2237 STANDING COMMITTEE B Tuesday, 4th August, 1925.

[Major Sir RICHARD BARNETT in the Chair.]

TITHE BILL.
[OFFICIAL REPORT.] CLAUSE 16.
—(Provisions as to the redemption of lay tithe rentcharge.)

(1) This Part of this Act applies to tithe rentcharge which is not tithe rentcharge for the redemption whereof provision is made by Part II of this Act; and such tithe rentcharge is in this Part of this Act referred to as lay tithe rentcharge.

(2) Where after the twenty-second day of May, nineteen hundred and twenty-five, an application for the redemption of any lay tithe rentcharge on any land is made by the owner of the land, then if the land charged with the tithe rentcharge, except so far as it consists of buildings in the same occupation, is agricultural land for the purposes of the Agricultural Rates Act, 1896, the Minister in ascertaining the compensation for the redemption of the tithe rentcharge in accordance with the provisions of the First Schedule to the Tithe Act, 1918, shall deduct from the gross annual value two-thirds only of the average amount which became payable on account of any rate to which the Agricultural Rates Act, 1896, applies.

(2) This Part of this Act shall come into operation on the passing thereof.

The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Mr. Edward Wood): I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), after the word "shall" ["shall deduct from the gross annual value"], to insert the words "not in respect of rates." This and subsequent Amendments are drafting Amendments to make clear what was the original intention of the Bill. The original wording was two-thirds only, and that was intended to be a maximum. These words are inserted to make that plain, and, incidentally, to safeguard the position of the Welsh Church Commissioners, which is governed by the Welsh Church Act, and which might be effected by the words as they stood.

Amendment agreed to.

2238

Further Amendments made: In Sub-section (2) leave out the words "two-thirds only," and insert instead thereof the words "a sum in excess of two-thirds."

After the word "payable" ["which became payable on account of any rate"] insert the words "by the owner or any other person."—[Mr. Wood.]

Mr. RAWLINSON: I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (2), to insert a new Sub-section: "(4) Where lay tithe rentcharge is vested in or held in trust for the universities of Oxford and Cambridge or any of the colleges or houses of learning within either of those universities, or vested in or held in trust for any of the colleges of Eton, Winchester, and Westminster, or vested in or held in trust for any society or body of persons associated together for the promotion of education or the relief of poor, sick, and aged people, the amount of any rate made in respect of such tithe rentcharge after the appointed day shall be assessed on two-thirds only of the gross annual value of such tithe rentcharge." This is to provide that in the case of lay tithe, which is held by certain charitable bodies, such as colleges, and so forth, they shall pay two-thirds of the tithe instead of the full amount. It will be a great, concession to these particular bodies. Concessions, of course, exist at present in the case of clerical and cathedral bodies. There is to be a big contribution towards rates of over £250,000, and they can very well afford to make this small reduction in the case of these bodies. I am moving this Amendment on behalf of, and in the absence of, my hon. Friend (Sir Charles Oman), whose name is attached to it.

Mr. WOOD: I have had an opportunity of discussing this Amendment with one or two of those who are interested in it. I think that my right hon. Friend, who moved it, will agree that the sense of hardship that exists in the minds of those who speak for colleges and such like bodies arises from what we have already decided, namely, the figure of £105. Obviously, I cannot argue that now. I only refer to it to point out that if we may assume, for the sake of argument, that that is a fair figure, it obviously includes fluctuations down as well as fluctuation up, and, therefore, even if it be suggested that the colleges are going to lose something at present, it is, of course, true on the actuarial figures that they will stand to gain a little later. 2239 That is the reason why they make the appeal to the Committee and to the Government to meet them in the matter of the relief of rating. I have considered the proposals that were made with a very real desire to see what one could do to meet the case that has been advanced, but I cannot see my way to accept the Amendment. In the first place, under the terms of the Financial Resolution, the effect would be to throw whatever was the burden corresponding to the relief given, on to the shoulders of the other ratepayers. That was the line of action that Parliament took in 1920. It was very unpopular, and it was unjust, and it is not one that I should advise the Committee to repeat. But it is a little wider than that. I have been searching my mind carefully for a logical basis for this matter, even assuming that the money was available, on which we could stand. On the last occasion, considerable sympathy was expressed with the educational side of these colleges, and the relief which they claimed was outlined as a concession to education. There is a great deal to be said for that, but education is not the only thing on which Oxford or even Cambridge colleges spend their money, nor, indeed, is education a satisfactory logical basis, if we are looking about for public utility services, because a great deal of tithe is held by other bodies not educational but doing just as valuable social work. For example, hospitals, and other things of that kind. If you get there, by what logic do you stop from proceeding to other great blocks of tithes such as that owned by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, all of whose money goes to what may be called valuable social purposes, which would have the effect of making the sum of money involved a very large one? For those reasons, with great reluctance, I must advise the Committee to adhere to the status quo by which tithe held by other bodies have been for years past technically treated by Parliament as among the lay tithe, and, as such, subject to ordinary rating.

Amendment negatived.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

2240

Mr. SHEPPERSON: I have an Amendment to leave out the words "two-thirds only of," which, of course, I cannot move now. But before the Clause passes there is one matter to which I wish to direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman. Under the Agricultural Rates Act, 1896, relief was given to agriculture with regard to the rates on the tithe rentcharge, and I want to suggest that, that relief having been given specifically to the agricultural interests and industry, when it comes to the question of redemption of lay tithe rentcharge, the same relief should be given to the tithepayer who desires to redeem under this Clause, and that therefore the amount of his claim for compensation of redemption should not be lessened by the two-thirds provided by this Clause.

Mr. WOOD: In courtesy to my hon. Friend, may I just say that since the Agricultural Rates Act, 1896, was passed, there has been passed a further relief for agricultural rates in 1923, which reduced the rating on agricultural land to one-fourth. The effect of that operation on redemption for lay tithe has been one which Parliament did not altogether foresee at the time. It has worked in this way. A man redeeming lay tithe rentcharge is able to deduct from the compensation for redemption the full amount of rates that the tithe rentcharge has been in the habit of paying. As soon as he has redeemed, the charge falls back on the land and the land is subject only to quarter rates. Therefore, if you take the individual rates at £36 on a £100, he has only to pay about, say, £12, and there is therefore a big margin which Parliament did not intend to put into the pockets of the redeemer, and the effect of this Clause is to split that between the redeemer and the redeemed. That is not an unfair position, and does go a little way to meet the not illegitimate claims of the colleges.

Question put, and agreed to.

