HL Deb 28 July 1927 vol 68 cc955-7

THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY moved to resolve, That in accordance with the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act, 1919, this House do direct that the Clergy Pensions (Amendment) Measure, 1927, be presented to His Majesty for the Royal Assent. The most rev. Primate said: My Lords, this Measure deals with an important, but a purely technical point. Lest there should be any idea that we are trying to get things through without adequate consideration, I will tell your Lordships what the point is. It is simply this. The clergy pensions are at present given to those clergy who are serving in England, who, if they are under a certain age, are compulsorily obliged—although under a voluntary agreement—to pay contributions to the Fund, out of which they will ultimately receive a pension; or, if they are not serving in England, they may voluntarily elect to ask to come under the provisions of the Measure as far as it applies to them.

As a matter of fact those who go abroad, to India or elsewhere, say for five years, and come back again to England, find in the end that they are deprived of the right to claim those five years as a portion of the period during which they have paid their contributions, which ultimately result in a pension. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Phillimore, has made himself master of an exceedingly intricate subject, and he will correct me if I make any mistake in a technicality. Our object is simply to enable those who have thus served to get the full advantage, which they would have got had they remained in England and been subjected to the compulsory clauses of the Measure, which they ask leave to come into by their voluntary action. The important point of it is that when the Pensions Measure passed through this House it was believed that that was already done, and there are learned authorities, among whom, I rather think, is Lord Phillimore, who say that it does do it now, but there is some doubt about the point. It is in order to make perfectly clear what is in accordance with everybody's wishes that I ask your Lordships to pass this Resolution.

Moved to resolve, That in accordance with the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act, 1919, this House do direct that the Clergy Pensions (Amendment) Measure, 1927, be presented to His Majesty for the Royal Assent.—(The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury.)


My Lords, I think I should explain. The position of clergy who, having started as clergy in the Church serving at home, go abroad, and then ultimately return to this country, was very much considered by the Clergy Pensions Committee, of which I was Chairman, and we met a deputation of the missionary authorities, and assured them that we would so provide that their men who were self-denying enough to give up positions in England and go abroad and then return, should nevertheless have the same benefit with regard to pensions, as nearly as might be, as clergy who served all their time in England. Instructions to the draftsman were so to provide. He thought he had so provided, and, as far as I could see, I thought he had so provided. But there is necessarily some difficulty, because you can no longer apply compulsion to people who are not part of the Established Church serving in the Established Church in this country, and therefore it has to be a matter of contract between the Clergy Pension Fund, as an insuring body, and the clergy, and there are one or two differences which your Lordships will easily see between the positions of the two.

There is no longer the same power of enforcing contributions. Contributions must either be paid voluntarily or must be undertaken by the missionary society which sends out the missionary. The scale on which the 3 per cent. contribution is calculated is provided for very easily if you are dealing with beneficed clergy in England, but it might very well be that, owing either to too large or too small an allowance being made for travelling expenses, the missionary scale might not be suitable. For all those reasons it was necessary that there should be a provision by way of contract, and those who have advised the Clergy Pensions Board since it was formed are doubtful whether there is power to make that kind of contract. I still humbly think that this Measure was unnecessary, but I gave my advice in the Assembly for its being passed, because I do not wish to have any doubt about it.

On Question, Motion agreed to.