§ "(1) The Ecclesiastical Commissioners and Queen Anne's Bounty respectively shall forthwith after the passing of this Act ascertain and by order declare what property vested in them respectively at the passing of this Act or under the provisions hereinafter contained consists of, or issues out of, or is the produce of, or is or has been derived from, property situate in Wales or Monmouthshire, in whatever manner the same is applied whether in England or in Wales, and that property shall be the Welsh ecclesiastical property for the purposes of this Act. (2) They shall also, by order made before the date of Disestablishment, allocate the charges on any fund held by them respectively in such manner that the charges for purposes of the Church in Wales, and in particular for Bishops Archdeacons, and cathedral corporations of the Church in Wales, shall be borne by the Welsh ecclesiastical property, so far as it is able to bear 378 them, and that that property shall be exonerated from, and the fund wholly charged with, such of the charges as are not allocated on the Welsh ecclesiastical property. (3) Orders of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and Queen Anne's Bounty under this section shall be made with the concurrence of the Welsh Commissioners, or, in default of such concurrence with the approval of Her Majesty the Queen in Council given on the advice of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council."
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. H. H. ASQUITH, Fife, E.) moved, on page 2, lines 21 and 22, to leave out "and Queen Anne's Bounty respectively." He said, that the language of the first subsection of this clause would be found not to be exactly appropriate to the condition of things as regarded Queen Anne's Bounty, arid therefore he moved the Amendment with a view to making a further Amendment later on.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER (Isle of Wight)
said, he did not rise to object to the Amendment, but to say that he thought it would be convenient if the right hon. Gentleman would give the House a rather more detailed statement as to the scheme he proposed with regard to Queen Anne's Bounty. He had already put down a series of Amendments with reference to Queen Anne's Bounty, and to a certain extent, though to a very small extent he was afraid, the right hon. Gentleman had met this difficulty. This Amendment appeared on the Paper for the first time on Saturday, and that made it impossible for him to put down any Amendment to it; though he had handed in some consequential Amendments which would, in the opinion of him and his friends, be absolutely necessary in dealing with this question on the basis of the right hon. Gentleman's subsequent Amendment. His object now was to ask the right hon. Gentleman to make a statement which would enable the House to understand his policy as to Queen Anne's Bounty. The first important point was to consider whether or not there should be any account taken of the funds given by Queen Anne's Bounty at all, assuming that he was in a position to establish that Queen Anne's Bounty had overpaid to the Church in Wales an amount far in excess of anything received from Wales. Assuming, that was to say, that it should turn out that, from every source 379 which could possibly be claimed as being a source of Welsh income and property, Wales had received from Queen Anne's Bounty a very much larger sum than she had paid. There had been paid over under the statutes relating to Queen Anne's Bounty a certain portion of income, but that amount, and far more, had been paid back for Welsh purposes. He asked, did the right hon. Gentleman admit or deny that such an account ought to be taken? From the account he proposed should be taken, he excluded all money spent on residences. With regard to Queen Anne's Bounty, they desired to maintain that any money given by it was as much a private benefaction as any other gift; and it would be a convenience to the Opposition to know what was the view of the Home Secretary. They had to consider cases in which glebe had been purchased by money received from Queen Anne's Bounty. Almost invariably such grants had been made to meet private benefactions equal to, or larger than, the grants. They desired to know how the Home Secretary proposed to deal with those cases, in order that they might be the better able to appreciate and discuss Amendments when they came to them. There are some smaller matters with regard to specific funds held by Queen Anne's Bounty; but these it would be more convenient to discuss on the Amendments. It might be convenient for the purposes of the Home Secretary that he should make a statement now; and they would be glad to have it, as it might shorten future discussions.
§ *SIR G. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)
asked whether the effect of this Amendment, coupled with one which followed, would not be to hand over the property of Queen Anne's Bounty in Wales to the Disestablished Church?
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, it would be more convenient to discuss these matters when they came to the subsequent proposals, and to confine themselves to the present clause so far as it affected the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. But as the hon. and learned Gentleman thought it would be desirable to have a preliminary explanation, he should be happy to give it. It must be understood, however, that he could not go into detail or argument. The answer to the question of the 380 right hon. Gentleman behind him would be, that the effect of the present Amendment would not be to give the property of Queen Anne's Bounty to the Disestablished Church; on the contrary, the effect of it would be to convey from Queen Anne's Bounty to the Welsh Commissioners everything that, under the system adopted by the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, was property now devoted to Welsh ecclesiastical purposes. This property was first to be conveyed to the Welsh Commissioners. Then they came to the question to be disposed of under Clause 5—how much of it was to be headed as private benefaction which ought to be passed on to the representative body of the Disestablished Church? Their own opinion was, that first of all they should ear-mark, so far as language could do so, the whole property in the hands of the Queen's Bounty which could fairly be headed as Welsh ecclesiastical property. After carefully considering the matter, he had come to the conclusion that to require an account of the transactions between the Welsh Church and Queen Anne's Bounty, from the foundation of that institution to the present day, would be impracticable and unjust. The practice of Queen Anne's Bounty, as he understood, was to make no distinction at all as to the source from which its various funds are derived in the appropriation of those funds to different dioceses and benefices in the Church. At various times the Governors had considered the necessities of Wales, and had concluded that its ecclesiastical and spiritual necessities were greater than those of their English dioceses. It might very well be that, in the sense in which the words had been used, they had overpaid the Church in Wales as compared with the Church in England. In their judgment, the proper way of dealing with the matter was not to rip up their past transactions and to make what must be a purely fictitious account; that was not the system which Queen Anne's Bounty had adopted; and in their judgment the proper course was to ascertain what, at the present day, was regarded by Queen Anne's Bounty as property appropriated to the use of Welsh benefices. They are the best judges in this matter. They had acted in this matter fairly and equitably according to the different requirements 381 they had had to meet; and he believed there would be found in these books, not a large sum, but a substantial sum, which was treated in their books as if it were appropriated to Welsh benefices and Welsh ecclesiastical purposes. To apply the other test—what would have been the state of things if this Bill had not been proposed—was not necessary, for there was no pretence for saying the Governors would have taken any of these funds appropriated to Welsh purposes and transferred them to England. In their judgment they ought to take the matter as it stands, and whatever is now credited to particular Welsh benefices and dioceses ought to be treated as Welsh ecclesiastical property. The gifts that had been received from private sources would be treated as private benefactions. Where glebe-lands have been purchased partly by money derived from first fruits and tenths or from Parliamentary grant, and partly from private benefactions, in those cases there ought to be an apportionment, and the machinery for that was provided by an Amendment he had put down to Clause 5.
§ *MR. A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN (Kent, Tunbridge)
said, the right hon. Gentleman dealt harshly with the Church in the proposals he submitted, and he was not consistent in the principles upon which he acted. They had been told that the principle of the Bill was to utilise money in the places from which it was derived, so that localities might have the benefit of national property. It was laid down by the second subsection of Clause 9, that—In the application of property under this Act, due regard shall be had to the wants and circumstance of the parish in which the property is situate or from which it is or has been derived, and generally to the circumstances of each particular case.Where the money came from was to be the test in one set of cases; but, when it was found that Queen Anne's Bounty had given to Wales more money than it had received, then the test would be the application of the money at the present moment. This was treating the Church in an unfair manner. The right hon. Gentleman said he regarded the funds as public money devoted to public purposes. Whatever else might be said 382 about them they were funds belonging to the Church; and on that side of the House they would decline to believe that the funds of Queen Anne's Bounty could be national property in any sense whatever. It was not the corpus of Church property, it was income saved for a particular purpose; and it was never used for national purposes. It was once exacted by the Popes, and then given to some favourites of Henry VIII.; but it was never used for any national purpose. The right hon. Gentleman had told the Committee that he was going to take from the Church the Parliamentary grants between 1809 and 1820 in aid of Queen Anne's Bounty. He could not conceive a more unfair proposal. They were taking the Parliamentary grant to the Church, but the money which had been given between 1722 and 1845, amounting to £207,000, to the Nonconformists in the shape of Regium donum doles was not to be touched. What then was to become of religious equality? It had totally disappeared from the Treasury Bench. The Welsh share of £1,100,000 granted by Parliament in aid of Queen Anne's Bounty amounted to £167,000. Of that sum £49,131 had been spent. This was to be taken away, together with the rest of the £167,000 that had not been spent; and yet they were precluded from touching any part of the £207,000 granted in the form of Regium donum by Parliament to the Nonconformists. He protested against the scheme of the Government, and still more against the original scheme of the Bill. He trusted that the Home Secretary would reconsider the question, and would yet be able to insert Amendments to the Amendments of which he himself had given notice.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. R. W. HANBURY (Preston)
thought that the Government were asking the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to do what was practically impossible. The meaning of the word "forthwith" in the clause was "immediately." The Ecclesiastical Commissioners had not only to deal with property vested in them, but also to declare as to the property to be vested in them by Clause 21. This would involve a long inquiry, because with reference to the property in Clause 383 21 not vested in them they possessed no official information. A fishing inquiry would, therefore, have to be the result. He moved, therefore, the omission of the word "forthwith" in order to substitute "as soon as may be after the passing of this Act."
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. ASQUITH moved in line 24 to leave out "respectively."
