HL Deb 08 December 1987 vol 491 cc136-48

7.35 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Rochester rose to move to resolve, That the order be annulled.

The right reverend Prelate said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. I do so at the request of the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of London who unfortunately has been unwell in recent weeks.

Your Lordships will understand, I know, that this is a new experience for me and one which I undertake with some trepidation. However, I am a Londoner born and bred and I held the licence of the Bishop of London when I worked in the Deanery of Westminster. Moreover it fell to me earlier this year to give your Lordships' House an assurance that, in return for the continuation of state aid for historic churches in use and the exemption of ecclesiastical buildings from planning control, the Church of England, with its special privileges and responsibilities as the Church of the nation, would vigorously undertake to maintain its buildings that are of historical and architectural importance whether or not they are in use for regular public worship.

Since 1971 it has been my duty to chair negotiations with successive governments on ways and means by which the ecclesiastical buildings of all denominations may be maintained, enriched and preserved. It is because I have had this responsibility for 16 years that I feel it right tonight to ask your Lordships to annul this compulsory purchase order, the consequence of which could be to deprive the Diocese of London of assets that would enable it the better to fulfil its responsibilities both for the maintenance of churches and for the wider mission of the Church in London.

The order before the House confirms a compulsory purchase order made by the Secretary of State on 15th April this year authorising the City of Westminster to acquire land in Victoria Street, known as Christchurch Gardens. The reason why this order has to be confirmed by Parliament is that the land was a disused burial ground. Its use for this purpose ceased many years ago and the land, which has been in the ownership of the Church of England since 1626, has been available, since long before the 1939 war, as an open space in agreement with the City of Westminster.

Some seven years ago, the London Diocesan Fund, which is the petitioner against the order, was approached by the United Kingdom Provident Institute to see whether it would be prepared to be a partner in the development of this site. The London Diocesan Fund responded to this invitation and agreed to an application for planning permission being submitted. The matter was then taken to appeal after the application had been refused by Westminster City Council. That appeal was rejected. A compulsory purchase order followed at once and the certificate of alternative use was limited to an open space, thus minimising the value of the land.

It is significant that in turning down the appeal after a public inquiry the Secretary of State took note of the inspector's report which acknowledged that the eventual development of the adjacent site, at present occupied by the Post Office, should not be obliged to adhere to its present boundaries. Both the inspector and the Secretary of State therefore recognised the real possibility of such a longer term redevelopment of the combined site as a whole. No doubt within that combined site an open space would he retained, as the London Diocesan Fund always hoped it would be and as it insisted upon when its planning application was made for a development that many considered would have greatly enhanced the amenities for the public. There is, however, a clear indication in the inspector's report that if and when the Post Office site comes to be developed some value will attach to the Christchurch Gardens site, certainly greater than open space value.

If, in refusing the appeal, the Secretary of State had not taken note of the remarks of the inspector about the possible consequences of subsequent development, this petition against the order would not have been made and your Lordships would not have been troubled tonight. So long as the land cannot be developed, it will remain an open space and the diocese will not charge rent for it. If, however, the land becomes developable because Westminster City Council and the Department of the Environment agree that it should, then the Diocese of London feels that it should receive a due share of the increased value. This is the important matter of principle which has prompted this Motion for annulment of the order.

If the Church of England is to fulfil its obligations to the nation and to maintain its inheritance of historic and beautiful buildings, as well as to continue to fulfil its wider mission, then the value of such land as it has, which the community agrees should be developed, must surely come to the Church as owners. The Church has no funds other than those given to it by its members who are part of the living Church of 1987, together with its assets largely inherited from the giving of its former members down the centuries. This is the important principle which is at stake. If the Church of England is to honour its commitments it must not be hindered in doing so.

Much of the land owned by the Church of England up and down England which could be developed is at present in the form of open spaces. While planning authorities determine that such land should not he developed, then the Church has no greater grievance than any other landowner. But it is surely wrong that the Church should be deprived of any opportunity to participate in development value where local authorities compulsorily acquire land at open space value knowing that one day the land may have a higher value, for whatever reason.

