Before we start on this Bill, Mr. Speaker, I should like to ask you how we can best have an opportunity of getting from the Government their position relative to the suggestions that were made in the Debate on the Expiring Laws Bill. It was then suggested that, as all parties were anxious to have this Bill postponed for another year, we should, before starting the long process of dealing with the Bill on Report, obtain a statement from the Government as to whether they are prepared to fall in with the views of the interested parties and postpone this Bill, or whether they propose to go on with it. It will be within your recollection that many people proposed that the Bill should not only be postponed but that there should be a one-Clause Bill introduced in order to continue the present situation for another year. Would it be well to raise that question now or to proceed with the Bill?
It is my wish that, in the special circumstances, the House should have an opportunity at the outset of deciding that question. Although I should not, in ordinary circumstances, select the Motion to leave out Clause 1, i think that would be a convenient method in which a short discussion and a vote could be taken to decide whether the House will go on with the Bill, or consider the alternative suggested by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. The other two points that I propose to select on Clause 1, are the Amendment dealing with the figure of standardisation in the name of the hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead (Sir Henry Cautley), and the Amendment in the name of the right hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson) dealing with the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
May I ask whether you have observed on the Order Paper an Amendment in the names of myself, the late Solicitor-General (Sir H. Slesser), and the hon. Member for the Consett Division (Mr. Dunnico) on the universities question, almost similar in character to that which appears later on the Paper in the name of the right hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson) and whether you do not think that you should give preference to that earlier Amendment.
May I call your attention to the fact that there are two new Clauses—1 (Provision as to computation of tithe rentcharge) and 2 (Provision as to recovery of tithe rentcharge in certain cases)—which have been put down by myself and two of my hon. Friends, and whether you propose to take those new Clauses?
I have examined the two Clauses submitted last night, which appear on the Paper for the first time this morning, and I do not find it within my duty to select them on the present occasion.
I beg to move to leave out the Clause.
It has been said that this Bill depends upon three features. First of all, in Clause 1, the stabilisation of tithe; secondly, in Clause 2, the collection of tithe by Queen Anne's Bounty; and, thirdly, the contribution from the Exchequer to the parties interested in this matter in order to bring about agreement and make up for the loss which the local authorities are suffering from the absence of rates from clerical tithe in some instances. The first Clause, no doubt, is the most important. It is the most important in its effect upon the parties interested, but it is also the most important part of the Bill, because it introduces a principle which, I think, we should scan very carefully before we consent to adopt it in legislation. At the present time, the parties interested in this question are, on the one hand, the tithe owners, mostly the rural incumbents and the colleges and universities, and, on the other hand, the tithe payers who are under the Act, I think, of Lord Salisbury's Government, and who are the landowners of this country.
Under the Act of 1836, the tithe payers, that is now the landlords, had to pay tithe on a basis depending upon the price of principally oats, barley, and, to a slight extent, wheat. The average over seven years of those prices regulated the tithe that had to be paid by the landowners to the incumbents and to the charitable institutions. During the War the price of oats rose, and, consequently, the tithe that was payable to the Church by the landowners increased; and, as a piece of emergency legislation, an Act was introduced, in. 1918, to limit that rise and to alter, in effect, the contract established in 1836 between the clerical incumbents and the landowners of this country. That Act is being used to-day as a precedent for a further interference in this contractual obligation, and I would say, first of all, that I do not think this House of Commons ought to accept as a precedent legislation passed to meet the special emergency of the War. That Act, in 1918, was accepted by the parties that suffered loss, namely, the incumbents of this country, because they were anxious to meet in every way, even by a heavy sacrifice of income, the needs of the country, and, particularly, the needs of the landlords in the country who were suffering from the high tithe charge, but they accepted that Act on the distinct understanding that it was to expire this year.
