§ LORD PARMOOR rose to move—
§ That this House is of opinion that an Advisory Committee, with power to consider the condition of cathedrals and churches, should not have been appointed without consultation with the Church authorities and without some proof that the provisions for the protection of cathedrals and churches which have prevailed for centuries have proved inadequate, or that the Church has in any way failed in her sacred trust towards these buildings.
§ The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, a few words will be necessary to explain the purpose of the Resolution which stands in my name. Reference was made to it in a Question asked in my behalf by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, just before the House rose for the adjournment. It appears from the answer that the Office 57 of Works have appointed an Advisory Committee to consider whether the cathedrals and churches of this country should be brought within the provisions of the Ancient Monuments Act. It was suggested that a mere Advisory Committee might be allowed to proceed, and that a discussion could take place when legislation was proposed. I say frankly that I object to that suggestion altogether. It appears to me that before an Advisory Committee of this character is appointed some intelligible reasons should be given why the appointment is suggested at this time.
§ I happen to have had a very large number of communications from lay Churchmen; no doubt the Archbishop of Canterbury will state to your Lordships the other side. Most Churchmen look upon this as the first step in an endeavour to bring within official control and supervision buildings dedicated to religious purposes and in constant use for religious services. I consider that to place, or to suggest the possibility of placing, the official hand in any way upon buildings of that character is a proposal that ought not to be entertained, and that this Committee ought not to have been appointed. I shall have to refer to a letter I wrote to the Office of Works in order to get information upon the point. But I can find no reason whatever for this possible extension of bureaucratic action; in itself it is highly regrettable.
§ I dare say this House is aware, though I do not intend to go into that part of the case, that Church bodies, Church courts, convocations, and so on, have thoroughly considered this matter. But, as I understand, when the appointment of this Committee was made no information of any kind was given to any Church authorities, either to His Grace the Archbishop or to any lay Churchman. I need hardly remind your Lordships that these cathedrals and churches are buildings of a very special character. They are under the control and care of a religious body—that is, the Church of England—and their maintenance and restoration are regarded as a trust of very great solemnity. It would be a great mistake if any members of this House were to suppose that this was not a matter of intense interest to Churchmen. I can assure them that it is, although I could not ask, of course, to impose upon them the numerous letters which have been written to me, probably because I happen to be chairman of the 58 House of Laity in the new Church Assembly. I shall refer later to the letter which has been written to me from the Office of Works, which I think bears out my statement. I did not write to them in the first instance; they wrote to me, and in answer I sent a letter asking them to give me some information as to why a Committee of this kind had been appointed, and I think your Lordships will agree with me when I read the letter that no reasons whatever were given.
§ Your Lordships are aware that the Ancient Monuments Act was originally passed in 1882 to deal chiefly with tumuli, Old Sarum, stone circles such as Stonehenge, King Arthur's Table, and matters of that kind. It is true that it can comprehend buildings, but that was the main purpose for which it was enacted. That, however, is not the immediate point to which I have to call your Lordships' attention. It is this, that in 1913, a year before the war (during which there was a necessary cessation of the consideration of questions of this kind), a Consolidation Act was passed, after inquiry, dealing with all these questions as regards ancient monuments. Not only is that Act inconsistent with the idea of the inclusion of cathedrals and churches, but they are in terms excluded from the term "ancient monuments," as are ecclesiastical buildings used for any ecclesiastical purpose. That was as late ago as 1913. It is almost contemporary having regard to what has gone on in between.
§ I naturally wrote to the Home Office and asked them what had occurred since 1913 that could possibly offer any basis for this new proposal to include cathedrals and churches under the Ancient Monuments Act. I may tell your Lordships this further, that when buildings are so included the Office of Works or the local authorities have certain powers of ownership, guardianship, and protection, according to the nature of the ancient monuments. Supposing cathedrals and churches were included. It would mean that no step for maintenance or restoration of our churches or our cathedrals could be taken without first of all sending notice to the official Departments; then I presume the official Departments would claim to take part in any inquiry as to whether a particular restoration or repair was necessary. To say nothing about the expense which would be involved in a matter of this kind, 59 you would call into consideration persons who are not actuated by what ought to be the main and only purpose—namely, a reverential care for sacred buildings dedicated to religious purposes and now being used for church services. In fact, as far as I understand the matter, it would mean that these inquiries, instead of being conducted, as they are now, under thy care of the Chancellors—and they are very carefully done; I had the honour at one time of being a Chancellor myself for the diocese of York—would become a sort of fighting ground for the rival views of architects or archaeologists. I do not want to say a word against either architects or archaeologists, but why, when you want to repair the parish church, you should lay yourself open to a long inquiry into the rival views of experts in architecture and archaeology I cannot comprehend.
§ In writing to the Office of Works I knew that they had my Resolution before them, because they referred to it, and if your Lordships will look for a moment at my Resolution you will see that it deals specifically with three matters. The first-is that the Advisory Committee should not have been appointed without consultation with the Church authorities. I do not believe there was any consultation with the Church authorities. It surely is a strong procedure that Sir Alfred Mond should take this action. I do not wish to say a word against him personally, but it is well known, as any one can read in the debates on the Welsh Disestablishment Bill, that he was the advocate of nationalising Church property. Why he should set to work and appoint a Committee of this kind, without any reference to the Church authorities at all, I cannot understand. I wonder whether he knew what the Church authorities had done. I will not go into that part of the case, however, because I understand that the Archbishop of Canterbury will deal with it.
§ The second point in my Resolution is that there should be some proof that the existing provisions for the protection of cathedrals and churches have proved inadequate. Not one 'single instance is given of inadequacy. I have considerable knowledge of parish churches and cathedrals in this country. Of course, in some cases artistic ideas have been contravened, for there will always be differences on points of that kind, but, generally speaking, any one who goes round to see them will realise the reverential care with which 60 they have been safeguarded and protected. But it is with the religious side of this question especially that I am concerned.
§ The last point in my Resolution is that there should be some proof that the Church has failed in her sacred trust towards these buildings. I do not know that there has been any respect in which the Church has been more careful of the sacred trust committed to her than in the guardianship of her sacred buildings. And yet, without any allegation (because I wrote and asked if there was any allegation) that there had. been lack of care in the performance of her sacred trust, and without any consultation with the authorities, an independent Committee of this character is appointed in order to initiate the first steps towards what is called nationalisation—that is the favourite term, I believe, nowadays. It is a term which personally I much dislike.
