§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Bledisloe.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly:
§ [The EARL OF DONOUGHMORE in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1:
§ Stabilisation of tithe rentcharge.
§ 1.—(1) The sums becoming payable on or after the appointed day in respect of a tithe rentcharge in lieu of being computed 1314 in manner prescribed by the Tithe Acts shall be computed on the basis of one hundred and five pounds for every one hundred pounds of tithe rentcharge.
§ LORD PARMOOR moved, at the beginning of the clause, to insert "Subject to the rights of incumbents appointed prior to the passing of this Act." The noble and learned Lord said: I do not propose to go again into questions which were discussed on the Second Reading of the Bill, when I had an opportunity of stating very fully the opinions that I hold. The purport of my Amendment is a narrow one, but it is one of very great importance as regards the principles involved. My Amendment is that where an incumbent is in possession as a tenant for life of an incumbency or living, he shall not be disturbed during the remainder of that incumbency in respect of his right to tithe and the income which he thereby receives.
§ I shall have to give your Lordships one or two quotations from references which have been made by various persons who have dealt particularly with the tithe question. In the first instance, I want to put this point. It surely is extremely hard that an incumbent who is now in occupation of his living, relying on the conditions as they were and are under the Act of 1836, should undoubtedly and immediately he deprived of something between twenty and twenty-five per cent. of his income—that is to say, of the income to which he is entitled under the conditions on which he holds his incumbency. I do not see how that proposition can be justified. The other day I took exception to what I called the probabilities of the future, but as regards the present there are no probabilities. It is an actual and a realised loss which will come upon the incumbent who is in possession of his incumbency and tithe under a vested royalty.
§ Next year tithe will be at £131, then it goes up to £133 and up to £137, according to the noble Lord who moved the Second Reading of the Bill, so that if the vested rights of un incumbent with £300 a year were respected he would be entitled to £370. It is an extremely hard thing that men who have a vested right to that amount of money, many of them old and poor men, should be deprived of it. I have already stated my view that 1315 stabilisation is unfair to tithe owners in the future, but that is another matter. On this point there can be no doubt that some of the poorest and most deserving men in this country will be deprived of an income under this Bill to which they are justly entitled under the terms on which they hold their benefices at present. How can that be justified?
§ Take another illustration, that of the Welsh Church Act. Assuming that tithe is secularised to-morrow in England, most certainly the rights of existing incumbents should be preserved. They are in the Welsh Church Act. So long as they hold their incumbencies incumbents are to have the same income as they would have been entitled to if tithe had been left to operate under the Act of 1836; they are not deprived suddenly of a part of this income and they are not reduced to a greater state of penury than they are in at present. In the same way if an incumbent does not choose to hold his living but prefers to change it for some other occupation, his rights are commuted and compensated for. I cannot understand the principle of this Bill under which these poor and deserving persons will, in fact, be deprived of an income which, under the existing law, is guaranteed to them by Statute, and that they are to have no compensation and that their rights are not to be considered. If they are kept outside the Bill, which is my proposal, then the existing conditions will continue.
I was looking the other day at what the late Lord Salisbury said in 1891 on this point. The question was with regard to a five per cent. reduction to be taken from the incumbent and given to the owner. The late Lord Salisbury said this:
This payment to the incumbent is low enough in all conscience as it is, and it was intended by the Legislature that whatever was secured to them by the Act"—
that is, the Act of 1836—
should be received.
That is exactly what I say now. The existing incumbent is entitled to receive what the Legislature intended he should receive under the Act of 1836. We know that he is going to receive from 20 per cent. to 25 per cent. less than that amount as the Bill stands. How can that be justified? Everyone who has been connected with the working of the Anglican
Church knows that one of our great difficulties is to provide a living salary for the various incumbents. We subscribe in various ways in order to produce a minimum of £300 a year. But what is the effect of this legislation? The effect of it is to take out of the fund from which incumbents are paid a sum of at least £400,000 a year, at the same time as we are struggling by small sums to make up the deficiency in order that there may be a decent living. After a time, when tithe will be £137, £500,000 will be taken away from the fund which would be distributed amongst the incumbents. I do not say it would be distributed amongst the incumbents for whom I am pleading, but a large amount of it would.
§ There is all the difference between a man who has his rights vested and someone who is appointed after this Bill has been passed. If I am right, under the special legislation of 1918 one of the conditions was that the ultimate rights of the clergy under the Act of 1836 should be preserved to them. That was a condition of the 1918 Act, but if I correctly understood the noble Lord who introduced the Bill, he said that under the 1918 Act as much as £4,000,000 had been diverted from clergy stipends and payment of tithe to other purposes. If we look to the immediate future you will possibly have a larger amount than that diverted. But I am not going into that and bring myself into controversy with the most rev. Primate on the general principle of the Bill. I regret very much to find that I look at this matter from a different standpoint to him. I had no idea that he was likely to support a, Bill which made so large a dip into the funds of the poor incumbents who are at the present time existing under conditions of penury and poverty. If we are to have any regard for existing rights at all I say that existing incumbents ought not to come under the provisions of this Bill. I do not intend to take up any more of your Lordships' time and therefore I move the Amendment.
Page 1, line 8, at the beginning insert ("subject to the rights of incumbents appointed prior to the passing of this Act").—(Lord Parmoor.)
§ LORD CLINTON
The apparent result of the Amendment moved by the noble 1317 and learned Lord will be that in every parish tithe at the full rate for the next year will be payable, and will continue for a large number of years until, by death or otherwise, the existing incumbents have been retired. It seems to me that that really attacks the very foundation upon which this Bill is based. The main object of this measure was to avoid the intense difficulties to the payer of tithe and the collector of tithe which would arise from the extreme War prices being collected into future values. Everyone of your Lordships will sympathise very sincerely indeed with those incumbents who are so unfortunately situated, feeling that they were within close touch of a very large income, yet are forced under this Bill to accept something very much less. But provision is made for them under this Bill—possibly a totally inadequate provision—and the Church herself, out of her own resources, has endeavoured to retain it to some extent. While the loss to the present incumbent is in many cases very serious, I do not think that any one of your Lordships will deny that the provisions of this Bill are really for the permanent benefit of the Church herself.
I must speak, of course, mainly from the point of view of the tithe payer. Under this Bi11, if the noble Lord's proposals are accepted, we are to pay this high value for a very large number of years. It is proposed that it should be paid for so long as the present incumbent is in being and after that time it shall go back to the stabilised value under this measure. I would ask the noble Lord to consider how that stabilised value is fixed. It is fixed by a Committee—I spoke of this on the Second Reading in connection with a rather different point—who, looking far into the future, fixed a series of prices for all sorts of corn. The arithmetical value of that series is not the £105 which appears in this Bill but is actually something below £100, and it is only because the high War prices come into the early part of the series that, by a perfectly proper actuarial calculation, the value becomes higher and reaches £105. The noble Lord wants to take the full cash value of the high prices during the first part of these years and having exhausted them in cash be still wants to take the future stabilised value which is based upon prices which 1318 he himself has already taken away. It seems to me that this proceeding is entirely unjust to the tithe payer, and I hope that the Government will not be willing to accept this Amendment.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY OF THE MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES (LORD BLEDISLOE)
After the very able speech of my noble friend Lord Clinton there is really very little that I can add. I should like to endorse the feeling of deep sympathy which I am sure we all feel for the class of poor incumbents on behalf of whom my noble and learned friend has made such an eloquent appeal but, putting the matter quite frankly, as I think Lord Clinton has indicated, if we were to accept this Amendment we should tear up the Bill altogether so far as the principle of stabilisation is concerned. What the noble Lord really asks us to do is to cut stabilisation out of the Bill except as regards future incumbents and lay tithe owners. The principle of stabilisation, I need hardly remind your Lordships, was accepted in another place and, when we passed the Second Reading of the Bill, was, in fact, accepted by your Lordships' House. We cannot go back upon it. Let me ask the noble and learned Lord this: What is going to happen in the case of these new incumbents in respect of whom he seems to anticipate some scheme of stabilisation? The figure of £105, to which apparently he takes exception at the present time, would cease to be justifiable. You would have to have a new basis and, without doubt, a lower basis of stabilisation than that proposed in this Bill.