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. J. GRANT LAWSON (York, N.R., Thirsk and Malton) moved in line 25, to leave out from the second "of" to "property" in line 26. He said, his objection to the words "or is the produce of, or is or has been derived from" property in Wales or Monmouthshire was that they were too wide. In the second place they invited the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to embark on an inquiry which could not be completed before the date of Disestablishment unless the date of that event were to be postponed until the middle of the next century. If an inquiry were possible it might draw into the net of the Bill property which belonged to the Church of England in England. If the loss of that part of the Church of England inside the imaginary line to be drawn between Endowment and Disendowment were compensated by a gain on the part of the Church of England he could imagine that members of the Church of England might be willing on the part of the sister Church in Wales to give up their strict rights and legal claims; but this was not the principle carried out in this legislation. This clause was an appropriation clause in the sense that it appropriated the property of one person and passed it on to another; it did not define the ultimate destination of that property. If the words which he proposed to omit were left in the clause the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would be directed to examine the funds in their hands. That was a large undertaking for them, considering that they possessed £24,000,000 of money and were the largest landowners in England. These funds were derived, in the first place, from the endowments of certain canonries and deaneries which had been 384 suppressed, and there had been great additions to these funds, which had been given to endow livings or to augment the endowments of other livings. When the clause went on to say that the Commissioners were also to inquire into properties which were the produce of, or were derived from, property situate in Wales, it became absolutely ridiculous. In the case of an old fund derived from suppressed canonries, and given, for example, to Hereford Cathedral, how could it be said whether the fund was derived from Welsh or from English property? Or, to take a more modern instance. Since 1843 a large sum, amounting to £173,000 a year, had been given to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who were now to be directed to go into the question each donor had drawn the money so given from his Welsh or from his English rents; and, if from the former, then that gift was one which was the produce of, or had been derived from, property situated in Wales. He knew a case of a large landowner in Yorkshire, possessed of property in Wales, who endowed a church in Yorkshire. How was anybody going to say whether the money for the endowment came out of the donor's Welsh or out of his English estate? The Commissioners might have acquired property in Wales, and might have sold it again and bought with the proceeds property in England. He thought that the draughtsman had endeavoured to procure a miraculous draught of funds. Let the Commissioners be directed to allocate their funds as they stood at present, and let the Committee not send the Commissioners upon an inquiry into the Middle Ages which would be interminable. He moved that these words, which would produce the roving inquiry, be omitted from the Bill.
§ MR. ASQUITH
thought that the hon. Gentleman had imagined a number of difficulties which did not really exist. The words were necessary in order to bring within the scope of Welsh ecclesiastical property the produce of property, now in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, from the sale of Welsh tithe rent-charge and Welsh glebe lands. The amount actually dealt with under these words represented, as he was informed, a capital sum of about £80,000, which was quite easily 385 traceable in the books of the Commissioners, and as to which there would not be the least difficulty in administration.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Rochester)
said, that the right hon. Gentleman had not dealt with the cases put by his hon. and learned Friend. It was no use telling the Committee that other property would not be included. It might be that the draughting of this Bill was impossible. It was, in fact, one of the main contentions of the Opposition that the two parts of the Church were so interwoven with each other that they could not be separated. Property might have been bought in Wales with English money, and then sold again; and the fact of selling property in Wales would, under the Bill, constitute the fund property situated in Wales, although the original money had been English. Did the right hon. Gentleman think that such property should be included as property situate in Wales?
§ MR. ASQUITH
did not think that either of the cases put came within the words which the Amendment proposed to omit. They were here dealing only with property invested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who had only been appointed about 60 years. Neither of the cases put came within this category at all.
§ MR. HANBURY
said, that if words were inserted to limit it to 60 years that would make it clear, and would go a long way to meet the objections raised in the Amendment.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
instanced the case of a man who had made a large fortune from the tinplate industry in Wales, and then allocated a part of his fortune to some object in England or in Wales. The fund so given would be money derived from property situated in Wales.
§ MR. ASQUITH
pointed out, in the first place, that the property could not be vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and, in the second place, that it would be a private benefaction.
§ *MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
said, there was no provision in Clause 5 to send back to England anything that was found not to have been a private benefaction, but which had originally come from England.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
admitted that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were only established 60 years ago. But property might have been derived 100 years ago, and as an English endowment vested in the Commissioners. The endowment might have been derived from English or Welsh sources, and as this was determined, it might be allotted to secular uses in Wales or not.
§ MR. ASQUITH
submitted that the words under discussion did not bear the interpretation that had been placed upon them. He suggested words which would confine the operations of the Bill to property vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and which had been dealt with by them.
§ MR. GRANT LAWSON
suggested that the words might be so altered as to catch the exact fish the Home Secretary wanted, and miss the others.
§ *SIR F. S. POWELL (Wigan)
said, the Commissioners had bought property in Lancashire. Suppose the money with which the property had been paid for was derived in Wales, would property such as this come within the clause?
§ MR. ASQUITH
replied that the clause would only apply to property locally situated in Wales or Monmouthshire and vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and which had been dealt with by them by way of sale.
§ MR. KENYON (Denbigh District)
said, that as he understood the clause it seemed to propose fresh Disendowment of the Church in Wales. It meant, practically, that all property derived from English sources which had hitherto been devoted to Welsh interests was henceforth not to be devoted to them but to the interests of English dioceses. If so, he should have to vote against the proposal.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (Manchester, E.)
said, the point was one of drafting and not of principle. As there was a question of substance to be discussed, he suggested that they should leave the drafting of the Amendment where the Home Secretary had left it with the introduction of the words he had suggested and pass on to the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Cambridge University.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.387
SIR JOHN GOEST (Cambridge University)
proposed to amend Clause 4, which provided that after the passing of the Act the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and Queen Anne's Bounty should declare what property vested in them consisted of or was derived from property in Wales or Monmouthshire by leaving out the words following:—In whatever manner the same is applied, whether in England or Wales,and inserting—which is applied to the purposes of the Church in Wales.He first, however, asked the opinion of the Chairman on a point of order submitting that the words he proposed to amend were beyond the title of the Bill, and therefore the Committee could not consider them.
said, that the words to which the right hon. Gentleman had called attention were in the Bill at the time when it was read a second time, and committed by the House to this Committee. It was too late to take any objection; if necessary, the Bill could be considered in Committee.
§ SIR J. GORST
pointed out that the clause not only affected Wales, but involved partial Disendowment of the Church in England. It proposed that any property held by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, if it were geographically situated in Wales or Monmouthshire, should be treated as Welsh Ecclesiastical property. Property in Wales was held by Christ Church, Oxford, in trust for purposes connected with Christ Church, and by the Bill this would have to be declared as Welsh ecclesiastical property. It was perfectly clear that it was not the geographical situation of property which made it Welsh property, but the purpose for which the property was held in trust. He suggested that the extremely wide words he proposed to amend should be omitted, and the clause should be confined to property which was applied to the purposes of the Church in Wales, and should not apply to property which was held in trust for the purposes of the Church in England.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, that he was rather surprised at the objection which the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir J. Gorst) had taken to the 388 words in the clause. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of them as though they amounted to a Disendowment of the Church of England? The right hon. Gentleman was probably not aware that much larger sums went from England to Wales than went from Wales to England. The fact was, that under the existing system some of the tithe rent-charge which was received in Wales went to the Church of England; and some of the tithe rent-charge, to a much greater amount, that was received in England went to the Church of Wales; and that the effect of the clause would be to free the sum of £44,000 a year, now received as tithe rent-charge in England, which at present went to Wales, and to hand it over to the English Ecclesiastical Commissioners, for the purposes of the Church of England. Therefore, so far from the Welsh Commissioners gaining by the proposed arrangement they would lose very considerably by it. If the Amendment were accepted the right hon. Gentleman would find that the result would be that the somewhat considerable sum to which he had referred would be forfeited by the Church of England. There were a good many parishes in Wales in which the tithe rent-charge collected was paid over to the Church of England; while, on the other hand, there were parishes in England the tithe rent-charge of which was paid over to the Church of Wales. It would be a much more equitable and satisfactory arrangement if the tithe rent-charge received in Wales were to be paid over to the Welsh Commissioners, and if the tithe rent-charge received in England were to be paid over to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. If the arrangement were adopted the Church of England would be a considerable gainer by the transaction.
§ MR. KENYON
said, that it was a perfectly well understood and an equally well known fact that certain Welsh tithes were paid to the English Church, and that certain English tithes went to the Welsh Church. In his opinion, therefore, it would make but little difference one way or the other if instead of the existing arrangement being continued the Welsh tithe went to the Welsh Church and the English tithe to the Church of England.
§ *MR. TOMLINSON
said that, as far as he could understand, the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary showed how difficult it was to effect a separation between the Church of England and the Church of Wales, and to divide fairly property which had been for the last 800 years one and indivisible.
§ MR. W. AMBROSE (Middlesex, Harrow)
could not understand what compensation the Church of England was to get for what she was to surrender under this Bill. There could be no doubt that, under Clause 4 of the Bill, the property belonging to the Church of England which was situated in Wales would be vested in the Welsh Commissioners. What compensation was the Church of England to receive for being deprived of that property. He thought that the provisions of the clause were all against the Church of England.
§ MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said, that it might be perfectly true that on a balance of what was to come to England from Wales, or to Wales from England, there might be a balance in favour of one side or the other, but he did not see how those individual benefices that lost their Endowments would have their loss made up to them, unless the case of each individual benefice was to be considered separately.
§ *SIR M. HICKS-BEACH (Bristol, W.)
said, that he did not think that the fears that had been, expressed by hon. Members on this subject were well founded. He believed that as the Bill now stood, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners would have to give compensation from their common fund to any English Ecclesiastical Corporation which was deprived of revenue by the operation of the Bill; but if there was any doubt on that point, a clause could be inserted making it clear. On the whole he thought that the Committee would be well advised if they left the clause where it was.
§ MR. HANBURY
thought that there should be a very clear distinction made between what was Welsh ecclesiastical property and that which belonged to the Common Fund. If they took the case of property in England forming part of an Endowment of the Welsh Church, that would go to Wales under the Bill.
