HL Deb 18 March 1926 vol 63 cc707-9

My Lords, I beg to move to resolve, That in accordance with the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act, 1919, this House do direct that the Rural Deaneries of Pontefract and Hernsworth (Transfer) Measure, 1926, be presented to His Majesty for the Royal Assent. This and also the Motion which stands in the name of the Lord Bishop of Bristol, which I shall move on his behalf, will not detain your Lordships more than a few minutes. Happily, unlike the last Measure which came before you from the Church Assembly, neither of these Measures is in any sense controversial, though both effect an alteration of diocesan boundaries. The Motion which stands in my name, though uncontroversial, is important. Though it deals with only thirty-five parishes, it concerns an industrial population of over 175,000 people. Each of these parishes has an average of 5,000 people. The proposal is that these parishes with that population should be transferred from the Diocese of York to the Diocese of Wakefield.

The proposal I think confers a double benefit. In the first place, it gives some relief to the Diocese of York with its more than a million people, its 491 benefices and its huge and unwieldy area, a diocese large enough for any Bishop and admittedly much too large for a Bishop who has the additional obligations and duties of the Archbishop of the province. But, unlike some proposals which have come before your Lordships, it relieves an existing diocese which is too large without in any way acting to the detriment of the district which it is proposed to alter. On the contrary, it will be for the great benefit of the parishes of which I have spoken and their population. The truth is that these parishes and the people who live in them really belong to the Diocese of Wakefield so far as their social and industrial life is concerned. The great industry is that of the coal area which finds its natural centre in Barnsley, and Barnsley and Wakefield are on the march of these parishes. The whole movement of life, as any one can see who passes over the roads, the whole movement of the population is not eastward to York but westward to Wakefield. The proposal of this Measure is that these parishes, with their mining folk, instead of being a remote outpost, remote in distance, character and interests, in the large Diocese of York should become part of the compact and workable Diocese of Wakefield, to which their whole interests belong.

The proposal will be of benefit also to the Diocese of Wakefield, because it redeems that diocese which otherwise is wholly admirable, if I may say so in the presence of its Bishop, from the charge of being too small, with 179 parishes, and leaves it still with only 214 parishes and a population which, as I have said, in every way really belongs to it. The proposal, I am happy to say, arouses no enthusiasm. If it did, it would be a reflection on my connection with it. We may lament the severance of ties which have bound these parishes to York for centuries, but there is a general recognition that it is for the permanent good of the Church, and where regret has been expressed it has always been coupled with an expression of a ready intention to carry out the alteration loyally, when it is made. The proposal has commended itself to the diocesan conference at York, it has been welcomed by the Bishop of Wakefield in diocesan conference, it has roused no dissentient voice or vote in the Church Assembly, it is recommended to Parliament by the Ecclesiastical Committee and it has also passed in another place.

I do not think I need detain your Lordships over the provision of the Measure. They are very simple. The first clause effects the transfer of which I have been speaking. The other clauses are consequential, embodying provisions in Bishopric Measures which have already been passed. Clause 4 was added at the request of the Charity Commissioners. I am satisfied that if your Lordships allow this Measure to go forward to the Royal Assent it will strengthen the life of the Church in that large mining area, because it will make the life of the Church conform to the social and industrial life of the people.

Moved to resolve, That in accordance with the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act, 1019, this House do direct that the Rural Deaneries of Pontefract and Hemsworth (Transfer) Measure, 1926, be presented to His Majesty for the Royal Assent.—(The Lord Archbishop of York.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.