I should like to remind your Lordships of the very interesting, very eloquent and, if he will allow me to say so, patriotic speech which the most rev. Primate made to this House on the Second Reading on behalf of the clergy as a whole. He reminded us that these high figures with which we have been dealing lately in respect of tithe were the result of abnormal conditions arising out of the War, and he told us something that we who have taken part in these negotiations have all very much appreciated—namely, that the clergy have not desired to take advantage of those conditions to the detriment of other classes of the community, and particu- 1319 larly, of course, of the somewhat depressed agricultural community on whose behalf my noble friend Lord Clinton so eloquently appeals. Supposing the figure were to rise to £131 or £137. Is the noble Lord going to suggest that it will be easy to collect that amount? Does he suggest that it is not going to tend to create controversy in our country districts between parson and tithe payer? It is almost inconceivable. One great object of this Bill is to create peace in the countryside, and the surest way to create peace is to stabilise the tithe rentcharge on what has been regarded by most people of a judicial mind as an equitable figure. Immediately we begin to upset this system of stabilisation we shall be tearing up the Bill, and to that the Government cannot consent.
§ LORD PARMOOR
I should like first of all, in reply to Lord Clinton, to say that in this Bill as it has been drafted it is a question whether the tithe payer or the tithe owner is to have the advantage of the increase in the tithe payments which naturally came about under the Act of 1836. I am one of those who think that the tithe payer, as such, has no title to one farthing of this. I will deal presently with the remarks of the noble Lord who represents the Ministry of Agriculture, but I cannot find any statement anywhere to the contrary effect. I was reading the other day what was said by the late Lord Selborne, who dealt so much with this matter, and by other authorities, and every one of them says the same thing—namely, that tithe is subject to a national trust for religious purposes and that the tithe payer has no right or lot in one farthing of it. If it be true—I do not take this view myself—that the tithe owner should have his income reduced, the surplus ought properly to be devoted to public social purposes. I think it is a regular scandal that there should be this division, though I understand there was no agreement between the tithe owners and the tithe payers. Even if it were to the advantage of both, which I deny, it has to be remembered that they have no right to bargain with a public national property. They have no right whatever to approach it from that point of view.
Your Lordships will recollect that each incumbent is only a life-owner and has no 1320 right whatever to bargain away the rights of those who come after him. As a matter of fact, we know perfectly well that in this case no bargain was made. Attempts were made, and whether the tithe payer or the tithe owner wanted too much I do not know—that is between themselves—at any rate, no arrangement was made. As regards peace in the country districts, I do not believe that there will be any want of peace in the country in the way that is suggested. I do not think there would be any want of peace if the incumbent simply stated that his rights were so-and-so and that he was entitled to have those rights respected. I have never heard of this difficulty and, when the noble Lord speaks about the agricultural interest, it must be remembered that tithe has no more to do with farming than with any other charge on the consolidated rent. The rent is now either £36,000,000 or about £40,000,000 a year and the whole of that sum comes before any influence which the payer of tithe can have on the interests of agriculture in this country.
I admit there is one point, which I think the noble Lord has made, which may perhaps make it difficult to press an Amendment of this kind. He says it would upset the calculations on which what he calls stabilisation was based. Stabilisation here may be a useful term, but it appears to me to be a term applied for the purpose of diverting payments which should be made to the tithe owner, in the interests of the tithepayer. I think it will be no good my pressing this matter further, but I feel as strongly as I can about these poor incumbents, who were naturally looking forward to a vested right as regards their income. I think all excuses put forward are excuses merely, and do not affect the real interest one way or the other. I do not propose to put your Lordships to the trouble of a Division, and would therefore ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
LORD ERNLE moved, at the end of subsection (1), to insert the following proviso:—
Provided that where any tithe rentcharge is on the appointed day vested in or held in trust for the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge, or any of the colleges or houses of learning within either of those universities, or any of the colleges of Eton,
Winchester and Westminster, or any society or body of persons associated together for the promotion of education or the relief of poor, sick, and aged people, the sums becoming payable on or after the appointed day and up to and including the last half-yearly date of payment in the year nineteen hundred and twenty-seven, in respect of such tithe rentcharge shall be computed on the basis of one hundred and nine pounds, three shillings and elevenpence for every one hundred pounds of tithe rentcharge, and from and after the said last half-yearly date of payment shall be computed in such manner as Parliament shall direct.
§ The noble Lord said: I rise to move the Amendment which stands in my name. Its object, and its effect, is to withdraw from the operation of the Bill, for an interval, educational and charitable corporations, in the hope that during that interval Parliament may consider their special case and give it some favoured treatment. An Amendment similar to this was moved in another place, and defeated, but this is not the same Amendment that was proposed there. Therefore it is a new Amendment and upon it does not lie the stigma of defeat in another place. I think I can roost clearly put the case of education and charitable corporations if I use, in the first place, a very few figures, which I will put in round numbers, because they are more easily carried in my own head and I hope are more easily intelligible to your Lordships.
§ The total amount of tithe rentcharge at the present, moment is, in round figures, £3,300,000. Of that total sum £2,650,000 is charged with certain national services. It is with that sum only that I ant going to deal. Out of that £2,650,000 about £2,000,000 consists of the clerical tithe owned by incumbents and by capitular bodies. £150,000 is the tithe owned by the educational and charitable corporations for which I am pleading to-day. There remains a fourth block of £500,000, which is invested in Commissioners—either the Welsh Church or the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. I think it is impossible to distinguish between tithe rentcharge owned by capitular bodies and tithe rentcharge owned by educational and charitable corporations. In all three cases the income is charged with national services. It is owned by the three parties concerned, either individually as in the case of incumbents, or corporately as in the 1322 case of charitable and educational corporations. They are themselves in all three cases responsible for its collection. They are in all three cases specially rated in respect of the income they receive, and in all three cases they discharge the services themselves which are attached to the, enjoyment of the income.
§ In all those particulars there is nothing to distinguish capitular bodies from educational and charitable corporations, and yet under this Bill the difference In their treatment is very great. The income per £100 of tithe received by the clerical incumbent is £98 a year. The income received by capitular bodies per 100 of tithe is £89 per year. The income received by educational and charitable corporations is £70 per £100 of tithe, and in addition there is the further liability for any increase of rates that may occur. It is that difference of treatment which I venture to bring before your Lordships, and which is the subject matter of my Amendment.
§ The case that I have to put to you will, I suppose, be met on one of three grounds. It will be said that whereas capitular tithes, and the tithes of incumbents in respect of their benefices, are charged with national services of a religious kind, the tithe in the hands of education and charitable corporations is charged with what I may call the lay purposes of education and the relief of the sick and needy; but I do not think that that argument can really be seriously pressed at the present day in your Lordships' House. After all, those services of education and the relief of the sick and needy are national objects in even a wider sense than the national objects which are fulfilled by clerical tithes in the hands either of incumbents or capitular bodies. Therefore, I think as far as that argument goes that I may fairly claim that there is no substantial difference between the objects to which the two tithes in these two different classes are devoted.
§ I shall return to that point again, but at present let me pass on to the second argument against my proposal. It is that these two bodies of clerical tithe owners received under the old Tithe Rentcharge (Rates) Acts of 1899 and 1920 a certain measure of relief, which entitled them to receive relief or justifies their receiving relief under the present Bill. If it was 1323 wrong in the Act of 1920 to exclude the owners of tithe devoted to education or charitable purposes, I should ask you to remedy that wrong on this occasion, and I would point out to you this curious feature, that if the Government could say that they consistently followed the principle on which rate relief was given in the Act of 1899, then I admit the argument would have some force. But what happened? In 1920, for the first time, the capitular bodies were given relief from rates. Therefore, if it were a principle in 1899, it was a principle that was broken for the benefit of clerical tithe owners in 1920, and I would appeal to your Lordships when you are making what purports to be a permanent settlement of this tithe question whether you could not now remedy the defect which failed to give to these educational and charitable corporations some relief from rates.