§ MR. HANBURY
said, that undoubtedly such property would go to Wales under Clause 3. On the other hand, if they reversed the proposition, property in Wales forming part of an English Endowment would also go to Wales.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, that at the present moment, as regarded this clause, the Committee only dealt with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and Queen Anne's Bounty. Under the existing system the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were entitled to receive a certain amount of English tithe rent-charge, which was paid over to the Church of Wales; while, on the other hand, they received a certain amount of Welsh tithe rent-charge, which was paid over to the English Church. The object of the clause was to ensure for the future that all tithe rent-charge arising from Wales should be handed over to the Welsh Commissioners, and that all tithe rent-charge arising in England should be handed over to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and that the common expenses should be paid out of the common fund.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
MR. ASQUITH moved:—Clause 4, page 2, line 28, to leave out "and that property," and insert
or consists of capital sums belonging to or appropriated to the use of any ecclesiastical office or cathedral corporation in the Church in Wales, or the holder of any such office or member of any such corporation as such, and the property so ascertained and declared.
He did not think there would be any dispute about this Amendment, the object of which was to carry over to the Commissioners, for the purpose of being subsequently transferred from them to the representative body, a number of private benefactions which they otherwise would not get. The Amendment was entirely in the interest of the representative body.
§ *SIR F. S. POWELL
thought the effect of this proviso would be to make no distinction between capital arising from Wales and capital from England, which would be very mischievous to the Church in England.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, this was a very technical matter, and he did not think the hon. Member appreciated the effect of the Amendment. It did not matter in the least in this case where the money came from, because it was all to go over, through the Welsh Commissioners, to the representative body.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER
said, the object of the Home Secretary was clear. He thought the point of the hon. Member for Wigan might be raised more appropriately at a later stage.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, it was somewhat discouraging to them that a proposal, which was entirely in the interest of the representative body to secure to the Church private benefactions, should be received with so much suspicion and hostility.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER moved, Clause 4, page 2, line 28, to leave out "the."
§ Amendment agreed to.
MR. ASQUITH moved, to insert after the word "Act" in line 29:—
(2) Queen Anne's Bounty shall forthwith, after the passing of this Act, ascertain and by order declare what property vested in them at the passing of this Act—
Hon. Members would observe that the proposed subsection enumerated three classes of property vested in the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, all of which he proposed should come within
the definition of Welsh ecclesiastical property. Subsequent destination would depend of course upon how far the property consisted of private benefactions, and how far it was derived from other sources; he would only make one general observation on that point, which he thought could be more appropriately considered on Clause 5. He could not assent to the proposition laid down by the hon. and learned Member for the Isle of Wight and the hon. Member for Tunbridge Wells, that property of Queen Anne's Bounty in so far as it had been derived from first fruits and tenths, and Parliamentary grants, should be treated as on the footing of a private benefaction. In their opinion, the firstfruits and tenths had been from the earliest times a tax on the ecclesiastical endowments. They had been appropriated for public purposes by the Crown, with the consent of Parliament, in the reign of Henry VIII., and had been diverted from the See of Rome in the direction of the Crown, and became Crown property. He called that public property which fell into the same category as the other ancient endowments, and should be treated in the same way. As to the Parliamentary grants there could be no question whatever that they came from a public source, from the taxpayers of the country, and the only critcism which had been made on that aspect of the case was that the Dissenters had also benefited. He believed it was true, however, that what the Dissenters had received was a comparatively insignificant sum. Then the third category consisted of money arising from the sale of parsonage houses, or of money paid under the Dilapidations Act 1871 in respect of any such parsonage house. What was the result of the principle? The result of the principle was to transfer to the Commissioners the whole of these three classes of property, and the Commissioners would be paid so much as did not fall under Clause 5, the category of private benefactions. He trusted that this explanation would be considered sufficient at the present stage, and he should answer any subsequent criticisms that might be made.
§ *SIR R. WEBSTER
said, the Committee would remember that some days ago he put down an Amendment directing that Queen Anne's Bounty 393 should take a certain account, and in accordance with the result of that account, should or should not hand over sums to the Welsh Commissioners. If he was consistent and loyal, the Home Secretary must accept the principle of the Amendment he was going to propose. He proposed to leave out all the words after the word "declare," so that the Home Secretary's Amendment would read in this way:—To leave out all the words after the word 'declare,' in line 2, to the end of the proposed Amendment, in order to insert the words— 'Firstly, what property (other than money the produce of parsonage houses sold or paid under the Dilapidations Act, 1871, or property constituting private benefactions) is, at the passing of this Act, or has at any time been, vested in them, which consists or consisted of, or issues or issued out of, or is or was the produce of, or is or was derived from property situate in Wales or Monmouthshire; and, secondly, what money (other than money constituting private benefactions) has at any time been expended by them in the acquisition of tithe rent-charge or glebe-land (other than residence houses) for the purposes of the Church in Wales;' and the balance (if any) by which the value of the property firstly ascertained exceeds the moneys secondly ascertained shall be Welsh ecclesiastical property for purposes of this Act.He respectfully protested against the doctrine that all the property in question was ever intended by the Crown to be public property, and therefore open to the attack of those who desire Disestablishment of the Church. He would quote three lines from the book of that great man, the late Lord Selborne, whore on page 166 of the fourth edition, he said:—Queen Anne's Bounty, therefore, was in substance an act of restitution, rather than a donation. The revenue so granted had never been used for any national or public purpose.If, as he contended, what was now left in the hands of the Commissioners no longer could be said to be the produce of what had come from Wales, on what principle could they say that more should be handed over to the Welsh Commissioners for secular uses? He believed the total receipts since 1703 from first, fruits and tenths in Wales was £139,050; proceeds in the hands of Queen Anne's Bounty, £123,338; from tithe redemption, £6,600—making a gross total of £268,988. There was an expenditure out of the general fund of £290,699, and a further amount of Parliamentary 394 grants of £75,160, making a total of £365,859. The result was this, that Queen Anne's Bounty had expended in Wales, excluding what was being spent upon residence, £365,859, or applying the principle laid down in connection with the last Amendment, an excess of expenditure other than what had come from Wales of £96,871. Out of that there had been expended on parsonages £84,215, leaving an excess of expenditure over anything which had come from Wales of —12,656. He had excluded entirely on both sides any expenditure which had come from private benefactions. He had also excluded the sums spent on parsonage houses and parsonages, because that money would come back to the representative body under the scheme of the Bill. The difficulty he had in the matter was that he could not perceive a shadow of justice in the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman. He had pointed out that the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty had their general fund the same as the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, arid that, having regard to the poverty of Wales, they felt an interest in increasing the existing Endowments by the purchase of tithe, glebe, and so on, out of the moneys at their disposal. If the figures he gave were substantially accurate, and he was sure the right hon. Gentleman would not say that Queen Anne's Bounty would put before the Committee figures which were not justified—the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty would be asked by the proposal of the Bill to go through the form of making declarations and orders in order to ascertain that they should not be called upon to pay over anything further than met the tithe and glebe; and he maintained that they could not be asked by the Home Secretary to pay more than the tithe and glebe existing to-day, unless the right hon. Gentleman could say that the Governors held unexpended moneys received from Welsh sources. The case he put forward he believed to be founded on simple justice, and he submitted it with confidence to the Committee. He appealed to hon. Members below the Gangway opposite from Wales, who had disclaimed over and ever again the idea of desiring to obtain certain moneys for secular purposes. If the Amendment were not carried, the right hon. Gentleman, in addition to having sums of 395 money which at present represented the Endowments of Welsh livings, would be asking to receive money which had been contributed by members of the Church of England out of property situated nowhere in Wales. He was perfectly satisfied that when the case was fully inquired and examined into the injustice of the proposal would be perceived. He had endeavoured to state the case in a way in which the right hon. Gentleman might be able to argue it, and if he had failed to make himself perfectly clear he should be glad to give further explanation. If the balance were as he had stated, by every principle of justice Queen Anne's Bounty should not be made to contribute as proposed.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, he was sorry to have to again trespass on the Committee, but he would endeavour to state briefly, repeating much of what he had already said, the grounds upon which he asked the Committee to object to the Amendment. With reference to the passage his hon. and learned Friend had quoted from the late Lord Selborne, in regard to Queen Anne's Bounty being given to the Church in restitution, and not as a donation, he would point out that the word "restitution" signified something being handed back to a person to whom it previously belonged. Now, inasmuch as those "firstfruits" and "tenths" had never previously been enjoyed by the Church of England—that they were first paid to the Church of Rome, were then paid over to the Crown, and finally handed over by Queen Anne to the Church, the grant could not be said to be a "restitution." In the judgment of the Government the Bounty was public property in the same sense as the other Endowments with which the Committee had been dealing in the course of the Debates. He could not agree with his hon. and learned Friend that any of the provisions embodied in other parts of the Bill would render the "taking on account" either logical, necessary, or imperative. Queen Anne's Bounty never held, and did not hold, any land in Wales at all. They might have purchased, but they were certainly not the original holders of anything but tithe rent-charge. Every endowment, such as they were, was entirely derived from this tax upon livings, supplemented by Government 396 grants and private donations. They received those amounts on account of the Church in England, and they had invested them from time to time—sometimes in Government funds and railway stock, sometimes in loans and mortgages, and at other times in the purchase of tithe rent-charge and free lands; but, so far as his information went, they had never treated the question of the source of those funds as having anything to do with the manner in which they were appropriated. The funds were treated by the Governors in their books as a matter in which the whole Church in common was interested, and they had appropriated certain portions of them—no doubt with due regard to the necessities of each particular case—now to one diocese and now to another. He would call attention to another Amendment