§ EARL GREY moved to resolve, That in accordance with the Church of England 1213 Assembly (Powers) Act, 1919, this House do direct that the Union of Benefices (Amendment) Measure, 1936, be presented to His Majesty for the Royal Assent. The noble Earl said: My Lords, this is a Measure of rather more importance than the one with which your Lordships have just dealt. The Union of Benefices Measure has been invoked much more freely in the last year or two owing to the great increase of new towns following the removal and clearing away of slum dwellings. Although I do not think anybody can say that the Commissions appointed to consider the union of two benefices are anything but impartial, nevertheless there has been, occasionally, an appearance of partiality which it is desirable to remove. That arises from the fact that where two parishes are to be joined together the Commission consists of four people, and the Chairman has a casting vote. Clause 1 of this Measure, therefore, suggests that an additional member should be appointed in each casein all cases the Commission is to include an additional Commissioner nominated by the Diocesan Conference, and that additional member is to be selected from a panel of six persons appointed by the Diocesan Conference, all those who are supposed to be interested in the particular Commission being excluded. I have sat on various Commissions and I am quite sure that this alteration will make for smoother working.
§ Clause 2 of the Measure gives rather wider powers to these Commissions. It instructs them to take into consideration the needs of the Church as a whole as well as the needs of the two parishes concerned. That is necessary because of certain legal decisions given in the Courts. As the Measure was drafted previously, if you were unable to prove that either of the parishes concerned was to benefit you could not proceed with the recommendations. Now, by reason of the removal, sometimes the total removal, of populations, parishes are denuded of their populations, and it would be impossible to prove that either parish was going to benefit. The Measure therefore suggests that the Commissioners shall have due regard to the interests of religion generally as well as to the circumstances and claims of the parishes affected by their inquiry, and shall give consideration to the greater interests of the Church as a whole in the diocese. The 1214 remaining clauses only deal with administrative points of minor importance. The Measure passed through its final stage in the Church Assembly without a division. 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 Union of Benefices (Amendment) Measure, 1936, be presented to His Majesty for the Royal Assent.—(Earl Grey.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.