It may well be that there will be no development at all on this disused burial ground in Victoria Street. If this should happen then the land will remain available to the public at large. If, on the other hand, it becomes the wish of society that some development should take place, all that I am seeking tonight is that the London diocese should have a reasonable payment for the land in order to enable it to carry on its duties of serving the people of London and of preserving some of the nation's treasures.

The recent terrible fire at St. Peter's, Eaton Square, within the same parish and within the same city as this burial 'ground in Victoria Street, illustrates the kind of expense with which the diocese is faced; as does the future of the large redundant Church of St. Alban's, Teddington.

I therefore hope that your Lordships will be ready to consider the annulment of this order on the grounds that the public use of this open space is safe without such an order and that if, in a few years' time, an alternative use is desired for it the owner should receive a proper share of the proceeds of any sale that may take place. I beg to move.

Moved to resolve, That the order be annulled.—

(The Lord Bishop of Rochester.)

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

My Lords, I have listened with great interest to the speech of the right reverend Prelate. All of us in this House have a great understanding of his financial responsibilities and obligations to the Church, and I would not for one moment doubt his sincerity in that. However, I think that this argument is not related to this site in any way. I have carefully read the petition that has been put in by the Diocesan Fund to bring this matter to the House tonight. It is based purely on financial grounds and basically on the ground that Westminster might be going to make something out of it which the Church would like to make.

That is not correct. Westminster Council has one simple reason for acquiring this open space; that is, to keep it as open space, the last bit of open green space in Victoria Street. The right reverend Prelate says that it is safe in their hands. I think that for many years we thought it was. After all, it has been public open space there for 35 years, but when in 1971 they started making inquiries about whether or not they might sell it as a potential development site, Westminster was a little concerned. When it has reached the stage where they have actually filed an application for an 18-storey tower block there in the centre of London, and indeed did a montage which was shown at the public inquiry, showing this building towering over the adjoining buildings that we already know are so tall, all we could foresee was that typical concrete jungle of Victoria Street. Indeed, I know that in Faith in the City there was a strong case put for retaining amenities for the public of London.

It is true that this has been a disused graveyard for over 100 years. When it is said that it has been kept as public open space in agreement with the city, again, that is true. But on what basis has the city held this piece of land? It is on a licence which can be revoked at any time with 56 days' notice. That is a shaky tenure. It is certainly not enough to make the council wish to spend a great deal of money improving it for the public, as it would like to do.

If you have gone down Victoria Street on a summer's day you will have seen people sitting on the walls enjoying their lunch. I saw on television this afternoon scenes of people actually limbering up for sports in that open square. It is an area that is widely used by workers in surrounding offices. Apart from the piazza outside Westminster Cathedral, there is no other patch of open space in Victoria Street.

My Lords, there seems to be a bit of a squeak in this loudspeaker. I hope that it is not annoying people.

The right reverend Prelate referred to the appeal being rejected. I quote just those two words—"appeal rejected". It sounds minor. But I would say that that was a full, six-day public inquiry, so that arguments were presented very cogently on both sides.

This matter has been through many stages now. There was a planning application; the appeal; the public inquiry of six days, followed by confirmation by the Secretary of State. This order today is asking that all those be set aside. That is really too much to ask. Even if they are not set aside by this order, this will go from this Chamber to a joint committee of both Houses of Parliament to be considered again in great detail. Where better than there could the matter go at this stage? I think every Member of this House appreciates that there is another opportunity for the arguments to be put.

We must be clear that Westminster Council's intentions are good ones. I could tell your Lordships all the famous history about Colonel Blood, who tried to steal the Crown Jewels. He was buried in the graveyard in 1680. A 136 year-old lady, Margaret Batten, was buried there in 1739. It has a great history. It has 15 protected trees on the site—trees that survived that recent terrible storm.

It has been suggested that the city council may put in an application to itself. I should point out that if the city council wished to redesignate the land which has been designated as open space only, it would have to make formal application to itself. This would then have to be advertised, giving people the right to object, and a minimum of 21 days in which to do so. At that stage there would certainly be great public awareness that the council was going back on its word to keep this as open space, and I do not for one moment believe that the Church would sit quietly back at that stage and see that happen. At that point there would be such public outrage at Westminster intending to build on land that it had bought as open space that I do not think there is even the remotest possibility of such a sequence of events.

