HL Deb 17 June 1931 vol 81 cc182-4

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, perhaps in bringing this Bill forward for Second Reading I may be allowed to say one or two words in explanation of it because it is a rather unusual type of Bill. Its object is to provide for the better organisation of the Salvation Army and for the custody of real and personal property held in charitable trust by the Salvation Army. Your Lordships are aware that it is the practice for the Chairman of Committees to move the Second Reading of Private Bills formally, and then if they are opposed by Petition they are referred to a Select Committee upstairs. If there is a Motion for rejection on Second Reading it is almost invariably—not quite Invariably—the practice for the promoters to enlist the services of a private member of your Lordships' House who is in sympathy with their views and who will undertake to move the Second Reading.

As your Lordships will see from the Order Paper there is no Motion for rejection here, and I do not even know whether any discussion is likely to take place to-day, but in the event of there being any opposition to the Bill in your Lordships' House I would suggest that the debate be adjourned in order that the promoters may secure the services of a member of the House who would be willing to undertake formal charge of the Bill. I have consulted the precedents—I do not think there are very many in cases of this kind—and I understand that that is the course followed by my predecessors in regard to Bills when they have been opposed and a Motion for rejection has been put down. I may mention that the Bill is opposed by Petition and therefore it will automatically go before a Select Committee of your Lordships' House. As a matter of fact four Petitions against the Bill have been lodged in the Private Bill Office and, of course, any objections which the Petitioners raise will be given the fullest consideration by the Select Committe of your Lordships' House. I mention this particularly because certain noble Lords have spoken to me about the matter and have asked me if it is certain that the Bill will go before a Select Committee by whom the Petitioners will be heard. That I can assure your Lordships will be done. I have been through the Bill and I do not think there is any point to which I should draw your Lordships attention, or the attention of the Select Committe, because all the matters which may possibly give rise to discussion are included so far as I can see in the Petitions which have been lodged against the Bill. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Earl of Onslow.)


My Lords, I should like to say one or two words on this matter because, although the Bill has received approval in another place, there are several people connected with the Salvation Army who feel strongly in regard to it. I will speak for a very few minutes only. Every one realises that when the 'Salvation Army was inaugurated in 1865 a very great work was done. In the first instance the work was spiritual, and afterwards it was developed to a very great extent on the social side. So far as this Bill is concerned, I think that those who object to some of its provisions are anxious that it shall have a Second Reading in this House, and therefore I am not proposing to suggest that anyone should vote against it. I should like to say one or two words, however, in regard to their feelings in this matter. The development of the Salvation Army has been very great, not only in this country but in many other countries of the world. I believe, in fact, that the Salvation Army is to-day represented in about 82 different countries, and the amount of benefit derived by civilisation generally from the work engendered is very great.

This Bill provides for several powers. The two chief powers are in reference to the election of the General and in regard to the properties belonging to the Salvation Army. Some of those who feel very strongly in this matter do not object to the conditions concerning the organisation from the point of view of the property held by the Salvation Army, but they do feel very strongly on the question of the election of the General. The Bill, as it stands, contains these two provisions: for a custodian trustee company, to which I understand there is no objection at the present time; and for stereotyping the system of the election of the General by the High Council, and to this great exception is taken by some of those most prominently associated with the Salvation Army. What it is suggested might be placed forcibly before the Committee are two points: (1), in regard to the number of persons who are an the electoral committee, it being suggested that that number might possibly be smaller than at present; and (2), that there should be an extension of the electoral committee. It is also pointed out that the people of this country will have the power of electing the General of the Salvation Army, who, of course, represents to a very great extent a great many countries in the world. I thought it just as well that I should mention these points.


My Lords, I should like to say one or two words, after listening to what has been said. Surely our position is that this is a Private Bill that has gone through the other House and been considered there, and I can see no reason why it should not, in the ordinary course, go to a Select Committee of this House. I hope that it will be dealt with in that way. I think it is very important to keep our semi-judicial functions, which are what our private functions really mean, in the usual and ordinary course.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed: the Committee to be proposed by the Committee of Selection.