which stood on the Paper in the name of the hon. and learned Member, because he thought it went to show that the hon. and learned Member was hardly consistent in this matter, and because it was material to the discussion, and showed the view which Queen Anne's Bounty and their advisers took of the proper dispensation of those funds. On page 50 of the Amendments the hon. and learned Gentleman had put down the following new clause:—Nothwithstanding anything in this Act or in any Act of Parliament or Charter contained, it shall be lawful for Queen Anne's Bounty to make such payments as appear to them required for preserving the interests of persons interested in such payments at the passing of this Act, and in the discretion of the Governors to continue after the cesser of existing interests to apply for the purposes of the Church in Wales in the same manner as heretofore all or any part of such property (if any) as is at the date of Disestablishment applied for such purposes, and shall not be transferred by this Act as Welsh ecclesiastical property, or to transfer the whole or any part of that property to the Welsh representative body at such times and subject to such conditions and provisions as may be agreed upon between that body and Queen Anne's Bounty.Very well, what did this mean? It meant that while his hon. and learned Friend would save the whole of this property, which was appropriated to the benefit of the Church in Wales, from the grasp of the clause under discussion, he would seek, by a later Amendment, to empower the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty to hand over the whole of that 397 same property to the representative body. By what title? The only ground on which it could be justified was that the Church in Wales had an equitable title to the enjoyment of the property, and that it had been used for ecclesiastical purposes. Yet, by his hon. Friend's own argument, if an account were taken now in this matter it would be shown that there was nothing in the funds of the Bounty coming from Wales. Unless it could be shown that the property in question was Welsh ecclesiastical property, which he contended it was, and had been appropriated by Queen Anne's Bounty for the benefit of the Church, it could not be dealt with in the manner proposed by his hon. and learned Friend, and if it was Welsh ecclesiastical property for one purpose it was so for another. The Government had included in this clause a great deal of property now in the hands of Queen Anne's Bounty appropriated to Welsh purposes, which were the fruits of private benefactions. They included it in this clause because it must pass to the Welsh Commissioners before it could finally reach the hands of the representative body. Therefore, for the purpose of this discussion, it was surely sufficient to point out that, whatever was retained by the Welsh Commissioners under this clause, would be, in the first place, property now treated by Queen Anne's Bounty as part of the endownments of the Welsh Church, and only such part of that property as had been derived from public and national sources. That was a just proposal, and he could not recommend the Committee to accept the Amendment.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
observed that the right hon. Gentleman had put the question they had to answer in a very clear shape. He said: Was this ecclesiastical property or was it not? Was this contribution out of Queen Anne's Bounty part of the endownments of Wales in any true and equitable sense? He ventured to say that, in deciding this matter it was not at all necessary to go into the question of whether this was a public fund or not. What was the argument of the right hon. Gentleman? He had told them that this fund was a common fund belonging to the whole Church, and he had said that if the managers of the fund chose to give a 398 certain part of that common fund for the Welsh dioceses then it ought to be considered as part of the Welsh property; and as they were dealing with Welsh property they ought to deal also with that contribution. That reasoning was fallacious. This was, no doubt, a common fund derived from ecclesiastical property in England and Wales given by the bounty of the Caown for certain purposes connected with the benefit of the Church. It was distributed by those responsible for the contributions on the ground of necessity. If the Welsh Church got more than its share, if more were given, to the Welsh Church than was contributed by it, then it was because the Welsh Church happened to be that part of the Church which was most in need of assistance. Therefore, if they examined the argument of the Government and probed it to the bottom, they would find that the Welsh Church was going to be robbed of this money because it happened to be most in need of it. It was the poverty of the Welsh Church, and that alone, which was made the ground of the robbery. He had often heard wealth made a ground for robbery, but he had never heard poverty made such a pretext before. It certainly appeared to him that the very fact on which the right hon. Gentleman had based his argument—namely, that the Welsh Church was more in need of a common fund than the other part of the Church in England—should be a reason why this source of income should be dealt with in a generous spirit and why the Government should not yield to the solicitations of their Welsh friends and try and take away, not merely the endownments proper of the Welsh Church, but every contribution of any sort common to the Welsh and the English Church on which they could lay their hands. That was the root of the matter. He did not care to argue where Queen Anne got the money to give the Church, but this money was given by the royal bounty to the Church as a whole, and because one part of the Church which they proposed to disendow, on account of its necessities alone, received more than its proportionate share he did not think they ought to consider that was the property of that part of the Church, which should be dealt with like the other parts of the 399 property they proposed to take away. The fund was distributed according to the views of the public needs involved, and he did not think they had any right to suppose. And it never had been supposed that the Welsh had a right to the particular allocation of the money until it suited the Government to discover that these were funds which by this clause might be appropriated in the manner proposed in the clause. The hon. and learned Member for the Isle of Wight had pointed out that the Government had gone on an entirely different principle in dealing with Queen Anne's Bounty to that adopted with regard to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, but the Home Secretary had not even condescended to notice that point. In the earlier part of the clause it was distinctly provided that the origin of the money was to determine its distribution. Subsection 1 of this clause as amended took for England all the money which had its origin in England and left for Wales all the money that had for its origin ecclesiastical property in Wales. That might be good or bad; but if they adopted it in Sub-section 1 of Clause 4 why should they throw it out in Subsection 2 of the same clause? The Home Secretary had never explained why he thought the principle of origin was a sufficient ground of distribution when they were dealing with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and was to be thrown to the winds when they came to deal with money belonging to the Church funds. The Government should be consistent, and as they had laid down a principle in the first part of the clause, which had been unanimously adopted, he thought that principle should also govern the second part of the clause; and the Government should not introduce suddenly, without reason or argument and against all the dictates of natural justice, a method of dealing with Queen Anne's Bounty which seemed to him to have no motive at all except that of diverting to secular purposes as much as they could get of property which was at present devoted to sacred and religious uses.
§ MR. R. C. JEBB (Cambridge University),
replying to a remark of the Home Secretary, pointed out the sense in which the late Lord Selborne had 400 described Queen Anne's Bounty as "substantially an act of restitution." First-fruits and tenths were imposts laid on the clergy by the Pope (with the sanction of Edward I. and later kings), not for the general purposes of the Papacy, but for a special and temporary purpose, viz., the support of the Crusades. When Crusades had ceased the tax was continued. Henry VIII. Assumed the place of the Pope in levying that tax—as the head of the Church in England. Queen Anne's Bounty was (in Lord Selborne's phrase) "substantially an act of restitution," because it restored to a religious use funds originally levied for a religious use.
§ *SIR G. OSBORNE MORGAN
observed that, without following the hon. Gentleman in his argument as to first-fruits and tenths it was quite certain that at the time of Henry VIII. the Pope, to whom they belonged, was disendowed, and these funds were handed over to the Crown, not as private property but as part of its general revenues. The sovereign used them for national purposes, and so things stood until the time of Queen Anne. Queen Anne handed the money over for the benefit of small livings, and certainly she did not do this in the character of a private benefactor. He thought hon. Members were mistaken in supposing that any part of Queen Anne's Bounty was vested by the Governors in land in Wales. What happened was that the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty years ago, for all practical purposes, allocated certain portions of the fund subject to their control for the benefit of each diocese, and the dioceses of Monmouth and Wales had received a very considerable proportion of the fund. He ventured to say that the effect of that act of the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty had been to make the fund a Welsh fund, and to treat it as anything in the shape of a private benefaction would be simply absurd. It was, in fact, a Welsh fund, and as much Welsh property as Welsh glebe or tithes. That being so, to accept an Amendment to treat the fund as a private benefaction, and hand it over to the Disestablished Church in Wales would be to run counter to the whole principle of the Bill.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE
remarked, that with reference to the argument of the right hon. Baronet who had last spoken he 401 would like to ask him this question: Supposing that the Queen Anne's Bounty money were taken from the Pope and made over to the Crown, what did the Crown do with the money during the long series of years that elapsed between the time of Henry VIII. and Queen Anne? Was the money not used for the private benefit of the Crown, and as the private property of the Crown?
§ *SIR G. OSBORNE MORGAN
In those days there was no distinction between the public and private property of Crown. The Sovereign dealt with both indifferently.
§ SIR RICHARD TEMPLE
asked, whether, in the time of Charles I., the Commonwealth, Charles II., and James II. there was no distinction between the money which belonged to the Crown as private property, and the resources placed at the disposal of the Crown by Parliament? Surely there was. Queen Anne's Bounty through all these generations remained the private property of the Crown, and he would not admit that it ever was public property. When it belonged to the Pope, it belonged to him as his property; when he transferred it to the Crown, it was used by the Crown as private property. It was made over by the Crown to the Church for reasons stated, and the fact that the benefaction was made by a Royal person did not deprive it of the character of a benefaction. There was no definition in the Bill of the phrase, "ecclesiastical property for the purposes of this Act," but no doubt it meant all property made over to the Welsh Commissioners, to be transferred by them to the local authorities for secular purposes. He, therefore, gathered that a sum of money from Queen Anne's Bounty would be handed over for secular purposes. If that was so, it became a very serious question. A very able financial argument had been advanced, and the only answer given by the Home Secretary was a plea of a very special character. Even after they allowed for the outlay upon parsonage houses, which would be handed over to the new Ecclesiastical Body, the sum expended in Wales out of Queen Anne's Bounty exceeded by at least £12,000 the amount derived from Wales. Therefore, there was, at this moment, no money to be handed over from Queen Anne's Bounty to the Commissioners. With 402 regard to the second part of the Amendment, there were certain benefactions made over by private donors to the Cathedral Corporations, or other corporations, for specific purposes. These sums of money were to be saved from the net of the Welsh Commissioners, and were to be handed over to the new Church Body. But they might be devoted by that body, not to the specific purposes for which the benefactors gave them, but to the general purposes of the trust. That was not fair to the trust, and was a danger against which they ought to guard, and in placing the matter before the Committee they did not in the least desire to display any undue suspicion.