CLAUSE 17.
—(Amendment of provisions as to altered apportionments.)

(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of section fourteen of the Tithe Act, 1842, on the alteration of an apportionment a tithe rentcharge of less than five shillings may be charged on any land if the owner of the rentcharge the subject of the apportionment consents, or if the owner of the land on which the rentcharge of less than five 2241 shillings is apportioned has applied to the Minister for an order directing that it shall be redeemed on the alteration of the apportionment.

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of section eleven of the Tithe Act, 1860, the consent of the owner or owners of the lands charged with tithe rentcharge shall not be required for the re-apportionment and redistribution of rentcharges over and amongst the lands charged therewith provided that the rentcharges are payable to the same person.

(3) The powers of apportionment of rentcharges in lieu of corn rents conferred by section seventeen of the Tithe Act, 1860, shall extend to the apportionment of all corn rents.

The SOLICITOR - GENERAL (Sir Thomas Inskip): I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to insert the words "and an order has been made accordingly." This is a drafting Amendment to make plain the intention of the Clause. The Clause, as drawn, makes no provision for an Order being made by the Minister, though it provides that the owner of the land may apply for an Order directing that the tithe rentcharge shall be redeemed

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 18 (Amendment of ss. 1 and 5 Tithe Act, 1878) ordered to stand part of the Bill.

CLAUSE 19.
—(Amendment of 54 and 55 Vict. c. 8, s. 2 (1))

"In sub-section (1) of section two of the Tithe Act, 1891 (which relates to the recovery of tithe rentcharge through the County Court), twenty-one days shall be substituted for three months as the time which a sum due on account of tithe rentcharge must be in arrear before an application can be made to the County Court."

Motion made, and question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

Mr. SHEPPERSON: I am opposed to this Clause, because I am anxious that the present period of three months shall stand as the period after which tithe rentcharge may be recoverable through the County Court. This Clause proposes that that period should be reduced to 21 days. The tithepayer is either a landowner in occupation or an owner who receives rent and has to pay tithe for these rents. On 2242 behalf of the landowner who has let his land, may I point out that he does not as a rule collect his rents for two or three months after the dates on which the rents are due. If that landowner has to pay his tithe within 21 days, he will have to pay it prior to the date on which he is to receive his rent. Therefore, it may be that in some cases the landowner will have to press the occupier of the land for rents at an earlier date than that at which he previously received them in order to meet the charge for tithe. With regard to the tithepayer who is an occupier of land, he himself will not have fully reaped the benefit of that year's harvest at the end of the 21 days. He may have got it in, but he will not have been able to place it on the market, and it would not be possible for him in many cases to have received the money with which to pay the tithe. I appeal to the Minister to help to this small extent the interests of agriculture, and to allow the period of three months to remain.

Mr. WOOD: As was indicated, in a discussion on an earlier Amendment, there is a great deal to be said for the view which my hon. Friend has urged, and I propose to accept his suggestion, which will have the effect of leaving this matter in the position which was established in the Act of 1891.

Question put, and negatived.

Clauses 20 (Amendment of provisions of 8 & 9 Geo. 5, c. 54, as to redemption of tithe rentcharge), 21 (Duty of overseer, etc., to furnish information), 22 (Extension of powers of improvement companies) and 23 (Commencement of Part IV), ordered to stand part of the Bill.

CLAUSE 24.
—(Definitions.)

(1) In this Act, except where the context otherwise requires,— The expression "Minister" means the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries: The expression "tithe rentcharge" means tithe rentcharge issuing out of lands and payable in pursuance of the Tithe Acts, and includes a rentcharge into which a corn rent has been converted under those Acts and which is subject to the like incidents as such tithe rentcharge as aforesaid; but does not include a rentcharge payable under the Extraordinary Tithe Redemption Act, 1886, nor a rentcharge payable under the Tithe Act, 1860, in respect of the tithes on any gated or stinted pasture, nor a 2243 sum or rate payable for each head or cattle or stock turned on land subject to common rights or held or enjoyed in common: The expression "Tithe Acts" does not include the Extraordinary Tithe Redemption Act, 1886, but otherwise means the Tithe Acts, 1836 to 1918: The expression "benefice" has the same meaning as in the Tithe Rentcharge (Rates) Act, 1899: The expression "ecclesiastical corporation" has the same meaning as in the Episcopal and Capitular Estates Act, 1851: The expression "authorised securities" means securities in which Queen Anne's Bounty are for the time being authorised to invest their corporate funds.

(2) References to one hundred pounds of tithe rentcharge means tithe rentcharge of the original commuted amount of one hundred pounds, and where any sum of money is by this Act made payable in respect of one hundred pounds of tithe rentcharge proportionately greater or lesser sums shall be payable when the original commuted value of the tithe rentcharge is more or less than one hundred pounds.

(3) In calculating for the purposes of this Act the amount of any tithe rentcharge or any payment in respect of any tithe rentcharge fractions of a penny less than a halfpenny shall be disregarded, and fractions of a penny amounting to a halfpenny or more shall be treated as a whole penny.

Mr. WOOD: I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "which" ["rentcharge into which a corn"], to insert the words "before the appointed day." This is merely a drafting Amendment to avoid any question as to the position when a corn rent is converted into a tithe rentcharge after the appointed day.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 25 (Temporary extension of the duration of 8 & 9 Geo. 5, c. 54, s. 1, and 10 & 11 Geo. 5, c. 22) ordered to stand part of the Bill.

CLAUSE 26.
—(Short title, construction, extent, commencement, and repeals.)

(1) This Act may be cited as the Tithe Act, 1925, and shall be construed with the Tithe Acts, 1836 to 1918, and those Acts and this Act may be cited together as the Tithe Acts, 1836 to 1925.

(2) This Act shall extend to England and Wales only.

2244

(3) Except where otherwise expressly provided, this Act shall come into operation on the appointed day, and the appointed day shall be such date or dates not earlier than the sixth day of April, nineteen hundred and twenty-six, and not later than the first day of April, nineteen hundred and twenty-seven, as His Majesty may fix by Order in Council.

(4) The Acts mentioned in the Second Schedule to this Act are hereby repealed to the extent specified in the third column of that Schedule.

This Sub-section so far as it effects the repeal of Sub-section (2) of Section one of the Tithe Act, 1918, shall come into operation an the passing of this Act.

