§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (EARL BEAUCHAMP)
My Lords, in asking your Lordships to give a Second Reading to this Bill this afternoon, I do not propose to detain the House at any great length. Your Lordships will probably remember that a Bill very similar to this one was introduced last year, and that on that occasion it met with general approval. Certainly so far as the principle of the Bill was concerned I do not think any member of your Lordships' House was found to quarrel with it or to deny the necessity for dealing with this question. We are fortunate in knowing that this Bill is uncontroversial in a Party sense, although, unfortunately, when people begin to discuss matters of art and taste controversies at once arise with which it is especially difficult to deal. With reference to this matter of ancient monuments, there are at least three schools. There is one school which says that ancient monuments should be allowed to look after themselves and to decay until there is nothing left; there is another school which thinks that they should be restored to the condition in which they were originally built; and there is a third school which says you should be content with arresting the growth of decay, preventing further neglect but not attempting to make the old work look like new.
Having read this Bill a second time last year with general approval, your Lordships referred it to a Joint Select Committee, and I think we owe a great deal of gratitude to those members of your Lordships' House and of another place who were good enough to serve upon that Committee. They made a number of valuable suggestions, the large majority of which are incorporated in this Bill as it is now before your Lordships' House, although there were some matters, upon which I shall say a few words directly, in regard to which I did not find myself in entire accord with the Committee. Unfortunately there is a very real need for this Bill, a need which is admitted, I think, by everybody. There is a tale how even at this moment the relics of a fine abbey are being destroyed by a landowner in the northern part of 296 England, and the picturesque details of his vandalism declare that his wife is making an iris garden in the neighbourhood and thinks the carved stone capitals of the abbey look better than plain stone in this garden. We are anxious to stop anything of that kind.
But it is mostly neglect rather than vandalism against which we have to fight. The finest monuments which come into our hands now are suffering from continued neglect, and not from any attempt on the part of anybody to spoil them. There has been, generally speaking, no attempt to restore; the owners have merely let them alone. I hope that in a great many instances the mere existence of compulsory powers will make the owners themselves take care of these monuments. We think that there are already signs that the fresh interest which people are evincing in this question is making owners take more trouble over their monuments and keep them in better repair than they used to do; and I am anxious that your Lordships should realise that in the Bill we only propose that the Office of Works should step in in the event of the owners not doing the work themselves.
As to this Bill itself, let me at once make the humble claim for it that I do not pretend it to be an ideal measure, but I look upon it as a practical one drawn up in the form in which it is most likely to pass through both Houses of Parliament in the present session. It has been drawn up with the chief idea that it should, if possible, become law this year. For that reason we have excluded a great deal that we should have liked to put in. I have inserted safeguards, not because I think all of them are necessary, but because I was afraid that if these safeguards were not put into the Bill objection would have been raised to it and it might have been more difficult to pass it through the two Houses of Parliament. Therefore I hope that when we come to the discussion of this Bill in Committee your Lordships will recollect that in drawing it up our object has been to make it one which will pass, and that we have purposely excluded things which, however desirable in themselves, we did not think were likely to help the Rill to become law this year.
There were two special points mentioned by the Joint Select Committee upon which I have not adopted the advice which they 297 gave. The first is with regard to the machinery by which the Bill is to be set in motion. I am not quite clear that the Committee itself distinguished sufficiently between the course of procedure with regard to an Order in Council, or a Preservation Order, or a Preservation Order Confirmation Bill, which will be necessary. Various people have suggested that we should proceed by an Order in Council. There are, I think, two reasons against that. One is the delay which would be involved before the Order could be put, in force, and the other is the appeal which would be given to owners who felt themselves aggrieved. What we want above everything in regard to this Bill is power to act at once as soon as we hear that a monument is being destroyed. Your Lordships know that sometimes we see in the newspapers a notice that such and such a building is being destroyed in order that it may be taken off to America. We are anxious that when that does take place we should be able to step in at once. It is quite obvious that the Privy Council cannot meet constantly, and you would have to wait some days before you could get your Order in Council.
Then the suggestion is that such Order in Council should lie upon the Table of your. Lordships' House for a certain number of days before it becomes law. My objection to that is the same as my objection to the Preservation Order. The objection to a Preservation Order, which is suggested by a certain number of people, is not that there would be a delay in issuing it, for I think it could be issued without any more delay than there is in issuing, say, an Order when swine fever breaks out. The suggestion is that the Preservation Order should lie on the Table of your Lordships' House for a certain number of Parliamentary days. I confess that that does not seem to me to give the best guarantee to the owner who may feel himself aggrieved. We occasionally have discussions in this House in circumstances of that kind, and I think that on more than one occasion noble Lords on the other side of the House have expressed their opinion that this is not a suitable place to discuss matters of detail, and that it Is far more desirable that we should proceed in some other manner. That is why it is that, on the whole, I venture to recommend to your Lordships the particular procedure which is in this Bill.