§ *SIR F. S. POWELL
said, he could not understand how firstfruits and tenths, which had been assigned by Queen Anne to the service of the Church, could be regarded as public money. Up to Queen Anne's time the fund had formed part of the privy purse of the sovereign; and had been wasted by previous sovereigns. But Queen Anne suspended the annuities in which, most of the funds had been spent, and of her own individual bounty handed them over to the Corporation, which she then founded, for the use of the Church. It was a free gift of the sovereign to the Church; it never lost that character, and he had no hesitation whatever in the saying that the country had no claim to it. He ventured to say further that it was a common fund, belonging to the whole Church, and not to the Church of Wales alone, as was proved by its distribution, which had been common to England and Wales. That argument was, he thought, a strong one against the proposal of the Bill. It was one instance of what a tearing asunder of things closely united, would arise under the Bill. The sums contributed out of the Bounty to Wales had been contributed in all good faith by the Governors. The fund was a common fund, the property of England and Wales alike; but an undue proportion had been given to Wales because of the poverty of the Church in Wales; and for the Government to contend that because of the favour which had been shown to Wales a large portion of the fund should now go to Wales, was most unjust. He had no doubt that if the Governors of the Bounty could have foreseen this result of their liberality to Wales they 403 would not have given so much to that country. The conduct of the Government in regard to this trust must inevitably create distrust and instability in the affairs of the Empire, and shake that public confidence which was most essential to its progress and prosperity. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners had been dealt with in a previous part of the clause; and he thought the Government were in logic bound to treat alike the property of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and the property of the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty. One of the chief arguments used in the course of those discussions by the supporters of the Bill was the argument of Welsh nationality. That was a somewhat new discovery. Welsh nationality had not been much heard of until it was devised for political purposes. But if the principle were to be accepted that Wales was a separate nation they should carry the principle to its logical conclusion. If Wales were to be regarded as a separate nationality they must have a separate account for Wales. Wales could not enjoy at the same time the advantage of being independent and the advantage of being part of England. Again, so far as he was aware, Queen Anne's Bounty had no landed property whatever in Wales, which was another reason why a separate account should be taken, inasmuch as there was no difficulty in ascertaining the value of investments money, and the account could easily be completed.
§ *MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON (Shropshire, Oswestry)
said, that the Amendment raised a question of intricacy and complexity, and one of the difficulties in dealing with it was, that the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment had only been placed on the Paper on Saturday, and the Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend (Sir R. Webster) only appeared that day. The consequence was, that hon. Members who were following the progress of this Bill with some care found themselves in the greatest difficulty in the attempt to understand the real merits of the two Amendments. One thing, however, was clear, apart from the legal technicalities in which the Home Secretary had indulged—the Church had been in possession of this property for 200 years. Was there, then, to be no Statute of Limitations? Were 404 titles to be continually called up and reconsidered? The Home Secretary proposed to take from the Church the title by which the Church had possessed this property for a length of time. The Home Secretary had told the Committee that one of the main reasons why he thought he had a right to seize upon this property was because certain Parliamentary grants were made to Queen Anne's Bounty, and, therefore, this Bounty was created a public fund which the State could at any time recall. Had the right hon. Gentleman forgotten the Parliamentary grants to Dissenters, and was he prepared to take back the property given to Dissenters under Parliamentary grant? The right hon. Gentleman said, that the Parliamentary grants made to the Dissenters were nothing like the amount granted to the Church. He did not, however, seem to be aware that the Parliamentary grants to Dissenters had been larger and had continued for a longer period of years than the grants made to the Church. They amounted in the aggregate to £2,637,000. He disputed the accuracy of the Home Secretary's statement that firstfruits and tenths could not possibly be considered Church property, and remarked that the Government were hiding their real intentions in legal formularies. How much property was the right hon. Gentleman really going to take away from the Church? Could he not be explicit and state the facts in figures? Did the right hon. Gentleman intend to lay hands upon the capitalised property of the Church, as represented by Queen Anne's Bounty, or, did he only intend to take the Revenue? But the right hon. Gentleman was not only going to deal with Wales. He was going to take the firstfruits and the tenths from English benefices, and to sweep them into his net. The corpus of this property he had already taken. He had taken the tithes and the glebe; what else did he claim? The right hon. Gentleman had treated Queen Anne's Bounty in a wholly different way from that in which he had treated the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. There ought to be uniformity in these matters. The right hon. Gentleman had clothed his design in legal phrases. This clause, in itself, transgressed every principle upon which the 405 right hon. Gentleman had brought for ward and founded his Bill. It transgressed the principle that private endowments should be held sacred; it transgressed the principle that since the year 1703 all endowments should be held sacred; it transgressed the principle that English property should not he touched, but only Welsh; and it violated that canon which had been laid down from the Treasury Bench that equality of treatment should be dealt out to the Dissenting bodies as well as to the Church. It proposed to take away from the Church property which she had enjoyed undisturbed possession of for 200 years, whereas every Dissenting community could claim the benefit of a statute of limitations after only 25 years.
§ *MR. TOMLINSON
said, that the argument put forward by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Denbighshire had no foundation in fact. He had the highest authority for saying this. The Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty had never appropriated these funds by dioceses, and Wales had received a large share of the funds simply because she was poor. The historical argument would, it was true, have to be further dealt with in Clause 5; but the Home Secretary, in his speech, had treated firstfruits and tenths as property that had never belonged to the Church, but if they referred to history, it would be found that at the time when Henry VIII. appropriated these funds, he issued a Commission to ascertain the nature of the benefices. This would hardly have been done if the same funds had been previously paid to the Pope, so that it would be quite incorrect to say that Henry VIII. merely appropriated to his own purposes that which the Pope had previously received. These funds were, in fact, treated as a special tax on the clergy. and to take from the Church that portion of Queen Anne's Bounty which originated from firstfruits and tenths would be an act of immorality such as Parliament had never yet perpetrated. Then that 406 part of the Bounty which was derived from private benefactions would be confiscated in the absence of absolute proof of title. That was treating the Church quite in an exceptional manner, for if Dissenters could prove possession for a comparatively short period their title was made absolute by statute. As to the third component part of the Bounty, namely, the part originating in Parliamentary grants, he would point out that in the whole history of this country up to the present time one Parliament had never taken away a fund given by a previous Parliament when that fund had been used for the purposes for which it was intended. The Government were manufacturing new precedents for the purpose of diminishing the scanty resources which the Church in Wales hoped might be left to it. While the Government were prepared to treat the Church in this heartless and cruel way, they did not propose to touch the sums given to Dissenters by Parliament. The Church was selected to suffer this exceptional confiscation. Against this spoliation the Opposition would protest to the end.
§ *MR. BRODRICK (Surrey, Guildford)
said, that though the Home Secretary had argued this matter from his point of view with its usual fairness, he clearly did not understand how deep was the feeling existing on the Opposition side of the House by these proposals respecting Queen Anne's Bounty. When these Debates were read on future occasions in connection with other Bills, this provision regarding Queen Anne's Bounty would be considered the most objectionable and most indefensible of the provisions of the Bill. The funds derived from Queen Anne's Bounty ought not to be treated in the same way as funds which belonged absolutely to the Welsh Church, and which, therefore, stood on a different footing. The distinction between the Bounty funds and the other revenues of the Welsh Church was clear. In the case of the latter, the Home Secretary was dealing with funds which 407 were Welsh in their origin, but in the case of the former he was dealing with funds a large portion of which came from English sources. Had the Welsh Church any legal property in the funds administered by the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty? Did they even form an integral portion for any legal purpose of the benefices to which they had been assigned? Supposing an incumbent were to get into financial difficulties, could the funds allocated to his benefice out of Queen Anne's Bounty be sequestrated or used for the purposes of his creditors? He believed they could not. Perhaps the Solicitor General, who was in his place, would tell them whether there was this legal lien on funds which had been assigned by the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty to certain Welsh benefices. If there was no lien of the sort upon them, then these purely voluntary funds could be withdrawn at any moment. He believed the law officers of the Crown would bear him out in saying that these funds were not the legal assets of the holders of the benefices which they augmented; and if they were not legal assets, on what ground did the Home Secretary propose to administer these funds in the same way as those other funds of the Church which were to be taken away unrighteously, as he believed, from one object and devoted to another? He did not believe that these funds were the property of the Welsh Church any more than they were the property of the right hon. Gentleman himself. It would be worth illustrating the position of these funds by reference to others voluntarily contributed. There were funds given to the English Church, and, perhaps, to the Welsh Church, by different public bodies in this country. One such body gave every year £5,000 or more in support of religious services and institutions in places where soldiers were quartered. These were public funds given annually, and never taken away. When a Bill 408 for the Disestablishment of the Church of England should be brought forward, would it be proposed to hand over funds of that kind to the appointed Commissioners? The funds of Queen Anne's Bounty were voluntary funds, free from the control of the Government. If the Governors of the Bounty chose to withdraw them to-morrow the Government could exercise no pressure upon them. The Government had no control whatever over Queen Anne's Bounty; they did not appoint the Commissioners, and were not represented on the Commission. [Mr. ASQUITH. "I am a Governor of Queen Anne's Bounty."] But the right hon. Gentleman had told the House he did not attend these meetings. [MR. ASQUITH: "Hear, hear!"] He believed that one of the objects of putting on some of the most hardworked Members of the Government was that they should not attend the sittings of the Commissions, but merely give them their moral weight. If the Queen Anne's Bounty Commissioners were to take any course the Government could not put pressure on them to take another course. Any day the money now given from the Bounty to Welsh benefices could be taken away. This proposal must be regarded as an indication of the Government's determination, not only to take all the revenues which legitimately belonged to the Church in Wales, but to make it impossible that there should be in the hands of those who were friendly to the Church, revenues sufficient to replace that which had been taken away. To take away funds which those who administered them could devote to other purposes at any time was high-handed spoliation, beyond that which was demanded by the Bill. It was spoliation for which there was no precedent, and he hoped the House would resist it to the uttermost.