At this stage I would just say to your Lordships that the intention of the council has been clearly accepted by the Department of the Environment. Indeed, when the certificates of appropriate alternative developments were put forward at the public inquiry they were discussed, and the Church again put forward an office development and the city council put forward public open space with a small ancillary use, possibly a kiosk which could provide refreshments for people there. This was accepted by the Secretary of State on the inspector's recommendation.

I do not believe that there is any doubt whatsoever that it would remain in public use as open space. It would be a breathing heart in the centre of this great city, and it would be most valuable for the citizens and workers who live and work in that area. I hope that this House will not pass this Motion tonight.

7.50 p.m.

Lord Strabolgi

My Lords, I should like to support what was said by the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes. I live in the area and I know the site very well. Listening to the speech of the right reverend Prelate, for whom I have the highest regard, one had the impression that this was a neglected bomb site. As the noble Baroness has told us, it is a charming garden. A former churchyard, it is full of plane trees; it is used by office workers in the summer; and it is the only green space in the area.

I read carefully the petition submitted by the Church of England, and I am not clear as to what it intends to do with the site. The petition is evasive and mentions some use of the site. Part of it will remain as a garden and there is mention of a refreshment facility. However, its plans are not clear. That is not the fault of the Church. It is the fault, probably, of whoever drafted the document and the legal advisers. I am not blaming the right reverend Prelate in any way. I am glad to say that the plans were turned down by the Secretary of State. And now, very properly, Westminster City Council has applied the order to preserve the site. However, we need to know more about the problem.

The House has listened to the case put forward by the right reverend Prelate. I have great sympathy with what he said about the need to preserve the churches. He mentioned the church of St. Peter's, Eaton Square. I live near to that church; my father's memorial service took place there. I have always had a great affection for the church. It was a tragedy that it should have been attacked by an arsonist which is a heavy responsibility for the church. Nevertheless, I think that the site must be maintained.

We need to know more about the matter. I suggest that we need an inquiry by a Select Committee. That was the original intention of the order. But the Motion of the right reverend Prelate attempts to overturn that. We need a proper, in-depth examination of the problem. That can only be done if it is put to a Select Committee of both Houses. I hope therefore that the right reverend Prelate will not see fit to pursue his Motion.

Lord Birkett

My Lords, I have listened carefully to the noble Lord, to the right reverend Prelate and to the noble Baroness. As did the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, I incline to the view of the noble Baroness that the order should not be annulled. I innocently believe that the best chance of the area remaining an open space is for it to pass to Westminster, as the order supposes.

I cannot believe that many noble Lords will disagree when I say that London needs open spaces as never before. When the noble Baroness said that some time ago there was a proposal that an 18-storey tower block might be built on the site, I had the irreverent thought in my mind that I should like to see many 18-storey tower blocks pulled down to make way for small gardens and not the reverse. I believe therefore that the ownership by Westminster will do well for the site.

The noble Baroness said that no damage had occurred to the area during the recent dreadful hurricane. I cannot let this opportunity go by without pointing out that that was partly because of the good offices and the good caretakership of Westminster. Whether by good fortune or by prescience, the plane trees in that square had been pruned some time before the hurricane. Therefore, although it blew like a fury through all of London, and through Victoria as well as everywhere else, not a branch was lost from that tiny space. That is a lesson for us all. The recent hurricane has shown us—and I say this with a grand sweeping gesture—that central government, local government, institutions, estates and ordinary gardeners have been lax and over-trusting for years in their tree planting. There has never been sufficient replacement. Trees are like people; they get old and they will blow down. Tragically, the recent hurricane shows how improvident we have been in our tree planting, replanting and recycling schemes.

Happily, that was not the case in Christchurch Gardens and I pay tribute to Westminster for that. In he care of Westminster, I hope that it will be an open space forever. It is because I see Westminster as the best hope of that that I am opposed to the right reverend Prelate's Motion.

Lord Diamond

My Lords, I wonder whether I might have your Lordships' indulgence to speak for a moment at the break-point in the order of speakers? I feel strongly that this is not the appropriate body to decide an issue on which arguments have been put forward from both sides on behalf of reputable bodies and who feel that this right lies with each of them.

