§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order of the Day for the Second Beading read.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (EARL BEAUCHAMP)
My Lords, the Bill to which I ask your Lordships to give a Second Reading this afternoon is chiefly a Consolidation Bill, but there is also other matter connected with it upon which I should like, with your Lordships' permission, to say a few words. Parts I and II of the Bill deal only with the consolidation of the Acts passed, I think, on three separate occasions dealing with this subject. Part III is the part of the Bill which deals with the new powers for which I ask your Lordships to give authority this afternoon. The first and in some ways, perhaps, the most important provision is the extension given to the definition of "ancient monuments." We quite feel that we include in this term things which may be neither ancient nor monuments, but which at the same time we think under certain circumstances it ought to be within the power of the Commissioners of Works to preserve, and, if necessary, even to buy. Your Lordships will see that the definition is very carefully guarded and is not likely to be abused.
The special extension of powers for which we ask is connected with compulsory powers conferred upon the Commissioners of Works, but though we ask that they should be compulsory we have, I hope, put a sufficient number of safeguards into the 864 Bill to ensure that they should not be exercised in any harsh or improper manner. Your Lordships will see that we propose to proceed in this matter by Preservation Order. The Preservation Order must first of all be recommended by the Board which we set up in the Schedule of this Bill, and when it is recommended the Commissioners of Works issue the Preservation Order, and then they have to bring in a Bill for confirming the Order. Your Lordships will see that by Clause 6, subsection (3), we provide that the procedure shall be in the ordinary way. There will be a Bill introduced, which will probably be called a Preservation Order Confirmation Bill, and if there is any opposition to it on the part either of the owner or any other person interested it will be dealt with by a Select Committee of the House practically in accordance with the ordinary procedure of your Lordships' House with regard to Private Bills; so that there will be every opportunity on the part of an owner who thinks himself aggrieved to come to this House for protection. This is a power which is, I think, given to other Departments. It is not an entirely new feature in our legislation, and therefore I venture to hope that your Lordships may allow it to pass. The alternative is difficult to find. Various alternatives were before my mind prior to deciding to recommend this particular course to your Lordships, but I do not think there is any other alternative possible which will give the aggrieved owner such complete protection as allowing him to come before either House of Parliament in this particular way.
Then we ask for compulsory powers to enable us to repair buildings where in our opinion they are, owing to neglect, getting into bad repair. We also ask for power to purchase monuments—perhaps not so much a power to purchase as a right of pre-emption. As your Lordships will see in Clause 7, subsection (3), it is only when the owner wishes to sell the monument that the Commissioners of Works have power to buy instead of allowing the monument, which may be of real value and interest, to be carried out of the country and set up somewhere abroad. In such cases we should not buy unless we were perfectly certain that it was desirable to purchase; and it is only in those special cases where the owner wishes to sell to somebody else that we would in any way have a right of entry at all. That is to 865 say, this Bill will in no way affect an owner who does not wish to sell his property; it is only when he entertains the idea of selling his property that the State conies in with a right of pre-emption.
The only other matter in this Bill to which I need draw your Lordships' attention is the First Schedule, which enumerates the bodies that are to have representatives upon the Board. It is not a fixed schedule. I have had a communication from the County Councils Association saying that they think they should be represented upon that body, and I think that is not at all an unreasonable request. The suggestion which I wish to make to your Lordships if this Bill is read a second time this afternoon is that it should be referred, with the other Bills on the same subject, to a Select Committee of both Houses of Parliament. There is another Bill on the Table of your Lordships' House for Second Reading to-day, and there is a further Bill down for Second Heading on Thursday next. What I venture to suggest is that all three Bills should be referred to a Select Joint Committee, and it would be quite probable, I think, that the members of the Committee would find in one of the other two Bills some ideas which ought to be incorporated in this, the principal, measure. If they do, nobody would be more pleased than myself, because I am fully aware of the difficulty of the subject and of the fact that there very likely are other provisions perhaps going further, and some, perhaps, not going quite so far, which ought to be incorporated in this Bill. I venture in the circumstances to ask your Lordships to give the Bill a Second Reading this afternoon on the understanding that it should afterwards be referred to a Select Committee of both Houses.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Earl Beauchamp.)
§ THE DUKE OF RUTLAND
My Lords, later on the Paper this afternoon is an Ancient Monuments Protection Bill standing in the name of Lord Southwark upon which I have an Amendment, on the Motion for the Second Reading, to move that; that Bill be read a second time this day six months; and as I understand from the speech of the noble Karl opposite that the Bill standing in the name of Lord Southwark is to be referred with this Bill to a Joint Committee, perhaps I may be allowed, although it is a little irregular, to 866 allude, in the few remarks which I shall make, to Lord Southwark's Bill as well as to the one which Lord Beauchamp has just moved.
I take no exception to Part I and Part II of the Government's Bill, because, after all, those two Parts practically consolidate the existing legislation on the subject. But there are in Part III certain provisions which require considerable consideration before some of us can view them with a favourable eye. As, however, the whole subject will be considered by a Joint Committee this is hardly the time to go into details, but I would briefly call your Lordships' attention to one or two of the matters in the Bill which appear to me to be worthy of some remark before the Bill leaves this stage in your Lordships' House. One of the principal provisions is that under which a sale is to be effected if the owner so desires, and, as the noble Earl said, the State is given a right of pre-emption. The clause as it stands practically places one Government Department in the position of fixing the price at which another Government Department is to purchase. That might on occasions prove a little hard on the owner, who might, and very probably would, get a considerably larger price in the open market. There are many conditions under which unfortunate owners of various kinds of property have to effect sales in these days; and although I am one of the last to wish that any monument of real national value should leave this country, still I do think there are times when a certain amount of consideration should be shown to an owner who through no fault of his own is obliged to part with his property.
There is a great tendency nowadays to set up State interference with private property, and it is a moot point how far that can be carried without inflicting unnecessary and sometimes almost brutal hardship on owners. Your Lordships are aware of the conditions which obtain with regard to the sale of articles of national interest in Italy, and I do rot think there can be any question that serious harm and considerable hardship have accrued to the owners of some of those articles by their being prevented under the existing Italian law from disposing of them outside their own country. Not only is there in such cases hardship to the owners but also to 867 the unfortunate people who live on the owners' estates, and who are by this action prevented from getting any help or assistance from the money that might be obtained from the sale of works of art. Therefore, my Lords, I hope that, whatever ultimate result may be come to by the Joint Committee after the consideration of this matter, some little consideration—I will not put it higher than that—will be given to the question of how the price will be fixed for the sale of ancient monuments and by whom and in what way any decision on that point may be arrived at.