Now, when that Act is about to expire, we find this new breach of contract introduced by the Government in order to deprive the clerical incumbents and the charitable institutions of this country of the rights that they had enjoyed since 1836 and of what would amount to a very large increase in their incomes. Indeed, if this Act be not passed this year, it will mean that tithe will rise from £109 odd to about £132, or a rise of very nearly 20 per cent. That rise will involve a sum of not less than £600,000 a year, a sum which means a great deal to the clerical incumbents of this country and to the charitable and educational institutions which so largely own tithe and benefit by the rate at which tithe is paid. We are, therefore, now asked in this Bill to prevent this large increase in the charge upon the landlords of the country which would inure to the benefit of the Church. We are asked to prevent it by stabilising tithe at all times at a figure of £109 10s., or, rather, £105 when the sinking fund deduction is made.
If this were a question of a contract between the State and an individual, I do not believe that there are any Members in this House who would tolerate a breach of the contract. Men lent their money during the War to the Government at a high rate of interest. They entered into a bargain with the Government under which the Government were to pay a certain interest for a certain period of time and then pay back the capital at a fixed rate when that period expired. That bargain has turned out unfortunately for the State. The high rate of interest is no longer required, and a case might be made out for the State urging that a lower rate of interest should now be paid. Yet there is not one man in this House— I do not think there is anyone on the Labour benches—who would say that you should cut down the rate of interest and break the contract in those specific cases: and any Government which did that would shatter British credit and dishonour British tradition. [Cheers.] I am glad to have those cheers, because here you are faced with a problem, not exactly similar in character, but one in which the case is much stronger, for this is not a question of a contract between an individual and the State, but a question of a contract between one set of individuals and another set of individuals.
It is even more than that. It is a contract between one set of individuals and the Church of this country, and you are by this Bill deliberately breaking that contract and depriving men who have in the case of lay proprietors and educational institutions actually bought their tithe in the open market. You are de- priving them of the conditions under which that contract was entered into by saying: "in future, we will not allow tithe to depend on the price of oats—the cost of living—but we will, instead, fix it at a price which in the immediate future will obviously deprive one party to the bargain of his principal financial income." It is the more iniquitous in my eyes, because the people who are to suffer by this Bill are not represented and cannot be represented in this House while the other party to the bargain are represented and perhaps over-represented in this House. I would ask hon. Members to consider very carefully whether it redounds to the honour of this House that we should use our position, our power of being Members of Parliament, not only to alter a bargain in our favour, but to alter it against the Church and against people who are not represented in Parliament. That is the problem that I want to put before hon. Members to-night. Everybody knows—it has been said by the Government and it will be said again —that if this Bill does not pass tithe next year will rise to £132. This Bill proposes to fix it at £105. That means hard cash into some people's pocket and hard cash out of other people's pockets, and we ought to be very careful before we pass an Act which has, in effect, nothing, at any rate in this Clause, to do with the public at large, but which really is altering a written contract entered into between two sets of parties in this country.
If that were all, I honestly think that there would not be much pressure in favour of this Bill in this House, but, after all, we do not act in such an outrageous, self-seeking manner as that. There are, I admit, other questions to be considered. It has been said that, although the parsons will lose immediately, in the long run they will not lose. In the 85 years, according to the estimate of an impartial committee, they will get a very fair bargain. The Government and the impartial committee may think that the parsons get a very fair bargain, but, even if you think the bargain is fair, a contract between two sets of individuals ought not to be altered by the State without the consent of the individuals concerned. When you convert a loan into a lower interest-bearing security, you do not say to the people, "You must lend at 4½ per cent. your capital that has previously been bringing in 5 per cent." You say, "We can get enough money at 4½ per cent., and, therefore, anybody who chooses to convert will have 4½ per cent., but, if he does not, we will pay him back his money in full." You coerce no individual. In this case, under this compulsory Clause, every parson, whether he thinks he has got a good or a bad bargain, has got to accept the bargain.
That seems to be not only bad politics but a dishonourable course of action when the relative position of the two parties is considered. Moreover, it must be obvious to every Member of this House that in any estimate as to what would be the average value of tithe oats and wheat over a period of five years, or when you are guessing as to what the rate of interest will be over 85 years, you have only to look across the Channel to see that if you have any policy of economic inflation, as you have seen in Germany and France, it will absolutely destroy the income of the parsons which you secure under this Clause. We ought then to be very cautious about making estimates, and about forcing people who do not agree with those estimates to accept them, and to implement forcibly any bargain as to which no man and no body of men can possibly form an estimate.