The right reverend Prelate did not deal with the point, so 1 am not able to understand why the normal procedure of allowing the matter to go before a joint committee, which will examine the issues in a quasi-judicial capacity, was rejected by the right reverend Prelate, the Church and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London. Some noble Lords are here listening to the debate while others are refreshing themselves for the debates to follow. They may be called in by the Division bells to exercise their undoubted privilege of voting on an issue such as this. I do not understand why it is suggested that such a mixture of informed and uninformed persons, if I may be so hold, should be better able to judge the issues which have been put before us rather than a quasi-judicial body—a joint body of the two Houses— which will have the responsibility of examining the matter if the right reverend Prelate were good enough not to pursue the matter and withdraw his Motion.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

My Lords, if the right reverend Prelate is looking for supporters of his Motion he will probably find that they have all gone for supper. It does not appear that they are in the Chamber at the present time. My interest in the matter is that I have lived and worked in Westminster for over 60 years. I have observed this open space, its use and its value throughout that time. I almost became a tenant of the vicarage when it was being offered on a fairly short tenancy.

It would be an astonishing error if the land were handed over for what is euphemistically called "development". What a horrible word "development" is when we have land in its natural state and beauty and when it is valued by those who work and live in the area. We are not speaking of development but of commercial exploitation or sheer desecration. I am astonished that the right reverend Prelate has brought the Motion before the House at all.

I understand that if the Motion were to succeed that would be the end of the matter. The Westminster City Council would not obtain the powers it seeks but the developers would obtain powers and we should most likely lose the space forever. However, if the Motion is defeated I understand that the matter will be put before a Select Committee where it can be examined and we can learn more about its value and its use.

I can quite understand that even the Church has its commercial instincts. It has to look after its possessions, and it is a very large landowner throughout the country. I am sure it has contributed a great deal to the amenities available in many areas. We are proud of our old churches and we maintain them, whether or not we go to them. We want to preserve everything that a church means to many communities in the town, as well as, and perhaps especially, in the country.

The lights are already going down on the right reverend Prelate. Perhaps he will begin to see that he is entering the gloom of disapproval. I regret that. I do not like it when the lights are turned down on anybody who is in the middle of a speech or even in the middle of listening to one. Nevertheless, we have willed such things upon ourselves and I suppose we must put up with them.

Returning to my main theme, I sincerely hope that the right reverend Prelate will spare noble Lords the disappointment of having to register our disagreement with him in any formal way. If I may respectfully say so, I think that the most suitable course to take would be for him to acknowledge the degree of representative opposition that there is to this proceeding and to withdraw the Motion. I think that that course would be the best end to this debate. Your Lordships need not mind about those noble Lords who are still at supper. They may prolong their meal for a little longer should we need to take more time before reaching a conclusion. However, I hope that the end of our discussion will be that this matter can go before a Select Committee so that we can have a report about what that committee feels about it. Presumably evidence can be obtained from those who feel very strongly about the matter and who have been closely associated with it. We can then at least hope for a considered outcome, whatever it may be.

Lord Monkswell

My Lords, it seems to me that we are all in agreement that the object of this exercise is to ensure that this piece of land stays as a public open space. All that remains is for us to ensure how best that can be done. I was brought to my feet by the phrase used by the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, when she described her position and that of Westminster City Council. She used the words "safe in our hands". I am afraid that those words straight away got my back up because they made me think about what has happened to the National Health Service in the hands of the present Conservative Government.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes

My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord will give way. I quoted the right reverend Prelate as saying that the space was "safe in their hands". I did not say that it was "safe in our hands". If he checks Hansard tomorrow, I think he will find that I was quoting the right reverend Prelate on that point.

Lord Monkswell

My Lords, I am sorry that I am under a misapprehension if that is true. I maintain my position as regards the situation to which the present Government have brought the National Health Service. I think one should bear in mind their philosophy, which is to privatise virtually anything that is in public ownership; they are a Government who are the embodiment of an enterprise culture which takes as its philosophy, "Get rich quick while you can". I believe that those same values are held by the Conservative ruling party in Westminster City Council.