There are several other points, but they are more fitted for discussion at another stage of the Bill. I would only point out that considerable difficulty may arise, in connection with alterations which it may be necessary to carry out to some of these buildings in a hurry, should the exact wording of the Preservation Order stand as now drafted. I myself had an experience where immediate repairs were necessary to prevent a very great building catastrophe taking place, and if two months' notice had had to be given, as is proposed in this Bill, before anything could have been done, by that time one side of Haddon would have fallen to the ground. As these Bills are to be referred to a Joint Committee of both Houses I shall withdraw my opposition to Lord Southwark's Bill, and shall follow with great interest the proceedings of the Committee which it is proposed to set up.
§ LORD BURGHCLERE
My Lords, as the noble Duke has said, if these Bills are to be referred to a Select Committee it is not necessary for us at the present moment to criticise their provisions in any detail. But as I have the honour of being Chairman of the Royal Commission on Ancient Monuments in England, one clause in whose Report this Bill in some way carries out, I hope I may be allowed for a few moments to address your Lordships on this subject. The recommendations which the Commission made were only two. The first was that if it is necessary, as we were led to believe it is necessary, to interfere in any way and deal with what were called imperilled monuments, it was essential that that duty and that responsibility should not rest upon any outside body, but should rest upon a Minister responsible to the Crown, who would have to defend the action that he took in Parliament and be responsible for 868 those moneys which it would be necessary to obtain from the State. Our second recommendation was that the Minister should be assisted by an Advisory Committee of the best experts obtainable on this particularly difficult and technical subject. Those two recommendations, which were contained in the first Report of our Commission on the county of Hertford, the Commission is responsible for, but it is in no way responsible for the manner in which those recommendations are carried out in this Bill.
The Commission over which I preside was asked to go down to many parts of the country and look at monuments which were said to be in a disastrous condition. I believe it was the impression of the public that the Commission had power in some way to deal with these monuments and prevent their destruction, or, indeed, their sale. I need not remind your Lordships that the Commission has no such power. It has no power whatever over imperilled monuments except that it may place such monuments in the Schedule of its Report to His Majesty as monuments worthy of preservation. But although in the limited area which we have already examined I can honestly say I know of no monument in the exact condition which would render necessary compulsory intervention by the State; yet we knew at the same time, from our individual knowledge and from information we obtained from outside, that there was a condition of things which required the interference of the State—that is to say, if the State wished to preserve its ancient and historic monuments.
With regard to the Bill itself, I do not wish in any way to criticise it. In my humble opinion it is a very moderate Bill. I do not say that its details and method of working might not be altered with advantage. Some of my enthusiastic friends who feel deeply on the subject of the preservation of ancient monuments will think that the Bill does not go far enough. I do not say that is my opinion, but I have no doubt there are many who think we ought to go further, and, I hope, not fare worse. There is one provision in the Bill to which my noble friend who moved the Second Reading did not allude —I refer to subsection (4) of Clause 14, which deals with the powers of His Majesty by Order in Council. As I understand, that refers to what I will call the penal 869 clauses of the Bill—the penalties inflicted on people who wantonly injure monuments. This subsection provides that—His Majesty may, by Order in Council, declare that this section shall apply to any monument specified in the Order which appears to His Majesty to be an ancient monument within the meaning of the Act, and on any such Order being made this section shall apply accordingly.This will give the Government of the day power to declare any monument to come under the penal clauses of this Bill. But, on the other hand, I do not understand whether the penal clauses would come into effect against the owner of the monument. As I understand the rest of the Bill, the owner of the monument is not subject to the penal clauses for destroying the monument of which he is the owner unless the monument has been taken over by the State or is under a Preservation Order. I do not understand whether, when His Majesty in Council determines that a monument shall come under this section, the monument is protected from its owner as Well as from the general public. As to the penalty which is imposed upon those who injure monuments, I cannot say that it is excessive. A penalty of£5 might very well deter those iniquitous persons who chop off pieces of historical monuments and carry them away and engrave their names on monuments, but I do not think a£5 penalty would deter a malicious person who wished to destroy his own monument in order to spite those who brought forward compulsory proceedings. I allude to that because I think it is a subject to which my noble friend might give his attention.
Then there is the difficulty, which my noble friend knows as well as I do, as to the definition of the word "monument." My noble friend has very wisely made this rather wide and at the same time rather loose. In this Bill he defines the expression as including any monument the preservation of which is a matter of public interest by reason of the historical, architectural, traditional, artistic, or archaeological interest attaching to it. A monument is not, as many people would think, necessarily a building, structure, castle, or statue, but anything which has historic and artistic interest, movable or immovable; and if my noble friend wishes that to be so, I think it would be wise to amend the definition so that it would include movable as well as immovable monuments. 870 I think the use of the words "and includes the site of any such monument" m the definition clause would lead the Court, in interpreting the Bill, to say that what was meant was fixed monuments. Suppose, for instance, the arms of Henry V which ho wore at Agincourt were deposited on his tomb; they would be movable, yet I think the nation would wish to preserve them if they were in danger almost as much, if not quite as much, as the tomb itself
The whole subject is a difficult one, and I have no doubt will receive careful attention. I do not believe that this Bill, or some such Bill as this on moderate lines, could do any possible harm. I think the extreme cases that occur will be very few. But, on the other hand, I do think that giving to a responsible Minister of the Crown the position that this Bill would give would stimulate the interest of people in the various localities in our ancient historical monuments and thereby do considerable good. The Commission for which I speak has undoubtedly in the limited time in which it has been at work effected that very beneficial purpose. It has not been inquisitorial; it has been assisted in every possible way by the owners of property. I believe this Bill if passed would tend to assist the owners of these monuments rather than interfere in any way with their rights over their property. I do not for a moment say that this is a perfect Bill, but I hope that some satisfactory measure may emerge from the Joint Committee, and, if it does, and is carried out on moderate lines, it will be to the benefit of the country and the world at large.
§ EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
My Lords, I venture to agree in the main with the observations of the noble Lord who has just addressed us, and more particularly with his concluding remarks. For my own part I am glad to give support to this Bill, both because this is a matter in which I have taken great interest and because I think, on behalf of those noble Lords who sit on this side of the House, I can promise an interest and a sympathy equal to my own. I think the noble Lord who has just spoken was quite right in saying that this Bill would do no harm to anybody, subject to certain changes which may be introduced at a later stage, but that, on the contrary, it may do substantial service to owners in regard to the 871 ancient monuments which they possess. Attaching the importance to the matter that I do, I was a little disappointed at the speech of the noble Earl in moving the Second Reading. This Bill may be regarded as a very subordinate matter in the general scheme of the legislation of the Government, but to those who take an interest in ancient monuments it is a very important measure indeed, and I came down to the House with the hope of hearing the noble Earl discourse upon it for a period of at least half an hour, and I should have been content even to listen to him for an hour. But he managed to compress his observations within seven minutes. He treated the Bill as if it were a perfunctory matter, and assumed that all responsibility had been discharged inasmuch as it was to be referred to a Joint Committee.