The SOLICITOR-GENERAL: I beg to move, in Sub-section (3), at the end, to insert the words "and different days may be fixed for different provisions and different purposes of this Act." The object of this Amendment is to provide for emergencies which cannot be foreseen, and may require different days for different purposes.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

The Clerk of the Committee (Sir J. Horsbrugh-Porter) read the Financial Resolution passed by the House on 29th July, as followeth: "That for the purpose of any Act of the present Session to amend the law relating to tithe rentcharge and other rentcharges, rents, and payments in lieu of tithe, and the payment of rates thereon, and for other matters connected therewith, it is expedient that there shall in each year be charged on and paid out of the Consolidated Fund or the growing produce thereof to the Commissioners of Inland Revenue such sum as the Treasury may certify to be payable by those Commissioners under the said Act in respect of rates assessed on Queen Anne's Bounty as the owner of any tithe rentcharge vested in them under the said Act, after deducting therefrom amounts not less than the following (that is to say): an amount equal to £5 for every £100 of tithe rentcharge previously attached to benefices which is liable to be rated, and which is for the time being vested in Queen Anne's Bounty, and an amount equal to £16 for every £100 of tithe rentcharge previously attached to ecclesiastical corporations which is so liable and vested."

The CHAIRMAN: We come now to Clause 6, consideration of which was postponed at a previous sitting.

CLAUSE 6.
—(Provisions as to rating.)

(1) The amount of any rate made after the appointed day which is assessed on 2245 Queen Anne's Bounty as the owner of any tithe rentcharge vested in them under this Part of this Act shall not be payable by Queen Anne's Bounty, but shall, on demand being made by the collector of the rate on the surveyor of taxes for the district, be paid by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue.

(2) There shall in each year be charged on and paid out of the Consolidated Fund or the growing produce thereof to the Commissioners of Inland Revenue such sum as the Treasury may certify to be payable by those Commissioners under this Section, after deducting therefrom the amounts payable to them, under this Act by Queen Anne's Bounty on account of rates.

(3) There shall be deducted from the moneys payable to the Local Taxation Account in each year the same amount as would, under the Tithe Rentcharge (Rates) Act, 1899, have been paid by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, and would have been deducted from such moneys as aforesaid if the tithe rentcharges previously attached to benefices, which by this Part of this Act are vested in Queen Anne's Bounty, had not been so vested.

(4) Payments to the Commissioners of Inland Revenue under this section shall be made at such times and in such manner as the Treasury may direct.

(5) The surveyor of taxes for the district shall as respects any tithe rentcharge the rates on which are so demandable from him as aforesaid have the like right of making objection to, and appealing against, a valuation of the tithe rentcharge and any rate assessed thereon as if he were the owner thereof.

(6) For the purposes of this section, "rate" means a rate the proceeds of which are applicable to local purposes of a public nature and which is leviable on the basis of an assessment in respect of the yearly value of property, and includes any sum which, though obtained in the first instance by a precept, certificate, or other instrument requiring payment from some authority or officer, is or can be ultimately raised out of a rate as before defined.

The SOLICITOR-GENERAL: I beg to move, in Sub-section 1, after the word "made" ["of any rate made"], to insert the words "on or." This is one of a series of Amendments suggested by the Inland Revenue authorities in order to make the meaning of the Clause clearer. They are purely drafting Amendments. I should have been ready to move them the other day, only the Financial Resolution was not then ready.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In Sub-section (1) leave out the words "Queen Anne's Bounty as" ["which is assessed on Queen Anne's Bounty as"].

2246

Leave out the words "vested in them," and insert instead thereof the words "which is vested in Queen Anne's Bounty."

Leave out the words "Queen Anne's Bounty" ["payable by Queen Anne's Bounty"], and insert instead thereof the words "such owner."

In Sub-section (3), after the figures "1899" ["Tithe Rentcharge (Rates) Act, 1899"], insert the words "or under that Act as modified by any local Act."—[The Solicitor-General.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Mr. RAWLINSON: May I ask the Minister of Agriculture whether he can tell us what the cost to the Exchequer is likely to be? It has been said that the figure was somewhere between £250,000 and £300,000. Am I correct in still putting it at that figure, or has some more precise figure been ascertained since?

Mr. WOOD: The figure was given in the Financial Resolution. If I remember rightly, it was £292,000, of which sum £18,000 or £20,000 was on account of ecclesiastical corporations and the rest on account of benefices.

Mr. RAWLINSON: That is for this year. Is there any estimate as to what the charge is likely to be in the future?

Mr. WOOD: My right hon. and learned Friend will appreciate that that depends upon how much tithe is redeemed, and also upon the rates; but the figure I have given is the actual sum at the moment.

Question put, and agreed to.

NEW CLAUSE.
—(Redemption of tithe rentcharge which is free from rates.)

In the application of the foregoing provisions of this part of this Act to a tithe rentcharge which is free from rates eighty-six and a-half years shall be substituted for eighty-five years as the period during which the tithe rentcharge is to continue payable and the payments into the sinking fund are to be accumulated, and one hundred and five pounds for every one hundred pounds of the original commuted amount shall be substituted for the original commuted amount in the calculation of the compensation for redemption of the tithe rentcharge by a capital sum—[Major Birchall.]

Brought up, and read the First, time.

2247

Major BIRCHALL: I beg to move, "That the Clause be now read a Second time." This Clause is the corollary of what has already been done in Clause 4 in reference to certain tithe which represents ancient corn rents converted into tithe rentcharge. That tithe was free of rates, and, therefore, the owners of that tithe will receive the full £105 without the deduction of £5 for rates. The owner of that is, therefore, the owner of a more valuable property than the owner of ordinary tithe rentcharge. The Bill provides that he shall obtain the full £105, but it makes no provision for any special advantage to him when the period of redemption, 85 years, is ended. If nothing be done on the lines suggested by my Amendment, he will at the end of 85 years get only his £100, or whatever the actual figure may be, and will lose the advantage which he now holds in having a preferential type of tithe rentcharge. The object of the Amendment is to provide, by increasing the period from 85 years to 86½ years, a corresponding figure to the £105 which he now obtains. It seems to be fair in equity and reasonable. As the Bill stands, that particular owner will suffer at the end of the period without any particular reason. The number of these converted corn rents is not, I suppose, very large, but it does apply to a considerable section of the titheowners, and I very much hope the Government will accept the Amendment.