§ I do not know whether Sir Alfred Mond made any inquiries as to the methods in which churches and cathedrals are protected at the present time. It is not a haphazard protection. Cathedrals are under the care of a Dean and Chapter, and as regards parish churches no alteration can be made without careful inquiry having previously been made and the necessary faculties obtained. In other words the care rests, as it has for centuries, in the ecclesiastical Courts under the jurisdiction of the Bishop. Is that intended to be interfered with, and, if not, what is the meaning of appointing an Advisory Committee in order to bring into all these church matters the official hand and the bureaucratic spirit? I have held many of these inquiries for faculties myself. What would become of these inquiries if you had the officials represented and various schools of architects and archaeologists present? I say without hesitation that you would make the reparation and restoration of churches almost impossible. As it is, the expense is very heavy. I know that one of the matters with which I had to deal was to bring down all the fees to a minimum point. Now you are going to send up the expense, because you have to give notices to officials, you have to hold a long inquiry instead of a short one, bringing in people who have no interest in the matter, and, according to my view, ought not to be allowed to interfere at all.
May I, in corroboration of what I have said, and to show that I have not overstated
the case, read the letter which was written to me on October 4 this year from the Office of Works in answer to a letter of mine asking if they could give me any reason why this proposal for an Advisory Committee was made. I put to them quite frankly my objection, and said "Now, can you give me any reason why this should be done, because I have not heard of any?" This is their answer, sent by Sir Lionel Earle, who in these matters, I presume, represents the Office of Works. First of all he sends me a copy of a letter which he had sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury. I need not give that, because it was not a letter written to me. Then he says—and I ask your Lordships' very careful attention to what he said about this proposal, which might, as I say, lead to the nationalisation of Church and sacred property—
I assure you there is a very widespread feeling among all archaeological savant—"
that is what he says—
that if Parliament thought it was necessary, as it undoubtedly did, to ensure some measure of protection to ruins of national importance, how much more important is it that some measure of protection should be given to the far more important national buildings such as the great cathedrals and some of the more important ancient churches in these islands."
Let me pause for a moment to refer to this widespread feeling of archaeological savants. I do not know how many there are, perhaps scores. I can oppose the practically unanimous opinion of all Churchmen in this country—and, when I say that, I am speaking on information supplied to me—against the introduction of official interference with their sacred duties in the supervision and control of these buildings. You always find someone in a minority everywhere, but I believe I can make that statement with perfect frankness.
As regards the words "national buildings," of course in one sense they are national buildings of great importance, but they are not national buildings such as ought to be comprised under the Ancient Monuments Act. They are of an essentially different character. They are buildings dedicated to religious purposes and intended to be devoted to religious uses. In any consideration of their apparent restoration or reform that is a leading idea which entirely differentiates them from some national monuments such as earthworks and matters of that kind to which I have
referred. That is an essential distinction, and I say with much earnestness and I sincerity that archaeological savants are not the people to suggest taking away from the Church the control of the sacred buildings which up to this date they have performed in an admirable manner. What is the rest of the letter? I should be sorry to omit anything—
The control if approved need not, of course, mean a Government Department. It may come from a perfectly impartial body composed of men of culture and high standing.
The objection is just the same, whether it is one body or the other. As regards the Ancient Monuments Act the buildings come under the control of the Office of Works. Whether you have a sort of further Advisory Committee of this kind is a different matter altogether.
Here are the only cases—and I want to refer to them—of suggested defalcations in our duty—
[...]ertainly there are many instances, such as St.[...]ban's and Exeter, where the fabric has not be[...]andled in the best way in the past.
W[...] is to decide that? Are the Church pee e to decide that in connection with religious duties and services, or are we to have some archaeological and architectural discussions, and (if I may suggest it) our cathedrals and churches turned into pylons, because that happens to be the view of the Office of Works? Let me say a word about St. Alban's because I am cognisant of the conditions. Most of your Lordships recollect—Lat least many of you may—that at one time there was a public footway between the nave of the church. and the Lady Chapel, and two great Churchmen, members of your Lordships' House for years, spent 10,000 or £20,000 a year in putting that church into condition. Do you suppose they would have done that if it had been subject to official interference? I recollect very well the prolonged inquiry. Lord St. Helier, than Mr. Jeune, was the Chancellor, and I happened to be present in the position of a humble junior counsel. The most careful inquiry was made as regards that expenditure, and no one who knows the conditions at St. Alban's as they were and as they are to-day can have anything but gratitude both to Lord Alden-ham and Lord Grimthorpe, who spent a fortune in restoring that remarkable and splendid cathedral.
§ I admit that if you come to the question of taste there would be difference of 63 opinion. I believe the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, is going to reply. No one is more cognisant with varieties of taste. Let anyone go through our cathedrals and the mass of our parish churches and then visit those abroad. I think he would have no hesitation in saying how carefully our sacred trusts have been preserved by the Church in this country. I do not believe it is possible to make any allegation of defalcation. Here and there where you have thousands of churches, you will always find something to criticise in a particular case. It is not always easy to raise money the moment it is wanted. On the whole, however, our churches stand as a great credit to the religious feeling which has been encouraged by the work of the Church of England.
§ There is only one other point, and it has reference to a matter which was mentioned by the noble Marquess on a former occasion. As your Lordships know, the National Church Assembly Act was passed and the National Church Assembly meets for the first time in November of this year. If you have a body of that kind is it thinkable that you ought to appoint prematurely a Committee of this sort without a chance of consultation? I am perfectly well aware—I am not saying a word against him personally—that Sir Alfred Mond is quite sincere in his opposition to the Church of England, as he showed it on the Disestablishment Bill, but this is not a question in which any individual head of the Office of Works, whatever his private opinion may be, ought to take this action without consulting the proper authorities on the one hand and without having a case to support him on the other. Neither of these conditions exist in the present case, and I hope your Lordships will pass the Resolution that stands in my name.
§ Moved to resolve, That this House is of opinion that an Advisory Committee, with power to consider the condition of cathedrals and churches, should not have been appointed without consultation with the Church authorities and without some proof that the provisions for the protection of cathedrals and churches which have prevailed for centuries have proved inadequate, or that the Church has in any way failed in her sacred trust towards these buildings.—(Lord Parmoor.)
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, my name has been mentioned on a good many 64 occasions in the discussion of this matter. I am very sorry it was impossible for me to be present when the question was before the House in the early days of August, when the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, was good enough to speak on my behalf. What I should have desired to say then, and what I desire to say now, is that it was with feelings of bewilderment that I first saw a notice in the Press that a Committee had been appointed by the Office of Works to consider whether the powers conferred by Parliament should be so widened as to include advisory powers over ecclesiastical as well as secular buildings. My surprise was not in the least because I found the wide interest that was taken, and must be taken, by the whole nation in the subject of the care and custody of our ecclesiastical buildings of absolutely priceless and incomparable value, but because I had seen this Committee appointed without having heard a word about it from any quarter, although it was dealing with a subject with which my responsibilities are largely concerned, and which we have been handling with the most constant and prolific care for a good many years in the most public way possible.