If it were possible to define in advance the price of oats, barley and wheat, it would be easy on the corn exchange to make fortunes by dealing in futures. It is because we cannot do so that any estimate must be a mere guess. Therefore, it is hard to have Members and right hon. Members on the Front Bench putting forward to the people who are suffering by this Bill the estimate of Sir Charles Lorrimer as to what he, without any data, considers to be a fair price. No man can say what a fair price is. Therefore, we aught to be more cautious in determining this bargain and in laying down the law as to what two private individuals who enter, into a bargain should scrap that bargain for. The House knows that the parsons who surfer by this Bill are a small number in comparison with the number of landlords of this country. Their incumbencies are worth small sums. They were small sums before the War, and though tithes have risen slightly the value of those livings has risen by nothing like the amount of the increase in the cost of living. The position is worse to-day than it was 15 years ago. Their struggle to make both ends meet is worse to-day than it has been for over a century in this country, and now that there is this small minority, unrepresented in this House, we, the British House of Commons, are inflicting this bargain upon them against their wish.
I attach no importance to a general approval from any Church. We should see that every individual gets justice and should have full opportunity of saying whether he will accept the terms which Sir Charles Lorrimer and the Minister for Agriculture, without any sufficient data, happen to say should be accepted. These men are doing good work up and down the country. They are trying to make both ends meet on miserable stipends. We are complaining that the Church does not do its duty properly in the post-War England. Yet when it comes to hard cash we pass an Act which takes away from these clergy some of the pittance which they have left and leaves them largely in a more difficult position. I cay with every reason, on the grounds of honesty, tradition and sanctity of contract, on the grounds of humanity towards the struggling parsons of this country, that this Bill should not pass into law. Of all its Clauses, Clause 1 is the worst, seeing that under this Clause the injustice is committed.
I understood that this Amendment was moved for the purpose of ascertaining what the Government's intention was, and though my right hon. and gallant Friend indulged in a Second Reading speech on his Amendment I think that he has been answered from these benches in the Second Reading Debate and that he has been answered on more than, one occasion in Committee, therefore he will not expect me to traverse all the statements which he has made. He must not expect me to agree that the parsons about whom he was speaking were suffering under this Bill or that they were losing £600,000 a year.
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman cannot expect me to accept that, because it is a phantasy totally removed from any resemblance to the actual facts. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has said that what we are proposing is equal to a proposal to cut down the rate of interest on the National Debt.
I am surprised to hear that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for South-East Leeds (Sir H. Slesser) seems to encourage him in the idea that these are perpetual contracts under which the parsons might reasonably expect, year after year through the centuries, to receive the normal amount of tithe.
That is exactly the mistake which the right hon. Gentleman makes. Tithe is redeemable, and at the option of the payer of the tithe, and it can be redeemed, and since 1918 has been able to be redeemed, whatever the amount, so, therefore, the tithe owner was never entitled to expect for that long vista of years to which the right hon. Gentleman referred the payment of tithe at that rate. But I do not want to make a Second Reading speech. I want to state the intention of the Government. It is to ask the House to proceed with the Bill. It was suggested that a one-Clause Bill should be brought in to maintain the existing position for a year, and that the tithe question should be considered afresh at the end of the year. The Government cannot assent to that proposal. This Bill does contain a large measure of agreement between the tithe payers and the tithe owners. It is quite true that there is no agreement as to the amount at which tithe should be stabilised, but the desire to stabilise tithe, I believe, is general.