The SOLICITOR-GENERAL: This Amendment deals with a very small question. There are a certain number of tithe rentcharges which are free from rates, but my hon. and gallant Friend will agree with me that there are probably very few of them indeed. The Amendment raises the question as to whether the compensation paid for the redemption of the tithe rentcharge shall be fixed with reference to the value of the tithe rentcharge to the titheowner or by reference to the onerous nature of the obligation to pay which rests upon the tithepayer. The fact that the tithe rentcharge in question is free from rates no doubt does make it a little more valuable to the titheowner, but it is all the same to the tithepayer, and it does seem a little illogical that he should continue to pay for one and a-half years longer than he would pay if the tithe- 2248 owner had to pay rates upon it. On the whole, as it is a very small area which is covered by the Amendment, it seems undesirable to introduce a variation in the time over which the payments shall be made, and I respectfully suggest to my hon. and gallant Friend that he should not press the Amendment, as it would introduce an obligation for which, in the opinion of the Minister, there is not sufficient justification. I am unable to ask the Committee to accept the Amendment.

Mr. RAWLINSON: On the one occasion throughout the proceedings on this Bill when I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North-East Leeds (Major Birchall), I must express the hope that the Minister will consider this matter before the Report stage. There is no sanctity about the period of 85 years, and if the Government can reconsider it in this matter I think they may reconsider it in reference to other matters, and it may be that a great many of the difficulties which have arisen will be got over if once the period of 85 years is held not to be an absolutely sacred period which cannot be deviated from. The principle might apply to those livings of under £300 a year, which have been the subject of discussion. Without wishing to stop my hon. and gallant Friend from withdrawing the Clause at the moment, I hope that between now and the Report stage some consideration may be given to this proposal which seems to be just and equitable. The only thing against it, I presume, is that it does break down the sacred period of 85 years, and I should be rather pleased than otherwise if that could be done.

Major BIRCHALL: After what the Minister has said I do not desire to press my Motion, but though it is a small matter there is an injustice.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

NEW CLAUSE.
—(S. 36 of the Finance Act, 1924, to apply to receipts.)

Receipts given by Queen Anne's Bounty for any tithe rentcharge or other payments attached to a benefice which are vested in Queen Anne's Bounty by virtue of this Act shall be deemed to come within the provisions of Section thirty-six of the Finance Act, 1924—[Major Birchall.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

2249

Major BIRCHALL: I beg to move, "That, the Clause be now read a Second time." This is a Clause dealing with the payment of stamp duty on receipts. At present, by a recent decision of the Courts, the incumbent is not liable to put a stamp on the receipt for his stipend. Here, again, this is a small matter, but one which is of almost universal application. What we suggest is that now that Queen Anne's Bounty are responsible, in place of the incumbent, for collecting the tithe, they also should be exempted from the liability to provide a stamped receipt.

Mr. WOOD: I have no quarrel with the purpose which my hon. and gallant Friend has in view. I have been in communication with the Inland Revenue authorities, and they advise me that his point is covered by the words "for the account or benefit" in Section 36 of the Finance Act, 1924. Therefore, I think he need not be apprehensive. This is obviously a very technical matter, and I suggest that he should put himself into communication with the Commissioners of the Inland Revenue, and allow them, if they can, to satisfy him that his point is, in fact, met. If he is not satisfied, we can return to the matter on Report stage, when I will undertake to try to meet him.

Major BIRCHALL: May I suggest that it would be better to make things quite certain by inserting the Clause? If there is any uncertainty about it, it is desirable to clear it up.

Mr. WOOD: With all respect to my hon. and gallant Friend's knowledge, I do not think the Committee ought to assume necessarily that he is a better draftsman or has greater knowledge of Inland Revenue procedure than have the Commissioners of Inland Revenue. I suggest, therefore, that in the first instance he should allow himself to be satisfied by those who speak with authority. If he is not satisfied, let him come back to the House on Report stage.

Mr. RAWLINSON: Is not that a very dangerous proceeding? I have the greatest respect for the opinion of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, but the opinion of the judges may not necessarily coincide with their view, and frequently does not. This must be a rather difficult point it it needs consultation between the Minister and the Commissioners of the 2250 Inland Revenue, and if there is a difficulty, and if the Committee are all agreed as to what they wish done to remove it, surely it is safer to put this Clause into the Bill rather than leave it to my hon. and gallant Friend to try his persuasion on the Inland Revenue authorities, who may be over-ruled by the first judge before whom the point comes. Surely it is safer to put into an Act of Parliament exactly what the Committee mean, and then there can be no question about it.

Sir H. SLESSER: I have not had the benefit of looking at the Section of the Finance Act, 1924, but the argument is that the scope of that Section extends to money paid for the benefit of somebody else. That is a very arguable and doubtful point. At most, as I understand it, the Minister says that these words are redundant and unnecessary. But at best they will avoid a series of law suits. We have yet to hear what harm would be done by putting this express provision into the Bill. If there were a difference of principle I could understand the objection, but where it is a matter of doubt I think it is agreed that it would be valuable to insert it. I think it will be admitted that the Finance Act, 1924, did not contemplate the particular contingency we are discussing now. That must be so. Now it is a matter for argument as to what the position really is, and the hon. Member comes along with a clear statement in order to clear matters up. I cannot understand what harm can be done by accepting this Amendment, but I can understand that a great deal of harm can be done if this question were left to the law Courts to decide, and that would only be providing a lot more work for lawyers.

Mr. WOOD: The hon. and learned Gentleman may rest assured that I have no desire whatever to encourage the profession to which he belongs. I also hope that I am open to reasonable arguments. I would be the last person who would be prepared to dogmatise on this question, and if it be the general feeling of this Committee that it would be better to adopt the suggestion contained in this Amendment, I am prepared to accept it on the understanding that if on examination I find the words do not carry out the object we all seek I shall reconsider the matter on Report.

2251

Question, "That the Clause be read a Second time," put, and agreed to.

Clause added to the Bill.

FIRST SCHEDULE.
POWERS OF QUEEN ANNE'S BOUNTY.

1. Power to devolve upon bodies or committees appointed by Queen Anne's Bounty, or constituted in such manner as they may from time to time approve, all or any of the rights, powers and duties conferred or imposed on Queen Anne's Bounty by this Act, or by virtue of the vesting of property in them under this Act, in relation to the collection and management of any such property, with full authority to such bodies or committees, subject to any general or special directions which may from time to time be given by Queen Anne's Bounty, to do and execute any act within the powers of Queen Anne's Bounty in relation to the matters devolved upon such bodies and committees as aforesaid:

Provided that the duty of holding and dealing with sinking fund payments and moneys paid for redemption shall not be so devolved.

2. Power to provide on such terms as they think fit for the extinction of any tithe rentcharge vested in them by merger of the tithe rentcharge in the freehold of the land out of which it issues in manner provided by the Tithe Acts.

