HL Deb 11 April 1960 vol 222 cc954-6

LORD SPENS rose to move to resolve, That in accordance with the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act, 1919, this House do direct that the Church Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure, 1960, be presented to Her Majesty for the Royal Assent. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name. The Measure referred to in the Motion was prepared by the Church Commissioners to cure a number of difficulties, mainly of a legal conveyancing nature, affecting property, partly in relation to loans and payments by the Commissioners and partly in regard to a number of other technical matters which have arisen in administering the complex legislation with which they and the various diocesan authorities have to deal. Although the Measure contains six Parts and 30 clauses the Church Commissioners took the view that no provision should be included in the Measure which was in any way controversial. Every diocesan board was consulted, and I believe that every board and their legal advisers welcomed the provisions of the Bill. The Diocesan Chancellors have also welcomed the Measure, and. Clauses 7 to 23 were inserted at the express request of Diocesan Registrars. The Church Assembly itself approved the Measure without a division at any stage. Finally, the Ecclesiastical Committee has reported unanimously in favour of the Measure.

My Lords, may I draw attention to some of the more important matters included? By Clauses 1 and 2 powers are given to an incumbent to exchange a parsonage house for a more suitable residence and to take a lease of a house in his corporate capacity. Clause 3 gives a diocesan Bishop power to carry out improvements to a parsonage during the vacancy in a living, the most suitable time for such alterations to be carried out. Clause 5 authorises the Church Commissioners to acquire a new building to be used partly as a church and partly as a church hall, a requirement very common in new parishes. Clause 6 makes some technical but very necessary Amendments to the Parishes Measure of 1943.

Part III gives additional powers relating to Church lands; for instance, power to incumbents to enter into covenants binding on their successors and powers to an incumbent to take or grant easements. Part IV gives additional powers to the Commissioners in relation to loans and payments—as, for instance, in Clause 13, to capitalise part of a loan to an incumbent so as to make available to him a capital sum for certain approved capital purposes. Clause 16 authorises distribution of the Tithe Maintenance Fund as to three-fifths to diocesan stipend funds and two-fifths to the Commissioners' General Fund. Part V deals with the Church Estates Commissioners and the transfer of their functions to the Commissioners. Part VI contains some miscellaneous technical provisions. My Lords, everyone who has had to consider the Measure heretofore has approved its provisions, and I trust that it will meet with your Lordships' approval. 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 Church Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure, 1960, be presented to Her Majesty for the Royal Assent.—(Lord Spens.)

8.48 p.m.


My Lords, the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of London was to have spoken but has, unfortunately, been detained by a pastoral matter of some importance. I therefore rise in his place to support the noble Lord, Lord Spens. Had the Lord Bishop of London been here I think it is doubtful whether he would have spoken at any length. He has, however, a reputation for saying some striking things in a very few words; and though I cannot lay claim to his ready wit I will at least, bearing in mind the late hour, try to follow him in the matter of brevity and detain your Lordships for a very few moments only. Indeed, I want to call your Lordships' attention only to one point: that with the desire to avoid contentious legislation the Church Commissioners have, as your Lordships have heard, consulted every diocesan board of finance and every diocesan dilapidations board, as well as the Standing Committee of the House of Clergy and the Associations of Diocesan Chancellors and Diocesan Registrars Throughout all the lengthy discussion which has taken place no substantial objection has been raised to any of the provisions of the Measure, and no Amendment has been put forward except by the promoters. That is, I think, a truly remarkable thing. All the consulted bodies are in general agreement with what the Measure proposes, and accept it as generally necessary and desirable. I hope, therefore, that your Lordships will approve its provisions, for the Measure will undoubtedly be of great assistance to the Church Commissioners, as well as to the dioceses.

On Question, Motion agreed to, and ordered accordingly.