298 What will happen will be that after the Preservation Order has been issued, issued without any delay at all, there will be a Preservation Order Confirmation Bill introduced into ore or the other House of Parliament. It will then proceed in a perfectly normal, natural, and well-known way through both Houses, and if it is not opposed it will go through in the same way as a Private Bill does at the present time, but if any owner feels himself aggrieved then the Bill will be referred to a Committee. There is perfect freedom to your Lordships' House to refer it either to a Joint Committee, or to a Committee consisting of nobody but members of this House. Counsel can appear before it, evidence can be taken, and, if necessary, the members of the Committee can even go down and see the monument for themselves. I venture to say that that is a far better method of procedure than by argument across the Table of this House. When it comes to matters of taste, it is really exceedingly difficult to expect so satisfactory a conclusion from a discussion of that kind as there would be from a discussion before experts in a Committee of your Lordships' House, and we all know that it would be very easy indeed to form a Committee of experts in archæology and in art who would form a tribunal the value of whose opinion would at once be realised by everybody throughout the kingdom. Therefore on the whole I venture to submit that this is the best method of affording at the same time complete safeguards for the owner without giving any opportunity for delay.
The other important point in which I have not agreed to introduce the recommendation of the Joint Select Committee is with regard to ecclesiastical monuments. My reason for that I have already stated to your Lordships. I am convinced that the introduction of ecclesiastical monuments into this Bill would create a host of difficulties which would make it far more difficult for the Bill to become law during the present session. But there is yet another reason, and it is this, that when you come to deal with ecclesiastical monuments it is very desirable that you should deal also with movable ecclesiastical objects. The moment you begin to deal with things of a movable nature your problem is entirely a different one. I do not believe that the method in this Bill is the best one probably with which to deal 299 with movable objects. I think it is far more desirable that you should deal with movable things in some such way as by putting an export duty upon them and preventing them from leaving the country. I do not believe the method in this Bill would be of much use in dealing with ecclesiastical monuments, because the harm is done before you know about it, and it is only when you know about it that this Bill begins to act. Therefore in dealing with movable objects, which form a large part of the ecclesiastical problem, I believe a different method of procedure is altogether necessary. I think it is very clear that there would be a good deal of objection, not only in Parliament but outside, to dealing with ecclesiastical monuments in the same way as we propose in this Bill. Therefore the suggestion I make would be that those who are interested in this matter should give me an opportunity of conferring with them and also with the ecclesiastical authorities with a view to introducing a Bill dealing with the whole ecclesiastical problem by itself. I believe that if they would do that we should find that it was necessary to introduce a different authority altogether, probably the Ecclesiastical Commissioners or some body like that, but I should be glad of an opportunity of discussing this with them and of seeing whether it might not be possible before next session to introduce an agreed Bill, dealing with ecclesiastical things alone, which might have some opportunity of passing.
I am glad to think I have there finished with the important points upon which I venture to differ from the Joint Select Committee. What else I have to say to your Lordships is to emphasise my agreement with that Committee, and to point out the important differences between this Bill and the Bill of last year which have been introduced in accordance with the wishes of the Committee. I was very much struck, and I am sure those of your Lordships who read the evidence were also very much struck, by some interesting evidence given by one of the gentlemen who appeared before the Committee with regard to the educational value of these monuments in different parts of the country. He emphasised the extraordinary value that it is to the children in any locality to have monuments within reach, to which they can go and from which they can learn a great deal of the history of their country. If we are to have these monuments, not 300 necessarily large monuments, I believe you are far more likely to have them if you give power to the local authority to deal with them, and therefore I have emphasised in this Bill the power of the local authority to deal with the ancient monuments which lie within their own area.
The noble Earl, Lord Curzon, who has been good enough to take very much interest in this question, made a suggestion to me on the last occasion, which I have been very glad to follow out, with regard to the purchase of these ancient monuments by the State. I have adopted his suggestion and have eliminated that power to the State, but for the reason I have stated I have left in the power as regards the local authority, and I think your Lordships will realise that I have done it, not with the idea that they should take over large monuments but really smaller ones, and especially with a view to their educational value to the children in the country. Then there are various points with regard to county boroughs which the Joint Select Committee recommended should be included, which I have done with much pleasure. Then in Clause 13 your Lordships will see a new subsection by which the owner of any ancient monument included in the list has to give notice of his intention to alter it before he can do so. Again, I have adopted the Committee's suggestion with regard to separate Ancient Monuments Boards for Scotland and Wales. A point which was recommended in their Report was the appointment of inspectors and a separate Department. That cannot, of course, be put into the four-corners of this Bill, but I can assure them that that is within the intention of the Office of Works and that it will not be lost sight of by myself.
One other point, perhaps, I should mention here, and that is with regard to Clause 6, the first clause of Part III. In that your Lordships will see that the Commissioners are only allowed to act when they have been urged to do so by the Ancient Monuments Board. That was a safeguard which I introduced in order that owners should not be afraid that the Commissioners of Works would proceed in a high-handed way, or that they would try to take over monuments which they ought not to deal with. A good many people are of opinion that that is an unnecessary safeguard, and I confess for my own part that if its omission were moved in Committee I 301 should find it difficult to resist the Amendment. Some of the other recommendations of the Committee were already met in the Bill which I introduced last year, but the Committee recommended that they should be put into the Bill without clearly apprehending, I think, that they were already within the four-corners of the Bill as it then stood.