But I supposed that when the matter was discussed we should learn what was the reason the authorities at the Office of Works or the authorities above them, the Government, regarded the endeavour of the Church to deal with this matter as so inadequate that in the middle of its work they must step in to do it instead. I thought we should have been told that, but I did not find in the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Stanmore, who represented the Government then, the slightest indication of any knowledge of the subject. It was said that the Committee had been appointed and that they would be glad if I would nominate a member or would take some part, directly or indirectly, in it. I then corresponded with the Office of Works and Sir Lionel Earle, with the characteristic courtesy that I have found on every single occasion, replied to me on behalf of Sir Alfred Mond saying that it would be welcome were I to appoint a member to serve upon this Committee which was going to sit. I have also had communications, equally courteous, with the noble Earl, Lord Beauchamp, who is, I think, Chairman of that Committee, or at all events a member of it. I was much interested to have these communications but my question is, Why should we need 65 a Committee at this moment, on the part of the Office of Works, to consider this particular problem? If it could be said that the problem has beer left untouched by the Church for a long time, that they were evidently doing nothing in the matter and it was high time someone took an interest in it, I should have been very ready to listen to such an allegation, and, I think, to have answered it satisfactorily. But no such allegation was made; the committee was appointed to plunge into a matter which was being attended to in another way.
I will tell your Lordships what has been clone by the Church. Let nee ask, however, whether or not the Office of Works or the Government knew what we were doing. If they did know, no allusion was made to what the Church was doing; and if they did not know, it is not a good augury for the interest taken in the subject by the Government. Before the war this question was much before the authorities of the Church, and in June, 1913, the Archbishop of York and I appointed an important committee of the Chancelleries of the different dioceses, under Sir Lewis Dibdin, to look into the question as to what was being done with regard to the adequate control and custody of our ecclesiastical buildings aid to report in what way the historical and archaeological interests could be beet safeguarded. That committee produced a long and elaborate report containing no less than seventeen recommendations. The report was referred to the Committee of the Convocation of Canterbury and the Committee of the Convocation of York, with the view of understanding how it might be applied in the different dioceses. The reports of the Committees were published; they were not private documents. After the Committees had reported the Convocation of Canterbury grid the Convocation of York had debates on the subject, to which men who were the best authorities on the historical and archaeological side contributed. The recommendations from the Chancelleries were fully debated; some were modified, some were adopted, and some were thought to be, at that time, undesirable.
Meantime the war was at its height and the idea of obtaining Parliamentary sanction, which was necessary for some of the recommendations, was obviously out of the question. In addition to that, the very 66 idea of extensive building operations was not only undesirable but practically impossible, and it was quite obvious that the moment was singularly inopportune even to discuss building questions on a large scale, or even debate matters so far removed from war problems. But these things have not been allowed to slumber, The resolutions, as I have said, contained a number of recommendations for which Parliamentary sanction was necessary. Some of the recommendations, however, were such as could be carried into effect without coming to Parliament. They related to the way in which in each diocese a committee might be formed to deal with and report upon questions of archaeological, historical, or ecclesiastical interests which might arise in connection with Church buildings, and everything was done to secure that this subject, a difficult subject and needing attention, should be carefully considered in every diocese in the country.
I can understand it being said that the war has been over for two years and the results have been incommensurate with all that preparation. But is the mode for dealing with the problem the appointment of another Committee before inquiring whether any results have been achieved by former efforts? There was not the smallest allusion to our work at all. Did the Office of Works know that the matter was being considered, or did they not? I find it difficult to imagine the answer in either case. If they did not know, it is a confession of complete ignorance on a subject of proverbial difficulty and extreme complexity. If they did know, then there was not the slightest allusion to all these various documents relating to it.
I contend that on this exceedingly difficult subject the Church has been of late years doing all that is possible. The views of archaeologists and historians of the sternest school, with a minimum of ecclesiastical interest awl the maximum of archaeological interest, have been carefully weighed. Our business is to see that the highest. and greatest archaeological and historical considerations should not be allowed to over-ride the needs and facts of to-day. If ever it was true it is true now that we are, in our dealing with them for ecclesiastical purposes, considering carefully and constantly the archaeological and historical interests involved.
This being so, is it really a reasonable answer to the inquiry I made to be told 67 that I might be appointed a Member of the Committee if I liked. I do not need the Committee. The work is already being done. If it is said and contended that the work is not being done, I should 'be ready to consider it. But when, without any reference to what has been done, we are suddenly told that another Committee has been appointed, it seems to me to be a strange method of dealing with the matter. There is no question of personal discourtesy, and I am sure nothing of the kind is intended with regard to myself in the matter. It reveals to me a curious absence of knowledge of what is happening in ecclesiastical quarters, who, after all, have the custody of these buildings, that it should be thought desirable to appoint another Committee in this way without even inquiring what we are doing in the matter.
I am the last to contend, looking back over a long history of the Church, that our ecclesiastical or secular buildings have always been handled with all the latest and fullest knowledge and taste. I do not say they have. But if you contrast the ecclesiastical and secular buildings which have been treated in the last century I have no hesitation in saying that the ecclesiastical buildings have been treated a great deal better than the secular buildings, and the record of the Office of Works, or other Government Department which has controlled the treatment of buildings ancient or modern, will not compare favourably with the treatment received at ecclesiastical hands. But let nobody say that I am contending that there has never been a mistake made with regard to a cathedral or a parish church in its architectural treatment. I do not say so, although you will probably find differences of opinion in that particular case. What I do say is that we have that matter in hand at this moment.
At this moment we are forming in almost all the dioceses of England, either individually or in groups of dioceses, committees, not ecclesiastical only but archaeological and historical, and men of culture in every field which has to do with this matter will be on the committees, before whom these things will always conic where a difficulty arises. They will consider it carefully, besides what the Chancellors think, besides what the authorities of the dioceses think, besides what the Bishop may direct. We are trying to do it. I have the matter 68 The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury in hand in my own diocese and in the other part of Kent, and throughout England it is taking place. Is that a moment when we are suddenly to find that the Office of Works appoints a Committee to consider this subject, fraught with enormous difficulty in its legal aspects, in its ecclesiastical aspects, in its strictly religious aspects, as to the practical use of the churches, and then to have the reply, when one inquires why a Committee is necessary, "You may nominate a member to it if you like." I do not propose to nominate a member. I think it very much better that we should not, unless it is shown that we have not met the necessities of the case. It is quite easy to run off and say that some mistake has been made with some building or other, but when it is said that we are not at this moment dealing with the matter adequately and that therefore sonic other persons must conic in, I say that ought to be made clear to the country before we agree with the suggestions which have been put forward.
§ LORD STUART OF WORTLEY
My Lords, the most rev. Primate has cogently pointed out that there might have been a justification for the appointment of this Committee if it had been or could have been alleged that the Church had failed to take measures to meet the necessities of the case. On the last occasion when this subject was debated no such plea was put forward by the noble Lord who then spoke on behalf of the Government. There were two pleas put forward on that occasion. One was that cathedrals are at present in the charge of Deans and Chapters over whom there was no sort of control, and that it was possible to imagine a case in which all the members of the Chapter would be without artistic feeling. Secondly, it was alleged—and this is what I rise to controvert—that it often happens that the Dean and Chapter are entirely in the hands of the architect of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and in that case there is no check upon him whatever.