I agree that to refer the Bill to a Joint Committee of both Houses is the best method of dealing with this matter, and I hope there will be constituted a Committee which will be thoroughly competent to discuss the various provisions of the Bill and, very likely, to make improvements in it. But I do not feel thereby dispensed from making a few observations on the subject. On the contrary I feel impelled by this procedure to do so, because, as I understand, when the Bill comes back from the Joint Committee, unless it be radically altered, we shall have no opportunity of again discussing it on Second Reading stage in this House; the Bill will come back to us at the Committee stage, and we shall then only be able to revise it point by point in questions of detail. Therefore I hope your Lordships will pardon me if at this stage, having gone deeply into the matter, I venture to make a few observations, not by way of impressing my own views upon your Lordships, but with the possibility, perhaps, of lending assistance to the Committee in the duty which will presently lie before them.
May I say that with the principle of the Bill I am, and I am sure every one of your Lordships is, in hearty agreement. The whole attitude of this country and of the civilised world in general has changed towards archæology in recent years. We regard the national monuments to which this Bill refers as part of the heritage and history of the nation. They are part of the heritage of the nation, because every citizen feels an interest in them although 872 he may not own them; and they are part of the history of the nation, because they are documents just as valuable in reading the records of the past as is any manuscript or parchment deed to which you can refer. That point of view is recognised by the owners of these monuments, one of whom—the noble Duke behind me—has already spoken. I believe they do generally recognise that they stand with regard to these monuments not merely in the position of private owners of property, but that they are the owners of that which is, in a sense—a broad sense, I admit—a national possession, for which they are trustees to the nation at large. That is a principle we shall all accept.
The case in England is different from what it is in any other country I know, and for this reason. These ancient monuments are dear, not only to ourselves, but to our offspring who have gone out from this country to our Dominions beyond the seas. They are a part also of their heritage and of their history and tradition, and the reason for this feeling is quite clear. In the countries to which they have gone there are no such ancient monuments. In the nature of things they cannot exist there owing to the newness of the country. The result is that year by year we see our kith and kin from America or from the Colonies come back to this country and visit, with an interest and a devotion greater even than our own, the ancient monuments which exist in this land. Therefore we have a duty in keeping them up which is not only a national duty but may be described as an Imperial duty.
The last speaker raised the question of what a national monument is. I take it that the national monuments to which reference is made in this Bill are structural monuments which may be, on the one hand, old stone circles and remains, and on the other may be fabrics—and by fabrics I mean castles, the castellated structures that recall to us the traditions of the feudal times; the mansion houses, or great homes inhabited in many cases by the nobility; the manor houses which reproduce so much of the traditions and life of bygone times; and then, descending the scale, the smaller buildings, whether they be bridges, market crosses, cottages, or even barns, which carry on their face the precious story of the past. I take it that that is 873 what is meant by monuments in this Bill, and that there is no idea of applying the definition to the movable objects to which the noble Lord referred. I suppose it would be true to say that the number of the monuments to which I refer is greater in England than in almost any other country, greater because of our less troubled history, because of our relative freedom from invasion, because we have been less devastated than other countries by Civil war. All that is true enough. But, at the same time, you have only to study the records of this matter to see that the number is diminishing from year to year and almost from day to day. If you take up any book about the old monuments of Britain 100 or 150 years ago and compare them with the numbers that now exist, you will be horrified at the diminution. The same applies to almost every kind of monument to which I might refer. Take the stone circles. Go and look at Avebury, where you see that magnificent arrangement of stones quite destroyed, its form almost entirely lost by the depredations of men who have taken the stones to build cottages and walls, and even to supply material for roads. Everywhere, of course, a certain amount of destruction is brought about by the ravages of time, but even more has been wrought in this country by indifference, carelessness, vandalism, and the heedless utilitarianism of the day. Those are the sort of dangers we have to guard against, and as, owing to these causes, our ancient monuments diminish in number, so a higher value attaches to those which remain and a greater duty devolves upon us to preserve them.
This is the fourth Bill relating to this subject which has been placed before Parliament. I am sorry not to see my noble friend Lord Avebury in the House, and still sorrier because I understand his absence is due to ill-health. No man has done more than Lord Avebury to preserve our ancient monuments, and he was the real parent of the Bill of 1882. It is almost incredible, if one looks back at the Parliamentary history of the time, to find how much opposition was excited by that mild and inoffensive measure. This is a country in which the idea of the rights of property has always been more sedulously cherished than in any other, but when you see that in order to get that Bill through Parliament it had to be denuded of many of its important features, and only after 874 many years was it passed in an almost innocuous form into law, one feels almost ashamed of the reputation of one's countrymen. The Bills to which I refer were very mild and insignificant measures, and I agree with Lord Burghclere that, if this Bill passes into law in its present form, twenty years hence it will be looked upon as a ridiculously mild and inoffensive Bill also.
I do not say we ought to be guided by the practice or the precedent of foreign countries, but I do think it is worth while to remember that we are far behind in these respects any other civilised country, not only the greatest but even the smallest, in Europe. In other countries the laws are much more stringent. Foreign Governments take power to assume charge of buildings. They take entire control of excavations, and have almost in all cases powers of compulsory expropriation. Then, in addition to their legislation, they have a most powerful and perfect machinery. Staffs of inspectors and conservators are charged with duties in this respect. We have none of those things in this country. I am not saying that we ought to have them. The spirit of our life and of our legislation is opposed to this excessive and rather bureaucratic interference, and I should be the last to propose legislation like that to which the noble Duke referred, which exists in Italy, or still more in Greece, where any national monument on the property of a private person is treated as State property. He is not allowed to touch it in any way, and the State may become the possessor of it at any moment it chooses. I do not say we ought to go as far as that, but I do think we have rather gone to the other extreme. And one of the main reasons why I. welcome this legislation is that it seems to me an effort in the right direction, a recognition of responsibility, too long delayed, which the State ought certainly to assume.
