HL Deb 31 May 1932 vol 84 cc497-500

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 Benefices (Diocesan Boards of Patronage) Measure, 1932, be presented to His Majesty for the Royal Assent. The most rev. Primate said: My Lords, this is a short Measure, and I think it can be called non-controversial, but it is not unimportant. Its object is to establish boards of patronage in each diocese, consisting of representative persons who may exercise, for the benefit of the diocese, any rights of patronage which may be transferred to them by private patrons or are possessed by themselves. It frequently happens that a patron desires to be set free from responsibility for exercising his patronage, sometimes because he has left the district in which that right of patronage occurs and has no longer any special local interest in it. Moreover, I would remind your Lordships that recently a Measure was passed, which is now law, declaring that all advowsons are to be unsaleable after the next two presentations in each case.

Shortly all advowsons will become unsaleable, and that is one reason why patrons may cease to have a special interest in rights of patronage. In such cases patrons may prefer to transfer any rights of patronage which they have to a board representing the whole diocese rather than to the Bishop, or to any party or other trust, or to any other private patron. This Measure provides for the existence in each diocese of boards of patronage to whom trusts may be transferred. A previous Measure had been prepared which provided in certain cases that those rights should be compulsorily transferred to such boards of patronage, but the Ecclesiastical Committee indicated certain legal objections to the provisions that were made. The Legislative Committee of the Assembly acknowledged the force of these objections and those provisions have now been removed. The Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament is satisfied with the Measure as it stands and considers that it ought to proceed.

The Measure provides in the first clause for the establishment and constitution of these boards of patronage. They are to consist of those persons who are referred to in that clause. The Bishop of the diocese will be chairman of the board and it is provided that he may nominate any Suffragan or Assistant Bishop to act in his place on particular occasions. There are to be three clergy elected by the Chamber of Clergy and five laymen elected by the Chamber of Laity of the Diocesan Conference. It is also provided that in cases relating to particular benefices the archdeacon and rural dean in whose archdeaconry or deanery that benefice is situate shall be members of the board. In order to secure that all interests shall be represented on these boards it is provided that the principle of election shall be that of proportional representation by the method of the single transferable vote.

In Clause 2 it is provided that these boards of patronage shall have power to acquire, hold and transfer any right of patronage, and to exercise any rights of presentation or other rights of patrons, provided that they may not transfer their right of patronage without the consent of the parochial church council of the parish concerned unless that parish becomes part of another diocese, in which case the right of patronage vested in the diocesan board will be transferred to the diocesan board of that other diocese. Clause 3 makes provision for subsequent elections to these boards of patronage, for the number of members to constitute a quorum, for the filling of casual vacancies and other matters of administration. The Measure is to apply to the whole of the Provinces of Canterbury and York except the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, which have special Measures giving them power, if they see fit, to introduce similar provisions in their own local Legislatures. The Measure, my Lords, as I have stated, has received the approval of the Ecclesiastical Committee, it has passed the House of Commons, and I hope that your Lordships may be willing to agree to its being presented to His Majesty for the Royal Assent. I beg to move.

Moved to resolve, That in accordance with the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act, 1919, this House do direct that the Benefices (Diocesan Boards of Patronage) Measure, 1932, be presented to His Majesty for the Royal Assent.—(The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury.)


My Lords, I should like to say a few words on this Measure because I have taken very great interest in this question of patronage boards. It is, I think, one of the essential steps in converting what was at one time looked on almost as private property—the right of patronage—into what it ought always to be regarded as—namely, a public trust. If a public trust is to be constituted then I do not think there is any way in which it can be satisfactorily constituted except in the way proposed in the present Measure. The Bishop must necessarily be chairman although there is provision that in certain circumstances he may appoint a Suffragan to act in his place. Then there are to be three clerks in holy orders and five laymen. I am very glad that the number of laymen is as large as that, because I think it would be very unsatisfactory if the lay element was not substantially represented upon boards of patronage of this character. I am aware, of course, that there are differing opinions as regards the right of patronage, but personally, having some experience (because I have been chairman of the House of Laity of the Church Assembly) I must say that I cordially approve the proposals in this Measure. I hope that it will have the unanimous assent of your Lordships.

On Question, Motion agreed to.