I rise to say that there is no case whatever in which the Dean and Chapter are in the hands of the architect of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners have not the power to exercise and do not exercise any control whatever over the free choice of the capitular bodies in whose hands are the cathedral churches of this country- in their choice of a competent architect to advise in the difficult 69 position in which they are placed. To say this is not in the least to disparage the architect employed by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. It remains a fact that upon his merits and upon his merits alone the Deans and Chapters have employed that distinguished architect for the purpose of advising in the cases where they thought it proper to have recourse to such advice. It cannot have been, or at least it is very difficult to suppose, that the choice can have been made by reason of his particular connection with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
And again I must hot be understood in the least to say that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners' architect is not a good judge of matters of taste because it happens that the matters in which he is most frequently consulted by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners are matters in which considerations of taste very seldom enter. He advises them upon the plans for new parsonages, and there in most cases it is proposed to spend largely money which has been raised locally, and it is very difficult, therefore, to interfere in matters of local taste. But it is the duty of the Commissioners to see, and. they do see, that in matters of structure and plan and convenience the proposed new building should be suitable for the purpose for which it is going to be erected. Then there is the case where, for the purpose of providing parsonages, existing houses have been acquired and their suitableness or the possibility of converting them into suitable residences has to be considered. Again that is an extremely prosaic question.
Then there are cases of new cnurches. In all cases in which it is possible that the new church may hereafter come to be a parish church the plans have to be considered by the Commissioners. Here again it is mainly accommodation, planning, and construction which are the chief considerations on which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners advise them. The most difficult and likely cases for differences of opinion are those in which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, being the rectors and the receivers of the tithe, happen to be the owners of the chancels. In those cases, however, no structural alteration such as the noble Lord who brought, forward this Motion referred to can be made unless it has been sanctioned by the Chancellor of the Diocese. The Chancellor of the Diocese, as your Lordships probably know, 70 is appointed by the Bishop and responsible to him. On the other hand, he is just as a Judge is towards the Sovereign. He is independent because he is a judicial officer. His business is to apply the Church law, and it is part of the Church law not only that things should not be put up in chancels and in churches which are inconsistent with Church law and Church ritual, but it is also part of the Church law that nothing shall be done to the structure or the fabric which diminishes its stability or renders it unfit for the sacred uses to which it is to be put. Those are with few exceptions the only relations in which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have to have an architect. I do not say there have riot been cases where they have had to put up buildings of another kind and to have recourse to the advice of an architect. All I say is that on the faith of that distinguished architect's performances in those cases he has actually received a great deal of employment for important commissions and tasks not only at the hands of Deans and Chapters but also of persons in parishes who have to deal with the erection and improvement of parish churches. That is on his merits and not in the least because of a suggestion from the Commissioners.
I think it characteristic of the spirit in which this Committee has moved that an expression should have been used such as that in the letter which was read by the noble Lord who brought forward this Motion. It is said that archaeological savants are troubled in their minds about what is being done in the parish churches. Are Churchmen as a body so separate from the rest of the community that there are not to be found any archaeological savants among Churchmen? I make bold to say that probably the majority of arch æological savants are to be found amongst the churchmen daily taking part in advising and helping the clergy in matters of archaeological knowledge as applied to ecclesiastical buildings. If the substitutes or alternatives to resources of that kind are to be the archaeological savants of the Office of Works all I can say is that I remember a case, not a very recent case, in which the Office of Works went heavily wrong in the matter of a very big public building in London, purely as regards taste and the propriety of that building. I speak of the building which is known as New Scotland Yard. It was put up by a Public Department, but it so 71 happened that the Department that put it up was free to do so without consulting the Office of Works. The Office of Works condemned that building. They wanted, of course, to continue a tedious succession of Palladian fronts along the whole of the Thames Embankment. All I can say is t 'tat the condemnation of the Office of Works upon that occasion was itself condemned by nearly every architect and artist of distinction either in the Royal Academy or in the country in the letter they wrote to The Times to say so.
I trust that whatever this Committee does the public will acquiesce in the continuance, for the maintenance and care of sacred buildings, of all that voluntary provision of resources, and that voluntary recourse to the best advice possibly obtainable, which has hitherto been the spring of all those impulses which have made them the beautiful things that they are.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
My Lords, we have had a very interesting discussion, in the course of which a number of opinions have been expressed on a variety of subjects—opinions as to how far the Church has fulfilled in the past her sacred trust in respect of the buildings of which she is the guardian. We have had the opinion of the noble and learned Lord who moved the Resolution as to the character of the restoration carried out at St. Alban's Cathedral, an opinion upon which, if I were called upon to discuss it, I certainly should not find myself in agreement with him. But I do not feel called upon to follow the noble and learned Lord into a discussion of that topic, or indeed of many of the matters that were raised in his speech. And it is certainly not out of discourtesy to any of the speakers that I do not follow the arguments they have used, but merely because, with all respect to them, they strike me as irrelevant to the Motion which the noble and I earned Lord has put upon the Paper.
I cannot help thinking that anybody present this afternoon and listening to the speeches that have been made would imagine that we were discussing the terms of a Bill to place the churches and cathedrals of this country under the charge of Sir Alfred Mond. If that was what we were discussing I have no doubt that I should find myself in agreement with much of what was said by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Parmoor, but I would beg 72 leave to recall your Lordships to the Motion which the noble Lord has put upon the Paper. The Motion is—That this House is of opinion that an Advisory Committee, with power to consider the condition of cathedrals and churches, should not have been appointed without consultation with the Chinch authorities and without some proof that the provisions for the protection of cathedrals and churches which have prevailed for centuries have proved inadequate.I will return to the terms of the Motion in a moment. But first of all let me ask the noble and learned Lord to remember what it is that the Government have done. If the Government are to be censured, let us be quite clear what the step is that they have taken. They have appointed an Advisory Committee. The noble and learned Lord did not even read the terms of reference to that Committee.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
Let me remind the House of what they are. The Committee was appointed "to advise the First Commissioner (first) as to the question of amending and strengthening the existent Ancient Monuments Act." I do not suppose any member of your Lordships' House would question the propriety of the First Commissioner of Works appointing a Committee to advise him as to the working of the Ancient Monuments Act and as to the possibility of amending and strengthening it, and, if so, in what direction. Having, therefore, appointed this Committee to look into the working of an Act for the administration of which he is responsible, the question arose as to whether its terms of reference should include the possibility of extending the Act to ecclesiastical and secular buildings which are not still in use and occupation.