§ The third argument, I suppose, is that if you once let in education and charitable corporations, however strong the justice of their claim, you open the door to additional claims. I think that I can distinguish between the case of educational and charitable corporations and any other case that can be brought forward. I regret from my own point of view to see that an Amendment to my Amendment is going to be moved on behalf of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. I think it would be best if I deferred my remarks upon that point until the Amendment is moved. But if this Amendment is resisted merely on the ground that somebody else may be let in I should like to say this, that I believe that in all cases you can distinguish, and that there are no services which public bodies can render to the nation which are greater in value than those of education and the relief of the sick and needy.
§ The tithe owned by the University and Colleges of Oxford, which is £105,000 out of £150,000, is an ancient endowment, and it came to them under a principle of the law which we adopted long ago and have followed ever since. It was inherited, as it were, from the monastic corporations. Those monastic corporations not only led spiritual and contemplative lives, they also lived lives which had all the activity of the moderns: they were homes of learning, they were centres of education, they relieved the sick, they tended 1324 the needy; and when they were dissolved the Crown recognised that the national life would be impoverished by the loss of those activities, and they granted certain portions of that property to colleges and schools and hospitals. And when they granted it to private persons those private persons felt in many instances the scruples widely prevalent in those days against applying to purely private purposes funds which were dedicated for religious uses. That scruple was expressed in the famous and curious book, Spelman's "History of Sacrifice." It was the same, scruple, the same feeling which inspired pious founders to endow the colleges and the Universities and schools and hospitals.
§ Surely that is the principle upon which we act nowadays again and again in the case of ancient endowments. We alter the destination as little as possible; we apply the funds to practical purposes suited to the day in which we are living, and we depart as little as possible from the original purpose. And I say that on that principle the tithes owned by the colleges and other bodies which constitute these educational and charitable corporations is held by a sure title. At Oxford 90 per cent. of the tithe which they own is of these ancient endowments, and, though it does not affect the argument either way, except for the matter of sentiment, I may add that within living memory no tithe has been purchased by any college in the University.
§ If no concession is made to these bodies who are going to suffer? The poor all along the line. Supposing the Universities do not get any concession, supposing, that is to say, they lose between £5,000 and £6,000 a year, which for some little time they will lose, how are they to make good that amount? They are with great difficulty, in almost every college in the University, just balancing their accounts. They will have to make good the money somehow. How will they do it? They may raise the fees. Who will suffer? The poor men. They will become what they have striven to avoid being—and I say, successfully striven to avoid—they will be driven to become rich men's colleges, or they will have to cut down their scholarships, and in that case the clever sons of poor men will be denied the incomparable advantages of their education.1325
§ Of course, in the case of hospitals everybody knows that a paying patient can always command the full services of the hospital, but the hospitals, if you reduce their income, cannot go on rendering the same amount of aid to the men who cannot afford to pay for it. I will take an instance from a small but famous hospital, that of St. Cross at Winchester. If any of your Lordships hereafter desire, whether you help St. Cross or not, to spend the evening of your days in that beautiful building among the water meadows at Winchester, you will be able to do it, because you can afford to pay for it. But who are going to lose the chance of going there? It is the poor men, who cannot contribute to their going there. And you are going to cut down the pensions which they allot to outside poor persons. For this hospital of St. Cross has an ancient endowment of £7,000 in tithe. Its total endowment from all sources is about £11,000, and it is going to lose between £300 and £400 a year under this Bill. They can only meet that loss by diminishing either the number of pensioners whom they receive into that ancient house, or by diminishing the number of their outside pensioners.
§ I think, in addition to what I said on the Second Reading, I have stated as far as I can the ease for educational and charitable corporations. I might have made an emotional appeal to some of your Lordships to stand by the colleges and schools—by whatever college at Oxford or Cambridge you were educated at, or by Eton or Winchester or Westminster. I have not thought it worth while to do that. My case is, I venture to submit, so strong upon the facts that it makes its own appeal.
Page 1, line 13, at end insert the said proviso.—(Lord Ernle.)
§ LORD BUCKMASTER
My Lords, I desire to support this Amendment. Before giving my reasons I hope you will permit me to express my appreciation of the extremely skilful way in which the noble Lord, Lord Bledisloe, introduced this very complicated and difficult Bill to your Lordships' notice. I do not think that your Lordships could have heard a more clear and concise statement of a complicated measure than they were 1326 privileged to hear in this instance. What is the foundation of this Bill? As I understand it, it is an attempt to appease and, if possible, to end for ever the old outstanding quarrel between the people who receive and the people who pay tithes. It is common knowledge that in the past the peculiar position of tithe as a burden upon the land has caused far more friction and uneasiness than those who are well-wishers of the Church of England and other people who receive tithes would desire. If I understand this Bill aright its purport is to end that trouble for ever.
How does it propose to do it? It proposes to do it by regarding as people in a different category those who receive tithes associated with a benefice and those who do not. But I would ask, to begin with, what is there, in justice, that can possibly excuse this distinction? It cannot be found in the origin of tithe because it would be very difficult indeed for any but very few people to contend that the original purpose of tithe is the purpose to which it is now applied, either in the hands of incumbent clergy or in the hands of the ecclesiastical corporations. Tithe, whether held by a layman, by an ecclesiastical corporation or by the incumbent of a living, is nothing but the right to profits, the result of which is to be applied in different hands to different purposes; but their rights are identical and so far as I know wholly indistinguishable at law, That being so, what is it that this Bill proposes to do? It proposes to set up differential qualities of tithe owners and to inflict what I regard as the most severe injustice upon bodies such as the great educational establishments of Oxford and Cambridge, Eton, Winchester and Harrow, and the hospitals, which, I gather, are included in the term "ecclesiastical corporations." I say that I gather that and I hope I am right; because in trying to find out what ecclesiastical corporation means I have discovered that the Bill, like all Bills, is not anxious to gratify curiosity and tells us that it has the same meaning as in the Episcopal and Capitular Estates Act of 1851 and there the matter ends. Still, I think I am right in my const ruction.
You will find that the figures given by the noble Lord, Lord Ernle, are even more than justified by the effect of this Bill. In addition to that, these 1327 educational bodies will in one way or another have to share in the extra burden that is thrown upon the national funds by the fact that henceforth, with the exception of the five per cent., the rates of the tithes that are held by the benefices are paid by the State; that burden, of course, must be shared by them with others. What really is the reason for, and what is the foundation of, this distinction? I am very anxious to know that. If you say there is a marked distinction between those who minister to the spiritual needs of the world and those who minister to its educational necessities, I admit there is a distinction, but it is one that does not amount to a difference. Since the repeal of the Test Act it is no longer by conformity with the doctrines of the Church of England that entrance is gained to them, but people of every persuasion are entitled to benefit by those great educational institutions, and I do not think you are going to raise any very pleasant feelings in those people when you are told, as Lord Ernle has pointed out, that their scholarships and the whole of the possible amenities which have opened the doors of those places to poor people irrespective of their creed are going henceforth to be curtailed. To my mind, it would require an extremely strong case to justify any such distinction.
The noble Lord, Lord Ernle, pointed out the enormous services that are rendered by educational establishments at the present time. I believe that no one recognises them more anxiously than I do. The education of our people, to my mind, is by far the greatest problem we have to face. If you can get an educated people I believe that in the end you will have a contented people. But a thing which I think is also important is that there should be some place reserved by the State where education has some value other than its material value in the markets of the world, and if there is any place where the standard of pure learning for the sake of learning is kept aloft it is in these great Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. It is that light which I desire beyond everything to see undimmed.
I remember once looking casually through the State Papers of Henry VIII and finding letters written by Cardinal Wolsey, the founder of the college where 1328 it was my privilege to be. He was in disgrace and he was making an appeal, first, to the Lord Chief Justice, then to the King and then to the Attorney-General. There was only one thing that he asked. He asked nothing for himself, but he asked that the King would of his clemency be pleased to spare the poor scholars and students of the College of Christchurch. That is really at the heart of this Amendment. We ask your Lordships to spare the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge and the great educational establishments of Eton, Harrow and Winchester, and the hospitals, and not to subject them to the hardship which this Bill would impose upon them.