Amongst other recommendations I have adopted are these. The Bill provides that free advice shall be given to the owners of ancient monuments as to maintenance and repair; and local authorities are given power to raise funds for carrying out any obligation devolving upon them in this matter. Then in Clause 12 it is provided that the local authority must submit plans and specifications to the Ancient Monuments Board, and Clause 18 provides for a relaxation of building by-laws. It was suggested to us that there were a good many cases in which, the whole of the neighbourhood being of a certain character, if a building were put up in accordance with modern by-laws it would spoil the character of that neighbourhood. We have therefore put in a power, subject to application to the Local Government Board, to allow a relaxation of by-laws in those cases. We also give power to local authorities to regulate the display of advertisements. There was another recommendation of the Select Committee that the allowance for the maintenance of the Tower of London should not be included in the sum granted for ancient monuments. That naturally could not be inserted in a Bill of this kind, but it has been met by an alteration which I have arranged for in the form of the Estimates for the coming year.
Let me, in conclusion, say that this Bill does not do everything, and that I am well aware that a great many people would like to see more done. But at any rate I venture to claim for this Bill that it is a considerable step in advance of former legislation in this country, and that it in no way penalises the public-spirited owners or interferes needlessly with the rights of property. It seeks to preserve from decay and destruction a large number of monuments of artistic and historical interest, the value and importance of which must increase with every generation, and which, if they are either destroyed or neglected, no art or science can ever replace. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Earl Beauchamp.)302
§ EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
My Lords, it is almost exactly a year since the noble Earl who has just spoken moved the Second Reading of the first draft of this Bill. On that occasion he may remember that I chaffed him somewhat on the extreme brevity of the statement which he thought it desirable to make to your Lordships' House, a reproach which I am glad to say I am not called upon to address to him on the present occasion. He justified himself a year ago on the ground that the matter was going to be referred to a Joint Committee of your Lordships' House and the other House of Parliament who would lick into shape both the Government Bill and some other Bills on the same subject that were before us. I should like to join with the noble Earl in congratulating and thanking the Joint Committee for the good work they have done. They sat on, I think, fourteen or fifteen occasions in last summer and autumn, they examined a large number of witnesses, and they have given us a valuable Report; but I rather differ from the noble Earl in his view as to the extent to which he has acted on the recommendations of that Committee. Even while he was speaking I was running my eye clown the Report, and that perusal was enough to show me that the greater part of their recommendations the noble Earl has not seen his way, for reasons which in some cases he stated, to accept.
Again I rather differ from him in his claim that the present Bill contains very important differences from the Bill of last year. It does contain differences, to which. I shall allude, but I hardly think that they deserve the adjective which the noble Earl has claimed for them. The chief changes in this Bill from that of 1912 appear to me to be these. The noble Earl has dropped the right of pre-emption claimed for the State under a Preservation Order, though he has left that right, for reasons which are not very clear to me, to local authorities. He stated just now that he had made that alteration in the Bill in deference to suggestions made by myself and others, and so far I am entirely with him; but I shall come on presently to the much larger omission from the Bill of Government rights of purchase. The second not unsubstantial change is that he has set up separate Ancient Monument Boards for Scotland and Wales, a proposition with which we shall all agree. The third 303 is that he has introduced miscellaneous provisions, and about street architecture advertisements.
Now as to the question of Government purchase, the noble Earl must have misunderstood me if last year he thought that I objected to Government purchase in all circumstances. What I did object to in the draft of the Bill of that time was, as I have just said, the compulsory right of pre-emption on the part of the State in respect of buildings already under a Preservation Order. I argued that it was enough that the building should be properly preserved, and that it did not very much matter, so long as it was under a Preservation Order, whether the owner sold it to any one else, because the interests of preservation were adequately secured. But now the noble Earl has gone much beyond that. He has dropped altogether the power of purchase by the State, not in the circumstances I have just described, but in any circumstances. He has dropped the power of purchase by agreement. I would ask your Lordships to observe that that is a power that was given to the State by the Act of 1882, and has been enjoyed by it ever since—not, it is true, acted upon but still existing—a power which no one has asked to have taken away from the State, and I am at a loss to understand why the State should be deprived of it.
Let us take the sort of case that may arise. We will suppose that there is some interesting ancient and historic monument with which, for one reason or another, the owner is compelled to part. You provide under your Bill machinery by which that building may become the possession of the local authority, although, as a matter of fact, you know very well that owing to the difficulty of obtaining financial means the local authority will scarcely ever be able to act on that permission. But you take away from the State the power of purchase. Is it not conceivable that there may be some old castle, some famous and beautiful abbey, or, let us say, Stonehenge, which it might be desirable that the State should purchase? It is true that under this Bill the State will be able to preserve such monuments from demolition, from serious injury and anything of that sort, but why not let the State by agreement with the owner purchase Stonehenge, for instance, if it desires to do so. I confess that it does seem to 304 me to be a mistake to allow the Government to buy some famous and beautiful painting, a Raphael or a Titian, which is offered for sale, but not to give it the liberty to buy a castle, or abbey, or whatever the famous ancient monument may be. Then as regards purchase by a local authority, the noble Earl told us just now that he had carefully safeguarded this provision, although he thought it would only apply to objects somewhat small in character and importance. When I first read the Bill I was not a little alarmed at the phrase "any local authority," but I think I am right in taking the Bill to mean that the only local authority that can act in this context is a county council or a borough council—I mean that no smaller authority can act.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
In another part of the Bill there is a definition of "local authority" in accordance with that just stated by the noble Marquess.
§ EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
The words in Clause 21 are "the council of every county and borough shall be a local authority within the meaning of this Act." That means a county council, but does it also mean a county borough council?
§ EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
At any rate, it is a point worth calling attention to. But what I wish to be clear about is that it does not mean any smaller authority. That I should very much deprecate. Whatever may be the authority, how are these persons going to act? The question of action is entirely a question of money. How are they going to get the money even if they have the desire to buy, and the building itself is available? I gather from another part of the Bill that the only way in which money can be obtained by a local authority to purchase is either out of the rates or by a loan. I do not quite understand the circumstances in which a loan can be raised, and on that I ask for information. We will suppose that a Yorkshire abbey is put up for sale, and that the county council of the Riding in which it is situated want to buy it. They would naturally be reluctant 305 to put the charge on the rates. Will they be at liberty to raise a loan for the purpose of buying it? In any circumstances I am afraid that these financial provisions, which must fall on the rates in the last resort, mean that, although the idea is an excellent one, it will be almost nugatory in practice.
Then there is Clause 13, the new clause about which a word must be said because it is one of extreme importance. This is the clause creating a list of ancient monuments to be drawn up by the Ancient Monuments Board and accepted and published by the Commissioners of Works. Surely in a case of this description if a man's monument is going to be taken and scheduled and to come under the provisions of the Act, you ought to give him permission to be heard on the subject before that decision is taken. I think I made the point myself last year or in my evidence before the Committee—it certainly was one of the suggestions made by the Committee—and although I do not imagine for a moment that injustice will be committed, still I think it is only fair that the power to be heard should be given to the owner. Furthermore we learn that it is to be in the power of the Commissioners of Works to schedule such old monuments as they think ought to be included in the list. That is a very wide power and a very general phrase. Under the terms of the Bill it would be perfectly possible—I wish it were practicable—to include cathedrals in the scheduled list of monuments, but that is not what the noble Earl has in his mind. Perhaps he will give us later on some indication of what are the class of monuments to be scheduled other than on the recommendation of the Ancient Monuments Board.
I pass to the second subsection of the same clause, which again raises a question of great importance. The owner of the scheduled monument is not to be at liberty without giving notice, to demolish it in whole or in part. Is he to be at liberty to sell his scheduled monument? There is nothing, apparently, to the contrary. Say he sells it to a speculative dealer who is out for profit in the American market. When he has so sold it, is the dealer at liberty to perform any of these acts? How far does the prohibition to demolish take us? The noble Earl said something just now about movable objects. I would like to be quite clear in this context whether 306 this prohibition does or does not apply to movable objects. Take a concrete case—the ease of Tattershall Castle. Supposing this Bill had been on the Statute-book a year ago, would it have been in the power of the Government under it to prohibit the sale of the mantelpieces with a view to their being taken out of the structure on the ground that the removal would have been demolition in whole or in part? Would the fireplaces have been regarded, so to speak, as landlord's fittings which were part of the structure and went with it? And supposing they were, would the same considerations apply to that which is very often part of an ancient English mantel piece—namely, the carved woodwork above it. A Tudor or Jacobean mantelpiece usually consists of two parts, the stone fireplace and the beautiful carved oak work above. The two are essential parts of the same thing, but one is a landlord's fixture, as I understand, and the other is not. This clause, if I read it correctly, might prohibit the extraction of the fireplaces, but it would not prohibit the removal of the carved overmantel above.
But if it prohibits one or the other or both, will it save these buildings? The only penalty you here impose is a maximum fine of £20. Let us suppose that the owner sells the fireplaces to a dealer and that the dealer is aware that under the terms of this Bill he is not at liberty to take out these articles, but nevertheless he defies the Bill, sells them, and they are taken out of the country. What can you do to him? He snaps his fingers at you, and you fine him £20, the value of the things being thousands of pounds and the profit to himself being enormous. The same consideration applies to the owner in the case of his wanting to restore. We will suppose that I, or anybody else, owned this castle and that I wanted to restore it in some way. I may be a man wholly deficient in taste, and my plans may involve the practical artistic destruction of the building. Under this clause I have to submit my plans to the Commissioner of Works, and I am not to commence for a period of one month. Nothing is said as to what is to happen afterwards. Supposing at the end of the month the Commissioner has not replied, or has replied to the effect that he does not approve of the plans, what is to stop me from proceeding? All you can do is to fine me £20, and I go on. Nothing is said about any alternative suggestions being made by 307 the Office of Works or compulsion upon the owner to comply with them. This is an essentially new feature in the Bill, and we must be perfectly clear before we adopt it that we are not doing something which may be at the same time dangerous and futile.
