wished to ask the noble Viscount (Melbourne), whether the calculation which showed that by the operation of the proposed Bill for the management of Church property, there would be placed at the disposal of the Commissioners 250,000l. to provide for Churches—whether that calculation rested upon the supposition that all the conversions of the leases into perpetuities took place immediately?
§ Viscount Melbourne
apprehended that the calculations were not made on the supposition that all the conversions would take place immediately. The question was one of detail, but he imagined that those who did not convert their leases into perpetuities immediately would have to 2 pay an increased rate for their conversion.
did not quite agree with his noble Friend that this was matter of detail—not that he was going to oppose the measure; but he should like to know whether, according to his noble Friend's conception, the lessees would have the option of not renewing under the Deans, Bishops, and so on, if they pleased, till the very last year; or if they pleased, to suffer these leases to expire? From what his noble Friend said, he took it for granted that they would have that option, which he did not understand.
said, that all the statements required would be laid on the table before the Bill was introduced in that House. It was important that they should be.
said, that he agreed with the noble Lord opposite as to the necessity of having the papers as soon as possible.
§ Lord Ashburton
said, that the measure was one of the greatest importance, and there were so many vital interests involved 3 in it that he considered they should have some correct calculations upon which to proceed. He did not then want to discuss the general principle of the measure, but he wished to learn if the calculations upon which the measure was founded were borne out. As for himself, he would say, that considering these calculations did not depend on any improvement in Church-lands—for he had not heard that they did not at present afford as ample produce as could be expected—considering this, it appeared to him, that the calculations were founded upon some conjuring, some contrivance, in the distribution, by which the value of Church-lands was to be differently appropriated rather than increased. He could not see how, by any contrivance of that nature, the value of these lands could be increased; he would as soon believe, on the showing of Mr. Finlayson, or any other calculator, that four persons could sit down to a game of whist and all rise up winners. But the measure was one which had been introduced by Government, and it would be presumptuous for him to say now that the calculations were incorrect upon which it was founded—he would state, however, that it was desirable their Lordships should be put in possession of those calculations as soon as possible.
§ The Marquess of Lansdowne
said, that all the calculations upon which the measure was founded had been made with great care, and the object which the House had was doubtless to be in possession of the requisite information when the Bill came up to their Lordships' House. But at present he could not say in what shape the Bill would be sent up to them, or how the calculations might be made to bear on it in the other House, where it was the duty of Government to give that information upon which it might either be adopted or rejected.
feared that something which had fallen from the noble Viscount, was calculated to create great alarm in the lessees of the Church who were to be dealt with by this plan; for as he understood the noble Viscount, it contained penal terms as to those persons who refused to accede to the proposition contained in it. The terms now offered, according to the plan disclosed a few nights ago, to the lessees under the Church of England, were 100 per cent worse than were given to the leaseholders of the 4 Church of Ireland under the Church Temporalities Act. That was the sort of justice it was proposed to deal out to the Church of England. Another disadvantage which the English lessee laboured under was, that he was forced to come into the plan, while the Irish lessee was allowed to choose by clauses in the Bill. It was most essential to have a discussion upon the principle of the measure on the first opportunity, so that those interested in it might understand its provisions.
§ The Marquess of Lansdowne
said, if any inconvenience or alarm resulted from the statement of his noble Friend, it would arise from his having been induced to answer the isolated question put by the noble Baron, when he had not the opportunity of going into the plan fully. He trusted, that after the observation of the noble Baron, his noble Friend would decline to answer any more questions on the subject till it came regularly before the House. He would only say, that the interests of the leaseholders had been very carefully considered, and he did not apprehend that any penal consequences would result from it which were calculated to alarm those individuals.
§ Lord Hatherton
thought that his noble Friends acted with much discretion in refusing to answer the questions which had been put to them. He would only remind the noble Lords opposite, that the discussion in the other House was not yet finished, and that it had been adjourned at the express wish of the leader of the friends of the noble Baron (Ellenborough) in the other House.
presented a petition signed by 6,000 persons, many of them Churchmen, praying for a total repeal of Church-rates. He did not wish to renew the discussion, if such it might be termed, which had just terminated. He was perfectly aware of the difficulty the answering such questions produced. He felt himself obliged, however, to draw the attention of the Government to one portion of the measure, in order that they might give it their consideration and amend it, for he was of opinion it was decidedly bad. He meant that portion which regarded the lessees of the Church. He was of opinion, that it ought to be left optional to them to renew with the customary fines. In the case of mines and minerals, for instance, in the bishopric of Durham and Northumberland, which was 5 pretty nearly the case of lands held in and near towns, it was well worth a person's while to pay a sum of money for the mineral land. He thought, however, it might be so arranged in detail as not to impede the working of the plan, making it a matter of contract, in each particular case, between the Commissioners to be appointed and the lessees, subject to certain rules and regulations. His noble Friend on the Bench opposite asked, how it was possible anybody could gain by the measure, if nobody were to lose by it? He thought a little consideration of the present state of the property of the Church would suggest the answer to his noble Friend. At present, a lease could not be granted for a longer term than twenty-one years without an Act of Parliament. If, however, having the power of granting a lease for ninety-nine years in place of only twenty-one enabled the lessor to obtain, instead of 5l. or 10l. per acre, from 1,500Z. to 2,000l. the case put by his Majesty's Government would be satisfactorily made out.
The Bishop of Exeter
said, the noble and learned Lord, having occupied a high judicial situation, was very competent to form a judgment on the relative rights of parties; and he trusted, that as he had so correctly and forcibly stated the rights of lessees, he would be found, when the time arrived to discuss the question, if, indeed, it ever arrived, equally ready to do justice to the other parties—the lessors. He had no doubt it would be present to the noble and learned Lord's mind, that the restraint upon the Church from granting leases was for a specific object, namely, to protect the permanent interests of the Church, and to prevent holders of Church property from wastefully throwing away that property, according to the present annual value. That was the reason why Sir John Smith introduced a statute in the reign of Queen Elizabeth to protect the interests of the Church. The true principle, in his opinion, was to remove the restricting power pro tanto, and to enable the Church to grant building leases.
felt honoured by the observations of the right rev. Prelate, and could have no hesitation in replying to him by an assurance that he should apply his mind to the consideration of the question, with a resolution to do justice to the lessors as well as lessees. If the right rev. Prelate meant by justice to the lessors 6 a resistance or opposition to the measure' as it was understood to be founded, he (Lord Brougham) would only say, that he had directed his attention about three or four years ago to another subject in many particulars the same, both in that House and in conjunction with his then Colleagues in the Administration, and that on the fullest consideration, viewing the rights and the interests of all parties, they came to a clear and unhesitating, but nevertheless a deliberate opinion, that the rights of the lessors would not be impaired, and that justice would not be sacrificed by the principle of the measure. He would say with great diffidence, a diffidence becoming in any person when the subject was so important, that the case as regarded its justice was perfectly clear. It appeared to him that the measure, in its fundamental principles, and with the exception alluded to respecting the lessees, in no respect whatever sinned against right, or justice, or principle.
§ Petition laid on the table.