HL Deb 10 March 1887 vol 311 cc1706-15

House in Committee (according to Order).

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 (Sale of glebe by or with approval of Land Commissioners).


, in rising to move an Amendment, to the effect that a sale of glebe should not take place under the Act where there was a "concurrent objection of the Bishop and patron," to be signified within 21 days, said, the Bishop was to be regarded as the responsible steward of the ancient heritage of the Church, and there was no reason to suppose that he would interfere unnecessarily to prevent any transaction for the benefit of the clergy or the permanent advantage of the benefice, and a Bishop, of all men, was sure to sympathize with the clergy in their distress and be willing to assist them in any reasonable way. At the same time many a necessitous and panic-stricken clergyman would be under a strong temptation when rents were low to rush into the market and to sell the ancient lands of the Church at a disadvantage; whereas if they were enabled to wait a year or two they could, probably, obtain much better terms. The Land Commissioners could not have the same grounds as the Bishop for forming a sound judgment as to the desirableness of an immediate sale. But he proposed that objection should not operate unless it were concurred in by the patron as well as the Bishop. If it were said that a Bishop had no such veto under the Ecclesiastical Leasing Act, the answer was that a Bishop was, ex officio, one of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and could call for the production of every document; but in this case he could only address an appeal to the Land Commissioners as the Bill stood. At present no sale could take place without the consent of the patron. But this Bill left out the patron as well as the Bishop. The Church had a right to have an independent voice in a matter so grave as that of parting with land which had belonged to it for centuries. If a mistake were made by the Land Commissioners it would be irrevocable, but if a mistake were made by the Bishop and the patron it could easily be corrected by another application for the sale of the glebe at a future time when it might be more evident that the land could be sold advantageously. Under these circumstances, he earnestly hoped their Lordships would give a favourable consideration to the Amendment which he now begged to move. Moved, in page 1, leave out lines 19 and 20, and insert ("and that no objection to the sale has been made by the bishop or patron within twenty-one days from the date of receiving the said notice.")—(The Lord Bishop of Lichfield.)


said, it was with pain that he differed from the right rev. Prelate. The Amendment would introduce a new departure. The object of the Bill was to render the sale of glebes easier than at present. In some dioceses there had been no sale of glebe land for years, probably because the Bishop had set his face against such sales. It was quite right the Bishop should be consulted before glebe lands were sold; but that was a very different thing from giving an absolute veto. The Bishop had every opportunity of expressing his opinion, short of plating an absolute veto on a sale. The Land Commissioners would hear all he had to say, and they would act as an independent body whose business gave them a knowledge of every parish, which placed them in a position equal to that of a Bishop for determining whether a sale was desirable or not. It would be a perfectly new thing to place the Bishop's veto in an Act of Parliament. This practice had gone on for 40 years without such a veto; and, although he should be extremely sorry to differ from the right rev. Prelate, he trusted their Lordships would not insist upon the veto.


said, surely no one was so good a judge in the long run as the Bishop of the diocese. The Land Commissioners might be very good judges of the value of the land, but there were many other things to be considered. They ought not to sacrifice the future interests of a parish to the present whim or fancy of the clergyman in possession. The price of land might go up, and it would be a most serious thing for the Church that the glebe lands should be sold during the current agricultural distress.


said, that no doubt the Bishop had the interests of the parish at heart, perhaps more than any man; but where did he get that power of judging better than the Land Commissioners? He doubted very much whether if the Bishop exercised his veto he would do so on the ground that he knew the parish better than the Commissioners; he would probably exercise it on general principles. The noble and learned Lord (Lord Grimthorpe) had spoken of the price of land going up, but this was a matter upon which no one could speak with confidence. What, he would ask, was to be done while things were coming round? What was to become of the unlucky and impoverished clergymen who had nothing to live on except their glebes? Were they not to be paid, their churches not to be kept up; were the services of the Church to be imperilled, and, in fact, the whole machinery of the parish stopped? He could imagine nothing more wretched than the position of the clergyman who at the present time was compelled to rely upon glebe lands for his income. He knew himself cases in which some years ago the income was £1,300, and now they were absolutely worth nothing. If the clergyman could sell the land and get something in Consols, would it not be a benefit to the parish? Were they to think only of the future, of what would happen 30 years hence? To some extent surely those 30 years might be left to take care of themselves. He believed the Land Commissioners might be trusted to do that which would only be a benefit to the living. He protested against entirely neglecting the present for the sake of the future, and forgetting not only the material but the terrible spiritual injury which they caused by continuing the ruin that existed at present.