§ MR. BARTLEY
said, that the principle of Queen Anne's Bounty was very easy to understand. For nearly 200 years past, clergymen who had been in- 409 stituted into certain livings had been compelled to subscribe a sum to these funds. This money had been accumulated and used to improve the livings of certain small parishes, a large number of which were in Wales. On what principle of equity and fairness could this money be taken away? Supposing that men in the army, or any other branch of the public service had subscribed a certain sum on appointment, and that the amounts so contributed had been accumulated for certain men of the same class who were not so well off, could that be considered a fund which Parliament had a right to take for some other purpose? Supposing that the Commissioners, instead of employing the money wisely as they had done, had spent the corpus; then there would have been no fund for the Government to seize. Surely it was the greatest discouragement to any wise administration of funds for it to become known that Parliament might comedown at any moment and seize the funds for other purposes. This money was accumulated by the subscriptions of persons in the Church—subscriptions levied as a sort of tax to relieve poorer brethren; and it was now to be applied to altogether different purposes. If it had ever been supposed that this money would be taken away for this "baths and wash-houses scheme," it would not have been accumulated. It would have been used from year to year for the advantage of the Church. Though Parliament—but fortunately not the House of Commons alone—had the power to do this iniquitous act, it had no moral right. It was an act of absolute robbery, and none the less so because it was proposed by a Government instead of by a private person. Parliament had a right to disestablish the Church, but it had no moral right to appropriate money which had been put apart for special purposes by persons in the Church. When the history of this Government came to be written, people would be amazed that there should have been a proposal to take 410 back money which Parliament had voted for the Church. Yet that was the other aspect of the Government's proposal. Children in a Kindergarten school understood better the principles of a gift. Savages might take back a gift by force; but they would not go through the farce and pretence of saying that they had a legal right to do so. It was absolute robbery, and when it was remembered that the much larger sum voted by the House for the Nonconformist bodies, and used by them, was not to be taken back, it appeared to be one of the most bare-faced actions ever proposed by any Government. The country ought to know of it, and he was sure that the great bulk of the Nonconformists would resent the Government's action. He had a great number of Nonconformist friends arid constituents, and he knew that they would not wish to be thus dishonest. No doubt they wished to abolish the advantage which the Church enjoyed for being established, but they did not wish to take away the money subscribed to and for the Church by Churchmen, or the money voted by Parliament to the Church concurrently with other money voted to the Nonconformist bodies. The Nonconformists would condemn any Government which made such an outrageous proposition.
§ SIR JOHN GORST
said, that he had some ground of personal complaint against the Government for the manner in which they had taken this matter. Earlier in the evening he had moved an Amendment, in which he declared that the true test of whether ecclesiastical property belonged to the Church in Wales or to the Church in England was the purpose to which it was appropriated. The Home Secretary did not at all endeavour to combat the argument; but I stated that the principle of the Bill was not that of the appropriation of property, but that of its geographical situation. All that which was in Wales was Welsh, and that which was in England was English. The right hon. Gentleman said 411 that it was possible to get more out of the Government scheme than out of the other; and he seemed to think anyone foolish who preferred justice to mere self-interest. But his right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol thought it was better to leave the Bill on the Government principle, and, therefore—perhaps sentimentally—he withdrew his Amendment without taking the sense of the House upon it. In this clause the geographical principle was applied both to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and to Queen Anne's Bounty, and he was simple enough to suppose that this principle was to be applied all through. But now it appeared that where it was for the disadvantage of the Church, the geographical principle was to be applied, as in the case of the Bishops. [Mr. ASQUITH: "No; it was for the advantage of the Church."] But in regard to Queen Anne's Bounty, the Government left the geographical principle, and returned to the principle of regarding the purpose to which the money was devoted. The Government applied the principle not of legal appropriation, but appropriation at the discretion of Queen Anne's Bounty, and thought that because the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty had thought fit in their discretion to devote a certain part of their common property to ecclesiastical purposes in Wales it should be held to be Welsh ecclesiastical property. Could anything be more unjust or unreasonable? His hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight proved conclusively by figures that everything which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners possessed which had been derived from Wales had been returned to Wales with a considerable surplus, and therefore, if the Government adopted anything like a geographical plan, the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty had got nothing from Wales which they had not returned. But the Government proposed to make over to the Welsh Commissioners, to be devoted to secular purposes, funds derived from firstfruits and tenths of English benefices, and where, owing to the poverty of the Welsh dioceses, a certain portion of English ecclesiastical property was devoted to Welsh purposes, that property should be stereotyped as Welsh ecclesiastical property. The Home Secretary had been challenged to explain the 412 different principles which the Government had adopted in the two cases. He tried to answer a good many of the arguments of the hon. and learned Member for the Isle of Wight, but this point he passed by. Then the Leader of the Opposition pointed out the omission, and asked him to make it good. Everyone in the House must have noticed the hiatus. The Committee would come to the conclusion, and the whole country, too, to-morrow, that there was no answer; that the Home Secretary had for purposes of his own, thought fit to apply one principle in one case and another in another.
§ MR. ASQUITH rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 164; Noes 125.—(Division List No. 109.)
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words from the word 'declare,' in line 2, to the word 'situate,' in line 6, stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 171; Noes 137.—(Division List No. 110.)
§ SIR R. WEBSTER moved to amend the proposed Amendment by inserting words to make it clear that the property to be dealt with should be limited to property belonging to the Church in Wales.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, that he was willing to accept the Amendment, which appeared to him to be a reasonable one.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ *MR. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN moved to amend the proposed Amendment by inserting words excluding from the operation of the Amendment all property derived from Parliamentary grants in augmentation of Queen Anne's Bounty. He moved the insertion of these words because he desired to know how far the Government were justified in taking from the Church that which had been granted to it by Parliament since 1703, whereas they did not propose to take a single farthing from the Nonconformists who received grants from the same source at the same date. 413 He pointed out that the late Lord Selborne had said that the money granted to the Church by Parliament had not been used chiefly in Church-building, and in the case of the Nonconformists it was given very largely for other purposes altogether. Some of the money granted by Queen Anne's Bounty was used for Church building, and some to endow small parishes in Wales. In precisely the same way money had also gone to help poor Nonconformist ministers. The facts were very extraordinary, showing how between 1722 rnd 1850 grants were conferred on Nonconformist ministers. In the Appropriation Act of 1840 substantial sums were given to Presbyterian ministers and poor refugee clergy, and these he submitted were grants to augment their stipends. In the same way the Queen Anne's Bounty between 1809 and 1820 made provision for the stipends of the clergy in the poor parishes of Wales with the help of Parliamentary grants. Why were they going to treat the two cases differently? He admitted that the money given to the Nonconformist ministers had been spent, but in the case of the Church it was income saved If they chose to save the money from Queen Anne's Bounty and keep it as a fund to assist poor livings it still remained income, and not capital. He did not propose that they should ask the Nonconformist bodies to refund the money they had received, but he did say that in this case they ought not to take the funds of the Church. On the grounds of religious equality he proposed this Amendment, which he hoped the House would accept. The hon. Member now proposed to reserve the Parliamentary grants, and not to treat them as Welsh ecclesiastical property, but a week ago the whole Opposition voted in favour of an Amendment to leave the Church in Wales only the sum provided in a Parliamentary grant. The Opposition might of course adopt what tactics they pleased, and there was no necessity that they should adhere to logical consistency, but he thought it desirable to put on record such a singular fact. With reference to the argument of the hon. Gentleman in this particular case he should have thought the proper time to raise the question would have been when they came to consider what were and what 414 were not private benefactions. He did not, however, complain of its being raised then, because he apprehended that if it were disposed of then it would be settled once and for all. The contention was—that funds now vested in the the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, which were derived from Parliamentary grants, should not pass at all to the Welsh Commissioners, although every private benefaction was going to pass to them. He pointed out that this was an argument merely of form. The result would be, if this were carried, that these private benefactions would remain in the hands of the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, and would never pass to the representative body of the Disestablished Church at all. The hon. Gentleman's argument, as he understood it, was that these grants should at any rate not go into the hands of the Commissioners, not because they were not derived from public funds, but because certain Dissenting bodies had received similar grants that they did not propose in that Bill to deal with. These, however, were very inferior endowments. In 10 or 12 years something like £1,100,000 was voted by the House to the Church of England, and he did not believe that if they were to take the sums contributed to the various other bodies from the beginning of time they would amount to anything like that sum. These sums had been disposed of to a very large extent in the purchase of sites and the building of chapels. Inasmuch as they were leaving sites and churches to the Church of England, that question did not arise at all. But how was the balance disposed of? In personal grants given to individuals by way of compassionate allowance. It was because these Parliamentary grants were not expended in compassionate allowances or temporary increases of salary, but were held in hand for permanent purposes, the question was differentiated altogether. They had here, as part of the permanent Endowment of the Church of England in England and Wales, sums of money which, if they came to look at their origin, could be traced to Parliamentary grant. If they could show him a similar case in respect to any Dissenting Body, let them produce it. He did not believe such a case could be produced. 415 Dealing with this sum on the same footing as the funds arising from firstfruits and tenths, it must be treated in the aggregate arising from Church Endowments. He very much regretted that the Amendment had been raised at this stage, as he thought it was very desirable that they should not have the Debate two or three times over.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
On the question of order and convenience I will not say much, because I do not profess to have a strong opinion, though, speaking off-hand, I should say that the two questions of Parliamentary grants and private benefactions are widely different topics, and ought to be kept apart. I should have thought it more convenient to leave the cases of private benefaction and public grant in different categories; but, leaving the question of order, and coming to the Amendment, I cannot help thinking the right hon. Gentleman must have felt rather embarrassed in opposing the Amendment. In the first place, he told us that, a week ago, the Opposition had voted for giving up the Parliamentary grant to the tender mercies of the Welsh Disestablishers, and for saving the ordinary Endowments of the Church. He considers it the grossest inconsistency that we should put the question of Endowments on one side, and endeavour to keep the Parliamentary grants. Was ever such an argument addressed to the Opposition by the Gentleman in charge of a Bill? Here we have to deal with a case of highway robbery. The gentleman of the road demands from the traveller his purse. The traveller puts in the plea: "Leave me my purse and I will give you my watch!" "Not at all," says the gentleman of the road, "I will have your purse," and his purse he takes. Then the question comes up of the watch, and the unfortunate victim says:—Very well, spare my watch. If you will, give me back my purse, but in any case spare my watch.Says the gentleman of the road:—What inconsistency! We decided the question of the purse over the watch at an earlier stage in our proceedings, and it is absurd to put in a claim for either one or the other after we have had the arguments out at an earlier stage.416 Leaving this argumentum ad hominem of the right hon. Gentleman, and turning to the objection he raised to my hon. Friend's arguments, the whole matter could be put into a nutshell. Partly in the early part of this century, or chiefly in the early part of this century, Parliament gave large sums of money both to the Church and to the Nonconformist Bodies. ["No, no!"] To which suggestion does the hon. and learned Member object?