The first point that the noble and learned Lord makes is that the First Commissioner should not have appointed a Committee without consulting the Church. I feel sure, after what the most rev. Primate has said, that it is not necessary for me to repeat the 73 expression of regret which I Which was given on a former occasion that he was not consulted before it was decided to include this in the terms of reference to the Committee, but I am sure he accepts the assurance that no sort of discourtesy was contemplated for a moment.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
But when I go on to consider the further condition which the noble and learned Lord proposes in his Resolution I come to the words that the Committee "should not have been appointed without some proof that the provisions for protection of cathedrals and churches which have prevailed for centuries have proved inadequate."
In other words, he says that there ought to have been some allegation that the Church has failed in her sacred trust towards these buildings. I think that I detected in the speech of the most rev. Primate the same complaint that no allegation had been made that ecclesiastical buildings had been misused in the past. That is tantamount to saying that a Minister is never to appoint a Committee of inquiry to advise him upon a matter unless he is in possession of overwhelming proof of the kind that the Committee might need.
THE EARL of LYTTON
But he appointed a Committee in order to investigate this very matter. No allegation has been made that the Church has failed in her sacred trust, and I am bound to sax that it strikes me as curious that this should have been a ground of complaint, and that in the setting up of this Committee it should be made a positive grievance that the Church has not been accused of mishandling the buildings in her charge in the past.
May I mention to your Lordships an incident which I think not altogether irrelevant to this discussion It was my business as Civil Lord of the Admiralty to superintend the administration of Greenwich Hospital. I was during my tenure of office approached by the Office of Works with a suggestion that Greenwich Hospital was a building of such national importance that it was desirable it should be regarded 74 as an ancient monument. and that no structural alterations should be undertaken to that building without consulting the Ancient Monuments Board. If allegations had been made that the Admiralty had failed in its trust over this building I should have very ninth resented the suggestion that the advisors of the Office of Works, the Ancient Monuments Board, should be consulted in the matter, but no such allegation was made, and I agreed with the First Commissioner of Works that Greenwich Hospital was certainly a building of that character. And, without consenting for a moment to give up our responsibility in the matter of supervising the structure of the building, the Board of Admiralty agreed that they would consult the Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments when any alterations to the building were in contemplation. I see no reason why those who are responsible to-day for the maintenance of ecclesiastical buildings should resent the suggestion that the Ancient Monuments Board should assist them in a similar way.
The debate has proceeded as if the suggestion were that the Office of Works had already decided to interfere with the administration by the ecclesiastical authorities of their churches and cathedrals to-day, and the most rev. Primate, I think, referred to this Committee as if it were a Committee set up by the First Commissioner of Works to do the very things which are being effectively done to-day. It is the business of this Committee to do nothing whatever but take evidence and hear opinions, and then express its views to the First Commissioner of Works. It is a purely advisory body, and I sincerely hope that the noble Lord, Lord Parmoor, will make before that Committee the speech he has made to your Lordships this afternoon. Certainly it will be far more relevant there than it was to the Motion which he has placed on the Paper.
I do not know in the least what the Committee will report. It is quite probable they will be satisfied by the evidence put before them that it would be unwise and undesirable to schedule cathedrals and churches as ancient monuments. It may be they will make suggestions for closer co-operation between the ecclesiastical authorities and the Ancient Monuments Board. It is not my business to forestall the decision which the Committee may conic to. But, my Lords, I ask whether we can assent to a Motion which says that the 75 Government are never to set up a Committee, by a Minister, unless they are already in possession of the very evidence which that Committee is to be set up to obtain. That is a Motion which no Government can accept.
§ LORD PARMOOR
I am sure the noble Earl will not mind the interruption, but that is nowhere near the Motion, nor is any such suggestion made in it.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
I beg the noble Lord's pardon, but he asks your Lordships to agree with him that this Advisory Committee which we are discussing should not have been set up without proof that the provisions for the protection of cathedrals and churches which have prevailed for centuries have proved inadequate.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
The very point, which the Committee is to inquire into—"or that the Church has in any way failed in her sacred trust towards these buildings."
THE EARL OF LYTTON
My point is that the Committee was set up for the express purpose of taking evidence on that subject, and the noble and. learned Lord asks us to say that the Committee ought not to have been set up unless the First Commissioner of 'Works was already in possession of evidence on those points. I am confident that your Lordships will consider that the Motion is one which you are not prepared to accept.
§ LORD PHILLIMORE
My Lords, it is evident from the speech of the noble Earl, from the terms of reference to the Committee which he has read, and, as I understand, from the letter of the Office of Works, that this is the first stage in an attempt on the part of the Office of Works to bring cathedrals and churches within their sway as ancient monuments. Churches and cathedrals are ancient monuments only in a very secondary sense. They are religious edifices intended for the use of the faithful of each generation as it comes along, and the faithful are not to be prevented from making proper use of them. Noble benefactors who give large sums of 76 money for their repair and restoration are not to be hindered by being told that these churches and cathedrals are ancient monuments and cannot be tampered with. The history of all cathedrals and churches is that each God-fearing generation in its turn has brought its own ideas into them, sometimes such as the next generation condemns, sometimes such as the third generation approves. The great object is that the churches and cathedrals should be fitted for use and full use at the present day, and not be hampered by any official or even any narrow archæological consideration.
Some reference has been made to St. Alban's Abbey or Cathedral, and I think it is only fair to the memory of a man to whom I was often in opposition, and to whom in that matter I was also in opposition, to say what happened about that cathedral. No doubt some very heavy, clumsy, modern things were done by Lord Grimthorpe in that cathedral, several things that many people did not approve, several things that I do not myself like. But it must be remembered that St. Alban's Cathedral was falling into ruins, that there was no money to keep it up, and that Lord Grimthorpe spent probably more than £100,000 out of his own money to set it steadily on its legs. That, after all, is only typical of what has been done everywhere. There are certain comparatively small repair funds belonging to cathedrals; very small. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners took the greater part of their funds and left them with funds which, at present prices, produce singularly inadequate sums for the purpose of repair and restoration. We have an example in the appeals which are made every day on behalf of Westminster Abbey.
In regard to the parish churches, in nine cases out of ten there are no funds at all, and everything that is done is done out of the money of religious and generous people who subscribe for the occasion. Now it is proposed to fetter them by bringing all these edifices under the Board of Works and to require that they shall be regarded from purely monumental considerations.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
My Lords, I will not detain your Lordships at any great length, but, if only because I have the honour to be Chairman of the Committee to which reference has been made, there are a few remarks I should like to offer. In 77 the first place, let me say to the noble Lord who made the Motion that I cannot help feeling that he is moved by a considerable amount of exaggerated fear as to what is likely o be the result of this Committee. No reference has been mach to what in my opinion generally is the chief object of this Committee—to advise on the question of amending and strengthening the existing Ancient Monuments Act. It is with a very genuine sense of regret that I have to confess that the Ancient Monuments Act, for which I was responsible in this House, has practically proved a failure. One attempt was made under its provisions to secure a secular building and to save it from imminent destruction. We were unsuccessful in doing so, and there is very little hope indeed that the provisions of this Act as they exist at the present time can be used for preserving these ancient, monuments in the future. Therefore, my Lords, it is almost imperative that there should be a review of the existing Act to see whether there should not be a considerable amendment of the law in regard t) secular buildings. That is the first part, and I hope the most rev. Prelate will not b3 shocked when I say in some ways one of the most important parts, of our duty—namely, to consider the existing Ancient Monuments Act which has so largely failed in its objects.