Then I come to the point raised by the noble Earl as to machinery. The Committee reported, and I think the right rev. Prelate opposite will bear out what I say, that almost every expert authority who gave evidence before the Committee agreed that the machinery provided by the Bill was unduly cumbrous.
§ EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
That is a feeling which I shared. I continue to hold that view even after the explanation given by the noble Earl. The machinery provided by the Bill, which I believe was introduced with the best intention in order to safeguard the scruples of owners, is nevertheless a very long and serious one. This machinery of Inspectors, of the Ancient Monuments Board, of the Commissioners of Works, the Preservation Order, the Parliamentary Bill, and the Select Committee following upon it, seems to me to be open to the objection of occupying a great amount of time. I will not follow the noble Earl into his argument about the question of an Order in Council or a Preservation Order laid upon the Table of Parliament. I think that very likely his reasoning on both of those points is sound. Neither of the recommendations came from me, and I am not concerned to consider them. But I own that I should like, before the Committee stage of this Bill is taken, to consider whether it might not be possible to expedite the procedure contained in this part of the Bill in some way that would be perfectly fair to the owner and nevertheless enable action with regard to these imperilled monuments to be taken with rather greater rapidity than is contemplated by the Bill.
The only other important matter to which the noble Earl referred was that of our churches and cathedrals, and upon this, though my views may not agree with those of all the noble Lords who sit behind me, I hold strong opinions. Indeed, I draw a distinction between churches and 308 cathedrals for the reason pointed out by the Archbishop of Canterbury last year—that churches are under the protection, though I think little more than the nominal protection, of a faculty.
§ EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
The noble Marquess queries my use of the word "nominal," but I could speak from experience of cases in which a faculty has altogether failed to protect a church. And, after all, how should it protect a church? The authority who issues the faculty does not look at the matter from the point of view of archæology or of art. The considerations which affect him are, in the first place, considerations of law, as to whether he is acting in accordance with the law. He is, as a rule, a lawyer appointed to regard the matter from the legal point of view. In the second place, what he has to consider are the desires of the parishioners, the convenience of the congregation, and the views of the parson. I have talked to an eminent friend of the noble Marquess who himself is a Chancellor, and he tells me that these are the considerations on which he has always granted or refused a faculty, and that it has never occurred to him to look into the historic character of the building. Therefore a faculty is an inadequate protection; and I could give instances in which, under the full grant of a faculty, atrocities have been committed within the last twenty years which would almost make one's hair stand on end, at any rate the hair of a sensitive archæologian like myself. So much for the churches.
But the cathedrals have not even the protection of a faculty. The cathedrals, as I understand, are the absolute property for the time being of the dean and chapter, and they can, as regards the fabric, do what they please. I should be most sorry if I were thought to imply that deans and chapters are not most scrupulous in the exercise of the sacred trust which is in their hands. I know how particular they are in appointing special architects for the fabrics entrusted to their charge, and what enormous and reverent care they devote to the custody of these buildings. But there are as great differences between architects as there are between theologians, and the possession of a special architect does not save your cathedral from injury 309 which is in some cases almost irreparable. Therefore I myself would like nothing better than to see our cathedrals—which, after all, are the most glorious national monuments we possess, excelling our palaces and our castles—put into the list of scheduled monuments, so that it would be impossible to touch them without the consent of the State as advised by an Ancient Monuments Board.
But the noble Earl stated his objections to this. He said, in the first place, that to deal with these cases now would create a host of difficulties. I agree with him. I do not think it is possible, although the Committee recommended it, to deal with such cases in this Bill. He says further that he thinks we ought to deal with the case of movable objects, by which I gather he is referring in the main to things like church plate—[Earl BEAUCHAMP nodded assent]—and, of course, church plate would also cover the case of corporation plate, which is essentially in the same category though one is religious in origin and the other is the reverse. The noble Earl says we ought to deal with these cases by separate legislation, and he looks forward to a separate Bill on the matter and asks us to confer with him. I can say that those who feel with me would be only too delighted to accept that invitation, and we should hope to come to terms with him as to possible legislation in the future. But I would like him to bear in mind that the valuable things in a cathedral are not merely the movable effects which it contains, but are the fabric, the structure, the splendid strength and beauty of the building itself. That is what we want to conserve, and, of course, no legislation dealing with movable objects would effect that. Therefore I hope some provision will be made by which, if not now then at a later date, our cathedrals may be put on the list.
The noble Earl concluded by claiming for his Bill that it is only a modest one. I think that was a true claim. The Bill is good so far as it goes, but in my judgment, at any rate, it leaves a good deal undone, and I should like to see it go a great deal further. In one respect I entirely concur with the noble Earl. He said the Bill does not inflict any injury upon the rights of property. In that I think he is wholly right. Subject to one or two corrections in Committee, I cannot conceive that an owner of any property of this description 310 would find his rights in any degree infringed. I support the Bill, though I should like to see it supplemented and strengthened in Committee. But I have no hesitation in saying that we—and I am sure I can speak for my noble friends on this Bench—will do our best to make the Bill a good one and will gladly give it on this occasion a Second Reading.