§ LORD STUART OF WORTLEY moved an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, to insert, before "Universities of Oxford and Cambridge," the words "Ecclesiastical Commissioners or the." The noble Lord said: In moving the Amendment which stands in my name, may I say that nobody's feelings were stirred more deeply than mine by the eloquent appeals—for they were eloquent, notwithstanding Lord Ernle's disclaimer—of Lord Ernle and Lord Buckmaster. There is no one in your Lordships' House, I think, who regards the great seats of learning with more gratitude and admiration than I do, and no one is a more enthusiastic supporter of the hospitals of this great Metropolis. But have placed on the Paper an Amendment which expresses my desire as trustee for a very numerous body of beneficiaries and my feeling that it would not be just that my noble friend Lord Ernle should receive a concession of the delay which he proposes to interpose and that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England should not participate in that concession.
§ May I explain that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England are undoubtedly, technically and in every other way under the present law, lay tithe owners who get none of the advantages in regard to the payment of tithes received by the ecclesiastical corporations and still less than those received by the parochial clergy? They are, however, in respect of the funds they administer, the historical successors in title of a great many of the great ecclesiastical corporations whose assets and estates were made over to them in 1329 the early 'forties, and the surplus fruits of which, over the stipends considered necessary for the just reward of the high dignitaries of the Church, have been vested in and administered by them ever since. The increment in value of those assets has inured to the benefit of their numerous beneficiaries, who are the parochial clergy of this country. Small or great, they are making grants for the increase of the stipends of parochial clergy, for the endowment of curacies, and the building of parsonages in no fewer than 8,000 out of the 14,000 or so of benefices in this country.
§ If you look at the form of my Amendment you will see that I cannot succeed in this Amendment unless my noble friend Lord Ernle succeeds also, but we do say that, as trustees for the beneficiaries that I have mentioned, we are entitled to the same relief that he may get, for our realised surpluses—our net surpluses—every year go, as I say, to parsonages, to stipends, and to curacies; latterly has been added the further destination of pensions to retired clergy, and, lastly, the assistance of poor clergy in the matter of dilapidation. I understood my noble friend Lord Ernle to say that there was no distinction between the great ecclesiastical corporations and the episcopal sees and education and charity. I am not disposed to dispute that assertion; in fact, it is the foundation of my case. In all those cases it comes to the receiver impressed with the trust and charged with the purposes of a public duty. It is not like the free lay tithe, merely an income which the receiver can apply at his pleasure, to his own use; indeed, to spend upon his own pleasure. It is charged, as I understood Lord Ernle to say, with what he calls a public duty.
§ In that case I say that it is not right that the funds which go to create fuller facilities for the parochial clergy in every way should not receive any concessions that are given to funds which, like the great educational institutions and the charitable institutions, have been pleaded for so eloquently by Lord. Ernle and by I he noble and learned Lord opposite. Therefore I move to add, at the beginning, this great body which renders this valuable assistance. As to the matter of quantity and amount, in order that your Lordships may understand that the claim 1330 is not an insignificant one, I should tell you that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England, as lay tithe owners, now receive something just under £300,000 a year in tithe, and on that tithe it would be safe to say they pay something over £90,000 a year, so that your Lordships see, if they could be put on the same footing as ecclesiastical corporations, or at least as the parochial clergy, there would be available for the same public services that are rendered by the parochial clergy, for their assistance, a sum equal to the difference between £90,000 a year and £15,000 a year, which is all that the Bill would give them. Not with anything approaching even the disclaimed eloquence of Lord Ernle, I think I have attempted to put before your Lordships a case to which I must say I am curious to hear the answer. I beg to move.
Amendment to the Amendment moved—
Line 2, at end, insert the words ("Ecclesiastical Commissioners or the").—(Lord Stuart of Wortley.)
THE LORD CHAIRMAN
The Question I have to put to your Lordships is, that those words be inserted in the Amendment.
§ LORD ERNLE
My Lords, as this Amendment clearly affects my Amendment, I hope I may once more trespass on your Lordships' indulgence. If this Amendment is carried it will, in my opinion, shipwreck my Amendment. It will impose a very considerable charge upon the Consolidated Fund. If the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, why not the Welsh Church Commissioners? And if you put both of those together the charge of placing these Commissioners upon the same footing as the parochial clergy would amount to something like £140,000 a year additional on the Consolidated Fund. If you put them on the same footing as capitular bodies, it will amount to something like £80,000. The charge that I propose amounts only to £24,000. It increases the charge from £292,000 to £316,000. But if, in addition to that, you add what my noble friend proposes on behalf of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, I am afraid that the Government would turn a deaf ear to both proposals, and would turn mine down as well as my noble friend's.
1331 There is this important distinction—I think a clear distinction—between the position of the Commissioners and the position of the capitular bodies and the educational and charitable corporations for which I am pleading. The tithe is vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. They are at law its owners, and it is charged, like all the rest of clerical tithe, with the discharge of certain public duties; but it is not the Commissioners who render those public services, it is not they who are the recipients of the tithe who discharge the duties attached to its enjoyment. On the contrary, they are administering a composite fund, formed out of a variety of other properties, and it is the clergy to whom they distribute it who perform the functions which, in the other bodies, are discharged directly by the persons interested. The result is that when this fund reaches the parochial clergy they are not rated in respect of it, but the men for whom I am pleading are rated, and they are the people who themselves discharge the obligation.
I realise that the distinction, though it appears to me quite sufficient to distinguish between the two classes is one—and I frankly recognise it—more of form than of substance, but for my purpose it enables me to distinguish between the claim put forward by my noble friend and that put forward in my Amendment. Though logic and my own personal inclination would incline me to vote with my noble friend, yet looking to my own Amendment, the passage of which I desire to secure, I should be obliged to vote against, my noble friend's Amendment.
§ LORD BLEDISLOE
The speeches to which we have just listened must indicate, I am sure, most forcibly the extreme difficulty which faces the Government if we endeavour to upset in any way the nicely balanced arrangement which has been come to in this Bill. So far as I can see, and Lord Ernle has been so transparently honest in these matters, as he always is, there is really no logical distinction between the case of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and that of the colleges and Universities and eleemosynary institutions for whom Lord Ernle so eloquently pleads. He said that if there is a distinction it is a distinction 1332 of form rather than of substance. Surely that is a complete answer to the case which he has just endeavoured to make. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Buck-master, has suggested that as between the different classes of tithe owners their rights are, in fact, identical. My answer to Lord Buckmaster must necessarily be that under this Bill we treat them as identical. The stabilised figure is, in fact, the same in each case—it is £105. It is perfectly true that certain rate concessions have been made both as regards the beneficed clergy and as regards the ecclesiastical corporations, but those rate concessions are not initiated by this legislation. They are rate concessions which have already been made on their merits as presented to Parliament under existing Statutes, and all we do in this Bill is to crystallise and perpetuate them, as we are bound in honour to do unless we are to prove guilty of a breach of faith to those who are already enjoying these concessions.
May I remind your Lordships that so far as parsons are concerned a sum of £5 is earmarked as the amount of rate which ought to be debited in their case as against the stabilised figure of £105, and that leaves £100 net. In the case of the ecclesiastical corporations a figure of £16 is debited against their £105, leaving as net amount for them to enjoy, £89. In the case of the persons for whom Lord Ernle appealed the whole of the rates are debited, estimated at about £34, leaving a net figure for them of £71. My point, so far as Lord Buckmaster is concerned, is that under this Bill we recognise that the rights as between tithe owners are identical and for that reason we make the stabilised figure of £105 the same in every case.
I want to make it perfectly clear that the Government is in fullest sympathy with those for whom Lord Ernle and Lord Chelmsford and others have so eloquently pleaded. I go further, and I should like your Lordships to know that we have made a very big effort since the Second Reading of the Bill in this House to come to some sort of a decision which would enable us in some measure to meet their case. If we are, as indeed we are, unable to do so, I am sure your Lordships will acquit us of any sort of hostility toward or lack of sympathy with either the Universities and colleges or the hospitals and other 1333 deserving institutions to whom this Amendment is intended to apply. Your Lordships' House contains a large number of men who have enjoyed the priceless boon of a University education. Naturally you feel a special sympathy with your Alma Mater, as indeed I do myself, and particularly at a time when the Universities are extending their beneficent work in order to meet the requirements of a rather different section of the population, which we all admit on national grounds ought to be provided to a larger extent, with the same privileges, educationally, which we ourselves have enjoyed.