The question is, I will not say, Has a case been made out for this Bill?—because the noble Earl spoke with such extreme brevity that he gave himself no time to make out a case—but, Can a case be made out for this Bill? I think most undoubtedly it can. But let me add that in anything that falls from my lips on that point I would not like to be thought to utter one word in disparagement of the attitude and conduct of private owners in this country. I think that, broadly speaking, the owners of the 875 famous structures to which I am referring have been actuated by the highest motives, and have fulfilled their charge in a spirit of patriotism and of public duty. Notably does this apply to the case of my noble friend behind me, the Duke of Rutland, whose upkeep of Haddon is not only a matter of honour to himself but a great source of delight to hundreds of thousands of his fellow creatures. The same applies to other famous monuments—to Fountains Abbey, in Yorkshire, and to Melrose Abbey, both the property of members of your Lordships' House, and kept up in a manner free from all reproach. This is a recognition which I think anybody speaking on this matter ought freely and frankly to make. But the case for the Bill is not, of course, what is done by these noble owners of whom I am speaking or by owners in general, but what has been done in other cases and what might be done in cases which have not yet arisen.
I have referred to Avebury and the shocking spoliation and demolition that have taken place there. Let me mention one or two other cases that I happen to know personally. There is the case of the famous standing stones of Laggangairn, which only three-quarters of a century ago were fifteen in number and are now only two. There is the case—within the recollection of nearly every noble Lord seated in this Chamber—of Temple Bar. There was that beautiful structure, reminiscent of a very interesting period in our history, torn down from the centre of one of the most prominent streets in London, parted with to a private individual, erected in a private park outside London, and replaced by a ghastly griffin which glares at us every time we go down to St. Paul's Cathedral. Then there is the case of Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire. It may interest your Lordships to know that that castle, which is really a beautiful specimen of English brick-work of the fifteenth century—I suppose the finest specimen in existence anywhere—was sold to an American syndicate for purely speculative purposes. They might have done with it what they willed. The beautiful and historic mantelpieces, covered with the heraldic bearings of the former owners of Tattershall, were taken out with the object of being sent to America. Take another case. I suppose there is not one of us who does not look with reverential feelings upon Stonehenge. I believe the present owner of 876 Stonehenge is thoroughly alive to his responsibility. But under our existing law the owner might sell it to-morrow; he might pull it down to-morrow; he might part with it to an American syndicate to be erected in the Central Park in New York. I give that as a case of what might be done with our national possessions.
In these cases the Government, in the existing condition of affairs, is absolutely helpless. All it can do is to sit still and look on while these acts may happen, the only power it possesses being the limited and almost futile prerogative given it by the legislation in 1882 and 1900. You may say, "Oh, but these things could not be done." My Lords, there is nothing but public opinion to prevent their being done. Public opinion, I venture to say, is a very insecure guarantee in matters of taste and antiquity and art. For in what way does public opinion act in the matter? It proceeds entirely by fits and starts. It flares up, probably as a result of a letter in the newspapers, and there is a great agitation which eventually dies away into utter and callous indifference. I venture to say you cannot rely on public opinion to act as the check and guarantee you require.
I should like to say that this Bill in my view makes a most moderate claim upon the rights and privileges of owners of property. As I understand, a man is not under this Bill forbidden to own, to buy, to sell, or to restore any ancient monument with which he may be connected. The Government cannot force compulsory acquisition upon him. Nothing can be taken from him without his own consent. Moreover, it ought to be remembered that this Bill does not in any way touch dwelling-houses, so that there can be no invasion of the sanctity of a man's home, however ancient and venerable it may be. As long as a man treats the monument in his possession well and reverently, this Bill makes no interference with him at all. It is only at the point where he utilises his rights of ownership to neglect, or injure, or destroy, that the Bill comes in as a form of protection and a check. In other words, the good owner is not touched in the slightest degree by this Bill. It is only the vandal or negligent owner whom it would affect.
I made a very careful study of the Bill before venturing to speak to your Lordships 877 upon it, and I do not think, if I may say so, that the noble Earl in charge of the Bill has been altogether wise in the way in which he has drawn it up. If you look at this Bill, covering ten or eleven pages, you might imagine that it was a bold and serious innovation. It is nothing of the sort. The greater part of the Bill is merely consolidation; two-thirds or three-fourths of it are merely a repetition of Acts already on the Statute-book. If I had been in the noble Earl's place, I should have left these Acts alone and should have supplemented them by the new provisions he has introduced into this Bill, because in all these matters you have to be careful not to offend or frighten people, and there may be a certain number of people who will say, "Here is a great body of legislation which seems rather serious and rather wide," whereas the new powers taken in the Bill are really of the smallest and almost microscopic dimensions.
As I understand, there are two new powers taken in this Bill, and two only. The first is the right of initiative on the part of the Government to assume control of any monument which may be neglected or in danger of destruction, and the second is the constitution of an Advisory Board to assist the Government in regard to this matter. Perhaps your Lordships will permit me before this matter goes to the Joint Committee to say one word about each of these two new powers. I will deal first with the right of initiative to be taken by the Government, which appears in Part III of the Bill. The noble Earl said, and I think said justly, that this right is safeguarded by adequate precautions. These precautions are detailed in Clause 6 of the Bill, and I will not weary your Lordships by recapitulating them. I will only say that I do not think that under them any injustice could be done to an owner. But there is one point that is not raised here. I do not myself conceive that the interest of an owner could be in any way injured by these provisions, nor do I think that the selling value of his property would be diminished by the existence upon it of a monument the custody of which had been assumed by the Government. But supposing he held an opposite view, and supposing he felt that compensation was due to him for this apparent diminution of his rights. In any case it could only be so small that it might be worth while to meet him on the point, and I suggest to the noble 878 Earl whether it is not worth considering the case for compensation, and providing that if such a case did arise it might be referred to the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, who are mentioned in Clause 7, subsection (3), of the Bill. I say I do not think the case would arise, because the only contention that the owner could make if he wished to sell his property would be that the selling value had diminished because he could not sell the ancient monument upon it, and this depreciation could only have a monetary value if he proposed to pull down the building—the very object which the Bill is introduced in order to prevent. But I think it might be well if the noble Earl were to consider the point.
Then I come to Clause 7, subsection (3)—the right of pre-emption by the Commissioners of Works. This was the point to which the noble Duke behind me called attention. I am not at all convinced that it is necessary to take these powers, and I will tell the House why. Under the existing Acts the Commissioners of Works have already power to purchase by agreement with the owner. They have had this power since 1882. Have they purchased a single building? I think I am correct in saying that not one penny of public, money has been devoted to the purchase of existing monuments, although these powers have been in force for thirty years. The same would apply under this Bill. I doubt if the Treasury would ever find the money for the purpose. They have not done so hitherto, and would be less likely in the new circumstances to do so. I do not see why the owner should not be at liberty to sell if he pleases to anybody, subject only to the existence of the Preservation Order, which would prevent the monument on his property from being neglected or destroyed. I venture, therefore, respectfully to suggest that this right of preemption which you take for the Government is not really required, because it would be inoperative, that it may excite a certain amount of suspicion as to your intentions, and merely produce alarm where you want to carry with you general consent.