§ MR. ABEL THOMAS (Carmarthen, E.)
The larger part of them went to the Church. Only a small proportion went to the Nonconformist Bodies.
§ MR. BALFOUR
The hon. and learned Gentleman could not have heard what I said. I said that in the early part of the century Parliament gave large sums both to the Church and Nonconformist Bodies. The exact sum I understand to have been, in the case of the Church, —1,100,000, and in the case of the Nonconformists, —208,000. I take the figures that have been supplied to me. These two respective sums, given to different denominations, had precisely the same source. Both these funds were spent for the purposes of the denominations to whom they were given. It appears that the Nonconformist Body spent their money within a year, or, at all events, within a short time; but the Church, acting from economic motives, which now turn out to have been very improvident, capitalised the money, and devoted the income to the purposes for which the fund was given. Both methods for spending the money were legitimate, but I think, in the interests of the body concerned, the financial procedure of the Church was better than that of the Nonconformists. The method of the Church, in dealing with this money, would certainly make it go further and do more good than the expenditure of the money in a few years. That was exactly what happened in the case of the Church. Some 80 years afterwards come the Government and say:—These two funds may have had the same origin, they may have had exactly parallel objects, they may have been used more or less for corresponding aims, but, one having been spent, I cannot appropriate it to secular purposes. The other not having been spent, I can appropriate it to secular purposes. One set of gentlemen I can rob, the other set I cannot rob. I do what I can.417 That really is no travesty and no exaggeration of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman. I never heard anything like it in the western part of the civilised globe. In Oriental countries I have heard something very like it. It is precisely the operation by which the Turkish Pasha, or perhaps, to avoid any international complications, I should say the Oriental Pasha, or the Chinese or the Mongolian successfully prevent the accumulation of capital value in the countries which they respectively govern. He can and does take any form of accumulated property, but the annual produce of the annual harvest spent in the year escapes, or almost escapes, his beneficent action. Why should we initiate these Oriental methods? Why should we, in other words, treat income which is spent differently from income which is capitalised? They have precisely the same origin, they have precisely the same object, and they are used for precisely the same purposes. Unless the Government are prepared to tell us that they would have taken these Nonconformist Endowments if they could, but which have only been saved from their clutches by the fact that the judicious Dissenting bodies to whom they were given, with a felicitous foresight of the policy of the Party to which they belonged, spent the money. Unless the Government are prepared to tell us that, I cannot imagine upon what principle they can justify the action they have taken. It appears to me that here the Government have really an opportunity of showing that they are prepared to follow out those principles of religious equality of which they make such loud profession. If they persist in keeping the Bill in its present form, if they refuse the Amendment of my hon. Friend, either in regard to this clause or some other clause—for my hon. Friend, no doubt, would withdraw his Amendment if there were some prospect given of redress at a later stage—if they refuse now or later any prospect or hope of redress, then it is only a vague and empty pretence for the Government to tell us that their one desire, the one animating desire of all their policy, is to treat the Nonconformist bodies precisely as they treat the Church of England, and to mete out the same measure of justice to both. Here is a 418 practical opportunity for the Government to show what they will do. If they persist in telling us that they mean to deal with the Church funds, and I am sure they will not pretend to tell us that they would deal with Nonconformist funds, for they have not the power—we shall have a perfectly conclusive test of the exact value of all those professions on the strength of which this Bill has been read a second time, and on which they mean to drive it through Committee and through all the remaining stages in the House.
§ *MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON
failed to see that the course being taken by the Home Secretary in this matter was in keeping with the declarations he had made. He had stated distinctly that the Disestablished Church in Wales should be placed in precisely as good a position, as regarded privileges, as every other religious community in Wales. On another occasion, he repeated the statement over and over again that he would certainly apply the same measure of justice to the Church that he would apply to the Dissenting bodies. The Under Secretary had said much the same thing—that exact equality should be established between all religious denominations. The right hon. Gentleman had certainly miscalculated the amount of the Parliamentary grants that were given to the Nonconformist bodies. They amounted to more than two millions. [Laughter.] Hon. Members might laugh, but had they seen the returns of 1840 and 1843 with reference to grants to ecclesiastical establishments, meaning to all religious denominations? If they looked at them they would find that the money which was granted to the Church was ear-marked. It was for Church building, and the money granted to the Nonconformists from 1723 to 1850 was not ear-marked. The Nonconformists had had their cake and had eaten it. Still, the effect was just the same to those who had provided the cake—namely, Parliament, by means of the grants. For his own part he had never asked for anything in the course of that Debate but equality of treatment between Nonconformists and Churchmen—simple justice, and that was the very principle upon which so many Nonconformists opposed the Bill. How could the 419 Home Secretary come forward now with a policy which treated the Church differently from the Nonconformist bodies, when he had over and over again declared that he intended to treat them all exactly alike?
§ MR. AMBROSE
said, the Government was proceeding on the ground that the property in question was that of the Church in Wales. How did it ever become so? The Home Secretary had overlooked the fact that there was really no Church of Wales at all. There was a Church of England having vicarages and benefices in Wales. A rector or an incumbent might be entitled to certain property. It was proved that he could recover a debt on that property, and that fact was a test of property. Consequently, it was not denied that the Bill might appropriate the property either of glebe or other lands, or funds attached to the rectory or vicarage of a parish or of a cathedral corporation. There they would be dealing with the property of the Church. But who were the owners of the property under discussion? Not the Church, but Queen Anne's Bounty. Was there anyone representing the Church in Wales who could enforce payment from Queen Anne's Bounty? The sums referred to were given only in the nature of grants, and might be revoked by the Governors at any time. Suppose Queen Anne's Bounty said, with respect to any particular vicarage:—You have now a large congregation—sufficiently large to provide your wants, and you do not need any longer our grant,and they withdrew their grant. They had a perfect right to so act; their grant was revocable at any time. Well, that was a test of property, and it could not be said, under such circumstances, that Queen Anne's Bounty was the property of the Church. The Governors could exercise their discretion over the whole range of the Church; they might dispense the money in any way which their judgment best commended. Payment could not be enforced from them, and where there was no power of action there was no property. It might be said that certain sums had been contributed by the congregations, which went to swell up the income. The various Churches in Wales had a right to accept contributions from rich 420 men in the district. Were these contributions to be capitalised and taken as Church property? Nothing of the kind. Even the Home Secretary did not say so, and therefore when the right hon. Gentleman said they took this as the property of the Church in Wales, he said it was not the property of the Church. There was no more a case of property in this than there was on the part of those who obtained alms according to the discretion of those who had the administration of a trust. He submitted, therefore, that the claim of the Government in this matter was groundless.
§ MR. BARTLEY
characterised the policy laid down in this proposal as a discouragement to, and a plunder of, thrift. The contention of the Home Secretary seemed to be that if money were spent recklessly it should escape altogether, but if it had been husbanded and carefully looked after, as was the case with this fund, it was to be plundered. If the House of Commons were going to look round in order to plunder a particular fund because it had been well managed and had for many generations done good work, then there would be a distinct discouragement given to endowments. In his judgment there was a danger of this at the present time. There was a system growing by which everybody felt that endowments and provisions of this sort were not secure. If the feeling spread abroad that endowments were to be appropriated simply because the Government of the day were ordered to take that course by a certain number of votes which kept them in Office, then it would be a very serious matter for the future. He had too high an opinion even of the present Government to think that even they would have thought of doing this if it had not been that they were forced to do it by their Welsh allies. This was a policy of absolute robbery, and although he himself believed that, do whatever they might, they could not injure the Church permanently, he said emphatically that to set about a system of discouraging every plan by which the wise administration of funds had been secured in the past was wrong in principle and mischievous in its consequences. Because it would tend enormously to discourage endowments of every sort in the future and was the beginning of a most mischievous course 421 of procedure, he hoped the Committee would divide against the proposal of the Government.
§ *MR. HENRY KIMBER (Wandsworth)
drew attention to the fact that the Home Secretary had not joined issue with the Mover of the Amendment, but on the contrary, admitted his facts. What was the object of the Amendment? It was that if this Bill passed into law, and there was to be confiscation, such confiscation should be carried out with an equal hand. Amendments in a Bill did not admit the principle of a Bill. A Bill was in fact only one long "question proposed." The hon. Member who moved the Amendment submitted that if Parliamentary grants which had been made to the Church or to Queen Anne's Bounty in aid of clerical men were to be taken away from the funds which, by careful husbanding, had been invested in order to make permanent provision for Church purposes, then that the like funds given to the Nonconformists should be dealt with in the same manner. The Home Secretary did not deny the facts. On the contrary, he said—True both denominations have received these grants, but they have received them in very different proportions.But that was not a reason why this Amendment should not be carried; it was a reason why, if the knife was to be put in, it should be put in it a proportionate degree. The right hon. Gentleman said that the funds which were given to the Nonconformists by the hand of Parliament were only one-fifth of those given to the Church. Then why was that one-fifth not to be brought into hotch-potch? Either that should be dealt with in the same manner or the Church should be let off to the extent of an equal sum. That was the proposal which was comprised in the Amendment, and the Home Secretary had not made any case against it. He must take exception to the reviling manner in which the right hon. Gentleman had met the Amendment. He had taunted the Opposition with having last week voted that other endowments should be allowed to be retained and only Parliamentary grants dealt with. But because they proposed Amendments in a confiscating Bill they did not agree in the confiscation. They only said that if the Government 422 were going by their superior strength to carry the Bill, it was at least their right to modify it as much as they could. They proposed their Amendments with a view to mitigate the confiscatory effect of the Bill, therefore it was rather out of place for the Home Secretary to taunt them with the fact that last week they opposed the confiscation of the other property and that this week they opposed the confiscation of Parliamentary grants. It was competent to the Opposition in one week to oppose the one and in the next to oppose the other, and it was not inconsistent, because the ground of his hon. Friend's Amendment was this: that if you take away Parliamentary grants from the Church you must also take it from other people. He submitted that the Government had admitted the case of his hon. Friend in principle, and the only case they had made against it was one of degree. And they had not proposed any Amendment themselves by which that degree of injustice was remedied.