I should like, before dealing in detail with Lord Ernle's case, to estimate as far as is possible what is the actual loss which the Universities and colleges anticipate will be suffered as the result of the passing of this Bill. The total rentcharge belonging to Universities and colleges is estimated at £117,000 and it may possibly be rather less. The difference between £109 3s. 11d., and the stabilised figure of £105 means a gross loss of something under £5,000. This loss will probably be less as in consequence of the drop in the value of tithe from £109 s. 11d. to £105 the rate assessment will be correspondingly reduced and the rates will therefore be diminished. What this rate diminution may amount to cannot be calculated precisely, but it is not likely to be less than £1,500, and if that is so the actual net loss is not likely to exceed £3,500 per annum. This loss is, of course, spread over all the colleges that own tithe in both Universities.
Further, to some extent the proposals of Lord Ernle are, in fact, going to be met. It is not intended by the Government that the "appointed day" when the Bill comes into operation for the stabilisation of tithe rentcharge at £105 shall be any earlier than March 31, 1927. Construed literally the Amendment carries forward the existing basis to October, 1927, and there is, therefore, only a difference of six months between us. Therefore no change will take place in the amount received by the University colleges until the payment of tithe rentcharge which will become due on April 1, 1927. When we actually come to consider the effect of this Amendment we have to realise that whatever be the suspensory 1334 period you will have a certain number of tithe payers in the same district, possibly in the same parish, paying a different amount of tithe rentcharge to their neighbours who do not happen to pay tithe to the bodies for whom Lord Ernle speaks. It may not be for a long time, and it will be much the same size, but in one case the tithe payer will be redeeming by a sinking fund payment a part of the capital charge and in the other case no such redemption will have been initiated or be taking place. But this Amendment, in effect, excludes from the stabilisation provisions of the Bill tithe rentcharge payable to these institutions and leaves the question of what is to happen in the future—that is, after 1927—entirely in the air. My noble friend Lord Ernle, assuming that we are to take his Amendment literally, has not indicated what his proposals will be after that date.
§ LORD ERNLE
May I interrupt my noble friend? I think Lord Bledisloe is aware that the Universities have a proposal which they are discussing with the Minister of Agriculture as to some arrangement, and it is only for the six months' breathing space that I am asking.
§ LORD BLEDISLOE
I was not wholly unaware that such negotiations were taking place, and, of course, that will eventually throw some light upon the ultimate intention. The Amendment, at any rate, postpones a decision on this matter. What are the grounds for the suggested postponement? They can only be two. One is that stabilisation is unfair for these bodies as compared with other tithe owners; and the other is that stabilisation at the, figure of £105 is not correct. It must be one of these two.
§ LORD BLEDISLOE
And the stabilisation of rates. As regards the argument that stabilisation is relatively unfair to the colleges as compared with other tithe, owners, surely it will not be contended—
§ LORD BUCKMASTER
I do not think the noble Lord has entirely appreciated the argument that I desire to put forward. 1335 This is not an objection to the basis of stabilisation, but to the fact that the amount, which is fixed at the same for everybody, as the noble Lord has said, becomes, in the case of the people for whom we are speaking, depleted down to £70 a year.
§ LORD BLEDISLOE
So far as my noble friend Lord Buckmaster is concerned, I have already endeavoured to deal partially with what he said, and I am coming to the question of rates in more detail later on. Whatever may be the standpoint of my noble friend Lord Ernle, there are others who may support his contention on the ground that the stabilisation is unfair to these bodies as compared with other tithe owners. What I do want to make perfectly clear is that these bodies are corporations and, being corporations, they have the enormous advantage of being immortal. In any scheme of stabilisation that has a sound actuarial basis they must eventually gain that which they are purporting to lose at the present time, whereas, in the case of the older clergy, I think it might be very much more forcibly argued that there is injustice to them, because, for a certain period when, without this Bill, the standard of tithe rentcharge would be high, that standard is, in fact, being lowered temporarily and they may never enjoy the advantage which they would have enjoyed if the Act of 1918 had continued to operate so far as the fifteen years is concerned.
As regards the suggestion that the stabilisation figure of £105 is not correct, I should like to remind your Lordships of a point that I think my noble friend Lord Clinton has already indicated, that the Committee which most carefully considered the question of the perpetuity value of tithe rentcharge received evidence from some of the most distinguished economists in this country, among them being Sir William Ashley, Professor Gonner, Sir William Beveridge, Sir George Paish, Sir Josiah Stamp, Mr. Edward Strutt and Mr. J. M. Keynes. I do not suggest that all these distinguished men gave similar evidence. They did not. But the fact remains that the Committee, having quite impartially and judicially considered their evidence, decided in 1922 that the perpetuity value of tithe rentcharge should be taken as £104. I merely want to point out to my 1336 noble friend that others who are supporting him have put forward the views that I am trying to meet.
§ LORD ERNLE
May I just say, on behalf of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, that they want stabilisation and they do not dispute it, nor yet the figure?
§ LORD BLEDISLOE
In any case, if there are noble Lords present who are not satisfied with the figure, all I can say is that the Government, after considering most carefully the Committee's Report, arrived at the conclusion that this figure was fair, and the figure has been admitted to be fair by those who represent other groups of tithe owners. I should like to ask my noble friend Lord Ernle one question. Supposing that, so far as these institutions are concerned, the problem remained for the moment unsolved, what prospect is there of the Government in the future being convinced that this stabilisation should be any higher than £105? My noble friend, as I understand, is bringing forward this Amendment in order to give the Government some time to consider what relief can be afforded to Universities and other similar institutions on the ground of their necessitous condition. If that be so, I cannot help reminding your Lordships that the necessitous condition of the Universities—and I know that my noble friend will probably say that there is some distinction between the Universities and the colleges—has already been most carefully considered only a few years ago by a Royal Commission, of which my noble friend was himself a member, presided over by the noble Earl, Lord Oxford and Asquith. The Commission decided that very substantial grants ought to be made to help to meet the necessitous condition of the Universities. The University Grants Committee was set up, and the sum that it was recommended should be provided to meet these necessities was no less than £110,000 a year to each of the Universities.
I have made some inquiry and I find that the University Grants Committee made a grant of £30,000 to each University in the academic year 1922–23, a grant of no less than £60,000 in the following year, a similar grant in the year 1924–25, and that this grant has been increased in the 1337 current year 1925–26 to no less than £85,000. Your Lordships will notice that the full amount of the grant recommended by the Royal Commission, is not yet being paid to the Universities, and this, I understand, is due to the fact that the University Grants Committee, after considering the claims that were put up to them, decided that they would not at present pay the full amount until at least the Statutory Commissions, in one of which I fancy that my noble friend Lord Chelmsford is interested, had had an opportunity of proceeding further with their work.
Your Lordships will observe that a very substantial grant is being made by the State to the Universities, and I therefore cannot help thinking that there is really not much substance in the argument that was brought forward by my noble friend on the Second Reading, that there would be a danger, if additional grants were made outside this Bill altogether, of further interference by the Government and some measure of Government control, which is not at present exercised. Really the small difference of £3,500, or whatever it may be, cannot materially affect that consideration.
May I before I sit down refer to a question which the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Haldane, addressed to me on the Second Reading? He referred to the Church of Scotland (Property and Endowments) Act of the current year, and asked why we did not deal with this tithe question on the basis of that Act. I think the simple answer is this, that the Scottish teinds, which correspond with the English tithe, are stabilised on the basis of the average stipends paid in each parish for fifty years prior to 1922, with the addition of five per cent. I doubt very much whether the adoption of such a basis would satisfy Lord Ernle, for at least it can be said that considerably less would be available for University colleges if that basis were adopted.
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
The noble Lord has not answered my question. It was not about the fifty years, but I asked why had the Government treated the Universities differentially in this Bill and not treated them differentially in the Scottish Bill.