said, he differed entirely from the views of the noble Marquess. Property now depressed might in a few years become again very valuable. Were they, therefore, to sell for a trifle that which in a few years might be of great value to the Church? The doctrine of the noble Marquess was the most monstrous he had ever heard enunciated in their Lordships' House, and he was astonished that a Conservative Government should have brought forward a proposal so subversive of Conservative principles with regard to land. He believed that the more that question was thought of and discussed in Parliament the more true would appear to the public the sentiments which he had taken the liberty to express.

On Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause?" Their Lordships divided:—Contents 61; Not-Contents 21: Majority 40.


said, he hoped at least that the Amendment which he had now to propose to the clause would be thought a reasonable one. The clause provided that the Bishop might state objections to a sale of glebe land if he had such objections, and it seemed to be intended that he should merely receive an answer that the Land Commissioners considered that his objections ought not to be entertained. Now, he ventured to propose that as the Bishop would have furnished the Land Commissioners with reasons against allowing the sale, so the Land Commissioners, when setting aside those reasons, should furnish in return to the Bishop an account in writing of the reasons for which they thought his objections should be set aside. The Bishop had a registry in which the reasons of the Land Commissioners would be preserved, and the full history of the transaction remain on record. The most rev. Prelate concluded by moving the insertion of words to carry out this object. Moved, in page 2, line 3, at end of line insert as a fresh subsection:—"If upon notice of a proposed sale under this Act the bishop of the diocese objects to the sale, and the Land Commissioners are satisfied that such objection ought not to prevent the sale, the Land Commissioners shall inform the bishop in writing of their reasons for being so satisfied."—(The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury.)


said, he had no objection to this Amendment.


suggested that the patron should be furnished with the Commissioners' reasons as well as the Bishop.


said he was of opinion that the Land Commissioners should inform in writing the patron of the living as well as the Bishop of the diocese of their reasons for setting aside their objections to the sale; and he proposed to insert words in the clause to that effect.

Amendment agreed, to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to, and added to the Bill.

Clause 4 (Effect of sale) agreed to, and added to the Bill.

Clause 5 (Application and investment of purchase money).

On the Motion of Viscount CROSS, the following Amendments were agreed to:—In page 2, line 28, leave out ("or apply"); line 37, before ("and") insert— (And in the purchase of securities of the Metropolitan Board of Works, and of those securities of any county or municipal borough in which trustees are by law authorised to invest either generally or whenever they have power to invest in railway debenture stock, if ouch county or municipal borough had, according to the census last published next before the date of the investment, a population exceeding one hundred thousand.")


moved to amend the clause by the insertion of a provision authorizing the Land Commissioners to purchase any land adjacent to the parsonage house the possession of which, in the judgment of the Commissioners, would be for the benefit of the benefice and for the convenient enjoyment of such house. He did not wish to give the Commissioners any power to make speculative investments, and the object of the Amendment was simply to purchase such small pieces of land as might in some instances be almost necessary for the enjoyment of the parsonage. Moved, in page 2, line 40, after ("glebe") insert—"(c.) In the purchase of any land adjacent to the parsonage house the possession of which in the judgment of the Commissioners would be for the benefit of the benefice or for the convenient enjoyment of such house."—(The Lord Bishop of Lichfield.)


said, that the power to invest in land had been advisedly left out of the original Bill, because it was not thought wise that the Land Commissioners should invest in land. But the point which had been raised by the right rev. Prelate had certainly brought forward a case where it might be desirable that they should have the power. He had no objection, therefore, to the words proposed being introduced, as he thought they could trust the Commissioners not to invest in speculative land.