I said that the other new power taken in the Bill was the creation of the Advisory Board. This is a very important feature. It is obviously of the first importance, because upon the composition and working of the board and the public confidence that it carries depends the success of your 879 measure. The proposed composition of the board is given in the First Schedule, and just now the noble Earl in charge of the Bill said he thought of adding to the list of authorities there represented the County Councils Association. I only wish to make two observations on that list. The first is this. I do not feel quite clear why the Royal Academy of Arts is inserted. That is an academy for the furtherance of painting and sculpture, and I am not aware that its members have any special knowledge of ancient monuments.
§ EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
Oh, that is where you bring in the Academy of Arts. But there is another society which I think might very well be represented—I refer to the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, which has existed for this particular purpose for nearly forty years, and has done excellent work, and might surely claim to have a representative upon the Advisory Board. My next point is this. How is your Advisory Board going to deal with Scotland? The Bill does not apply to Ireland, so I do not raise that. There are to be only two Scottish members on the Board, who would probably find a difficulty in attending meetings in England, while the English members would similarly find it difficult to go to Scotland to attend a meeting. I ask whether it would not be better to have a board composed of Scottish members sitting in Scotland who would not replace the English Board or enjoy any independent powers, but who could inquire and report to the Board in London upon that part of the subject which related to their own country. I think in practice that might be found more suitable and practicable than the arrangement suggested in the Bill.
One more question as to the Advisory Board. How are they to be set in motion? Nothing is said about that in the Bill. I take it that what will really happen will be that the Inspector of Ancient Monuments will make a representation to the Advisory Board and get them to report on any particular matter. But it must be remembered that there is only one Inspector of Ancient Monuments at present. Years ago the office used to be filled, and ably filled, by General Pitt-Rivers, but since he died in 1900 there has been no appointment until, I think, last year. Now you 880 have a very competent Inspector of Ancient Monuments in Mr. Peers. But there is only one, and if the Advisory Board with their great powers are to be set in motion by this one gentleman only, he will have his work cut out if he is to cover the whole country. I hope that as time goes on it will be found possible to have more than one Inspector of Ancient Monuments.
One observation as to the County Councils. The county councils were first brought into connection with monuments by the Act of 1900, which gave them powers, recapitulated in this Bill, to purchase by agreement, and to take charge of monuments. Here, again, my impression is that those powers have been an absolute dead letter. I do not think the county councils have purchased a single monument. And why? The reason is quite obvious—because the only funds which they could devote to the purpose are the funds provided for them by the ratepayers, and I should be surprised to find any county council in this country with the fear of the ratepayers behind it proposing to devote their money to this object. Therefore really this is a brutum fulmen, and unless the Government is prepared to make a grant to the county councils for the purpose, which sounds a good idea but would hardly appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it is useless to put in your Bill a provision that the county councils may purchase, because as a matter of fact they will do nothing of the kind. I do not mean, therefore, to say that the principle of bringing in the county councils is not a right one. I think it is a right one, because you want to stimulate in localities a pride and interest in the beautiful things that exist there. You want local co-operation with the Government, but you do not get that by giving to the county councils powers which they cannot possibly exercise. What I suggest to the noble Earl is this, that he might consider the desirability of inviting the county councils to appoint one of their number, some historical student or some lover of the arts—and these are to be found in most localities—who might be a link of communication between the county councils and the Advisory Board. I truly believe you would interest them more in the work and produce more satisfactory results by that method than by giving them powers of purchase which they cannot possibly exercise.
881 There is only one other point to which I desire to refer, and that is a point of omission in the Bill. I make no complaint of the omission; I only call attention to it because it is a matter upon which the Government may either wish to make an explanation, or which conceivably they may be willing to refer to the Joint Committee. It is this. I spoke a little earlier in my remarks about the nature of our national monuments in this country, but I suppose we shall all agree that outside of castles and mansions and manor houses, and so on, the most splendid national monuments that we possess are our ancient cathedrals and cur parish churches. They are not only the pride of the country, they are not only part of the visible history of the country, but they appeal in a peculiar degree to the reverence and the sentiment of every Englishman. Now what is the case as regards our cathedrals and our churches? Of course the situation here is wholly different from what it is abroad, and notably different from what it is in France. There, as we know, the bulk of the ecclesiastical property has been secularised. The fabrics of the cathedrals and the churches belong in most cases to the State, and if you look in the French Budget you will find a large sum set down for the upkeep of these religious fabrics. In this country we have exactly the opposite system. The State, except in cases where, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners are concerned, has no responsibility whatever for these fabrics. They are the property either of corporations or bodies or individuals, or a combination of the three. That is all in keeping with our general scheme of life and government, and I do not say that on the whole it is not a much better system than the Continental system; I think it is. But it is not unattended with danger.
Let me tell you the sort of danger which does arise from it in practice. Take the case of Westminster Abbey over the way—the most historic, the most famous, the most passionately revered building in the whole British Empire. As I understand, the Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey have such complete control over the fabric that it would be in their power to take down, alter, remove, or destroy any monument in that building without reference to anybody. I believe they could introduce into Westminster Abbey any structural or decorative alteration 882 they pleased. They may put up—they do put up—any class of stained glass window they like, whether or not it is in harmony with its surroundings. Take another case. I believe that the bulk of our parish churches are in the hands of the vicar and churchwardens, and for all I know it might be in the power of the vicar and church-wardens of Stratford-on-Avon church to take down the monument of Shakespeare.
§ EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
The other day I went to the splendid church of Fairford, in Gloucestershire, containing the most perfect set of stained glass windows dating from the fifteenth century. Would a faculty be required to sell that glass?
§ EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
I am glad that is so, because in the past grave acts of spoliation have taken place. It is notorious that many cases have occurred in which damage, in some cases irreparable damage, has been done to these fabrics by unskilful decoration and repair. I am not suggesting to the noble Earl that he should bring cathedrals and churches under this Bill, but if he is going to set up this Advisory Board, composed of very competent persons with consultative powers with regard to monuments in general, might it not be a good thing to establish some link of connection between the authorities responsible for our cathedrals and churches and the Advisory Board? Might it not be desirable that they should take advantage of the authority and advice of the Advisory Board, and that in this way some sort of control should be exercised over those splendid fabrics which are so much a part of our national and religious life I These are matters very dear to my heart, and if I had not taken this opportunity of putting them before your Lordships they could not have come before the Committee, and it is conceivable that in some cases they may be worthy of consideration.