3. Power to require the transfer to Queen Anne's Bounty by an incumbent of a benefice of any documents in his possession or under his control relating to tithe rentcharge attached to the benefice, and the transfer of copies of confirmed instruments of apportionment and of any other instruments deposited in pursuance of the Tithe Acts, 1836 to 1918, in the registry of any diocese, subject to the same obligation on the part of Queen Anne's Bounty, on such transfer being made, to supply copies thereof to such persons and on such terms as the registrar of the diocese from whom the same were transferred was subject.

4. Power to make regulations with respect to

  • the investment of moneys in the sinking fund and moneys paid to Queen Anne's Bounty for redemption, and the ascertainment of the share therein of the several benefices and corporations interested;
  • the ascertainment, pending the preparation of the scheme to be prepared under this Act, of the sums to be deducted under this Act on account of costs of collection, expenses of administration, and other out-goings, properly attributable to the several benefices and corporations;
  • the periodical disbursement to the persons entitled thereto of the sums received by Queen Anne's Bounty in respect of property vested in them under this Act.
  • 5. Power to apply towards the expenses of administration under this Act any 2252 interest arising from money other than money required to be invested which may from time to time be in the hands of Queen Anne's Bounty under this Act.

    6. Power to make advances out of their corporate funds to meet the expenses of administration, subject to recoupment with interest thereon at such rate not exceeding five per cent. per annum, and in such manner and within such time as Queen Anne's Bounty may determine.

    Sir H. SLESSER: I beg to move to leave out paragraph (1). I move this Amendment in order to raise a discussion as to the very considerable powers which are given to bodies or committees appointed by Queen Anne's Bounty under that paragraph. It will be within the recollection of the Committee that at an earlier stage what was more or less a promise was given that Queen Anne's Bounty in some way or other would be amended, and that its constitution would be modified for the purposes of this Measure, so as to include representatives of incumbents, and at the time I said that was going very far to meet the objection of the incumbents that they were without representation or control. As the paragraph stands, that concession will be largely nullified if there is not a similar proportionate representation on any committee or committees which are appointed by Queen Anne's Bounty to exercise all the powers which are given them under this paragraph. First of all, there are certain things in the paragraph expressly excluded from the jurisdiction of the Committee. One is "that the duty of holding and dealing with sinking fund payments and moneys paid for redemption shall not be so devolved." Consequently, those particular matters are excluded. Otherwise there is taken power in this paragraph to devolve upon bodies or committees appointed by Queen Anne's Bounty or sub-committees or any committee composed of other persons not one of whom will necessarily be a member of Queen Anne's Bounty, all or any of the rights, powers and duties imposed upon Queen Anne's Bounty in relation to the collection of tithe. That, however, is not so serious, but it goes on to say that it may devolve such powers as the management of any property with full authority to such bodies, subject to the general or special directions which may from time to time be given by Queen Anne's Bounty. 2253 It may be said that they cannot act without special directions, but I object to give to Queen Anne's Bounty power to give directions of so far-reaching a character. This is not a criticism of the particular gentlemen who happen to be members of Queen Anne's Bounty, because, as a matter of fact, we are dealing with a drastic change in the whole law relating to the property of incumbents, and we want them to be protected so far as protection can be given. I do not think it is right to devolve upon a committee of unspecified persons unspecified powers, with only one proviso that they shall not deal with sinking fund payments and moneys paid for redemption. That seems to me to be a very wide power indeed. If hon. Members will look at Clause 10 they will see all those powers of management of Queen Anne's Bounty expressly stated other than those covered by the proviso I have mentioned, and it will also be seen that the power of the management of this property can be delegated in this way. I want to have an expression of opinion particularly on the first point which I have raised, namely, that it is now contemplated on the Report stage that machinery is going to be provided for the representation of incumbents on the Queen Anne's Bounty The value of that Amendment is largely defeated if Queen Anne's Bounty, in their turn, can devolve upon any committee they like, or any person they like, any of the powers exercised by Queen Anne's Bounty. I think that is a very dangerous provision. You have now a statutory limit to the powers of Queen Anne's Bounty, but now they will be placed in possession of the whole tithe value of England, and it will be passed over to Queen Anne's Bounty, and therefore the least we can ask is that any powers which can be devolved should be rigorously and clearly defined. The Minister has put down an Amendment to appoint agents, but he has not stated what the powers of those agents are going to be, or how far they interfere with the management of this property. They can demand to see the title deeds, and they are to be the judges as to how and when the tithe is to be collected. I will not go over the whole story. It is bad enough that Queen Anne's Bounty should have that power, but when it is passed over to an unspecified committee with un- 2254 specified duties, then it becomes bureaucracy in excelsis. I am not saying that Queen Anne's Bounty can do everything, but there is a great difference between specified powers of collection and the general powers of management. In my opinion the proviso is far too narrow, and the powers conferred are far too big. Personally, I would rather see it the other way round, that generally Queen Anne's Bounty should carry out their own duties, and if there is anything of a specific nature which could be carried out by special Committees that ought to be provided for in the Schedule. I think the whole principle is wrong and ought to be inverted. The powers should be clearly specified. At present Queen Anne's Bounty can adopt any schemes they like and appoint Committees to carry them out, and they can choose anyone they like to serve on the Committee. This is a most dangerous paragraph, and I think this matter, for all the reasons I have given, should be the subject of very careful consideration.

