I beg to move,
That, in accordance with the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act, 1919, this House do direct that the Ecclesiastical Commissioners Measure, 1921, be presented to His Majesty for Royal Assent.
At this late hour and after the late sitting last night, I do not propose to spend more than a moment or two in making this Motion. It is to enable the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to use part of their disposable funds in providing pensions for curates. The House may be aware that when a portion of the Church property was handed over to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners part of it was earmarked for specific purposes, but other parts were to be disposed of in accordance with the Act of 1840. That Act specially laid down that the disposable surplus was to be applied to make additional provision for the cure of souls in parishes where such assistance was most required, in such manner as should be most conducive to the efficiency of the Established Church. In pursuance of that policy, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have, since they were started, spent large sums of money in the augmentation of benefices, the endowment of hew parishes, and in providing salaries for assistant curates, but there has been another crying need, and that has been providing pensions for the clergy. They have, since 1907, been able to set aside considerable sums for the provision of pensions for the beneficed clergy. Last year they provided £47,000 in pensions for 626 clergy. There is one section of the clergy for whom no provision can at present be made and that is the unbeneficed clergy and the assistant curates, and the need for pensions for them is insistent. It is to enable these pensions to be provided that this Motion is put down, in order that the Measure which has passed the National Church Assembly under the Enabling Act may receive the Royal Assent and become law. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners have already, in anticipation, made provision to the extent of £10,000 a year for this purpose, and they only await the Royal Assent to this Measure in order that effective steps may be taken to provide these pensions.
Just one word in support of the Motion. In addition to what the hon. Gentleman has said, this paragraph has been before the Special Committee of the Lords and Commons appointed to consider these matters. They recommended it to go forward. There can be no possible objection to unbeheficent clergymen getting their pensions.