I think it is quite possible to make out of this Bill a very good Bill. My only regret is that it does not go rather further. I have had experience of this sort of legislation myself, because when I was in 883 India I introduced a Bill for the protection of ancient monuments which was carried into law in 1904. That Bill was largely based on your legislation in this country, and I dare say that in composing this Bill His Majesty's Government may have done us the honour of referring to our Indian Act. When that Bill was introduced in India there were all sorts of protests made about interference with property, possible injustice, and so on. Wherever we could we acted upon the principle of the co-operation of the owner with the Government, and only in the case of the owner conspicuously failing to perform his duty did we take power for the Government to interfere. The Act has been in operation for eight years. During that time, even in a country so extraordinarily sensitive as India about anything connected with religious buildings, there has not been one murmur of opposition, no case of injustice, nothing but satisfaction at the operation of the Act. I hope I may draw from that a good omen for this Bill, and I trust that when it comes back from the Joint Committee it will be in a form which will secure for it the unanimous approval of this House.
§ LORD EVERSLEY
I dare say your Lordships have observed that I have introduced a Bill on the same subject as that now before the House which stands for Second Reading on Thursday next. That Bill was originally introduced in the other House at the instance of that well-known society the National Trust for the Preservation of Historic Monuments, but my noble friend Lord Beauchamp expressly wished that the Bill should be introduced in this House also, in order that it might be referred to the same Joint Committee as his Bill and the Bill introduced by my noble friend Lord Southwark. Accordingly I have introduced the Bill with that object. It is in no way antagonistic to the Government's Bill, and in fact might be added to it without any detriment to that measure. The main object of the Bill is to prevent the recurrence of events like those which might have occurred in the case of Tattershall Castle, and which were only prevented by the generous intervention of the noble Earl who has just spoken.
The noble Earl correctly stated the present law with regard to monuments. 884 He said that the law of this country is more unfavourable to the public in respect of ancient monuments than the law of almost any other country in Europe, and he pointed out that it was quite possible for the owner of an ancient monument or ancient castle or abbey to remove the monument altogether, and to sell it to an American millionaire for shipment across the Atlantic. When thirty years ago I was responsible for dealing with this subject and carried the first Ancient Monuments Act, practically the only danger which then existed to ancient monuments was the possibility of their neglect by the owners, a neglect due mainly to ignorance on the part of the owners of the value of them. But of late years a new danger has grown up, and that is the demand on the part of American millionaires to purchase these monuments and ship them across the Atlantic. That may possibly seem to many people a rather remote danger, but it has been threatened in more than one case.
I recollect not many years ago, in the case of Stonehenge, that the owner of that most remarkable monument sent an emissary to the Government offering to sell the monument, together with some few hundred acres of down land, for£125,000, and when the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Viscount St. Aldwyn, refused to give any such exorbitant price the emissary said that in that case the owner would sell the monument to an American millionaire who would ship it across the Atlantic. The noble Viscount replied, with very proper spirit, that if any such thing were attempted the Government would send a military force to prevent it. I think that is the tone and temper in which this subject of ancient monuments and their possible removal across the Atlantic ought to be approached. For my part, I think that the possibility of monuments of this kind being treated in this way might be dealt with in a somewhat stronger and firmer spirit than it is in the Bill now before us. I cannot myself recognise that the right of property of an ancient monument of this kind carries with it the right of destruction or of sale for exportation. I listened carefully to the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Curzon, and I understood from him—he will correct me if I am wrong—that he did not consider that the owner of an ancient monument had the right to remove it and export it.
§ EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
I quite agree with the noble Lord as regards exportation. But I would not interfere with the right of a man to sell his property to another, subject to the condition which this Bill provides that the monument is properly looked after.
§ LORD EVERSLEY
Then I have rightly interpreted the noble Earl. I do not think it ought to be permitted to the owner of such a monument to sell it for the purpose of its removal from the country, and I feel that that proposition should be boldly stated in the Bill. If it were, it would very much facilitate the passing of the Bill and at all events remove what is a considerable existing danger. I had some little difficulty in understanding the proposal of my noble friend Lord Beauchamp on this point. So far as I understand his Bill, he proposes to give a right of pre-emption to the Government. Where there is a danger of a monument being dealt with in this way the Government Department will have the right of getting a Provisional Order under which a right of pre-emption will be obtained, and then the Inland Revenue authorities are to come in for the purpose of determining the value of the property. They are directed to take into account the selling value of the monument. Well, what is the selling value of the property under these conditions? Is it to be based on the assumption that the owner is at liberty to sell it to an American millionaire for exportation? or is it to be the value which, perhaps, the owner has assigned to it under Mr. Lloyd George's Finance Act? because there would be a considerable difference between the two.
Let me take the case of Stonehenge. The probability is that if its value is to be based on the value assigned to the monument under the Finance Act it would be an exceedingly small one—not more than a few hundred pounds; but if it is to be based on the value which the owner might obtain from an American millionaire it might be a very large one. It seems to me that the basis of value which the Inland Revenue are to lay down ought to be more clearly defined. At all events, I only think it necessary for the moment to say that I am not altogether satisfied with that clause in my noble friend's Bill. I cannot help thinking that he would do wisely to deal with this matter rather more 886 fearlessly and strongly, and I would suggest—the proposition is contained in the Bill which I have laid before the House—that the removal and exportation of monuments of this kind ought to be strictly prohibited, leaving, of course, to the owner any other rights of property which he has, and the power of selling the monument, if he thinks At, to any other person subject to the conditions to which I have adverted. I understand the House to desire that the Government's Bill and the other two Bills on this subject should be referred to a Joint Committee, when these questions will undoubtedly be thrashed out, and I have no doubt that the noble Earl who has just spoken will be one of the members of the Committee and will give his valuable advice on the subject.
My Lords, I do not propose, where there is such agreement on this subject, to hammer at an open door, but I wish to ask the noble Earl in charge of this Bill one or two questions the replies to which might, I think, be useful when the Bill is considered by the Joint Committee. As I read the Bill, the only protection given is for monuments which have been the work of men's hands at some time or another. But there are natural objects in this country, such as the Giant's Causeway, which are quite as well worthy of preservation, and I think the Committee might very well consider whether there are not important natural objects of interest which do not come within the definition at present in the Bill. The definition as it stands includes any "structure or erection." Would the White Horse of Berkshire be called either a structure or an erection? It is an excavation on a hillside. I think the definition should be made sufficiently wide to clearly embrace such an object.