    Mr. RAWLINSON: I am not supporting the proposal to leave out this paragraph, but this Amendment affords me an opportunity of asking for an explanation. There exists a great deal of fear as to what Queen Anne's Bounty is going to do, and it would allay that fear if we could be told exactly what is the meaning of these very wide powers, because they are very wide indeed. In some instances these powers are taken and devolved upon a central body, and that being so it is entirely within their discretion as to how they will collect the tithes. This particular paragraph gives Queen Anne's Bounty, not only power to appoint agents, but also to delegate all their powers to any Committee they like. For example, they might choose to appoint the local diocesan society. I would like to ask, is it intended to do that? If the Minister could tell us a few of these things it would give us a much better idea. It may be intended to entrust these diocesan societies with these very wide powers. These committees have power to make schemes, and those schemes might include a pooling arrangement where they cannot collect the tithe, and then the losses in any particular parish may be made up out of the general collection of the funds which have been pooled. 2255 I want to know what is the intention of the Government on this point. Are they going to pool England and Wales together by dioceses, or are they going to pool the whole of England in one scheme? Then I want to know if the cost of pooling and the cost of collection is to be placed on one diocese, or will it be spread over the whole of the Kingdom? My right hon. Friend will understand many of these points. Supposing, for instance, Queen Anne's Bounty intend to delegate to diocesan societies the business of collecting the tithe. I will assume that in the case of one diocesan society they keep the expenses down to a very low sum, and in that case I want to know, will they get the benefit of it, or will some other diocese such as Gloucester, for example, which might be extremely extravagant in its collections, get the benefit of this economy? Those are points upon which I have not been able to get any information up to the present. Different people have asked me what is the meaning of the word "pooling," and I have not been able to give them any information on that point. This paragraph gives very big powers to Queen Anne's Bounty, and I do not remember any proviso which gives such wide powers of delegation as is being given under this Bill, because Queen Anne's Bounty really have power to delegate these duties to anybody they please. I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for taking away sub-section (3) of Clause 10, which placed Queen Anne's Bounty far above local proceedings, and I am glad that that proviso has gone. Probably some form of indemnity will be given on the Report Stage, and it will apply to all the diocesan societies and agents. We are giving a very great power to Queen Anne's Bounty, but they will get a certain indemnity for these sub-committees and agents. At any rate, before we part with this part of the Bill I think we are entitled to learn, not in legal language, but in plain language, why we are giving these wide powers, and how Queen Anne's Bounty really intend to exercise those powers when they get them.

    Major BIRCHALL: The responsibility of the Bounty in the matter is clearly laid 2256 down and very definitely referred to in the Bill. That being so, it seems to me that the most efficient and the cheapest method under which they can operate is to give them the widest powers of management and administration possible so that they may take, as experience shows, the course which appears to them most suitable. Clearly the responsibility of collecting for something like 7,000 or 8,000 titheowners, from perhaps half a million tithepayers, is an enormous business and it is utterly impossible, before it comes into operation, to give answers to the various questions that have been put as to the exact cost, the amount of arrears, and the various details that have been referred to. I cannot help thinking that the Bounty are likely, in their own interests, only to appoint those in the different districts who will efficiently and without giving offence carry out this business, and, therefore, I hope the Amendment will not be accepted. Also, I believe a very great deal of the difficulty in the minds of hon. Members come from the fact that they are suspicious of the constitution of the Bounty. That suspicion is shared by every churchman who knows the facts. The constitution of the Bounty is antiquated and is admittedly utterly out of contact with modern Church feeling; so much so that the inquiry that was recently held by a very important Commission into the property and revenues of the Church considered the constitution of the Bounty and made a definite recommendation—and the report has been accepted by the Church Assembly, representing the Churchmen of the country—for the complete reconstitution of the control of the Bounty. That reconstitution is far more democratic than the mere addition of two or three titheowners to the body that deals with the matter. It is suggested that the new body should contain 10 clergy nominated by the House of Clergy, 10 laymen nominated by the House of Laity, 10 bishops and two deans, so that the representative section of that controlling body, namely the 10 clergy and 10 laity, will be far in excess of the non-representative part of the committee and those who feel anxious about the Bounty may be reassured when they receive the assurance, which I am sure can be given, that the Church Assembly itself is quite 2257 determined that the control of the Bounty shall be reconstituted on modern and democratic lines and without any opposition from the Bounty. The whole matter has been discussed and thrashed out with the existing governors. They are entirely in accordance with the views expressed by the Commission, and there is no opposition whatever to this complete remodelling of their constitution. But while I have been rather severe on the constitution of the Bounty as it exists, in spite of this antiquated constitution, which admittedly is indefensible, they have done their work, like a great many antiquated constitutions, exceedingly efficiently and well. They have collected vast sums in connection with tithe redemption in the past, amounting to nearly £750,000 in one year and in another year over £500,000, and so on regularly for many years, without, as far as I know, serious criticism, and, we believe, succeeding in giving satisfaction both to the payers and to the receivers. But we all feel that the time has come for the constitution to be remodelled, and I feel certain that the Church Assembly is determined that both the Bounty and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who also have a slightly antiquated constitution, shall be remodelled and brought into consonance with modern ideas. In view of that, I hope the suspicion with which this question has been regarded will be allayed, and that those who are anxious on behalf of the clergy may feel that the Bounty, both from their desire and from the point of view of what we believe will very shortly take place in their constitution, will act, not harshly and not unfairly, but efficiently and cheaply on behalf of the owners in whose interest they have been appointed to collect this money.

    Mr. BARR: I am afraid our ideas on this side as to what is modern and democratic differ a little from those of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and we have a different idea of a reconstitution of Queen Anne's Bounty from that which he has outlined as produced by the Committee to which he referred—10 appointed by the House of Clergy, 10 by the Laity, two Deans and 10 Bishops. Some of us on this side approach the subject from what I think is a point of view that is undeniable even by those who do not share 2258 our views as to the destination of these funds. We approach it from the point of view that these are national funds, and therefore we think the body that is dealing with them should be a body more definitely related to Parliament and to public control than anything we have as yet had outlined. I understood from the Minister that there would be some proposal brought before us at some later stage to so reconstitute Queen Anne's Bounty that the interests of the Church, and I take it the interests of the public generally, will be more conserved than they are, and I should like to know what is the exact position in regard to their relations to Parliament and to reporting to Parliament, and what control Parliament is to have over them in the future, because I think the proposal in the Schedule makes the position more chaotic still, gives them still larger powers, and powers less under public control than even that body is at present. For these reasons I think we should have a statement from the Minister as to what is proposed as to the constitution of Queen Anne's Bounty, as to its relation to Parliament and as to the conserving of the public interest in these endowments which are, after a long period of time, really passing more than they have done into the control and ownership of the Church. That is why some of us desire that they should have been kept to some extent in their old position so that Parliament should have been free to deal with them, and we deprecate anything that gives more power to a body that is not directly constituted by Parliament and not amenable to Parliament to deal with them.