Then we come to the question whether the powers conferred by Parliament should be widened so as to include advisory powers over ecclesiastical and secular buildings which are still in use and occupation. We all join in admiration of the splendid parish churches and cathedrals up and down this country, which are the glory of this land. We should all of us regret to see any harm come to them whether by thoughtlessness, ignorance, or merely by the passage of time and decay. I venture to express a little regret that when the State takes this amount of interest in these great buildings, its action should be so fiercely resented. by the noble Lord who made the Motion.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
Then I am afraid it may come almost as a shack to the noble and learned Lord who male the Motion, and perhaps even to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Phillimore, to know that at this moment there are two cathedrals if not more in the United Kingdom which are under the complete control of the 78 Office of Works, who are entirely responsible for all the repairs and all the structural alterations of any sort that it is necessary to make I have not yet heard that this prevents their proper use for religious purposes, and therefore it is with some regret—
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
Glasgow and Dunblane: they are both in the United Kingdom, and the congregations who use those cathedrals have no objection to the action and to the work done there by the Office of Works. It is, I think, not altogether unworthy of consideration, too, that something in this direction, or something upon the lines which might be recommended by the Committee, has been already thought necessary by various ecclesiastical authorities when they issue appeals for funds. There is nothing, I suppose, which nowadays ecclesiastical authorities would think more necessary when they ask for money than that they should be able to assure the public that the proposals which they make have met with the approval of the antiquarian and archaeological authorities in this country. I think that the Dean of Westminster, when he issued his appeal for money for help in the restoration of Westminster Abbey, made a very great point of the fact that what was going to be done was of a kind which would approve itself to archaeologists and antiquarians and to architects throughout the country.
Without revealing any confidence I may say that one of the first steps taken by this Committee was to try and find out what is the exact state of the law in other countries. It seemed to us that we might find some hint in some legislation in some of the other countries of Europe which would provide us with valuable suggestions for the care of the public buildings in this country. And when I speak of public buildings in this sense I refer to buildings not only ecclesiastical but also secular, in which the public takes a special and abiding interest. There are, of course, a number of secular buildings in which the country undoubtedly does take an interest, and for which, I think, it might even be willing to add something to the burden of taxation in order to prevent them from falling into ruin and decay. At any rate, I think he would be a bold person who 79 should say that it would be impossible for us anywhere in the legislation of other countries to find some guidance for the people of this country in dealing with our own ancient buildings. Indeed, I regret very much the fact that we have not been favoured with the assistance of a direct representative of the most rev. Primate. I am glad to think that we have on the Committee one of the bishops of the Church, than whom few people are better qualified to speak for the antiquarian and archælogical interest—Bishop Browne.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
I should not have thought it necessary for me to tell my noble friend that "Once a Bishop always a Bishop." He is not an ex-Bishop; he is still a Bishop. We are fortunate in having Bishop Browne to give us his assistance, and I only wish that we might look forward to having some assistance from the noble Lord who sits beside me. But I can assure him that in so far as he has conjured up visions that the State, or this Advisory Committee, would recommend legislation the effect of which would be to take away the control of these cathedrals or parish churches from the Church of England, he is really exceedingly wide of the mark. Indeed, no such idea had occurred to me.
One other remark which I venture to make is that I hope we may have, if not from the noble Lord at any rate from all those who are interested in the matter, some valuable suggestions which may help us. There is no doubt that in the past mistakes have been made, and that those mistakes have been made is proved by the fact, to which the most rev. Primate referred, that special committees are now being set up in the various dioceses in order that such mistakes may not be repeated. It may he that these committees will not be successful in carrying out their objects. We do not know; we hope that they may be. But they may not be, and, if they are not, it may be desirable to look about in other directions for sonic other method of securing the objects which we all of us have in view. And really I do hope, seeing that the object of everybody is exactly the same, the care and protection of these ancient buildings, ecclesiastical as well as secular, that it may not be necessary to import a great deal of heat into the discussion, but that we may, whether on this occasion 80 or on the Committee, or on future occasions, discuss the matter with the most amicable and friendly relations, having, as I say, the same object in our minds.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
My Lords, when I first saw that the noble Earl who has just spoken had become chairman of this Committee I must say I was surprised that so devout a Churchman had taken the position in the circumstances. But I forgot that he was also an ex-First Commissioner of Works and also the father, the fond parent, of the Ancient Monuments Act; and it is quite clear that it is his dissatisfaction with the way in which that Act has worked that has been mainly responsible in inducing him to take this position. His old cunning did not entirely desert him, because he very insinuatingly suggested to us that there were precedents actually in existence. Are there not, he said, two cathedrals already under the charge of the Office of Works, and is not all well and satisfactory with them? I ventured to ask what the cathedrals were, and I ascertained that they were Dunblane and Glasgow. I, of course, have nothing whatever to do either with the Church of Scotland or with the civil affairs of Scotland, but I suggest that what has occurred in Dunblane and Glasgow is no precedent for what ought to occur in connection with the cathedrals of the Church of England. A note has been sent to me by a very distinguished scion of Scotland present in the House to say that the control of the Office of Works militates against the religious use of those buildings by the Church of Scotland. Whether that is so or not, I do not profess to give an opinion.
What I ask you to consider is the actual merits of the Motion made by my noble friend, and the defence put up against it by my noble friend Lord Lytton. On one point I want to be quite certain that I did not misunderstand him. I thought he said that the reference to this Committee included only ecclesiastical buildings not still in use or occupation.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
I took it down the other way, and I could not quite understand. Let me first of all turn to an aspect of this question, not the most important, but still one over which I think my noble friend opposite ran over- 81 lightly. I am not surprised that he ran over it over-lightly. But I think I am within my rights in drawing your Lordships' attention to what really has happended. The churches and cathedrals in question are the property of the Church of England. There is really no dispute about that, because in the case of Wales, where the Church has beer. disestablished and disendowed, the cathedrals and parish churches have been left in the hands of the Church. These ancient buildings are the property of the Church of England, have always been used for religious purposes and for no other purposes, and are still being so used. Not one penny of public money has ever been spent in their construction or repair. The Church does not ask for the spending of a penny of public money. The law gives absolutely no sort of jurisdiction or control over these buildings to the First Commissioner of Works or to any other member of the Government. The only people who are responsible are in the first place, technically, the Deans and Chapters, and behind them stand the whole body of Churchmen, diocesan and general.