THE LORD BISHOP OF BRISTOL
My Lords, I desire to speak in favour of this Bill, having been a member of the Joint Select Committee to which pleasant reference has been made in the course of this discussion, and also because I have been asked by the most rev. Primate, who is known not to be well just now and cannot be present himself, to be present on this occasion. I should first like to say a few words of a more general character. I have been very much struck by the way in which in the last fifty or sixty years a knowledge of and an interest in our ancient monuments have grown throughout the country. The state of knowledge now is absolutely different from what it was when I began to take these things into consideration—a longish time ago, because in 1857 when I was first ordained I happened to be planted among the historic antiquities of Forfarshire and Perthshire, and from that time forward this subject has been one of the most interesting in my life. During the five years that I was Professor of Archæology at Cambridge I visited, as far as I could, every stone of pre-Norman type in England, Scotland, Wales, Man and Ireland, sculptured or inscribed, and scarcely a day passes that I do not receive letters of the keenest interest consulting me about things to be found in one parish or another. The interest in ancient monuments is a distinctly rising tide and is likely to rise still more. Therefore in dealing with this subject by legislation you have the force of public opinion behind you.
Besides the large experience to which I have referred, in the later years of my life I have had charge of a large number of the most delightful of our ancient monuments—namely, our parish churches. I was surprised to hear the noble Earl say that the protection of a faculty was merely nominal. It is quite true that the Chancellor is guided by questions of law, but the Chancellor and the Bishop are generally on very friendly terms. In my own 311 diocese a faculty is not thought of until the Bishop has been consulted on the question. Then it goes before the Chancellor, and, as I have said, the Chancellor and the Bishop being on exceedingly friendly terms I should have thought that every parish church in the diocese of Bristol was absolutely protected under the present arrangement.
With regard to cathedrals, it is perfectly true that a faculty has been declared not to be necessary, but the whole thing has never been gone into. The judgment in which that decision was given did not touch the visitatorial power. The point has not been contested, because the deans and chapters have in all recent times been admirable custodians of the buildings under their charge. It has, therefore, not been necessary for the Bishop to raise the question at all. I am prepared in the case of my Cathedral Church of Bristol, where a great deal has been going on during the whole of my time, to take any one of your Lordships round that cathedral, and I am sure that when you see the splendid way in which the dean and chapter, backed by the generous support of the diocese, have attended to and beautified that cathedral you will say we do not want any Office of Works there. It is quite true that one architect will differ from another; that is one of the great difficulties, and if you expose these buildings to the criticism of architects who are not engaged upon them you will have endless difficulties.
Public opinion is now entirely wholesome and healthy and is rising with regard to these ancient monuments. All that has come about under a completely voluntary system, and the work has been done by completely voluntary contributions. I believe that what the noble Earl has said about putting cathedrals under the Office of Works may be enough to check contributions. I am afraid that even what the noble Earl said so carefully and so well may have that effect; and if you go further you will stop altogether the flow of benefaction, and then how are you going to get these buildings continually beautified and maintained. Therefore I think that sympathetic discussion here and in another place—for I am one of those who trust that this Bill will go to another place and pass into law—is very important. I should like to add that in my very large experience I find increasingly how admir- 312 ably the owners of great monuments fulfil that which they regard as a national duty. No praise can be too high for those who at great expense maintain the monuments in their charge; and the number of those who do not so attend to the monuments under their charge is so small that it would be most dangerous at this time to speak of drastic and threatening measures, lest when you are dealing with the small number of unsatisfactory owners you give a jar to the feelings of the very large number of admirable owners of great monuments.
§ EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
The Joint Select Committee, of which the right rev. Prelate was a member, recommended that the cathedrals should be placed under the protection of this Bill, and I think the Report was signed by the right rev. Prelate.
THE LORD BISHOP OF BRISTOL
That recommendation was carried by a majority of one. There were eleven members present, and I was not one of the six who voted for it. A motion to include all parish churches was only lost by a tie. I spoke and voted my hardest against including either parish churches or cathedrals. Then the question was, Should we who disagreed sign the Report or should we sign it with exceptions? I am always opposed to signing a Report with exceptions, and so we all agreed to sign it. That is the explanation. I am very anxious that we should not raise fears in people's minds with regard to putting these monuments under the Office of Works. I am not myself at all objecting to the Office of Works. In fact, only this year as one of the owners of a magnificent Roman remain known as Richborough Castle, I have signed the necessary deed for handing it over to the Office of Works. Therefore in expressing my view on this matter I do so without any opposition to the Office of Works acting in these matters. I am very much afraid, with regard to Part III, that it is very easy to make it too drastic. But I am here to say, on behalf of the most rev. Primate and of myself, that we are not in the least afraid of Part III even if cathedrals were included, because Part III only comes into operation when the monuments are neglected and treated injuriously, and we are confident that that would not be so in the case of our great cathedrals; but it would be a great mischief to mix up ecclesiastical buildings with secular in this legislation.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, there is much in the speech of my, noble friend who sits behind me (Earl Curzon) with which I agree. For instance, I do not understand why the noble Earl opposite has excluded from the Bill the power of purchase on the part of the Commissioner of Works. Certainly there appears to be no reason why a local authority should be allowed to purchase and the Commissioner of Works should not. Indeed, I am a little doubtful of this confidence which in the Bill is reposed in the local authorities. I know a great many local authorities. For many of them I have the highest respect, and I consider that they are well to be trusted; but it is a question of degree, and I confess I do not think that a borough council is always in all cases fit to undertake the care of ancient monuments. For what does the care of an ancient monument consist of? There is, first of all, maintenance. Well, let that pass. Then there is repair. Repair applied to ancient monuments is always a very dangerous proceeding. Repair is only divided from restoration by a very fine line, and all of us know what artistic crimes have been committed in England in the name of restoration. I confess that to place absolute confidence in a local authority and to expect that a borough council would be qualified to carry out the delicate task of repairing and perhaps restoring an ancient monument is, in my opinion, rather a doubtful policy.