In any part of the House one would find exception taken to any general statement, but I think that it is true to say that both on the Second Reading and right through the Committee stage there has been a reluctance to lose this Bill, and that the majority do believe that in this Bill we are doing something which both the tithe payer and the recipient of tithe would like to see done. There is no agreement as to the figure at which tithe should be stabilised. Will there be any greater probability of agreement in a year's time? I do not believe that there will be. For two years this matter has been in Debate. Committees have considered it. Committees of tithe owners have considered it, and technical committees have considered it, so that the figure in the Bill is the result of the best advice which the Government can get on the subject, and I do not believe that by postponing it for another year we should get any better or indeed any different advice.
The Bill also provides for the redemption of tithe, the collection of tithe by Queen Anne's Bounty, and the contribution by the State to the rates, in order that the other ratepayers may not suffer by the partial relief of tithe from rates. All those are subject matters of a large measure of agreement. Again one would find in one corner of the House or the other exception taken to one or other of those propositions, but on the whole the balance of opinion is in favour of the course which is proposed. As I have said before there is no greater prospect of agreement a year hence, and it is absolutely necessary to do something before the end of this year. As hon. Members know the existing stabilisation at £109 3s. l1d. then comes to an end, and therefore the Government intend to ask the House to proceed with this Bill. Consequently of course I must oppose this Amendment. This Amendment is a wrecking Amendment. It is put forward intentionally in order that if it were passed the Bill should be killed. Indeed it is an Amendment which is equivalent to a negative on the Second Heading, and because it is I must ask the House to reject it.
I wish to say one or two words on this question. My right hon. Friend who has just sat down is quite justified in saying that to pass this Amendment would be the rejection of the Bill. Therefore I do not propose to vote for it, because, although I want the Bill amended, I do not at this moment want it rejected. On the Third Reading that question can be considered when the time comes. But I do think it necessary to say one word of caution. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman in moving the Amendment would, I think, have had greater force if he had taken into account two things which he has left cut of account. He took no account of the relief given to the clergy in the matter of rates, and he took no account of the consideration that a very large number of the clergy are very anxious to be relieved of the invidious position in which, they are placed in being tithe owners, and having to recover from tithe payers who are their friends and with whom they ought always to be in the position of spiritual pastor or counsellor.
For that reason many of the clergy are anxious to secure a settlement even though that settlement falls short of strict justice. But the right hon. Gentleman on the Front Opposition Bench is entirely justified in saying that tithe is property and always has been so regarded. It is the property of the clergy to whom the tithe was dedicated before history opens in this island. They possessed this tithe as property and it was commuted for a money payment in 183G and the bargain then was a permanent bargain. It was intended to be an assured income, and the clergy suffered from the bargain for a very long time and it seemed to be a very bad bargain for the clergy.
Yes, on terms. As a matter of fact, the tithe payer has redeemed in only a limited number of cases. I will not go into details. The circumstances are such that this Bill is necessary because the tithe payer has not thought it in his interest to redeem up to the present. During those long years tithe went down. It went down at the lowest to 68. Nobody said to the tithe owner that the bargain of 1836 had turned out unexpectedly bad for him, and therefore the loss was to be made up to him. The tithe owners were left to bear the whole weight of the fall in corn prices. When corn prices rose very high indeed, as they did during the War, and the tithe went up, a great appeal was made to the tithe owners' patriotism and to their spiritual position, and they were asked not to act as profiteers. They almost alone in the community did really act up to that standard of self-sacrifice which was inculcated on everybody. They said: "Oh, very well, we will fix the tithe. We sacrifice the great advantage that comes to us from War prices." Although the cost of living went up and the clergy had the full weight of that cost to meet, yet that arrangement was taken as the basis, as if it were mere justice and right, whereas what the clergy did at the time was an act of great self-sacrifice on their part.