§ LORD BLEDISLOE
I think the answer is that the conditions are materially 1338 different in the two countries. At least I am so informed. The whole question, then, is really a question of rating concession. Upon what ground, in this Bill at least, can the University colleges claim a special concession in the matter of rates? My noble friend has admitted that under the Act of 1899, and again in the Act of 1920, concessions as regards rates were not made to the Universities and similar institutions as were made to the clergy, and he might perhaps, as a very leading agriculturist, have added, as only three years before the Act of 1899 were made to the agricultural community. In every one of those cases special relief was deemed to be fair and right, forthcoming from the State to help persons who had succeeded by their representatives in convincing Parliament that they were in a specially necessitous condition.
I do not think it would be unfair to remind the House that tithe rentcharge is an investment. It has been treated as an investment for many years past, and was considered up to the time of the war as a very doubtful investment, as, owing to the extreme fluctuation of tithes and also owing to the low figure to which tithe rentcharge had fallen, it was being purchased at no more than from twelve to fifteen years' purchase. I am given to understand that some colleges at least at our Universities managed to make what has turned out to be a very remunerative investment. Here then you have a permanently stabilised investment, fixed at £105, and you have what is, in fact, a gilt-edge security. It is owned for all time by the bodies whose case my noble friend has submitted to your Lordships.
I want most seriously to ask whether the proper way for Parliament or the Government to help these necessitous bodies is to attempt to improve this investment in this particular Bill. Surely, if they have a case, and we believe they have a case, the proper way is to seek to obtain a direct benefit under the scheme, or a scheme similar to that, which has been propounded by the Asquith Commission—to endeavour to obtain in some such way as that additional public money to meet their temporarily necessitous condition, rather than to ask your Lordships entirely to recast the whole basis of this Bill, and thus to leave the door open for other tithe owners in the same 1339 position to ask for similar advantages as those for which my noble friend has so eloquently pleaded. It is with very sincere regret, as an old University man, that I find it impossible on behalf of the Government to accept this Amendment, and I venture to hope that your Lordships, after what I have endeavoured to say on what is a very complicated and intricate subject, will support the Government in the attitude that they feel bound to take up, especially in the present state of the national finances, and will not accept this Amendment.
THE LORD BISHOP of WINCHESTER
My Lords, I venture to intervene with considerable diffidence for a, few moments, but it may be there are others like myself who find themselves in a difficult position with regard to this Amendment. By virtue of my office I am visitor of five Oxford colleges, three of which are affected by this Amendment and this Bill. New College, for example, will lose each year an amount of money which would otherwise provide two fellowships or four scholarships. We all agree that this is the very last moment in our history at which to take one penny away from the great cause of education, whether at our Universities or elsewhere. We all have the deepest sympathy with the Amendment which has been moved by Lord Ernle, and to deprive the Universities of any more money, and therefore throw them more definitely still on the mercies of the State, is a situation which many of us desire to avoid.
It has been suggested that the case for relieving the burden on the Universities and colleges is in one department, and that the case for relieving the burden of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, according to the Amendment moved by Lord Stuart of Wortley, is in another department, but I think that has been answered to some extent by the noble Lord opposite, who deprecated, and in my judgment very rightly deprecated, any attempt to differentiate, for the purpose of this Bill, money spent on the Universities or on the parsons or on houses like St. Cross for the care of the poor. It is surely quite impossible for the purposes of this Bill, and I should say on broader grounds still, to draw a hard and fast line between relief given or money devoted to the benefit of the Church or for educational enterprises of 1340 the Universities, or for the care of the poor, which are all of them in a large measure involved in this Bill. I cannot see that we can reasonably differentiate between them, and therefore I think that in logic and in sense if we accept the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Ernle, we can hardly refuse to accept the Amendment to the Amendment, which would bring the Ecclesiastical Commissioners into the process. I cannot see how in logic or in reason you can relieve the poor scholar and yet refuse to relieve the poor parson.
But, however that may be, the dilemma to which I wanted to call your Lordships' attention is that I, in common with possibly others, would have been only too glad to vote for Lord Ernle's Amendment if we had not heard that the Government regard this to all intents and purposes as a wrecking Amendment, and it will, if passed, practically go a long way to destroy the prospects of the Bill. That is an eventuality which I, for one, cannot contemplate with equanimity, and if I am obliged to choose between the one and the other I must vote with the Government and support the Bill. For it seems to me that this is a golden opportunity, not likely to recur, to bring to an end difficulties, awkwardnesses, long drawn out and continuous, but which, with the concurrence on a broad scale of the parties to the dispute it is possible to bring to an end under this Bill, and to secure stabilisation, the prospect of a final redemption of the tithes, and the collection of these tithes from the point of view of the parson in a more satisfactory way. I have been myself an incumbent of parishes in which the income came from tithes, and I have known myself the extreme difficulty of collecting tithes, perhaps—as certainly was the case in one instance—of rather large amount, but spread over very different tithe payers, and small in the case of each one. It is apt to lead to difficulties, and it is apt to affect the relationship between the parson and the members of his flock, which must always be delicate, and may be very awkward indeed. Therefore, on these grounds, I very reluctantly—because I have the fullest sympathy with the noble Lord's Amendment—find myself obliged to support the Government rather than wreck the Bill.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY)
Perhaps your Lordships would wish to have a word from this Bench as to the attitude which His Majesty's Government propose to take with reference to the Amendment to the Amendment. As my noble friend has shown in the admirable speech which he has delivered, we are equally opposed to the Amendment and to the Amendment to the Amendment, and, as far as we are concerned, to the best of our ability, we shall resist either of them being inserted in the Bill. But if Lord Stuart of Wortley goes to a Division upon the Amendment to the Amendment, although it is not a matter which very much interests us, for the reasons I have stated, as between the two I prefer Lord Stuart of Wortley's position to that of Lord Ernle.
I do not see how any distinction can be drawn between the colleges and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; indeed, in some ways the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have the stronger case of the two, because, at any rate, the funds at their disposal are used for the very same pun poses as the funds of the clergy throughout the country, who have, as your Lordships are aware, been granted special terms for these many years by Parliament. But I do not want to mislead your Lordships. We are against both plans, we cannot accept them. Let me say that when noble Lords and right rev. Prelates are speaking of depriving institutions of tithe which they would otherwise get, that that is not the case. If our estimate of the average of tithe is right these bodies with perpetual succession will be deprived of nothing whatever. I want to make that absolutely clear. Of course, our basis may be wrong. I do not mean to say we are infallible, I am very far from that. But if we are right—and we have made the best estimate we can—these institutions with perpetual succession will not be deprived of one halfpenny.
The noble and learned Lord, who used his most persuasive accents, as he always does in your Lordships' House, is evidently pointing at some rate concession, and he wants to put the rate concession for the colleges for the first time on the same basis as the rate concession of the capitular clergy. But that would put the colleges in a much better position than they have even been in 1342 before. We do not desire to do that at all. We want to leave people so far as we can, and as far as it is possible in this very intricate and complicated subject, in precisely the same position as they are in at present. But his concession would bring them into a better position than they are in at present. If this country did not care what it did with its funds no doubt it would be very delightful to give all these institutions, which are doing splendid work for the country, this advantage in rates. But we are not in a position to do that, and it would not be right. But they have never had that advantage, and there is no reason why, in a Tithe Bill, for the first time they should have it. For these reasons we must adhere to our basis—namely, our £105; and we have no grounds upon which we can suggest to your Lordships that the colleges should be put in a better position than they have ever been in before.
§ LORD BUCKMASTER
I will not abuse the privilege that is possessed by every member of your Lordships' House to speak more than once on the Committee stage of a Bill, but, as things have been said which appear to me to show a fundamental misapprehension of our position, I should like to add a few sentences in an attempt to make it clear. There has been an agreement for the stabilisation of tithe. With whom has it been carried out? It has been carried out chiefly with the representatives of the beneficed clergy. And why? Will the noble Earl Who shakes his head tell me with whom else it has been carried out?
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
The negotiations came to quite a different conclusion. The Government did not accept the basis of negotiation between the tithe owners and the tithe payers. They fixed their own independently.
