HL Deb 01 August 1907 vol 179 cc1175-7

Moved, "That the House resolve itself into Committee."—(Lord Weardale.)


My Lords, before the House is put into Committee on this Bill I think it is right I should say one word, if only to express my obligation to the noble Lord opposite for having postponed this Order until to-night. I may just add one or two observations. The noble Lord when he brought this Bill to your Lordships' notice did not say why it was that he proceeded by way of public Bill rather than in the ordinary method of a scheme made by the Charity Commissioners and laid before this House to lie on the Table a certain number of days. But the reason appears the moment you read the Report of the Charity Commission. The reason is that this Bill—I refer especially to the Kingswood Bill—proposes to make an alteration, not merely" in the ordinary conditions under which the charity is administered, but actually in the code of doctrine which is allowed to be taught in connection with, the endowment. I think it right to call attention to this very interesting fact, that this religious denomination has come to Parliament in order to obtain the right to change the connection of a particular endowment with a particular code of doctrine. In other words, Parliament is being asked to sanction a change-in the doctrinal foundation of the trust deed on which this charity is administered. That is an important circumstance, and will form a very valuable precedent, as I venture to think, for future and larger questions which may be brought before your Lordships' House. It is interesting to find, when taunts are levelled against the Established Church; in matters affecting her endowments, that being established does not really affect the point, but that in this respect a Free Church is in principle no freer than is an Established Church. One and all, if they require to modify any conditions attaching to their endowments, must come before Parliament in order to effect it. That is the first and most important moral to be drawn from these Bills; but there is a second equally important, and it is this, that when a religious denomination belonging to one of the Free Churches does come to Parliament with this request, the demand is not met by obstruction, nor by question, nor by any attempt to limit the right of the denomination to approach Parliament in the matter; on the contrary, although the change in the matter of doctrine which is proposed is different not only in degree but in kind from any such question that has ever been mooted in the Established Church in my lifetime, yet no question is made as to their right to approach Parliament regarding it and to have so essential a particular in the trust deed modified. I believe your Lordships will accept without division the plea of this religious denomination to have its trust deed profoundly modified in its doctrinal adjunct merely because the denomination wish it. This is a very valuable precedent which I desire to place on record before the Bill passes.


My Lords, the noble Lord has very correctly interpreted the view of the Charity Commissioners, that these matters can only be dealt with by Act of Parliament, and it is because they can only be so dealt with that these Bills have been introduced. But I think it here is a distinction to be drawn between the action in this matter and actions that might be taken in regard to the Established Church. Upon that subject, however, I do not wish to enlarge this evening. I therefore merely move that the House mow go into Committee.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee;

Bill reported without Amendment Standing Committee negatived; Bill to be read 3a on Monday next.