If you are going to act by reason and pure justice and not take into consideration questions of policy or expediency, the case of the clergy against this Bill is very strong. What induced the clergy to accept the Bill was, first, that an important concession is made to them in regard to rates. No one can say how-great that charge will ultimately become. Secondly, unhappily, tithe is very much attacked from various points of view. No one can tell how strong an attack might be made in future by those who would treat the rights of property with disrespect. They might take the property away altogether. That happens to some people who travel in lands where there are different bands of brigands. In those sad circumstances they have to choose into whose hands it is best that the property should fall. Under this Bill the circumstance of an additional security is not to be despised. Then there is the very important advantage, from the spiritual point of view, from the point of view of the efficiency of the Church, that the tithe owner is no longer to be the parochial creditor. A clergyman once said to me, "How extraordinarily invidious it is to meet a man with whom you are on friendly terms, who is behind with his tithe. You remind him, and remind him again, and yet again. Are you to take proceedings or not? How odious it all is, and how it destroys the personal relations of friendship which ought to be kept unaffected."
For these reasons the arrangement under the Bill—I do not like calling it a bargain, any more than the Mover of the Amendment did, for I do not like to speak of bargains about property and justice; they ought not to be susceptible to that sort of treatment—the arrangement being in the general public interest, it is desirable that the Bill in some shape should pass. Later on we shall have an opportunity of criticising it from other points of view. On the whole, I believe the clergy will be wise to accept it. It has not been formally accepted by an Assembly but most of the representative clergy who have been consulted have approved of the arrangement, though not because it represents a full measure of justice in their claim.
The Noble Lord has, with great lucidity, explained that this is a Bill which, if it is to pass into law, should require an exceptional measure of general assent. It is a Bill which does interfere with It property, and the Government would be justified in passing it only if it were true that the Rill was very widely supported. The Noble Lord says that the Bill does offer some advantages to the clergy. It offers the advantage of stabilisation. I wish especially to speak of the charitable corporations. We do not regard stabilisation as an advantage; we regard it as a disadvantage. We should much prefer to derive our revenue from tithes based on the value of the three principal cereals in future, as we have done in the past. Nevertheless, we do not wish to oppose stabilisation, if the House thinks that it is really for the benefit of the clergy to have it. I cannot, however, pretend to say that the figure at which tithe is to be stabilised, or the arguments upon which that figure is based, carry conviction with the members of the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge.
We consider that an appeal Has been made to the wrong type of authority. We have been asked to accept the figure upon the authority of an eminent solicitor, and we regard this figure as an edifice built on a rainbow. We think that in order to obtain a just estimate of the course of prices during the next 85 years, you should invite a committee of trained economists to give you the best prognosis they can. Such a committee has never been consulted by the Government. On what is the figure in the Bill based? It is based on the hypothesis that the value of the three principal cereals will fall very seriously in relation to the price of other commodities in the next 85 years. We see no evidence of that. The best econo- mists see no evidence of that. We should say that the signals point in exactly an opposite direction. What is the explanation of the comparatively low level of prices during the 19th century and before the War? It is common knowledge. It is partly the great markets that we were able to obtain for our coal. It is partly the result of the immense export trade in cereals from the virgin lands of North America.
We ask ourselves whether it is not the case that the law of diminishing returns is already beginning to operate on American land, whether it is not the case that American economists calculate that the population of America at the end of these 85 years will be something like 200 millions, that the Americans will consume their own wheat; and we ask ourselves from what quarters of the world a compensating supply is to be obtained. Of course, in matters of this kind no one can make exact prophecies, but we submit that the case for the figure adopted by the Government is not a case which commends itself to our judgment. There is, of course, the alternative that general prices may fall. That, again, we consider to be an improbable result. I cannot therefore agree with the right hon. Gentlemanߞ
The right hon. Gentleman is now discussing an Amendment standing on the Paper in his name, but not yet reached. The question immediately before the House is whether this Bill shall be proceeded with. I do not think it would be right for the right hon. Gentleman to make at this stage a speech which should be made on his Amendment.