May I make a criticism in that connection of Part II of the Bill? As I understand, the owner for the time being, whoever he is, may hand over an ancient monument to be maintained and repaired by a local authority. What is an owner? He is, of course, a limited owner as well as an absolute owner. But I am not speaking specially with regard to what may be called private property. I notice in the definition that an owner includes what is called a "corporation sole." I believe that a corporation sole is the incumbent of a parish, and on that I should like to ask the noble Earl a question. I have tried to make some investigation, but the law on this subject is very difficult to follow and therefore I am not sure that I interpret the law rightly. As I read the Bill, the rector of a parish for the time being might hand over the church to be maintained and repaired by the borough council. I agree that the authority which he gives 314 would lapse when he ceased to be incumbent, but during the time of his incumbency it would be, as I understand, irrevocable; and he would hand over the parish church to be maintained and repaired by the borough council—that is to say, out of the rates. Does the noble Earl intend that?
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
Clause 9 states that this part of the Bill shall not apply to any structure which appears to the Commissioner of Works to be an ecclesiastical building which is for the time being used for religious purposes, or to be occupied as a dwelling-house.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The exemption which the noble Earl has just quoted, and which is a valuable exemption, applies to Part III of the Bill. I am speaking for the moment of Part II. I think he will find that the exemption ought to apply to Part II also, and that is a point which I submit for his consideration. Without the consent of the Bishop I do not think that the corporation sole, meaning thereby, as I understand, the incumbent of a parish, should have the absolute right, over perhaps a long time, to hand over to the representatives of the ratepayers the right to repair—that is, to restore or do almost anything they like with—the parish church. I do note think that can be intended, or, if it is intended, it is a blot on the Bill. At any rate I should dread any such provision.
I am quite sure the noble Earl will have realised already that I am a strong supporter of the exemption in Part III of the Bill, and in that respect I do not quite agree with my noble friend Lord Curzon. I agree much more with the remarks of the right rev. Prelate. I see no reason to doubt that the present ecclesiastical law is amply sufficient to protect these ancient ecclesiastical buildings. I am speaking, of course, of the state of things at the present day. My noble friend behind me reminds me of the cathedral of the diocese in which I have the honour to reside. Every one knows the case of St. Albans. Many things have been done in the case of St. Albans Cathedral which many of us regret, but I would remind my noble friend that, but for the generosity of the lavish donor who was responsible for the work at St. Albans, that cathedral would have fallen down; and I fear that my noble 315 friend with his drastic remedies would shut out the generosity of men like Lord Grimthorpe, or else a charge would be thrown on public funds, or in the last event the cathedrals would fall down. I confess I am in favour of exemption, and I venture respectfully to praise the moderation of this Bill. I think a moderate measure is what is called for and all that is called for. And I would like to address this reason to your Lordships and to my noble friend who sits behind me. I am perfectly certain that no Bill which is not moderate has the least chance of passing through either House of Parliament. It therefore is a question of a moderate Bill or none at all.
I should like to make one remark as to Clause 13. Here, again, I notice that the exemption of ecclesiastical buildings and houses which are used as residencies is not embodied in Part IV of the Bill, to which Clause 13 applies; so that apparently as far as the operation of Clause 13 is concerned it might be applied to residencies and it would be applied to ecclesiastical buildings. As far as the provisions of the clause go, I do not think they would do much harm in the case of ecclesiastical buildings. All it says is that a month's notice must be given to the Commissioner of Works before any structural alteration is carried out in connection with any monument within the purview of the first subsection of the clause. I do not imagine that so far any great harm would be done. I confess I think a month's notice for a reasonable structural alteration in a church is an unnecessary elaboration. There is no necessity for such a delay. I wonder whether the noble Earl opposite has thought of its application to residencies. I know of a historic house which might be classed as an ancient monument, and I want to ask whether the owner of that historic house would be precluded from throwing two servants' bedrooms into one without giving a month's notice to the Commissioner of Works. I do not think that is intended; yet I cannot help thinking that the house which I have in mind might easily be included as an ancient monument. These are rather criticisms of detail. I do not suppose that the noble Earl opposite wishes to restrain the owner of that historic residence from altering his servants' bedrooms, but as a matter of fact that is the operation of the clause as it stands should the house be included as an ancient monument, as it well might be. These are 316 Committee points, I think, but they serve to make more clear how dangerous it is to be too drastic in a Bill of this kind. Therefore I repeat the humble praise which I have ventured to lay at the feet of the noble Earl opposite at the moderation of his measure.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
My Lords, I wish to express my thanks to those members of your Lordships' House who have taken part in this debate for the welcome which has been given to this Bill. The only point of difference between us is with regard to ecclesiastical buildings, and even on that I think we are all agreed that ecclesiastical buildings should not, on the present occasion at any rate, be incorporated in this particular measure. Therefore for all practical purposes we are entirely agreed. I can assure the noble Marquess who has just sat down that there is no intention to let in ecclesiastical buildings by any side wind, for I know too well how thorny questions become as soon as you begin to touch anything ecclesiastical. I will see that the point which he has raised is put right, if necessary, in Committee. He asked me a question with regard to Clause 12. Upon that perhaps I might point out that the last portion of that clause says that the plans and specifications of what the local authority propose to undertake should be submitted to the Ancient Monuments Board, and therefore it will not be, unless they are matters of immediate interest, within the power of the local authority to deal with them.
