only take place during 10 years from the passing of the Measure. Consequently, no suspension order can be made after 1956. Since the maximum period of suspension, including extensions, is seven years, the suspensions ordered in 1946 will come to an end this year.

In 1949, the Church Assembly passed the Pastoral Reorganisation Measure, which has no time limit, and, as the House knows, reorganisation is still going on. To facilitate the working of this very important and vital policy, the members of the Church Assembly want the present Measure in order to make the reorganisation easier throughout the country.

In practice, it has been found that suspension orders made in 1946 will need to be further extended if reorganisation schemes are not to be held up. In these circumstances the Church Assembly proposes by this Measure to extend until 1965 the period during which suspensions may be created, at the same time removing the time limit of seven years as the maximum period of suspension. The Measure passed through the Church Assembly without a division and occasioned very little debate.

10.3 p.m.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)

I beg to second the Motion.

In doing so, there is only one observation that I would make. Hon. Members may have noticed that the Measure includes a very unusual feature. It confers the power upon the Church Assembly to exercise delegated legislation. I am informed that that has occurred in very few Church Measures, and it is a power which I am sure this House would wish to be exercised extremely sparingly. Nevertheless, in the case of the present Measure there is a strong reason for allowing it to go through.

The power to exercise delegated legislation was conferred on the Church Assembly by one of the two previous Measures which are here consolidated. All that the present Measure does is slightly to alter the subject matter to which the power of delegated legislation refers. I trust, therefore, in those circumstances, that the House will agree to this rather unusual and in some ways objectionable feature being retained in what is largely a consolidating Measure.

Question put, and agreed to.