I defer to your judgment, of course. I was pointing out that this was a Bill which required a very large measure of assent. My Noble Friend said that there was a sufficient measure of assent from the clergy, and that he did not, therefore, wish to associate himself with the Amendment under discussion. I say that this Measure does not obtain the assent of the charitable corporations, so far as it affects them, and that I demur altogether from the proposition advanced by the right hon. Gentleman, that the figure at which tithe is stabilised is a figure which is not likely to be affected by any more extended or impartial investigation. My submission was that if the figure were submitted to an impartial jury of economists they would regard it as an untenable figure. But if this Bill be just to the clergy, it is certainly unjust to these charitable corporations. The clergy get the great benefit of a remission of rates, but the benefit is not extended to the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. I do not wish to oppose the principle of stabilisation. We are quite prepared to see this Bill proceeded with, provided that we can get some satisfaction of our claims, the justice of which will become patent when we reach the Amendment to be moved by the right hon. Member far Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson).
I do not propose to speak on the general merits or demerits of the Bill, because, so far as I am concerned, I have made up my mind about it, and I think it is known to the right hon. Gentleman opposite. I rise for the purpose of asking the Government whether they will allow the House to express a free opinion as to whether they wish to go forward with the Bill or whether they wish the existing situation to be continued for another year. If we had a free vote we should know what right hon. and hon. Members think about the Bill. If this Clause were to be deleted it would be no defeat of the Government. This is not a political Bill; there is no political question in it. For all I know, hon. Members behind me disagree with my views on the Bill, and hon. Members opposite disagree with the Government. The question is, as the Noble Lord said, that the danger to justice can be justified only if there were general agreement. I suggest that if a free vote were given on this Clause, and if the House decided that in all the circumstances the Bill could not proceed, it would follow that a one-Clause Bill, even at this late hour, could be introduced to continue the existing position for another year. There were technical difficulties about placing it in the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, but a Bill could readily be drafted in an hour or half an hour to continue the existing law.
Without discussing the merits of the Bill, I desire to express my deep regret that the Government insist on going on with the Measure. Some may like it, others may dislike it, but no one can honestly say that there is substantial agreement in any quarter as to the justice or the merits of the Bill. Therefore, I think it a pity that the Government Whips and the Government prestige should be employed—as they will be if the Government insist on making this their Measure —to force what no one in the House really wants. My own view is that the House should be allowed to give a free vote, and in that event my opinion is it would be defeated by a large majority. I may be wrong in that opinion, but in any case the House is entitled to express an opinion on this subject just as it expressed its opinion the other night on another subject when we persuaded the Government to allow a free vote to be taken. The House should be allowed to say whether is does or does not want this Bill, and in the event of this Clause being rejected we should all, as a matter of honour, whatever our personal views may be, undertake to allow a one-Clause Bill continuing the existing situation to go through without Debate.
We all realise that something must be done. We do not wish to jeopardise the situation, and those who believe that the clergy are treated unfairly in this Bill wish least of all to see the clergy further jeopardised by the collapse of the whole system. I know the Bill must go through, or the present situation must continue, but I suggest the Government should not regard this as a matter of personal dignity or consider that they are pledged to anybody or any principle or anything in this matter. Nobody will think any less of them if they allow the House to express an opinion. They will not lose a vote in the country by doing what I suggest, and nobody will belittle them on account of it. On the other hand, I believe it would be said that they had acted in a very chivalrous and fair way. I make this suggestion not as a partisan for or against the Government, though certainly a partisan in regard to the Bill. Let us decide whether we want this Bill or not. Thus we shall clear away all difficulty, and I am sure if we are defeated we shall accept our defeat like sportsmen.
The only reason one can conceive in favour of a postponement of this Bill is the likelihood that a better Bill or one receiving more general agree ment may be produced in the future. We have listened to several interesting speeches of a Second Beading character from those who are definitely and absolutely opposed to the Bill, and I submit it is exceedingly unlikely that any Bill of this character would meet with their approval. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman who introduced this Amendment held up his hands with horror at the idea that the interest on the National Debt might be reduced. Some of his supporters would hardly agree with him because their view is that not only should the interest be reduced but the whole debt repudiated. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman can hardly hold up his hands in horror and say that this is a breach of a bargain with the clergy. I submit there is no reason for postponement. The matter has been discussed ad nauseam, by those people who know the subject and are concerned in it. As regards those most definitely concerned, namely, the tithe owners, they have had Committees of both Houses of Convocation specially appointed for their knowledge of the clergy and the clergy's needs, and their knowledge of this subject generally. They have also had a remarkable conference which has met on several occasions, consisting of representatives from every diocese in England. In addition, many local diocesan conferences and smaller conferences have considered the subject during the past two years, and I am confident that no further result is likely to be achieved by postponing the Measure even for another day.