Amendment agreed to.

On the Motion of Viscount CROSS, the following Amendments were agreed to:—In page 3, line 2, leave out ("names of the endowment trustees") and insert ("name of the authority"); line 4, leave out ("Land Commissioners") and insert ("said authority"), and leave out from ("application") to ("and") in line 5; line 6, at end of line insert as a fresh sub-section— The said authority shall, if the money arose from the sale of land the whole of which was appropriated or annexed to the benefice by or with the concurrence of the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, be those Governors, and in any other case shall be the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England, and securities bought out of the purchase money under this Act of the glebe of any benefice and held by such authority shall be entered in the books kept by any body corporate, company, or persons in relation to those securities in the name of the said authority, but on a separate account ex-parte the benefice; such body corporate, company, or persons, however, shall treat the said authority as the sole and absolute owner of the securities, and shall arrange with the said authority for the payment of the dividends, whether by dividend warrants sent through the post or otherwise, to such persons as may be directed by the said authority, and the enactments relating to dividend warrants shall apply to the warrants sent to any such person in like manner as if they were sent to the holder of the securities at his request.

Page 3, line 7, leave out ("an investment") and insert ("The said authority shall hold any securities"); line 8, leave out ("shall be held"); line 9, after second ("and") insert— ("May from time to time, if occasion requires, sell such securities and apply the proceeds on the said trusts and for the said purposes, and shall cause"); line 10, leave out ("investment shall") and insert ("securities to"), and after ("applied") insert— ("In such manner (if any) as may be directed in pursuance of this Act, and subject thereto, in such manner"); line 13, leave out sub-section (4).

Clause 6 (Endowment trustees) struck out.

Clause 7 (Restrictions as to sales), as amended, agreed to, and added to the Bill.

Clause 8 (Provision where land is in mortgage), as amended, agreed to, and added to the Bill.

Clause 9 (Regulations as to sale).


recommended that the Sanitary Authority should be the only purchaser to whom the glebe should be offered for purposes of allotment; and that after allotments had been made by such Authority, a provision should be added, as in the Irish Land Act of 1881, enabling the tenants inoccupation to purchase their holdings. Such a provision might furnish considerable security against loss to the parish.

Clause agreed to, and added to the Bill.

Clause 10 (Regulations as to assurances) agreed to, and added to the Bill.

Clause 11 (Purchase of glebe lands by sanitary authority for letting to the labouring classes).


said, that this clause related to allotments, and he wished to add to it these words— In addition to the land (the glebe), the sanitary authority may purchase any land situate within the districts of the said authority or in any adjoining sanitary district. As the clause was at present framed, it placed the clergyman in an invidious position as compared with other landowners; in fact, it singled him out as the only person compelled to provide allotments for the poor. That, he thought, was not fair. Why should this invidious distinction be made? He urged that it was a most unheard of interference with the freedom of sale to make it the law of the country that, if the land was sold, it should only be sold in a particular direction. If the incum- bent should see reason to refuse to sell ill-feeling might be created which it would take years to remove. He thought that the power of purchase which was to be given by the Bill should be extended, and, in addition to glebe lands, the Sanitary Authorities ought to receive power to purchase any land suitable for allotments within their own district, or any adjoining sanitary district. It was to be regretted that the Allotment Question had been mixed up with this matter, in order, it appeared, to meet a popular cry. He thought that the measure, instead of being a Glebe Lands Bill, might appear to be a Bill for Providing Allotments. In fact, it appeared to be devised—but he was sure that was never intended—to provide allotments for the poor at the expense of the clergyman. Why should the clergy not have the power themselves of letting the glebe lands in allotments? He had heard that a general Bill with respect to allotments was to be introduced by the Government, and he could have wished that the sale of glebe lands for allotments had been kept out of this Bill. The right rev. Prelate concluded by moving an Amendment intended to carry out the object he had in view. Moved, in page 6, line 23, after ("thereof") insert ("or any land situated within the district of the said authority or in any adjoining sanitary district").—(The Lord Bishop of Lichfield.)


