§ Order for Consideration read.
§ MR. AYRTON
moved a Clause providing for the payment to official trustees of charitable funds such salaries, not exceeding an annual sum of £200 each, not exceeding in the whole 6d. in the pound of the annual income of the charitable funds received by the said trustees as should from time to time be allowed by the Commissioners of the Treasury.
§ Clause brought up and read 1o.
Motion made and Question proposed,
That the said Clause be now read a second time.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
considered that if they added to the labours of the secretary his salary ought also to be increased.
§ MR. LOWE
said, that since the day be fore he had put himself in communication with the Charity Commission, in order to ascertain how the clause of which the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets had given notice, would work. There were, he found, in the hands of the official trustees of charities stock of various descriptions, amounting in the whole to £740,000. That stock was increasing, on the average, at the rate of £21,000 a year. It was invested in sums of every variety of amount, ascending from £8 6s. 8d. to £12,000. The dividends were equally varied in amount, from 2s. 6d. upwards. A great part of that money was paid into the hands of the official trustees, either by order of the Court of Chancery or of the County Courts. It was not a fund that the trustees could retain compulsorily in hand, although substantially it was at their disposal. The 1712 clause before the House required that an assessment not to exceed 6d. in the pound should be made on those stocks, out of which not more than £200 a year should be paid to each of the official trustees. Now, there were many difficulties in the operation of that provision. There were 1,628 different charities, each of them involving incomes of very different amounts. It would, therefore, be a very difficult matter to fix the amount of the assessment, and to apportion it among the numerous charities. It must be borne in mind, also, that the fund was constantly fluctuating. It was being added to at the rate of £21,000 a year, and sums were always being paid out for investments in land and other purposes. At what moment, then, was the calculation to be made? Was it to be made on sums which remained only for a day or for a year? Again, how was the surplus to be dealt with? It was impossible, in a fluctuating fund of this kind, to get the exact amount of surplus. The greatest difficulty of all, however, remained behind. The fund was of a voluntary character. It was not one which the official trustees could retain against the will of those who placed it in their hands; and it had been created under the express assurance that no deduction should be made from it whatever, and that the management should be gratuitous. Of course it was in the power of Parliament to alter that, hut if a tax of 2½per cent, which appeared to him a serious amount in the case of small charities, were placed on it, in all probability a considerable portion of the fund would be withdrawn. And the more that was withdrawn the heavier would be the pressure, up to the limit of 6d. in the pound on that which was left. He had no wish to influence the Vote of the Committee, but he would suggest that, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had announced his intention of revising the whole subject, he suggested that it would be better to let it stand over till next Session.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, that they were all agreed on the previous day that the trustees should not he paid by salary granted out of the public revenue. If, however, the right hon. Gentleman in his official capacity, said that the clause which he proposed was not workable, it was not for him to press it. They were told that a scheme for the payment of these officers would be proposed next Session, and, for the sake of saving six months, it was not desirable 1713 to begin a system which they could not at present complete. He should not, therefore, persist in pressing the clause on the House.
§ MR. MALINS
said, he hoped that the services of the trustees in the interim would he considered, as the House had affirmed the principle that they should be paid.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause withdrawn.
§ Amendments made.
§ Bill to be read 3o To-morrow.