§ LORD BUCKMASTER
I never said that for a moment. I said that an arrangement has been come to with the beneficed clergy, and for this reason, that they got the advantage.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I may have misunderstood the noble and learned Lord, but the basis of £105, which is the basis he refers to, was, as far as the problem admits, the result of an actuarial calculation of what tithe will amount to on the average from this time forth. That basis applies equally to all classes of tithe, and therefore it is applied by the Bill to all classes of tithe.
§ LORD BUCKMASTER
Does the noble Marquess really think for a moment that his basis of stabilisation would have been accepted by the right rev. Prelates if it were not for Clause 6 of the Bill? Of course it would not. That is the clause which provides that the amount of any rate made on and after the appointed day shall, on demand, be paid by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue. That was why it was accepted. And the thing that I am pointing out is that, in the result, you have got an arrangement under the Bill by which there is a marked distinction in the beneficial receipts that are obtained by those who represent the college holders of tithes and those who represent the holders of tithes associated with benefices. The noble Lord, Lord Bledisloe, said: Yes, but the reason is that the holders of tithes associated with benefices have established their need to the satisfaction of the Government, and therefore it is that they are going to get relief.
§ LORD BUCKMASTER
The noble Marquess will permit me to say that the satisfaction of the Government would be perfectly useless without the satisfaction of Parliament. The noble Lord overlooks the fact that so also have the Universities. He himself says that the Universities are to receive £84,000 as a grant next year because their existing funds are wholly inadequate to enable them to carry on their work. I want to know what is the difference. Of course, we cannot put on the Paper such Amendments as we might desire because we should thereby add to the charges, which your Lordships' House is not at liberty to do; but the real purpose of this Amendment is to enable us to have the fullest possible time in order that what we regard as an injustice to these great 1344 institutions should be remedied. We should no more have consented to the stabilisation of tithes at this figure if we had an opportunity of resisting it than would the holders of tithes associated with benefices, without a concession, and we say that as their consent has been accompanied by a concession it ought in the case we are presenting to be accompanied by a concession. There is no distinction whatever.
§ LORD STUART OF WORTLEY
My Amendment has to be disposed of first, and though I am very unwilling to put your Lordships to the trouble of dividing I cannot abandon the position I have taken up for the reason that I have not heard any argument against the claim I make. My position is the same as that of my noble friend Lord Ernle. In the case of the Ecclesiastical Commission the tithe goes to the clergy ultimately. In the case of the Universities it goes to the upkeep of education. Surely, the ultimate beneficiary is the poorer student, although some of the income goes towards the cost of administration.
The only other argument I beard was: If you include the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England why do you not include the Welsh Commissioners? May I point out that I do not represent the Welsh Commissioners, that is a matter for my noble friend but I am surprised that they have not been included. The destination of some of their tithes will be the University of Wales and after the disappearance of certain charges I understand that they will all go to the University of Wales. That is the logical position. I do not think it is right that this House should proceed to a vote on the Amendment of my noble friend Lord Ernle without being fully aware of the position in regard to present and prospective equities and claims which cannot be left out of consideration in examining the claims we put forward. Remembering that, I hope your Lordships will remember also that, however influentially the parochial clergy may be represented from certain Benches in your Lordships' House, they cannot be said to be so numerously represented as the great Universities which have sent here so large and so distinguished a body of members. It behoves your Lordships to remember that the claims of the parochial clergy are also considerable.
§ On Question, Whether the proposed words shall be inserted in the Amendment?—
|Salisbury, M. (L. Privy Seal.)||Sandwich, E.||Clinton, L.|
|Selborne, E.||Cottesloe, L.|
|Spencer, E.||Crawshaw, L.|
|Sutherland, D||Stanhope, E.||Daryngton, L. [Teller.]|
|Wicklow, E.||Desborough, L.|
|Bath, M.||Erskine, L.|
|Camden, M.||Chelmsford, L. Bp.||Gage, L. (V. Gage.)|
|Lansdowne, M.||London, L. Bp.||Hawke, L.|
|Southwark, L. Bp.||Knaresborough, L.|
|Birkenhead, E.||Winchester, L. Bp.||Lawrence, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Olivier, L.|
|Eldon, E.||Armstrong, L.||parmoor, L.|
|Grey, E.||Askwith, L.||Raglan, L.|
|Kimberley, E.||Avebury, L.||Somers, L.|
|Lucan, E.||Balfour of Burleigh, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L. (L. Sheffield.)|
|Malmesbury, E.||Banbury of Southam, L.|
|Midleton, E.||Biddulph, L.||Stuart of Wortley, [Teller.]|
|Morton, E.||Bledisloe, L.|
|Mount Edgenmbe, E.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. William.)||Templemore, L.|
|Plymouth, E.||Wynford, L.|
|Lincolnshire, M. (L. Great Chamberlain.)||Arnold, L.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)|
|Ashton of Hyde, L.||Lamington, L.|
|Buckmaster, L. [Teller.]||Merthyr, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Charnwood, L.||Muir Mackenzie, L.|
|De La Warr, E.||Clwyd, L.||Oranmore and Browne, L.|
|Dunmore, L. (E. Dunmore.)||Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.)|
|Chelmsford, V.||Emmott, L.||Phillimore, L.|
|Falmouth, V.||Ernle, L.||Rayleigh, L.|
|Haldane, V.||Gainford, L. [Teller.]||St. John of Bletso, L.|
|Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)||Gorell, L.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Harris, L.||Southwark, L.|
|Novar, V.||Hemphill, L.||Stanmore, L.|
|Ullswater, V.||Hunsdon of Hunsdon, L.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment to the Amendment agreed to accordingly.1346
§ On question, Whether the Amendment, as amended, shall be there inserted?
§ Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 51; Not-Contents, 34.
|Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Chelmsford, L. Bp.||Crawshaw, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Southwark, L. Bp.||Desborough, L.|
|Morton, E.||Winchester, L. Bp.||Gage, L. (V. Gage.)|
|Mount Edgcumbe, E.||Harris, L.|
|Plymouth, E. [Teller.]||Armstrong, L.||Hawke, L.|
|Sandwich, E.||Avebury, L.||Knaresborough, L.|
|Selborne, E.||Balfour of Burleigh, L.||Lawrence, L.|
|Spencer, E.||Biddulph, L.||Merthyr, L.|
|Stanhope, E.||Bledisloe, L.||Raglan, L.|
|Wicklow, E.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)||Somers, L.|
|Novar, V.||Clinton, L.||Wynford, L.|
|Ullswater, V.||Cottesloe, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ Clause 1 agreed to.
§ LORD CLINTON moved, after Clause 1, to insert the following new clause:—
§ Synchronising of dates of payment of tithe rentcharge.
§ ".—(1) Where the dates on which tithe rentcharge is payable are dates other than the first day of April and the first day of October, the dates for payment shall be changed to the first day of April and the first clay of October (which dates are hereinafter in this section referred to as the normal half-yearly dates).
§ (2) For the purpose of effecting such change as aforesaid, nothing in this section shall affect the liability to make the payment in respect of tithe rentcharge on the half-yearly date occurring next after the passing of this Act on which a payment would, apart from this section, have become payable; But on the normal half-yearly date which occurs next after the first-mentioned half-yearly date, a payment in respect of the tithe rentcharge proportionate to the time which has elapsed between the first-mentioned half-yearly date and that normal half-yearly date shall become payable, and thereafter payments shall become due on the normal half-yearly dates.
§ (4) This section shall come into operation on the passing of this Act."
§ The noble Lord said: The object of this new clause is to make tithe payable upon the same half-yearly dates. Under the Tithe Act of 1836 it was provided that tithe should be paid on January 1 and July 1 of each year, but the succeeding Act of the year 1837 made it optional to the parties by agreement to pay their tithe on April 1 and October 1. Clause 9 of this Bill makes that exception the rule and provides that all tithe attached to any benefice and belonging to the ecclesiastical corporations, in fact, all payments made to Queen Anne's 1348 Bounty, shall be paid on April 1 and October 1. This means that tithe is payable on four different half-yearly dates. I do not think it makes any difference to tithe owners, but it is an advantage to the tithe payer that these payments should all be made at the same normal periods. I therefore propose to take Clause 9 out of Part II of the Bill which only refers to clerical tithes and insert it after Clause 1 which refers to all tithe.