It is almost incredible, but it is true, that although these buildings are the property of the Church of England and are used to-day, as they have always been used, for religious purposes, although there are definite ecclesiastical authorities who are responsible for them, and although the First Commissioner of Works has absolutely no legal status whatever in the matter, he calmly appoints a committee to consider these questions—I will come to that presently—and does not say a single word on the subject to any Churchman of authority, lay or ecclesiastical—not a word either to the Archbishop If Canterbury or the Archbishop of York. My noble friend says that no discourtesy was intended. I do not know what was intended, but the action was utterly discourteous. I should think that there is no precedent for it in the relations between Al the Church and State in this country, and it was an act of great presumption. My noble friend reminded your Lordships that the National Assembly of the Church of England is in existence at the present moment, entitled to speak in the name of the whole Church, the laity as well as the ecclesiastical authorities. Yet that body is calmly ignored and this Committee is appointed.
Now I come to the real intention at the back of the appointment of this Committee. My noble friend opposite said, 82 "You are not discussing the terms of a Bill to put these matters under the control of Sir Alfred Mond." No, of course we are not, but we are discussing the deliberately taken step first in the preparation of a Bill for putting these matters under Sir Lionel Earle and Sir Alfred Mond. The appointment of this Advisory Committee has no sense or reason whatever except as a first step to give the First Commissioner of Works some locus standi where he has none whatever at the present moment. If there should be any doubt on this matter let me read, as I do by the permission of the Archbishop of Canterbury, a paragraph in a letter written to him from the Office of Works under date August 14 this year. Remember that Lord Lytton had told us (I am quite sure believing that to be at the bottom of the mind of the Office of Works) that there is no real desire to get control, but merely anxiety lest, by the injudicious choice of an architect, grievous harm may be done in the future to some great cathedral or parish church. I do not know whether your Lordships will think that this passage entirely confines the object of the Office of Works to that opportunity of artistic criticism—There is no real desire in this Department that they—that is, the cathedrals and churches—should necessarily conic under State control—If these words do not contemplate the possibility of their coming under State control, I do not know what they mean—but there is a wide feeling that there should be souse impartial body of men of culture, taste, and experience who should be consulted before any considerable repairs or alterations be effected on these all-important buildings, and that these questions should not be left practically to one architect to decide. The same applies in a lesser degree I o the private dwellings in occupation of first-class national importance. We have this machinery in the Ancient Monuments Board for England, Scotland, and Wales as regards any points of difficulty which may arise in the proper preservation of ruins which are handed over to our charge.That suggests, to my mind at any rate, a deliberate policy to secure eventually in respect of these buildings for the Office of Works the same control that it now has over the preservation of ruins. At any rate, at the very least it suggests that the ecclesiastical authorities of the Church should no longer be unfettered in their responsibility, but should have an authority placed over them—Sir Alfred Mond and 83 Sir Lionel Earle at the present moment, and whoever may take their place—in order, if necessary, to veto their judgment and to control their policy.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
I really must ask the noble Earl, in view of what he has just said, to read the remaining paragraph of the letter.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
The letter proceeds—The First Commissioner desired this Committee to consider all these questions—Is that the one you want?
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
It goes on—and advise him as to whether it would be to the general interest that some such impartial body should be set up by Parliament to protect the great live monuments of the country from being in any way mishandled as regards the fabric.I do not see the difference. That does not seem to me to alter the sense. It is clear that the Government representative would give evidence in favour of the change.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
One member of the Government may give evidence in favour of the change and another may give evidence against it. In the next sentence, which I invite the noble Earl to read, the good will of the Office of Works is shown in the invitation that is put forward to the most rev. Primate either to nominate a member of the Committee or to send someone to give evidence.
§ "If you would wish to nominate any one to sit on such an Advisory Committee, or to appear before it to give evidence, I am sure that Sir Alfred would 13;' willing to defer to your wishes.
§ I remain, with great respect,
§ "Yours very truly,
§ "LIONEL EARLE."
§ No one who knows Sir Lionel Earle or his Parliamentary chief would think for one moment that they intended any discourtesy. I am quite sure they did not, but, as I have already said, their action was discourteous. Not only was it discourteous, but it was going beyond the bounds of their duties. It was impinging on the responsibilities of a wholly different set of persons, and it is against the impinge- 84 ment on that responsibility that I protest this afternoon. If those who believe that these buildings are safest in the care of the Church, and that they belong to the Church, did not take the first opportunity open to them to protest against what I must regard as the beginning of an attempt to obtain control over these buildings for the Office of Works, we should have been false to our duty. Therefore I trust that my noble friend who has brought this matter before the House will go to a Division in order to give us an opportunity to register our opinion of these proceedings. I do not suppose for a moment that the Cabinet ever heard of this suggestion, and I do not suppose that my noble friends on the Front Bench knew of it until they saw it in The Times. It is a Departmental blunder, and I ask your Lordships to register your opinion that this is what it is.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
My Lords, I hope that your Lordships will not make too much of the vote of censure which has been moved by Lord Parmoor.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
It is denounced as an act of discourtesy on the part of the Government towards the Church, and Lord Selborne used the words "an act of great presumption." I should have hoped that the statement made by my noble friend Lord Lytton would have convinced your Lordships that if there has been an oversight there was no intentional discourtesy. The terms of reference are wide and do not deal only with ecclesiastical buildings. The phrase which is used is "the preservation of ancient monuments, whether secular or ecclesiastical."
§ LORD PARMOOR
My resolution is carefully worded in order not to affect that part of the Committee's work.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
The fact that the National Assembly is to meet during the autumn is also treated as a matter which exacerbates the crime of the Government in not having consulted it. If the National Assembly desires to speak on this point—of course it will speak, and must speak; it clearly could not be called together in advance—and desires to give evidence or protest against the inquiry, the freedom of the National Assembly is not 85 in the least degree impaired. Lord Selborne seems to think that there is something in the nature of a conspiracy against the Church, the beginning of an attempt on the part of the Office of Works to do this, and the name of Sir Alfred Mond is constantly cropping up. I happen to be a member of the Royal Commission on Ancient Monuments set up long before Sir Alfred Mond went to the Office of Works, long before his predecessor, and before the predecessor of that predecessor. This is not a new matter; it is not invented by Sir Alfred Mond; it has nothing to do with Sir Alfred Mond's views about the Church in Wales. It is a subject which archaeologists have been discussing for more than twenty years. One of their regular topics of conversation is whether the ancient structures of our churches and our secular buildings as well are more likely to be handed unimpaired to posterity if they remain as at present in the exclusive control of groups of persons and of individuals, or whether the views of Parliament, or a Department of the State, should be allowed to intervene. There is nothing new in this. It is a controversy which has been going on for years, and the Royal Commission on Ancient Monuments has scheduled the different monuments in each county. There is no conspiracy; and the last thing intended was that there should be anything in the nature of discourtesy.