There was one point raised by the noble Marquess and also by the noble Earl with regard to Clause 13. The reason this clause is drafted in its present shape is this, that we desire to have the schedules. Very likely there will be a large number of buildings included in these schedules from time to time. What will happen will be that no work of repair may be undertaken without giving notice. The notice having been received, the plans and specifications will be examined. Then the noble Earl opposite complained that if no notice was taken nothing would happen. This is our intention, that a Preservation Order would then be issued and that then we should proceed in the normal way contemplated by this Bill. The object of putting in this provision is that we may have time to consider whether or not the plans are proper and fit plans. If we think they are we 317 shall allow them to go on, and if not we shall issue a Preservation Order and proceed in the normal way.
As to the question of machinery, I quite admit the force of the criticism that some expedition might, perhaps, be an improvement on the Bill. The weak point is in Clause 6, in which the Ancient Monuments Board are asked first of all to report, and I say again that if any noble Lord moves to omit that I shall not see my way to resist. I think that is the only point where there would be any chance of delay, because what would happen would be that we should get this Order immediately, and then, having once got the Order, you would have time to discuss the matter under the provisions which I have already mentioned of the Preservation Order Confirmation Bill. There were one or two other points raised by the noble Earl—
§ EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
Have you finished with Clause 13? I asked what was the meaning of the words "all such other monuments as the Commissioners think ought to be included in the list," at the end of subsection (1). My other question was as to whether subsection (2) provided any machinery by which demolition could be prevented. Apparently it retards it for a month. Will it prevent it?
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
Supposing the demolition goes on, you issue a Preservation Order. Then the persons concerned are subject to the same pains and penalties as anybody who offends against the Preservation Order itself. You would issue a Preservation Order, and if the persons concerned demolished in spite of your Preservation Order they would be subject to the usual pains and penalties.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
I admit the difficulty there, but we felt that we must follow the law as it is now. We are only dealing with immovable things, and in that we include landlords' fixtures. I am told that the mantelpieces to which the noble Earl has referred would be landlords' fixtures, and under a Preservation Order would not be removed.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
There is a difficulty inherent in English law in the distinction between landlords' and tenants' fixtures, and I was unwilling to attempt in this Bill to make a definition which does not exist in English law. That was the reason why we put in a power to the Commissioners to add to the schedule. It is not unusual for Public Departments to give themselves powers of this kind. England is full of interesting monuments. It is quite likely that some of them may escape the notice of the Ancient Monuments Board, and it may be only at the very moment when they are going to be pulled down and carried across to America that we shall know of their existence, and therefore we were anxious to give ourselves the power of adding to the list. I do not think it is an extensive power to ask for. It merely means that they are put on to a schedule. All you say is that it must be made sure that the alterations suggested are reasonable and would be generally approved of, and that is the reason why we have not thought it necessary to give a power of appeal against monuments being put on the schedule.
To return to the question of power of purchase, that power existed in only a very few cases. It existed only with regard to those monuments which were specially mentioned in the schedule of the Act of 1882, and there are very few of them indeed. I am also informed that in the event of its being necessary for the State to make any purchase of the kind contemplated, it is possible for them to do so. The fact that we do not include in this Bill specific power would merely mean that it would not be a normal thing for the State to do it, although the Bill in no way makes it impossible in the future. Under the Bill what we contemplate is that the normal course of events will be for these places to be purchased by the local authority.
§ EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
Is there any reason for taking the State out of the Bill? The Commissioners of Works were in the Bill last year, but for some strange reason they have disappeared from the Bill this year. Why not adhere to your draft of last April?
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
We followed very largely upon, and I admit extended, the suggestion made by the noble Earl himself. If we take full powers under the Preservation Order and prevent the destruction of these public monuments, there is not the same reason for purchase as there would have been had we not asked for these extensive powers. The object is to preserve these ancient monuments—we are not so anxious to buy them; and in the present state of the finances of the country we cannot expect that there will be large sums available for the purchase of monuments by the State. In these circumstances, and in view of the fact that it will not be impossible for the State in special circumstances to undertake such a purchase, I hope the House will agree to the Bill as it stands at the present time.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on the first Wednesday after the Whitsuntide Recess.