HL Deb 25 July 1907 vol 179 cc8-10


Order of the day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this is one of three Bills which have been introduced by the Charity Commissioners and passed through the other House. The first Bill, the Second Reading of which is now asked for, and the next two Bills on the Paper—the Kingswood (Whitfield Tabernacle School Room, etc.) Charity Bill and the Longton (Caroline Street Chapel) Charity Bill—are all based on the same principle, and the reasons for intorducing them will be found in the Report of the Charity Commissioners, in which it is said that the main object of the scheme in each case is to authorise the variation of the trusts so as to bring them into accordance with the doctrine generally held at the present time by the congregation or denomination to which the chapel belongs. In that Report a very lucid explanation will be found of the grounds in each case on which the Bills have been drawn. They have passed through the House of Commons without any opposition, and without any kind of objection on the part of the interests affected. Therefore, I do not think I need trouble your Lordships with any further explanation. I will simply ask that the Bill may now be read a second time.

Moved. "That the Bill be now read 2a"—(Lord Weardale.)


My Lords, these schemes are of a very interesting character, because, although they proceed upon the Motion of my noble friend opposite they are strictly denominational in every respect. I gather that under these schemes it is sought to fix by Act of Parliament what religious doctrine shall be taught in connection with the particular property with which each scheme deals. I am glad to find that the Church of England is not the only denomination that has to come to Parliament for sanction to deal with its own property, and that, notwithstanding what is supposed to be the comparative freedom of the non-established religious bodies, they also have to depend upon Parliament for the disposal of their property. Another striking circumstance with regard to the present Motion of the noble Lord opposite is that the Motion is not made by an official Member of your Lordships' House. Although this Bill deals with the rights of property of the particular denomination concerned, the Motion is made upon the responsibility of a private Peer. Although I do not imagine for a moment that any private Peer could have been selected by the Charity Commissioners who would more deserve the confidence of your Lordships' House, still it is a striking circumstance that the Bill has not been moved upon the official responsibility of the Government. The Bill is a very detailed matter and depends upon a certain Report of the Charity Commissioners. I do not pretend to have made myself familiar with that Report, but I would ask that, before we proceed with the further stages of the Bill, the noble Lord should give us time to realise what is in that Report. I notice one very significant clause in the Schedule of one of the Bills—"Indemnity to non-consenting trustees." That may be merely common form, in which case there is no more to be said about it; but if it is intended to cover a difference of opinion in the denomination itself about which Parliament is asked to decide one way or another, then it is a matter of some importance and will require consideration We ought to know what these dissenting trustees have to say for themselves, and I merely ask that the noble Lord shall not take the next stage of the Bill until we have had an opportunity of considering it.


The Committee stage of the Bill shall be fixed to meet the convenience of the noble Marquess opposite.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday next.