HL Deb 08 May 1888 vol 325 cc1594-7

(The Marquess of Salisbury.)


House in Committee (according to order).

Recovery of Tithe Rent-Charge.

Clause 1 (Abolition, except in certain cases of distress for recovery of rent-charge) agreed to.

Clause 2 (Procedure for obtaining order of County Court for payment of tithe rentcharge).


, in moving to amend Sub-section 3 by inserting words to limit the right of the titheowner to three-fourths of the net profit of the land, thus giving the landlord some compensation for the expenses of management and maintenance of the laud, said it might be objected that the Tithe Commutation Act of 1836 was a final settlement of the question; but to that he would answer that the Legislature had frequently interfered and had altered the incidence of tithes, and the introduction of this measure itself proved that the tithe commutation was not considered to be a settlement of the question. It was always supposed that the land would be three times the value of the rent-charge; but he had been informed that in some cases the landlords had to pay as tithes more than their interest in their land was worth; and it certainly was extraordinary that the person who was entitled to only one-tenth of the produce of the land had a right to take the whole of the profits derived from the land. It was a fact that the natural productiveness of the land was gradually diminishing, and that it had to be supplemented by the use of stimulating and expensive manure. Was it fair in such circumstances that the tithe-owners should take the whole of the profits of the soil? In the interest of agriculture he moved. this Amendment, because he thought the landowner should be allowed to take some part of the profits, and that the tithe-owner should not take the whole. Land had diminished in value, and his Amendment went to this—that in a case where the rent charged so nearly approached the net profits, the landowner should be allowed to retain one-fourth of them to pay his expenses of cultivation. He begged to move the Amendment of which he had given Notice.


said, he could not assent to the Amendment. He did not think that the definition of profits given by the noble Lord was quite correct. He understood the noble Lord to desire to make this deduction from the profits in order to repay the landowner for his manage- ment. But the object which the noble Lord had in view would be satisfied by the clause as it stood. In point of principle, however, profits had nothing to do with the rent-charge, which had never been a charge upon the profits of the land. It was open to the noble Lord to say that the rights existing should be taken away; but if the noble Lord advocated that principle, it should be adopted after a very full inquiry, and then their Lordships might consider whether they would accept the results to which that inquiry would lead them. If land should go out of cultivation there would be no profits, but there would be a right to tithe notwithstanding.


said, he could not see that the clause reserved any profits to the landowner. No doubt, the noble Marquess was quite right in saying that to deal with this question as the noble Lord proposed would be a large matter; but he thought that this clause as it stood would lead to the question being re-opened, because it never could have been the intention of any individual to give to the Church the whole profits of the land. He fully admitted that as the law stood the right of the titheowner was as the noble Marquess had stated; but it was not always advisable or even possible to exact your pound of flesh although entitled to it. It seemed to him that the arguments that as the law stood the titheowner might absorb the whole of the net profits of the land pointed irresistibly to an alteration of the law.


observed, when tithe was commuted a Parliamentary settlement was made between the landowner and the titheowner by which tithe was made a rent-charge on the land and took priority of the landlord's interest. The present was not a proper occasion for going into the question, whether that was a satisfactory settlement; if such a question were at any time raised, he did not doubt that it could be shown; and he thought it had been already demonstrated that, on the whole, taking everything into account, the landowner had been a large gainer by that arrangement. It was perfectly clear that the titheowner's rent-charge now took precedence over the landlord's interest on the land as much as any other rent-charge would do. To say that because the landlord might get nothing out of the land he was entitled to have transferred to him one-fourth part of the titheowner's rent-charge, seemed to him to mean simply appropriation by the tithepayer of part of the titheowner's property.


said, he could not admit that under all circumstances the tithe rent-charge must remain as at present. It might be that, owing to change in the value of money, 100 years hence the tithe rent-charge might be worth more than the land itself. Could it be contended that under those circumstances the titheowner was to be allowed to have the whole property in the land? He did not wish to press his Amendment to a Division unless it was likely to be supported by the House.

Amendment (by leave of the House) withdrawn.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 3 to 9 inclusive, agreed to.

Reduction of Averages.

Clause 10 (Calculation of tithe rent-charge on triennial instead of septennial average of prices).

On the Motion of the Marquess of SALISBURY, an Amendment made to the effect that the substitution of a three years' average for the seven years' average should not affect extraordinary tithes.

An Amendment moved providing that the computation should be made as respects the average prices for the three years' ending on the 25th of December, 1889.—(The Lord Addington.)


said, he could not admit that the clause as it stood did any injury to the titheowner, because it was impossible to say what the prices within the next few years would be, although the indications were rather in favour of a rise. He was, however, quite willing to accept the proposal of his noble Friend.


said, he wished to express his gratitude on behalf of the clergy, to the noble Marquess, for acceding to a proposal which might tend to ameliorate their condition.

Amendment agreed to; other Amendments made; the Report thereof to be received on Monday next; and Bill to be printed as amended. (No. 99.)

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