Given that kind of scenario, are we really to be assured that this little plot of land will stay as public open space? It appears to me that the best assurance that we can receive should come not only from the Church, which is the owner of that space. I must say that I am impressed with the Christianity of a Church that has produced Faith in the City. On the one hand there is ownership by the Church, which says that it will keep the land as a public open space unless there is a change in the planning perspective. On the other hand there are the mechanisms of planning control, which are in the hands of Westminster City Council and ultimately in the hands of the Government.

Lord Strabolgi

My Lords, I should like to interrupt my noble friend for a moment. He talks about the Church of England. The Church of England tried to build on this site. That is the whole point. The Church tried to build on it but the plans were called in and were overturned. It is not at all safe in its hands.

Lord Monkswell

That is exactly the point which I am making. The Church may plan and hope to build on the site but it cannot build on it unless Westminster City Council and the Government give their permission. That would seem to me to be the ideal way of ensuring that it remains as a public open space. On the other hand the people who may want to develop the site should not have the planning control.

If there were a compulsory purchase order, the land would become the property of Westminster City Council, which would then not only be the beneficial owner of the property and its value but also the planning authority. The council would have a vested interest in giving itself planning permission, and in this enterprise culture I suggest that permission would be given to put up a 15-storey office block rather than an 18-storey one, following the pronouncements of a certain person in a recent speech that has been so well publicised.

I think that the last speaker was wrong when he suggested that the right reverend Prelate does not have some support in this Chamber. I think that he does, but I am not sure whether it will be strong enough to carry the day. However, I assure the House that my aim is to ensure that this land remains as a public open space. I believe that that is the aim of all of us and I suggest that the best way to accomplish it is to keep the ownership where it is and the planning control where that is.

Lord Williams of Elvel

My Lords, I must make clear at the outset—and I hope I do not disappoint the right reverend Prelate—that we believe that this matter should go to a joint Select Committee. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, made the point very clearly when he said that this Chamber is not the forum to decide this sort of measure. However, having said that, perhaps I may be permitted one or two rather short comments.

It seems that there is no problem at all should there be no development or no projected development. If both the Church and Westminster City Council believe that the land should remain as open space, there is no difference of opinion between the two sides. In the course of time if either side decides that there should be some development, then the question arises of who gets the money. I think I would join with the right reverend Prelate in arguing that the Church is entitled to something as it has had ownership of the site since 1926, as he pointed out. I think that the Church is entitled to business profit sharing or to some share in the proceeds if there is development which has been decided upon by general consent.

I should not have thought it beyond the wit of man to devise some system whereby the Church should receive its proper slice of whatever proceeds may come from development and whereby the development itself should be under the control of the public authorities, which in this case is Westminster City Council. The noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, said that the intentions of Westminster City Council were good. I accept that assurance for what, if I may say so, it is worth. I am sure that the noble Baroness speaks with great sincerity but of course councils can change their minds and even control and power can change. All sorts of things can happen.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

Not at Westminster, my Lords.

Lord Williams of Elvel

No, my Lords, perhaps not at Westminster. However, a problem arises as stated in the Petition, where the Church says: Your Petitioners are willing to continue to co-operate in the Gardens' present use for so long as that is considered appropriate". Indeed, as I interpret the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, Westminster City Council can use this as an open space for as long as it is considered appropriate. However, there may come a change in time and circumstances when that is no longer appropriate. It seems to me to boil down to the question of who is actually going to share in the proceeds and if, and when, either of the owners or prospective owners actually change their minds.

I should like to come back to my first point, because I believe—and I must say this very frankly to the right reverend Prelate—that this is a matter for the Joint Select Committee and not for this House.

8.10 p.m.

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester, my noble friend Lady Gardner of Parkes, and the noble Lords, Lord Birkett, Lord Strabolgi, Lord Diamond, Lord Houghton, Lord Monkswell and Lord Williams of Elvel, have all made clear, this debate is about the future of a small area of open space in Victoria Street, Westminster, known as Christchurch Gardens, which was formerly Christchurch burial ground. With the exception of the right reverend Prelate and the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, I and I think everyone else who spoke believe that the arguments would be far better rehearsed in the more forensic atmosphere of a joint committee.