The noble Earl opposite referred to Part III, which provides for the protection of ancient monuments even against the owner. But the words in Part III are different from the general words. There the monument is to be under the protection of the Commissioners, but not under the guardianship of the Commissioners. In Clause 14 there is, in the case of a monument placed under the guardianship of the Commissioners, a provision about injuring or defacing the monument. No doubt there was a special object in the use of the word "protection." In Clause 24 there is 887 a subsection that His Majesty may, by Order in Council, declare that this clause shall apply to any monument specified in the Order which is an ancient monument within the meaning of the Act, but that provision and Part III do not put the monument under the guardianship of the Commissioners, and as I read subsection (3) of Clause 14 the owner is the one person exempt from any restraint if he disfigures the monument. The owner is only subject to restraint if he has constituted either the Government or the county council guardians of the monument. This may seem a small point, but I think it is one worth considering. I think we would all agree that the owner ought, as much as any other person, to be prevented from defacing anything which is considered worthy of preservation. I think that if any ancient earthwork was thought worthy of preservation it ought to be capable of being protected even against the owner.
I may say that I am in great sympathy with this Bill. The first Act which Lord Avebury got through Parliament was nothing more than a pious expression of a wish that these monuments should be preserved, but it was a sort of intimation of a Parliamentary disposition which grew slowly and was followed by enactments which were a little stronger, and which we hope in twenty years will be stronger still. There is one point in this Bill to which I wish to call attention. The Bill proposes, where a monument is put under the guardianship of a public authority, that the public authority may give a right of access to the monument. At present when an owner puts any ancient monument under guardianship the only extent to which he divests himself of any right of property is as to meddling with the monument or destroying it, but he preserves his right of not throwing it open to the public. I think that in most cases an owner would wish that the public should have a right of access, but I imagine that there are cases in which he would not desire that there should be an unlimited night of access. Take the case of Muckross Abbey at Killarney. I can quite understand that the owner might put the Abbey under guardianship and not be aware at the time that he was creating a power in another body to give a right of access. Then take Fountains Abbey. Lord Ripon kindly allowed the public to go in—
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
I would call the noble Lord's attention to Clause 13, which provides that where the Commissioners of Works or the county council are the guardians only, the public shall have access "with the consent of the owner of the monument."
I apologise to the noble Earl. I did not put the comma in the right place. I am sure we are all in sympathy with this Bill, and many of us would be glad, when public opinion ripens, to go further in the direction indicated. But in this case I am rather conservative. I do not want to hurry beyond public opinion, and if we carry public opinion with us we shall do much more than if we asked for further legislation at present at the risk of alarming those who own these monuments.
§ LORD BARNARD
My Lords, the noble Earl stated, in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, that representation had been made to him by the County Councils Association desiring that they should in some way be represented on the body which is to be constituted under the Bill. May I suggest to my noble friend that he should also consider the case of the analogous body which deals with the affairs of municipal corporations, and also consider the case of those authorities and their powers and duties with regard to ancient monuments as well as those prescribed in the Bill for county councils. I am associated with a municipal borough, the borough of Shrewsbury, which is one of the most beautiful old towns in England, and a year ago we were faced with a great difficulty because we were threatened with the loss of a beautiful mediaeval timber house. In my opinion there are in municipal boroughs an enormous number of ancient monuments which are as well worth preservation and quite as much in need of being looked after as the other class of monuments which are indicated in the Bill and have been referred to in the course of the debate. The borough of Shrewsbury and other boroughs realise that these ancient monuments are a great asset, and they would welcome any legislation which gave them additional powers of control and additional opportunities of preserving them.
THE LORD PRIVY SEAL AND SECRETARY or STATE FOR INDIA (THE MARQUESS OF CREWE)
My Lords, the noble Earl opposite made some slight and quite friendly complaint against my noble friend behind me that he had treated this subject with undue brevity in moving the Second Reading. I unfortunately was detained and did not hear my noble friend speak, but I have no doubt he concluded that all that was required of him at this stage was to lay the matter generally before the House with the view of the different Bills going to a Joint Committee, and that at some later period he would have a chance of commenting upon any particular proposals.
The noble Earl opposite, whose interest in these matters is well known, went into the subject at considerably more length and made a valuable contribution to the debate, all the more welcome to us because he was good enough practically to adopt our measure as his own, for not merely did he promise us his support but he even went so far, which is an unusual experience for us, as to hint some regrets that the measure did not go far enough in the direction of compulsion. It is quite true that in this country, with our national habits and traditions, it is not easy to strike the exact mean between the claims of private ownership and the claims of the public in relation to such a matter as ancient monuments. The noble Earl pointed out that in some countries abroad the interference of Government is infinitely greater, the regulations are far more stringent, and the rights of private owners are more continuously interfered with. That no doubt is so, at any rate as regards some countries, and there is, of course, a distinct reason for it. It is hardly too much to say that in some cases the affairs of those countries are carried on in the way they are carried on largely owing to the immense number of strangers who visit them and the money which they bring and leave behind.
Noble Lords will no doubt remember that in the particular case of Italy, which was one that the noble Earl mentioned, it is considered that Italy is able to pay interest in gold on that part of its National Debt which is held abroad, and further to pay in gold, or in the equivalent to gold, the difference due from it owing to the excess of its imports over exports, entirely 890 owing to the fact that the tourists who travel in Italy spend a sum which is estimated at over£20,000,000 a year. It is very natural that those countries should do everything to attract and keep the traveller who, in almost literal sense, lays the golden eggs, and that therefore any interference with ancient monuments becomes almost a national disaster. Here we are glad to see visitors from abroad, but we are not affected in the same way, and as a country I do not know that we very much care, from the point of view of our pockets, whether they come or not. That, no doubt, is the reason, or at any rate one reason, for the comparative indifference which has been shown in the past to the care and preservation of our ancient monuments.
Perhaps at this point I might allude to one matter which was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Sheffield, who asked my noble friend in charge of the Bill whether it would not be possible to extend its scope—and it would be a very marked extension—by including in it objects of natural beauty. He mentioned the Giant's Causeway as an instance. We have deliberately left out of this particular measure such natural objects because we think it desirable to do one thing at a time. I might remind your Lordships that to attempt to include all natural features—to give but one instance, your Lordships will remember the excitement which was caused by quarrying in the cliffs at Clifton near Bristol, and there have been many other cases of the same kind—to attempt to include in a measure of this sort all natural features of public interest and of beauty might, I fear, tend unduly to overweight the Bill; but I have no doubt that if, when they consider the whole question, the Joint Committee are of opinion that it is desirable or possible to include at any rate some objects of interest which are not the work of man, they will take evidence on the point.