If there were any chance of agreement, it might be desirable to have a postponement, in spite of the fact that every effort has already been made, but there is no chance of agreement. The two parties are within a few pounds of each other, but they cannot reach the final point of agreement. Surely it is the time for the Government to step in as arbitrator and settle a figure as between the two contending parties. Whatever the figure may be, it seems essential that the Government, fortified by the opinions of their actuaries, should intervene, and in a dispute of this character the common-sense thing would seem to be to take the middle course, and I regard the Government as perfectly justified in saying to both sides, "We will settle it by splitting the difference." I am still more strongly opposed to a further postponement, because it will lead to an intensified party campaign in this country on this difficult and complicated question. We have already seen letters and advertisements in the newspapers asking for the names of those who are opposed to the Measure, and it will be interesting in the course of this Debate to hear what these gentlemen have achieved. Whatever their success may be, I, for one, regret the continuance of this dispute between two large bodies of people in this country, the agricultural interest and the Church interest, and as nothing can be gained by postponement, I hope the Government will proceed with the Bill and that it will be placed on the Statute Book with the least possible delay.
I should like to join with those who are seeking to impress upon the Government the desirability of postponing this Bill, and bringing in a short temporary Measure. It has been stated that the representatives of the Church are either dissatisfied at being deprived of some part of their livings, or, on the other hand, that they have to make the admission that they are more or less satisfied with the bargain, but it is well known that the tithe payers are far from being satisfied with the arrangements in this Measure. Speaking as a friend of the Church, I say it is not going to be in the interests of the Church to hurry through this Measure, and to find after it has become an Act of Parliament that the tithe payers are disgruntled and dissatisfied, and that the Church has created more enemies by rushing the Measure through instead of waiting for another year. I suggest that the two parties should meet again. As a layman I do not wish to vote for one side or the other, except in so far as I am voting for what I believe to be justice between the parties. It has been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the English Universities (Mr. Fisher) that it is impossible to fix the average price of cereals over the next 85 years. The right hon. Gentleman thinks the possibilities are that, if there is not an increase in the price, the price will remain as it has been for the last year or two. If that be true, the farmers are not going to gain a great deal if they do not stabilise the tithes. On the other hand, farmers believe there is going to be a reduction.
It is a difficult question for a layman, and I admit I should not be in a position to make any statement in regard to it. I met the farmers, and they put their case before me. I then immediately wrote to one of my friends, a clergyman, asking him to arrange a meeting with the clergy in order that I might hear their view, and I had a letter from him yesterday stating that a representative of the clergy would meet me next Saturday—when this Bill may be an Act of Parliament. I thought if the clergy had a very strong case, they would have been as desirous of placing their views before me as the farmers were, but they have not availed themselves of that opportunity. The farmers told me beforehand that it had been stated in "The Guardian" that the dice were loaded against the tithe payers. I am not making any statement myself as to whether that is true or not, but if a very strong Church paper admits that the dice were loaded against the tithe payer, we may expect the tithe payers themselves to raise their voices very strongly. The Government must take account of the fact that the great majority of tithe payers, small and large, are not satisfied with the arrangements in this Bill. If the Bill goes through they will be dissatisfied, and I say to the representatives of the Church that I cannot conceive anything more detrimental to the interests of the Church than to have the great farming interest of this country dissatisfied in that way.