After Clause 1 insert the said new clause. —(Lord Clinton.)
§ LORD BLEDISLOE
I am much obliged to Lord Clinton for drawing attention to the inconvenience which would undoubtedly follow through having four times at which tithe rentcharge may be paid in the same year. I think the Amendment is an admirable one and I am prepared to accept it.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clauses 2 to 7 agreed to.
§ Clause 8:
§ Redemption of tithe rentcharge vested in Queen Anne's Bounty.
§ 8.—(1) The compensation for redemption of tithe rentcharge by this Part of this Act vested in Queen Anne's Bounty shall be such sum as in the opinion of the Minister will, when invested in Government securities and added to the amount certified by Queen Anne's Bounty to be the sum accumulated in the sinking fund in respect of the rentcharge, or to be the sum which would have been so accumulated if the accumulation had not been postponed, he sufficient to produce an annual sum equal to the value of the tithe rentcharge as fixed by this Act after deducting therefrom the amount (if any) payable in respect thereof to the Commissioners of Inland Revenue and any land tax charged on the tithe rentcharge and a sum on account of costs of collection and expenses of administration equal to two and a half per cent. of such value as aforesaid.1349
§ LORD BLEDISLOE moved, towards the end of subsection (1), to leave out "and expenses of administration." The noble Lord said: This is one of a series of Amendments which are intended to exempt tithe rentcharge payments from the cost of central administration. A fear was expressed in another place on behalf of the beneficed clergy as to what deductions might have to be made for administration expenses, and Queen Anne's Bounty were good enough to say that all the expenses of central administration shall be discharged out of their own corporate funds. Therefore I shall move to leave out the words "and expenses of administration" wherever they occur in this Bill.
Page 7, line 20, leave out ("and expenses of administration").—(Lord Bledisloe.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 8, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 9:
§ Synchronising of dates of payment of tithe rentcharge.
§ 9.—(1) Where in the case of any tithe rentcharge which is at the passing of this Act or before the appointed day becomes attached to any benefice, the dates on which the tithe rentcharge is payable are dates other than the first day of April and the first day of October, the dates for payment shall be changed to the first day of April and the first day of October (which dates are hereinafter in this section referred to as the normal half-yearly dates).
§ (2) For the purpose of effecting such change as aforesaid, nothing in this section shall affect the liability to make the payment in respect of tithe rentcharge on the half-yearly date occurring next after the passing of this Act on which a payment would, apart from this section, have become payable; but on the normal half-yearly date which occurs next after the first-mentioned half-yearly date, a payment in respect of the tithe rentcharge proportionate to the time which has elapsed between the first-mentioned half-yearly date and that normal half-yearly date shall become payable, and thereafter payments shall become due on the normal half-yearly dates.
§ (3) This section shall come into operation on the passing of this Act.
§ LORD CLINTON move to leave out Clause 9. The noble Lord said: This is consequential on the Amendment after Clause 1.
Pages 7 and 8, leave out Clause 9.—(Lord Clinton.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 10 agreed to.
§ Clause 11:
§ Scheme for apportionment of costs of collection, etc.
§ 11.—(1) Queen Anne's Bounty shall frame a scheme, to come into operation not later than the first day of April, nineteen hundred and thirty, providing as respects each collection area for the apportionment amongst the various benefices in that area on account of which tithe rentcharge vested in them under this Part of this Act is held in proportion to the amount of the tithe rentcharge held on account of each such benefice of the aggregate amounts of—
- (a) the cost of collection of tithe rentcharge so vested in them:
- (b) the expenses incurred by them in relation to such tithe rentcharge in the administration of this Part of this Act:
- (c) any arrears of tithe rentcharge so vested in them:
§ Provided that the scheme may provide for exempting (in whole or in part) from liability to contribute to such costs of collection and expenses of administration benefices the total incomes arising from which are less than three hundred pounds per annum, and shall provide for exempting from liability to contribute to such cost of collection any benefice where as agent of Queen Anne's Bounty the incumbent thereof collects the sums payable in respect of the tithe rentcharge held on account of the benefice.
§ (2) In ascertaining the amount of tithe rentcharge held on account of a benefice, and the amount of arrears thereof, no account shall he taken, if the scheme so provides, of any tithe rentcharge which had not been paid for three years.
§ LORD BLEDISLOE moved to leave out paragraph (b) in subsection (1). The noble Lord said: This is consequential.
Page 10, line 5, leave out paragraph (b).—(Lord Bledisloe.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 10, line 14, leave out ("and expenses of administration").—(Lord Bledisloe.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.1351
§ LORD BLEDISLOE moved, in the proviso in subsection (1), before "less than three hundred pounds," to insert "shown to the satisfaction of Queen Anne's Bounty to be." The noble Lord said: This is rather more than a drafting Amendment. It provides for evidence being produced as to the amount of the total income in the case of those persons whose income is less than £300. Previously a statutory declaration had to be made by the incumbent which involved some expense. Now it is to be left to Queen Anne's Bounty with such evidence as they themselves will have in their possession. It is an advantage from the point of view of central administration and it is some financial advantage to the poor incumbent.
Page 10, line 15, after ("are") insert ("shown to the satisfaction of Queen Anne's Bounty to be").—(Lord Bledisloe.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD BLEDISLOE moved, in subsection (2), to leave out "three years" and insert "such period before the appointed day as may be prescribed by the scheme." The noble Lord said: This Amendment is necessitated by a small error on the part of the Deputy-Speaker in another place. A considerable bunch of Amendments which were regarded as consequential were submitted to the other House, but one was not consequential and words were left out which were not intended to be left out. I now move that they be reinserted.
Page 10, line 26, leave out ("three years") and insert ("such period before the appointed day as may be prescribed by the scheme").—(Lord Bledisloe.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 11, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clauses 12 and 13 agreed to.
§ Clause 14 [Application to extraordinary tithe rentcharge, corn rent, etc.]:
§ LORD CLINTON moved to omit proviso (i) from subsection (1). The noble Lord said: This is consequential.
Page 12, line 10, leave out lines 10 to 17.—(Lord Clinton.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.1352
Page 12, line 30, leave out ("expenses of administration").—(Lord Bledisloe.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 14, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clauses 15 to 23 agreed to.
§ Clause 24 [Definitions]:
LORD BLEDISLOE moved, after subsection (1), to insert:
The expression 'costs of collection' includes all costs and expenses incurred by a committee constituted for a collection area in the exercise of any of the powers (whether of collection or management), and of the performance of any of the duties delegated to the committee:
The expression 'total income' in relation to a benefice means the total income of the incumbent arising from the benefice estimated in accordance with the provisions of the Income Tax Acts for the preceding income tax year, but so that where the incumbent of a benefice holds more than one benefice (whether united for ecclesiastical purposes or not so united) it shall mean the sum of the total incomes, estimated as aforesaid, arising from the several benefices.
§ The noble Lord said: This is a small interpreting clause which defines cost of collection. The real object of the Amendment is to make perfectly clear the cost of collection locally as distinct from the cost of central administration.
Page 16, line 33, at end insert the said amendment.—(Lord Bledisloe.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 24, as amended, agreed to.
§ Remaining clauses agreed to.
§ First Schedule [Powers of Queen Anne's Bounty]:
§ Amendments moved—
§ Page 19, line 6, leave out ("and expenses of administration")
§ Page 19, line 8, leave out ("and expenses")
§ Page 19, line 12, leave out ("and expenses")
§ Page 19, lines 13 and 14, leave out ("less than such amounts as may be determined by regulations") and insert ("shown to the satisfaction of Queen Anne's Bounty to be less than three hundred pounds")
§ Page 19, lines 24 and 25, leave out ("and expenses of administration")
§ Page 19, lines 20 and 30, leave out ("make advances out of their corporate funds to meet the expenses of administration and") and insert ("pay out of their 1353 corporate funds the expenses of administration under this Act and to make advances out of such funds to meet")
§ Page 19, line 32, after ("subject") inSert ("in the case of such advances").—(Lord Bledisloe.)
§ On Question, Amendments agreed to.
§ First Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
§ Second Schedule agreed to.