On the question of the claims of private owners, I think it is clear that the main difficulty in this country must always be in relation to dwelling-houses. The Bill does not attempt to touch dwelling-houses as such, and I dare say there will be those who consider that that is an unfortunate omission. For instance, I think it cannot be disputed that, under the Bill, if the then owner of Tattershall Castle had chosen to 891 fit up a bedroom in that beautiful old building—with the aspect of which, as it happens, I have been familiar from my early youth—and occasionally visited it, he could have sold out the mantelpieces to go to America or anywhere else, or have sold the building piecemeal in the horrifying manner described by the noble Earl without any interference from anybody. I have no doubt that the question of dwelling-houses is one which will invite no little discussion, but I am prepared to say that I think the Bill goes as far in that direction as public opinion would reasonably countenance. The interference with a man's home which might, and very possibly would, take place if the Bill were made stronger in this respect would, I think, not merely be unfair in itself, but might tend to create a certain prejudice against the whole principle of the Bill as it stands.
As to the right of pre-emption, the noble Earl asked how it was that this right was included in the Bill. He regarded it in the form in which it appears—it is in Clause 7, subsection (3)—as a valueless power in itself, because the Preservation Order having been made, the work ex hypothesi could not be maltreated or neglected, and therefore it was hard to prevent the owner from selling. I think the answer to that is that there might be certain cases—I return again to Tattershall Castle as a possible case—where it would be advantageous to be able to make a purchase of a building of that kind rather than have to go through the elaborate and continuous process of watching which might be necessary to safeguard it, it being borne in mind that the owner, also ex hypothesi, would endeavour to evade that care and inspection in every possible way. And it must be remembered that it is not until a monument has been reported as being in danger of destruction or damage from neglect that such an Order can be made at all, and it is not until that Order is made that the right of pre-emption exists. I think it will be found on examination that there are cases in which that right of preemption might be both convenient and useful.
Then the noble Earl made, if he will allow me to say so, some most interesting observations on the subject of ecclesiastical property. There, again, there has been a quite deliberate abstention on the part of 892 His Majesty's Government in this Bill from attempting to deal with ecclesiastical property. I quite agree with the noble Earl that there are cases in which one laments that there is not some authority, public or other, which is in a position to prevent the defacing, and even in some cases the destruction, of ancient ecclesiastical monuments. One is tempted to go further and apply the same wish to objects which would not be the subject of a measure such as this at all. One has heard of cases where old church plate of the highest interest from its antiquity, which also, of course, enormously adds to its value, because, as the noble Earl knows, there is no plate except ecclesiastical plate in England older than the fifteenth century and very little as old as that, whereas there is a certain proportion of ecclesiastical plate which is considerably older—one has heard of cases in which parochial authorities have sold for large sums, very possibly to go abroad, old church plate with which they should not have been permitted to part. That, however, is by the way, because it is not one of the questions which come under this Bill. We have deliberately, as I say, refrained from raising the difficult and delicate questions arising out of the care of ecclesiastical buildings.
The noble Earl, I think, expressed the hope that the Advisory Board which this Bill will bring into being might in some way or other be utilised for the purpose of giving advice, and even doing a little more perhaps than giving advice, in relation to ecclesiastical property. There is, however, this difficulty in this connection. The Advisory Board in giving its advice will either have to regard that advice as a mere contribution which may be taken advantage of or not, or some means must be devised of ensuring that that advice when given is followed, in which case it becomes hardly distinguishable from control. In the first case it will, I think, be difficult to subject so important and carefully selected a body to the rather invidious position of merely giving advice which might or might not be taken and which might possibly be neglected altogether; and in the other case the advice being bound to be taken, you run up against the difficulty, which we all admit in connection with ecclesiastical buildings, that you have to change the power of control from those ecclesiastical authorities with whom it rests already.
893 I think the only other point winch I need mention is that which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Barnard. He asked why the same powers and duties which are given to county councils should not be also conferred upon municipal corporations, and he put forward that suggestion for the use and benefit of the Joint Committee. I can only say, on behalf of my noble friend behind me, that that is a suggestion which the Committee will certainly consider, and I hope myself that they will consider it favourably. One or two other questions were raised by my noble friend Lord Sheffield, but they are matters with which the Joint Committee will be able to deal. In conclusion, I need only thank the House and express our gratification at the reception which this measure has met with. My noble friend seems, though I did not hear him, to have spoken almost too humbly of its scope and purpose in moving the Second Reading, being desirous, I have no doubt, not to frighten your Lordships into the belief that a large measure was impending dealing with property rights. The measure in one sense is no doubt not a large one, and I hope that the noble Earl opposite is mistaken in thinking that people will be terrified by the size of the Bill and by the presence of the consolidating clauses into believing that it is a smashing measure which is going to destroy a number of personal rights. It does not pretend or profess to be a very far-reaching measure, but we believe that it contains elements of real value, and we hope that the deliberations of the Joint Committee will lead to its being put into a form which will be to the general advantage.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, I should not have intervened in this debate but for the fact that from both Front Benches reference has been made to ecclesiastical property and the possible misuse of and injury to ancient monuments. I should be exceedingly sorry if, from the words which have fallen from noble Lords to-night, it were supposed that at this moment ecclesiastical property, whether fixed or movable, is under the unrestrained and unfettered control of the local custodians. It is not so, and it would be very unfortunate if I were taken by my silence as acquiescing in such a view. I would be the last to deny that on occasions in the past ecclesiastical property has not been protected as it ought to have been, but the utmost 894 care is taken now to prevent a repetition of anything of the kind. I am sure that those of your Lordships who are familiar with the working of ecclesiastical matters know how constant is the tutelage exercised over property of every kind against impecunious churchwardens or other people desiring to raise money, or, what is even a greater danger, against ecclesiastical restorers. The noble Marquess spoke of church plate as though that was in a more disposable condition than stained-glass windows. I would point out that that is not so, and that the smallest article of plate could not legally be parted with without a faculty obtained from the Diocesan Court. I only rose to prevent the impression going out that there was on the part of clergy and churchwardens power to dispose freely of such things, or that diocesan control was not being exercised carefully and actively in these matters.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a.
§ Then it was moved to resolve, That it is desirable that the said Bill be referred to a Joint Committee of both Houses (the Earl Beauchamp) agreed to: Ordered, That a Message be sent to the Commons to communicate this Resolution and to desire their concurrence.