said, he should support the Amendment.


said, he greatly regretted that he must again object to an Amendment of his right rev. Friend. He thought, however, that to give a general power to the Sanitary Authorities to buy land for the purpose of allotments would not come properly under a Bill for the sale of glebe lands. He would point out, besides, that a clergyman could, however, at the present time, let his land in allotments if he liked to do so. The Government intended to bring in a general Bill in respect of allotments, which would give power to buy not only glebe lands, but other lands, and it would, he thought, meet the right rev. Prelate's objection.


said, he thought it was very undesirable to increase still further the burdens of the Local Authorities.


said, no one was more opposed to increasing the burdens of Local Authorities than he was, and the Bill would not have that effect.


said, that in his opinion the Amendment, if it were adopted, would make the case rather worse than better for the incumbent.


said, that after what had fallen from the noble Viscount he would withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment (by leave of the Committee) withdrawn.

On the Motion of Viscount CROSS, the following Amendments were agreed to:—In page 6, line 24, after ("letting") insert ("or continuing the letting of"); page 7, line 18, at end of subsection insert as a fresh sub-section— The sanitary authority shall not delegate to any committee of their number any of the powers vested in such authority under this Act; line 27, at end of clause insert— Provided that if any Act is passed during the present session of Parliament relating to the provision and management of allotments, the enactments of that Act relating to the management of allotments and to the sale of land no longer needed for the purpose of allotments, or less suitable for that purpose than other land, shall extend in substitution for the enactments of this Act to allotments provided under this Act, in like manner as if they had been provided under the said Act.

Clause, as amended, agreed to, and added to the Bill.

Clause 12 (Substitution of county authority for sanitary authority).

On the Motion of Viscount CROSS, the following Amendment was agreed to:—In page 7, line 42, at end of line insert as a fresh sub-section:— The prohibition on the delegation of any powers to a committee of the sanitary authority shall not apply to the county authority.

Clause 13 (Power to make rules) agreed to, and added to the Bill.

Clause 14 (As to action by patrons).

On the Motion of Viscount CROSS, the following Amendments were agreed to:—In page 8, line 42, leave out ("or persons"), and after ("apply") insert— ("And of any patrons or persons other than the patrons mentioned in the said enactments, or the Duke of Cornwall";) line 43, at end insert as a fresh paragraph—

(26 & 27 Vict. c. 49.)

"Where the advowson of any benefice is part of the possessions of the Duchy of Cornwall, any notice required to be given to the patron of such benefice for the purposes of this Act may be given to the keeper of the records of the Duchy of Cornwall, and any act authorised or required to be done by the patron of such benefice for the purposes of this Act may be done under the seal of the Duchy of Cornwall; and in the event of the Duke of Cornwall being under the age of twenty-one years, or of there being no Duke of Cornwall, may be done in the manner in which any act in relation to the possessions of the Duchy of Cornwall may be done in pursuance of section thirty-eight or thirty-nine of the Duchy of Cornwall Management Act, 1863, as the case requires."

Clause, as amended, agreed, to, and added to the Bill.

On the Motion of The Lord Archbishop of CANTERBURY, the following new Clause was agreed to, and inserted after Clause 14:—

(Amendment of, and saving for, Ecclesiastical Leasing Acts.)

(5 & 6 Vict. c. 108; 21 & 22 Vict. c. 57; 28 & 29 Vict. c. 57.)

"Such notice to the bishop of the diocese as may be prescribed for the purposes of this Act shall be substituted for the period of three months' notice which, in pursuance of section one of the Ecclesiastical Leasing Act, 1858, is required to be given to the bishop of the diocese on every proposed sale of glebe lands under the provisions of this Act, but, save as aforesaid, nothing in this Act shall be held to limit or prejudice the powers and provisions contained in the Ecclesiastical Leasing Acts or in the Acts administered by the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty."

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

The Report of the Amendments to be received on Monday next; and Bill to be printed, as amended. (No. 41.)