HL Deb 19 February 1875 vol 222 cc550-1

asked the Lord Steward, How soon the Return ordered last Session, showing "the number of churches which had been built or restored at a cost exceeding £500 since the year 1840" will be presented to the House? He had seen the Return from the diocese of Worcester, to which he belonged, which was of a most satisfactory character, fully bearing out the objects and intentions for which he wished to have the information. He trusted that the Returns from the other dioceses, which seemed to have been somewhat delayed, would prove of an equally satisfactory character.


said, he was afraid he could not give the noble Lord any precise information as to when the Returns he wished for would be laid upon the Table, inasmuch as the information they would contain was not to be found in any Government Department. Steps had been taken to obtain the information sought; but as the action was voluntary, the Government could not compel or hasten the answers. Forms had been sent to the Archbishops and Bishops of the several dioceses, by them to be transmitted to their rural cleans and other ecclesiastical authorities. Comparatively few of the dioceses had as yet made complete Returns, and from the Province of York no information whatever had as yet been obtained. He trusted the Returns referred to would be forthcoming shortly, and that the Question of the noble Lord would act as a stimulant upon the various ecclesiastical authorities who could give the information required.


said, that at the time when the noble Lord (Lord Hampton) moved for the Returns, he had pointed out the difficulties in the way of furnishing them, particularly in a large diocese like that of London, and accordingly the difficulties had been very great. It was easy enough to ascertain what churches had been built within the last 35 years, but it involved no slight labour to discover the cost of each, and still more to ascertain what churches in the diocese had been repaired to the extent of £500 during that period. It was no part of the Bishop's business to keep accounts of that kind, which were, doubtless, destroyed after a certain time; and only vague traditions remained of when churches had been repaired, and what the costs of such repairs had been. He had received the Returns from all the rural deans of his diocese except three—they were no doubt as accurate as they could be made;—and he might add that in proportion to the conscientiousness with which the Returns were prepared, so, perhaps, would the delay be of making them.