The general merits are not at issue on this Motion. The Motion of Censure is more on the point of procedure, or etiquette, than on the merits of the case. I cannot omit, however, recording my amazement at the statement made about St. Alban's Cathedral. It is generally looked upon by scholars and artists, by archaeologists and historians, as a tragedy—in other words, a costly, ostentatious, and showy forgery. It was done by the enthusiasm of a distinguished member of your Lordships' House, who spent, I think Lord Phillimore said, more than £100,000 upon it. But that is exactly where the misfortune arose. If only it had been put into the hands of someone who desired to preserve it and not erect a modern sham we should have handed down, and at a quarter of the cost, some of the character and personality with which it was invested by its builders.
§ LORD PHILLIMORE
The noble Earl has not quite appreciated my point. I quite agree that it is a great misfortune that St. Alban's Cathedral was repaired 86 as it was, but my point is that it would not have been repaired at all had it not been for the enthusiasm of one of your Lordships.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
I do not know who allowed it to get into the state of disrepair. The Church must have allowed it.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
He took the funds of a good many other places besides St. Alban's. Take the case of Exeter—Exeter is deplorable. Any one who knows Lichfield Cathedral must admit that there is no vestige of the old cathedral left except the ground plan. It was one person who had to look after St. Alban's. It is the Dean and Chapter who look after Lichfield Cathedral. And it is a group of churchwardens and the vicar who look after our village churches, subject to the assistance of an eminent King's counsel who knows nothing about the preservation of the structure and whose opinion in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred must be worthless. Any one who has travelled through the country and examined our village churches can quote scores and hundreds of cases where, during our own lifetime, these churches have been stripped and scoured, the good things thrown out, stained glass dispersed, and the old decorations on the walls covered up with modern mortar. All modern archaeological science agrees that it is the duty of the present generation to preserve such of the past as is compatible with the security of the structure; and we all know—we cannot deny it—that our parish churches have been wrecked and ruined during the last fifty years. The Church itself is conscious of this. During the last two or three years the public movement in our own Church has been so great that in practically every diocese a voluntary organisation has been set up under the direct patronage of the Bishop to prevent this deplorable state of things going on All to the good. I rejoice in it. The appointment of this Committee is not merely to inquire into the powers over ecclesiastical buildings. It is for secular buildings as well; and I take it that the invasion of private rights is greater in regard to secular buildings than it is in regard to ecclesiastical. Ecclesiastical buildings either belong to the diocese or 87 at any rate a parish, whereas the secular building must belong to an individual or its trustee.
I, for my part, do not think it is wise, I think it is in fact unfortunate, for the Church as such to take up so strong a line of hostility. I have looked into this question and studied it all over Europe for many years, and, like everybody else, I started with a prejudice and with the analogy of France, Italy, and Germany and many other European countries, that the work of the State in so far as maintaining the structures was as a rule bad. The classical example is Viollet-le-Duc. Any one who has seen his work must know that. But if you look at the work done by his contemporaries, not for the State but for private enterprise, you find it equally appalling. The work of one generation is very much the same whether it be guided by the Government of the day or by the private individual of the day.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
It was the date when the State, as such, built very little in this country. There are two or three buildings of the Strawberry Hill date which were built by public funds which are practically Strawberry Hill. It is true that nearly all of them have been swept away. But the ruling taste of the country in architecture or painting is probably identical whoever the patron is. My view, therefore, during the last few years has been that probably on the whole the interest of the maintenance of these structures is best preserved by keeping them in the hands of individuals rather than putting them under the control of the State. That would be my ultimate opinion.
I do not prejudge the point. I know that there are cases, I am convinced in my bones that there are cases, where intervention by the State, which means delay, which means inquiry, which means therefore the focussing of public opinion, is brought to bear upon a particular idea of restoration—I know that there are plenty of cases where, had the State been able to intervene, outrages would have been averted. On the other hand, I know cases where marvellous work has been done by private individuals, and I think the most sacred duty of any builder, any owner of a building, is to hand forward unimpaired the treasure of the past. I know 88 perfectly marvellous cases where private individuals have succeeded in maintaining their structures in a way where I am sure the State would fail. My inclination, therefore: on the whole is to say that ecclesiastical building in this country ought to remain, as it is, subject to the development of these diocesan movements which are very useful indeed, the care and duty of their relevant ecclesiastical authorities.
But I must say I should like to hear it discussed. I should like to hear the evidence brought impartially before the Government as to the two sides of the case. I should really like to hear the defence put forward for St. Alban's, for Exeter, for Lichfield, or for fifty parish churches I could name. On the other hand, I think it would be a very great mistake for the Church to say that 'it is afraid of inquiry, and on general grounds it would, in my opinion, be a pity unnecessarily to pass a vote of censure on the Government on a subject of this kind.
§ LORD PARMOOR
My Lords, I am grateful for what the noble Earl has said, although I should like to say a few words in answer before I refer to what was said by the noble Earl, Lord Lytton. I thought at one moment in his speech that the noble Earl, in talking of what he called the outrages on cathedrals and parish churches, which means I suppose a difference in taste in regard to the way in which they have been dealt with, was going to make a very strong plea for official interference. But as I understand him, so far from being in support of what we consider the official move which is now being made, he tells us that in his artistic view, to which we all attach great importance, he thinks on the whole our cathedrals and churches are more likely to be preserved in their sacred and artistic characters under the prevailing system than under any official system. That, of course, is very satisfactory, but I should like to remind the noble Earl of another matter. He said that this suggestion has been going on for some time. I agree with him. People who go to our cathedrals and churches are cognisant of movements of this kind. No one yet has answered the question which I put. In 1913, after consideration, the Legislature excluded from the purview of the Ancient Monuments Act cathedrals and churches. That was after full consideration. Now what has happened since that date? I agree with the noble Earl that this matter 89 has been under discussion and consideration for twenty years. I am not going to put an exact date to it. After all that has been taken into consideration, the State expressed its views in 1913, just before the war, and when I wrote asking the Office of Works what had happened since then the answer was, Nothing.
Now let me, in answer to the noble Earl, call attention to the terms of my Resolution. I am sure he would not misinterpret them for a moment. Nor is it any question of censure on the Government or any matter of that kind. My Resolution does not touch the powers of this Committee as regards secular buildings. It is very carefully worded. What it says is that this House is of opinion that an Advisory Committee—now this is the part we attack—"with power to consider the condition of cathedrals and churches." The point of secular buildings is entirely untouched in my Resolution. What do I further say? What is the way I modify it? I do not believe there is a member of this House who does not agree with it. The noble Earl seemed to agree to it, and also the noble Earl the acting Leader of the House. The Resolution goes on, "should not have been appointed without consultation with the Church authorities."
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Motion agreed to accordingly.