    The SOLICITOR-GENERAL: I gather that the Amendment is not intended to be a real demonstration, but is intended to elicit some statement as to the Minister's intentions under the Clause. The hon. Member who has just spoken invited my right hon. Friend to elaborate the proposals he has in mind for the reconstitution of Queen Anne's Bounty. I am afraid I cannot satisfy him in that direction. My right hon. Friend's statement as to the ideas which have been running through his mind, and which he proposes to make the subject of conversations with Queen Anne's Bounty, must suffice for the present because those ideas are not yet sufficiently crystallised 2259 to enable him to put anything before the Committee in the way of definite intentions. All he is able to say is that the suggestions thrown out to the Committee the other day are still suggestions to which he is very much inclined and, subject to anything that may affect his mind as the result of discussions with Queen Anne's Bounty, he hopes at some future stage, possibly on the Report stage—but I must not be taken, to promise that it shall be on Report stage—that some proposal will be made that will secure the direct representation on Queen Anne's Bounty of the persons affected. With regard to what my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leeds (Major Birchall) said as to the proposed reconstitution of Queen Anne's Bounty, that is a matter into which I must not enter. If the Church Assembly proposes to undertake the reconstitution of Queen Anne's Bounty it will be free to do so subject to the control of Parliament in the manner provided. The view represented by my hon. and gallant Friend, that Queen Anne's Bounty is very antiquated, I rather gather did not lead him to express or to hold the opinion that it is in any way unfitted for the discharge of the duties entrusted to it under this Bill, and to some extent the discussion as to the reconstitution of Queen Anne's Bounty on the lines of the Commission of the Church Assembly may be considered to be irrelevant to this discussion. To come back to the question as to what is the intention of the Minister, apart from the Clause in the Schedule: It is that Queen Anne's Bounty shall collect this money as cheaply and with as much satisfaction as possible to those concerned, namely, the present titheowners, and that it shall be in as close touch as possible with the persons interested. Then the question arises as to how those intentions can be made effective, and I think it will appear to most Members that one way is by devolving some of the duties which otherwise might be centralised in Dean's Yard upon local committees. It is quite apparent that some matters can be much more cheaply done by local administration than by centralised administration. There may be routine duties to perform. There might be quite necessarily points in conection with compulsory collection and proceedings instituted against persons who are unwilling 2260 to pay promptly, or to the full extent, and those matters can be dealt with more cheaply perhaps by bodies locally formed, upon whom the duties and powers of Queen Anne's Bounty are devolved, than by Queen Anne's Bounty itself. That will help to insure cheaper collection But there is an even more important object in this Clause, and that is to bring Queen Anne's Bounty into as close touch as possible with the persons concerned. Whether the day is near or far off when Queen Anne's Bounty will be reformed in the way my hon. and gallant Friend anticipates, at any rate it can be brought into very close touch with the clergy by giving it power to devolve upon local bodies some or all of their powers—it may be in some cases diocesan conferences, or in some cases the Boards of Finance that are being formed under certain proposals of the Church Assembly in many dioceses, incorporated bodies which can act cheaply, quickly and conveniently and with the full concurrence and confidence of the clergy, it may be appointing ad hoc committees, or it may be devolving the duties of the whole of Queen Anne's Bounty upon one or two members who are to act in relation to certain matters in a particular district or province or diocese of the Church But it would be altogether inconvenient if I were to attempt to lay down any cast-iron scheme in accordance with which Queen Anne's Bounty is to act. The Ministry's intention would not bind Queen Anne's Bounty and it might lead to misapprehension if I were to attempt to give a complete picture of the way of which this Clause is to act. All I can say is that the intention is that Queen Anne's Bounty shall retain full control of these committees. The words appear twice over in the Clause. From time to time the committees are to be constituted, and are to carry out their duties subject to such directions as Queen Anne's Bounty may give; there is no intention that Queen Anne's Bounty are to lose control of the work which they are to perform. The only question is that they shall be allowed for the purposes of economy and convenience to promote conferences with the clergy associated with themselves at the present time and bodies in connection with the Church, or perhaps not in connection with the Church, who can carry out their duties more conveniently. 2261 Perhaps my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson) will allow me to make a criticism of the hon. and learned Member whose lead he followed in this respect. The hon. and learned Member has never been able to make up his mind quite as to which course he shall run on this Bill, whether he wishes to represent the view that these are moneys of the Church, and must be controlled by Church authorities, and administered by the clergy and the people who belong to the Church, or whether they should not be under the strict control and management of a Parliamentary bureaucratic—to use his own expression—authority. The hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Barr) made some observations and used some arguments at which I saw the hon. and learned Gentleman shake his head as if he were horrified that such sentiments should be used in support of his Amendment.

    Mr. BARR: There is some independence on these benches.

    The SOLICITOR-GENERAL: Independence in a unit is often confusion. The two sets of arguments have been mutually destructive, and this makes it unnecessary for me to detain the Committee with any long statement as to the Minister's intention. We think that we have hit on the happy medium in this case. It has been said that Queen Anne's Bounty is an antiquity. I do not share the views of my hon. and gallant Friend that it is so antiquated—though it is ancient—as he suggests. We think that we have a body which is capable of reformation and of adjustment to meet the new powers and duties entrusted to it, and by this Clause will be rendered more than ever capable of exercising those powers and duties. It is not my right hon. Friend's intention to allow Queen Anne's Bounty to get rid of its duties or powers. That is the body to which these duties and powers are committed. They will have to exercise those duties and powers. Just as all of us from time to time find it convenient to entrust important duties which we have to perform to persons who can do them more cheaply and more conveniently, so we are proposing to allow Queen Anne's Bounty to appoint diocesan conferences, boards or other committees to carry out the work which is mentioned in this Schedule. I 2262 hope that after that explanation my hon. and learned Friend will withdraw his Amendment.

    Sir H. SLESSER: As it is suggested by the Solicitor-General that my attitude is inconsistent, I think it well to make my position perfectly clear. What I stated was that I wished in the first place that the clergy should retain their property, but, if their property is to be taken away from them and invested in an alien body, then I wanted to see that body controlled by the State. That is a perfectly consistent position. I am certainly willing to wiithdraw my Amendment, but I would wish to point out that what my hon. and learned Friend has said was devoted to the question of powers of collection rather than to the question of powers of management. In collection the use of agents and committees is inevitable. What I said was that I thought that the proviso was too narrow for that, but I still hope that, between now and the Report stage, that point will be considered. This is intended rather for collection than for management. Some matters are already excluded from the Committee, and more matters should be excluded from the Committee and more given to the Bounty itself.

    Mr. RAWLINSON: I thank the Solicitor-General for his explanation. I believe that the constitution of Queen Anne's Bounty is not very relevant to this particular point. The fact that it is going to be made more democratic does not inspire me with increased confidence. We are giving very great powers to it. Incidentally, I congratulate the Solicitor-General on his bravery in expecting to get the Bill through in a few minutes after his discussion as to Erastianism in the Church and the question whether Parliament is to have any right over the matter at all. I think that he has been let down very lightly in the two minutes which have been occupied by my hon. Friend. I am not mixed up in these controversies, I am only a poor, humble, honest business man, but I would like to know, when you are going to do this, is the pooling to be all over England and Wales?