*MR. J. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Notts, Mansfield)
said that it was a mistake to suppose that the Regium donum was a capital sum. It was always an animal grant, originating in the days of Sir R. Walpole, and amounting to nothing more than £1,600 a year and it was not regarded at that time as an ordinary Parliamentary grant, but as a compassionate gift on the part of the sovereign, out of the hereditary revenues of the Crown. As far as his knowledge extended, it was never voted to any Nonconformist bodies as such, but was simply paid to individuals, by distributors appointed by the Crown, and there were Nonconformists who strongly protested against the grant.
*MR. J. CARVELL WILLIAMS
No; certain individuals took the grant, but the Nonconformist bodies, as bodies, were never in receipt of it. And half-a-century ago the Nonconformists besought that House again and again to withdraw the grant, and eventually it was discontinued. That was, he thought, the first time in history that recipients of a Parliamentary grant had come to this House and asked that it might be withdrawn, and the precedent had not been followed since.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER
thought it desirable that the extraordinary historical statement just made should be met at once. The hon. Member had drawn a graphic picture of a gentleman going about with £1,600 in his pocket, and making a distribution of it against the will of the whole Nonconformist body particular Ministers who happened to receive it. That was a statement which hardly did credit to Nonconformist Ministers. Was the hon. Member aware that the grant (the Solicitor General would correct him as to the exact figure) amounted altogether to at least £208,000? Was he also aware that there was a similar grant made to Presbyterian Churches in Ireland which amounted to no less than £2,000,000, and which, under the Irish Church Act, was made the subject of express compensation, for which Irish Presbyterian Ministers received between £5,000,000 and £7,000,000. The statement of the hon. Member that this was unwillingly forced on Nonconformist bodies was, therefore, not supported by historical facts. The Church was entitled to as much consideration as was shown to the Presbyterian bodies under the Irish Church Act.
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir FRANK LOOKWOOD, York),
in answer to the appeal of his hon. and learned Friend, stated that the right hon. Member for Manchester had somewhat overstated the amount. He found that, according to the 1842 Return, the grant was £141,000, as against the £208,000 quoted, and the grant to the Church of England at the same period was £2,935,000.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he had not investigated the matter very closely, but his authority for his statement was the late Lord Selborne, who mentioned £270,347 as the sum received as the Regium donum before 1845 by English Nonconformists, and that for the period after that date £216,660 would be a safe estimate.
§ MR. PENROSE FITZGERALD (Cambridge)
stated that the College of Maynooth received £26,000 a year, and the Presbyterian Church of Ireland £45,000 a year as the Regium donum.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 183; Noes 205.—(Division. List No. 111.)424
§ SIR R. WEBSTER
proposed to insert after the word "sums," in line 8 of the proposed Amendment, the words "constituting private benefactions within the meaning of the Act." He explained that the object of the Amendment was to put Queen Anne's Bounty in exactly the same position as the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
§ MR. ASQUITH
hoped the hon. and learned Gentlemen would not press the Amendment; not because he was opposed to it in principle, but because there would be a discrepancy between the first and second sub-sections if it were carried.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER moved, in line 13, to omit the words "in respect of any such parsonage house." Unless these words were left out they would prevent similar payments on farm buildings and buildings of the parsonage houses from being dealt with under the clause.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ SIR R. WEBSTER moved, in line 14, after "property," to insert "firstly and secondly." As the clause stood, it would include as Welsh ecclesiastical property the property under all these heads, and if some such words as he suggested were not inserted, nothing could be done by Queen Anne's Bounty after the passing of these Acts in respect of the matters mentioned in the third sub-section.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, that to keep the sums dealt with in the third sub-section in the hands of Queen's Anne's Bounty would be to run the risk of a deadlock. He would have the words "as from the date of disestablishment" inserted in reference to the third sub-section.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
SIR R. WEBSTER moved the following proviso:—
Provided always that no part of the governors' general fund shall be deemed to consist of or issue out of, or be the produce of, or be derived from property situate in Wales or Monmouthshire, by reason only of its being invested in the debenture or other stock of any railway company owning property so situate.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ On the Home Secretary's Amendment as amended,
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
said, he must ask the Committee to express its opinion on this sub-section. When he presented an Amendment earlier in the evening, he was met by a speech on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, who stated that in his view the substance of the Amendment was practically disposed of by a clause which appeared in his name subsequently on the Paper. The right hon. Gentleman also said, because he had put down a clause in the interest of Queen Anne's Bounty, the language of the Amendment stamped it as being ecclesiastical property. He thought that this inference was not correctly drawn, and it was not intended to be conveyed. He had been consulted by the heads of Queen Anne's Bounty as to whether or not the Bounty would be entitled to give any grants at all to the Welsh Disestablished Church. Having taken advice with regard to their Acts of Parliament and Charters, he came to the conclusion that it would be illegal and contrary to the constitution of the Bounty that any grant should be made to the Disestablished Church after Disestablishment. He thought it right, however, to give the Bounty power to continue at its discretion grants to the Disestablished Church in Wales; but he did not intend to suggest that, because grants were now being given, therefore, the Bounty should give the same amount or that it should be made from the same source. The largest portion of the grants were out of the general fund. They did not deny that under the scheme of the Government, where the Bounty had spent money in tithe or glebe that was to go over to the Welsh Commissioners. Their protest was different. To take a concrete case. Assuming that £700 had been received from Wales for first-fruits and tenths. That sum was vested by Queen Anne's Bounty in tithe or glebe for the benefit of a particular 426 parish. It would go over to the Welsh Commissioners. Suppose that in the same time the same sum had been contributed out of English first-fruits. According to the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman, the Welsh Commissioners would get both the sums, and he contended that there was no right or justice in that. The right hon. Gentlemen had no right, and it was not within the scheme of his Bill to have, in addition to the money which was now represented by existing Church property, money in the hands of Queen Anne's Bounty, which never came from Wales at all. If it were shown that the managers of Queen Anne's Bounty had paid away in Wales more than they had ever received from the Welsh Church there was no principle upon which that charity ought to be called upon to make any contribution from the funds in their hands towards the purposes of this Bill. He asked the Home Secretary to give some explanation of the principle upon which he justified the rejection of his (the speaker's) Amendment, and he would ask the Committee, failing such explanation, to express their opinion upon the subject. This was one of the parts of the Bill which showed that the right hon. Gentleman had not acted upon any principle, but that he had moulded and changed the provisions of his Bill according to the dictates of hon. Members from Wales, and that he was not dealing with the Welsh Church in the same way as the Irish Church was dealt with.
§ *SIR M. HICKS-BEACH
said that the Opposition had over and over again appealed to the Home Secretary to give some reason why he had treated property vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in a different way from property vested in the Managers of Queen Anne's Bounty. The right hon. Gentleman had given no reply to the reiterated appeal. The right hon. Gentleman only gave them the closure, and he hoped they might even yet receive some answer to their questions.
§ MR. ASQUITH
We have heard I do not know how many speeches, and I have explained to the best of my ability, certainly three times, and with the greatest detail, the grounds on which the Government have made this proposal. 427 I decline to take up the time of the Committee with repeated arguments.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not deny that the right hon. Gentleman has made a great many speeches. The question is whether any of them have been to the point. I really do not wish to introduce unnecessary heat into this Debate; but I ask my opponents who have been present during the Debate whether they have heard any one word from the Home Secretary dealing with the point? [Cries of "Oh!" from the Ministerial Benches]. The point is this. The Government bring in a clause dealing in two subsections with two great central funds. One of these is administered by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; the other by Queen Anne's Bounty. The principle on which the Welsh share of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners has been appropriated to secular purposes is that money coming from Wales is taken away from the Church, while money not coming from Wales is left to the Church. Having so dealt with that central fund, we ask the Government, in dealing with the other central fund, to take that portion which comes from Wales and to give it to ecclesiastical purposes. They refuse, and take up another position, and adopt a wholly different and absolutely unjustifiable course, the only conceivable ground for a distinction being that they get more money by changing their principles than they would if they remained consistent in regard to their original proposition. Our modest request, made three or four times, is that they should explain upon what the difference which they are making depends. I say boldly that in all the numerous speeches which the Home Secretary has made he has not in any single instance alluded in the most faint manner to that distinction, nor has he given us the slightest information in regard to it. That is not the way to treat an Opposition anxious to argue out the points raised in this Bill, and not to obstruct it by irrational objections. In treating us in this way the Government are not adopting the best means for transacting the business of this House with speed and decorum.
§ MR. E. HENEAGE (Great Grimsby)
desired to corroborate every word that had fallen from the Leader of the Opposition. The Home Secretary had never 428 answered the questions put to him. [Cries of "Oh!"] Some hon. Members near him dissented, but he had heard several of them say that they could not hear what the right hon. Gentleman said, so how could they assert that he had replied to the arguments addressed to him? The tactics of the Government with reference to this question had been very curious, and as to the Home Secretary's "innumerable" speeches the box on the table in front of him might have heard them, but they could not be heard in the part of the House where he sat Time after time hon. Members near him had expressed the wish that the right hon. Gentleman would speak up. The conduct of the right hon. Gentleman was not such as was likely to shorten debate. He would not answer questions satisfactorily, and when pressed took refuge in the closure.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 196; Noes, 172.—(Division List No. 112.)
§ It being midnight the CHAIRMAN left his Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report progress; to sit again to-morrow.