The other point raised was what could be done if, having acquired the land, Westminster Council later decided to dispose of it for development. If, following acquisition, Westminster decided not to retain the land as open space or possibly to dispose of it for development, it would face certain obstacles. For the land to be transferred to another use it would first have to be appropriated. A proposal to appropriate open space land must be advertised in the local press for two consecutive weeks and any representations must be taken into account by the council before deciding to proceed. More importantly, the disposal of the land would fall within the spirit of the "Crichel Down" rules. These are administative rules which require land previously acquired compulsorily first to be offered back to the former owner. The Government adhere to them and there is an expectation that local authorities will do so also.

Avoidance of the appropriation procedure would be ultra vires and the courts, or at least the ombudsman, might well censure a council for ignoring the Crichel Down requirements; they have been publicly proclaimed and are set out in a Government circular. Politically the acquisition of land for the purpose of protecting it from development followed by its disposal for such development would clearly be a perverse act on the part of the council.

While I could not prejudge the view my right honourable friend would take of any such development proposal, I can say that, given the background of the compulsory purchase order and our proceedings on it, he would consider very carefully whether to call it in for his own decision. As we have heard, a compulsory purchase order was made by Westminster City Council in order to preserve the use of this land as public open space and to enable improvements to be made to it in the public interest.

A public inquiry was held in November 1986 to consider this order, and also a planning appeal in respect of a proposal to erect an office building on the site, with retention of some of the gardens for use as public open space. In giving his conclusions on the compulsory purchase order, the inspector who conducted the inquiry considered that the present short-term tenure of the land held by the council was inadequate for it to commit expenditure to improving the gardens. Furthermore, he considered that such improvement was highly desirable to maximise the public's enjoyment of open space. He therefore recommended that the order be confirmed. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment accepted the inspector's recommendation and accordingly confirmed the order. He also accepted the recommendation by the inspector that planning permission should not be granted for the proposed office development on the site.

Once the Secretary of State has confirmed a compulsory purchase order it is unusual for it to come before Parliament. However, where open space is being acquired compulsorily and no exchange land is being made available by the acquiring body, the compulsory purchase order has to go through a special parliamentary procedure. Accordingly my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment laid the Christchurch Gardens Order before both Houses of Parliament on 21st October. A petition of general objection has been presented against the order and the next stage will be for the matter to go before a Joint Select Committee, unless the Motion of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester is accepted.

By confirming this order and laying it before Parliament my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has made it clear that, on the basis of the report of the inspector, he sees no reason why compulsory purchase should not go ahead. Her Majesty's Government, however, believe it to be desirable that full and detailed consideration should be given by the Joint Committee to representations concerning the order. The Joint Committee will have the advantage of hearing Counsel and of reading the evidence for themselves. The proceedings, as is customary, will be quasi-judicial; and the committee will have it in its power to recommend whether the order should be approved or whether it should be amended in any way. To that end I would therefore urge the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester to withdraw his Motion. If the right reverend Prelate, notwithstanding my remarks, wishes to press his Motion to a division, then I must urge the House to reject his Motion so that the matter may proceed to the Joint Committee in the usual way.

The Lord Bishop of Rochester

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I should like to thank all the noble Lords who have delayed their dinner in order to take part in this short debate, especially the Minister and the spokesman for the Opposition.

I am grateful to the Minister for having outlined the procedure so carefully and for having explained the reasoning of the Government underlying the decision of the Secretary of State. The Minister did not, however, make it clear that this is the only opportunity for a public debate because the matter will not come back to the House after it has been to the Joint Select Committee. I hope that will explain to the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, why this conscript was enlisted for duty tonight.

In reply to the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, I should like to say that I was disappointed that she did not address herself to the important point of principle that I put before the House. Furthermore, she did not make any reference to the remarks of either the inspector or the Secretary of State about the possible development of the post office site and also the garden site.

I understand fully the strong expressions of opinion from all parts of the House concerning the way in which this matter has come to be considered. In view of the strong feelings expressed I hope that we may find that the debate will have served to draw attention to the important point of principle involved and that after due deliberation it may cause the Joint Select Committee to express its confidence in the Bishop of London, and his elected clergy and laity, in the handling of their affairs. I ask leave of the House to withdraw my Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Viscount Long

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during the pleasure until 8.35 p.m.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended from 8.19 to 8.35 p.m.]