The Marquess of Clanricarde
rose to move, pursuant to notice, for a return of sums under the control of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of England and Wales. The noble Marquess said, that he did not anticipate any objection to the Motion; and he should not therefore enter into any lengthened observations upon that occasion. His attention had been directed to the matter in consequence of the debates which had taken place upon the subject of the Union of the Sees of St. Asaph and Bangor. He had observed in the course of those debates that the House possessed no accurate information respecting episcopal revenues; and as the subject of the Union of those Sees would no doubt be again brought under their consideration, he thought it desirable that they should have all the information connected with it which could possibly be obtained. The noble Marquess concluded by moving that there be laid before this House,A Return of all Sums under the Control of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of England and Wales, not appropriated to any particular Purpose, up to the latest Period to which the same can be made out; distinguishing the Episcopal Fund from that which is appropriated to the Augmentation of small Livings; and stating the sources from which such Sums are derived.
§ The Duke of Richmond
said, that, in his opinion, it would be very advisable that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should furnish to Parliament an annual Report stating the whole of their proceedings with regard to Church property, and the rules and regulations they might have laid down for their guidance.
§ The Marquess of Lansdowne
said, that when he had the honour to be one of the 1071 Commissioners, he, as well as he believed, every other lay and ecclesiastical member, assented to the principle that this property might be made available for Church improvement, for which otherwise funds of a different nature would be required. Three years had, however, since elapsed, and he thought there had been time to do that which would be most beneficial, not only to the holders of Church property, but also to the country at large, that is, to lay down rules by which parties should be governed in the option either to renew, or to refuse to renew, or to purchase, or refuse to purchase. He wished that the holders of Church property should know in this respect what they had to look to, and that to this extensive description of property the same system of improvement should be applied, as he was happy to say was now pervading every part of the country, but which required an outlay of capital which no tenant could be expected to incur, without his having some security for a fair return for his expenditure. He thought it incumbent upon the Commissioners to make known the principles upon which they were about to proceed, and that they should not incur the appearance of a capricious or partial arrangement, but that their rules should be applicable to all descriptions of cases.
§ Lord Wharncliffe
said, he did not wish to express any opinion as to whether it would be advisable that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners should lay down certain fixed rules for the management of Church property. He should observe, however, that he doubted whether it would be possible to lay down rules upon that subject which would be applicable to all cases. He quite agreed in thinking that the property of the Church ought to be made available for the purposes of the Church, at the same time having regard to the equitable interests of the tenant.
§ After a few words from Lord Redesdale and from the Marquess of Clanricarde, the Motion was agreed to.
§ Return ordered.