    The SOLICITOR-GENERAL: It has nothing to do with Wales.

    2263

    Mr. RAWLINSON: Is the pooling to be all over England, both as regards the collection expenses and what may be called the bad debts, because that would make a great difference?

    Mr. WOOD: The answer to the question as to pooling is found in Clause 11. If I am asked whether Queen Anne's Bounty will, in fact, under the scheme which they draw, make pooling arrangements by dioceses or over the whole country, that, I take it, will be completely in the competence of Queen Anne's Bounty to arrange. If you are going to administer the whole thing through Queen Anne's Bounty, it is evidently wise to allow the fullest latitude to Queen Anne's Bounty, provided you can take steps to make sure that the views of tithe-owners are reasonably represented in the administration. On the general question, on which I do not want to go back, may I suggest that a great many of the arguments used in favour of this Amendment do run a little bit counter to a great many of the arguments which we have had against centralisation, and in favour of as wide a policy of decentralisation as possible. That is what I have in view in the Schedule. I should be rather sorry to see the decentralising powers of Queen Anne's Bounty unduly limited, because I believe that by decentralisation you will tend to get closer working touch and knowledge between Queen Anne's Bounty and those for whom it is acting as principal.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    The SOLICITOR-GENERAL: I beg to move, in paragraph (1), after the word "Power" ["Power to devolve"] to insert the words "to appoint agents and."

    Sir H. SLESSER: I am not clear what is meant by "appoint agents." You have the words "to devolve upon such bodies or committees" authority to exercise these powers. It does not state what they are to do. Are they merely for the purpose of collection, or are they in respect of all the powers? From a drafting point of view it is not satisfactory. Read as a whole you have power to appoint agents and to devolve upon committees, and then follow all the powers. "Agent" is a very broad word in law. It may mean an agent for the specific purpose of collection or for exercising all the powers.

    2264

    Mr. WOOD: I am obliged to the hon. and learned Gentleman for raising the point. The point in my mind was the appointment of agents for the purpose of collection in order to afford Queen Anne's Bounty an opportunity of employing the parson as an agent. I think that there is force in what he says. The drafting may not be quite satisfactory, and I therefore undertake to reconsider the words, if they require reconsideration, between now and Report.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Major BIRCHALL: I beg to move, in paragraph (3), to leave out the words "subject to the same obligation on the part of Queen Anne's Bounty," and to insert instead thereof the words "but so that Queen Anne's Bounty shall be subject to the same obligation." As the paragraph stands at present, the obligation attaches to the document and not to the Bounty, and I only wish to make clear that the obligation attaches to the Bounty and not to the document.

    The SOLICITOR-GENERAL: This is purely a matter of drafting, and the Committee may accept it if they think fit.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Major BIRCHALL: I beg to move, in paragraph (4, b), after the word "collection," to insert the word "and." This Amendment must be taken in connection with the Amendment which follows, to leave out the words "and other outgoings," which may possibly give rise to misunderstanding.

    The SOLICITOR - GENERAL: The words "and other outgoings" were inserted to provide for what might possibly be unforeseen, but as my hon. and gallant Friend says, they may lead to some suggestion that there are other outgoings besides cost of collection and administration. I am not able to think of anything which would come under the heading "other outgoings." Therefore I advise the Committee to accept this Amendment and the Amendment which follows.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendment made: In paragraph (4, b) leave out the words "and other outgoings."—[Major Birchall.]

    2265

    Major BIRCHALL: I beg to move in paragraph (4, b), at the end, to insert the words "and the apportionment of such costs and expenses between the several benefices, but so that Queen Anne's Bounty may, if they think fit, exempt (in whole or in part) from liability to contribute to such costs and expenses benefices the total incomes arising from which are less than such amounts as may be determined by the Regulations." This last Amendment is one of some substance. It will be remembered that under Clause 11 Queen Anne's Bounty have to produce a scheme before 1930, and a part of that scheme includes the giving of better benefits, of some advantage to the very small livings, below a certain figure under the Bill as it stands. That advantage, whatever it may be, cannot be given until the complete scheme is put into operation. The object of this Amendment is to enable Queen Anne's Bounty to give those advantages temporarily until the scheme is actually drawn up and complete. On a previous occasion the Minister of Agriculture said it might be asked, if Queen Anne's Bounty are able to give these advantages by a temporary arrangement before the scheme comes into operation, why the scheme should not come into operation at once. The difference between the temporary arrangements and the final scheme is that the temporary arrangements exclude the question of arrears. It is obviously impossible, when starting this business, to say what the arrears are 2266 likely to be, and it will be impossible to say for some years what the average arrears will be. The scheme when it does come into operation will deal with arrears, whereas this temporary arrangement excludes arrears, and that is the difference between the two. I hope, inasmuch as the principle of the scheme has already been accepted by this Committee, that they will accept this Amendment, which gives the advantages of the scheme to the poorer parsons before the actual scheme comes into operation.

    The SOLICITOR-GENERAL: I understand that the intention is to give Queen Anne's Bounty the power to make temporary apportionments of the nature of the apportionments which will eventually appear in the scheme, and it will enable them to provide for hard cases, such as those of the smaller benefices, until the scheme is framed. If the Committee think fit to give Queen Anne's Bounty such power during the transition period, I think it would be very convenient, and may safely be done, and the Minister is prepared to advise the Committee to accept the Amendment.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

    Second Schedule agreed to.

    Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported to the House.

    The Committee rose at Twenty-six Minutes before One o'Clock.

    THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:

    Barnett, Major Sir Richard (in the Chair, in place of Sir Cyril Cobb)

    Balniel, Lord

    Barr, Mr.

    Birchall, Major

    Blundell, Mr.

    Christie, Mr.

    Crookshank, Captain

    Haslam, Mr.

    Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel

    Hurd, Mr.

    Jacob, Mr.

    John, Mr.

    Looker, Mr.

    Luce, Major-General Sir Richard

    Macdonald, Captain Peter

    Mitchell, Mr. Foot

    Perkins, Colonel

    Peto, Mr. Geoffrey

    Radford, Mr.

    Rawlinson, Mr.

    Scrymgeour, Mr.

    Shepperson, Mr.

    Slesser, Sir Henry

    Solicitor-General, The (Sir Thomas Inskip)

    Stephen, Mr.

    Stuart, Lord Colum Crichton-

    Sugden, Sir Wilfrid

    White, Lieut.-Colonel

    Wilson, Mr. Cecil

    Wood, Mr. Edward