HL Deb 05 July 1900 vol 85 cc592-5

Moved, "That the Lords following be named of the Committee to join with a Committee of the House of Commons to consider the constitution of Queen Anne's Bounty Board, and to report whether economy and efficiency of administration would be promoted by any change in its constitution or by its amalgamation with any other body, viz.:—

That such Committee have power to agree with the Committee of the House of Commons in the appointment of a Chairman."—(Earl Waldegrave)


My Lords, I do not rise to object to the names of the Members proposed—they are as good a selection as I believe could have been made—but to ask Her Majesty's Government why there is to be this inquiry, and at whose instance it has been set on foot. There are most ill-omened words in this notice. It is proposed to inquire whether economy and efficiency of administration will be promoted by any change in the constitution of Queen Anne's Bounty Board or by its amalgamation with any other body. That can only mean amalgamation with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, as nobody would think of the Charity Commissioners in this respect. I venture to think that those who have contributed money to Queen Anne's Bounty would not think it was equally safe with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and I hope the noble Marquess at the head of the Government will be able to allay their anxiety and dispel their fears on this subject. Why, I ask, is there to be this inquiry into the efficiency of the administration? I have been familiar with the administration of the Bounty for nearly thirty years, and can testify to the fact that the economy and efficiency of its administration have been much greater than the economy and efficiency of the administration of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The work of the Bounty has increased very much of late years, and large additions have been made to the sums invested in its name, but the expenses have not increased. Again, why is this inquiry to be made, just when the late secretary of Queen Anne's Bounty has departed this life? It is not suggested that an inquiry should be made into his administration; but why take advantage of the death of an efficient servant to make this attack on the Bounty? This question has been sprung upon the House and upon the public, and I heard nothing of it until I saw this motion on your Lordships' Paper.


The noble Lord has mentioned me, and I will answer him, not from my own knowledge, but from information derived from high authority. I am told that Queen Anne's Bounty is a very remarkable corporation. It seems to have been the fashion in the last century in. constituting these corporations to make them a numerous body of men, selected from those already overworked. Such was the idea then to secure efficient administration. I am told that Queen Anne's Bounty Board includes all the Bishops, all the deans—I am not sure whether all the Privy Councillors—["Yes."]—all the sheriffs, all the mayors, all the aldermen, and all Queen's counsel. Of course it is only by the exercise of a great deal of self-denial on the part of these gentlemen that business goes on. If all of them attended the meetings and took active part in proceedings, the transaction of business would be beset with difficulties. I am told, however, that they are not required to be summoned to attend, and the danger arising from their number is therefore diminished. It is only necessary to insert an advertisement in the London Gazette, and as that journal is not so widely read as its merits deserve, there is not a large attendance of all these Bishops, deans, aldermen, etc., and confusion is avoided. I understand that it has entered into the heads of some revolutionary persons that possibly this body might be amended. To explain the matter which is disturbing the mind of my noble friend, it was thought wiser to commence action at a time when no one had vested interest as secretary, so that an unnecessary demand should not be made upon the resources of the Church. That is all the explanation I have to give. I believe those composing the Committee are careful men, and will not prune these bishops, deans, aldermen, and other dignitaries without sufficient cause, but I think the House will admit that there is some case for legislation.


AS one of the body to whom my noble friend has referred, I may say that I have been a member of that body since 1865, and I can assure him that I have never once attended.

On Question, agreed to.

Ordered, That such Committee have power to agree with the Committee of the House of Commons in the appointment of a Chairman.