I must agree with the last speaker in what he said as to the farming community of this country not being satisfied with the terms of the Bill. I wish the House to believe that in everything I say I do not speak with any hostility to the Church, but there are several points in connection with this Bill which should be brought before the House by the representative of an agricultural constituency in a corn-growing area in our Eastern counties because the Eastern counties—Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent—are the big tithe-paying counties of this country. Their view should be represented in this House. I ask the House in the first place to remember that there are five different people who get some sort of living out of the land to-day, namely, the landowner, the farmer, the labourer, the tithe owner and the tax-gatherer. Of these the three last named get all the first fruits of the land, and the remaining two, who supply the capital, get what is left—and as so little is left, there is not much quarrelling over the division. Without going through the various Acts dealing with this subject, I wish to bring to the notice of the Government a comparison of the redemption under the 1918 Act, and the redemption proposed under this Measure. In 1918 one was allowed to redeem over a period of 50 years at a price of £109. Now one is asked to redeem over a period of 85 years at a price of £109 10s. I ask the Government why is there such a difference between 1918 and 1925? In 1918 farming was in a fairly prosperous condition. To-day the position is entirely different. Farming is at the lowest ebb it has been at for generations, and yet the Government are asking the tithe payer to redeem at a price much higher than. that asked in 1918. If you take the redemption figure of 1918, £109, over 50 years it works out at somewhere about £5,000, but if you take the capital sum under this Bill, it works out at somewhere about £9,300. That is tantamount to an increase of 60 per cent. I would very much like my right hon. Friend to answer that question when he discusses the Bill.
I think the House must agree that that is a principle which cannot be defended, because in 1918 farming was in a very much more prosperous state than it is to-day, and you were asked to redeem your tithe for a period of 30 years at a figure represented in capital value at about £5,000, but to-day, when the position is absolutely altered, from the farming point of view, you are asked to leave it almost in perpetuity, because 85 years is practically three generations; you are asked to redeem over a longer period, which in fact makes up a very much larger capital sum. There is one thing I think that ought to be considered by this House as regards this Rill on the question of compulsion. The party representing—
If Clause 1 is left out, that means that the whole Bill certainly is finished. I do not want that the tithe should be left to the open market next year, when it will go up to a very high figure; but I feel that the House ought to realise that, that something ought to be done, and that fairness ought to be accorded to the tithe payer as well as to the tithe owner. The nationalisation of land is a factor which we must consider in regard to this particular point.
The Noble Lord is doing exactly what I asked him not to do. Perhaps it will be for the convenience of the House if I repeat what took place at the beginning. Mr. Speaker, who had not selected this particular Amendment for discussion, allowed it to be discussed on the understanding that there would be a general discussion as to whether the Bill should be postponed or not, and that is the only question now before the House.
I must apologise. I was trying to bring in a certain point of view on this Bill which I do not remember having heard discussed before in this House. I feel, on the whole, that the tithe owner under this Bill is not in any way to be pitied. I do not think it is realised by this House that this figure of 105 really takes into consideration the full value of tithe as it would be next year, that is to say, 132, and that is an important point. Most people think it does not include the very high figure that would be obtained if it was left to the open market, and if the tithe was based on the price that would be got for the corn, the figure at which the tithe would stand if it had not been regulated by the Act of 1918. I think the clergy are getting a very fine bargain out of this, because, after all—
I do apologise, and I will say no more, except this, that I hope very much that the Government, in considering this Bill, will realise that for us people in the Eastern Counties of England, who have to pay such heavy tithe, it is a very great burden, and we can ill afford to pay it at this time, when farming is at such a low ebb.
I rise, not for the purpose of answering any of the questions which the Noble Lord the Member for the Eye Division (Lord Huntingfield) has raised, because I imagine the House will desire that the answers should be given when the Amendments are moved upon which my Noble Friend's observations would be more directly relevant than upon the question that is actually before the House. I may remind hon. Members that this discussion was permitted by Mr. Speaker in order that a statement might be made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War as to the Government's intentions with regard to the Bill. My right hon. Friend made a statement of the Government's intentions in perfectly explicit terms, and I am sure that there is nobody on either side who would desire to misuse the opportunity which Mr. Speaker gave for the purpose of a short discussion to elicit those views. So far as the contending opinions of the tithe owner and the tithe payer are concerned, it may be found that, when we come to the Amendments that are on the Paper—one, for instance, in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Shepperson), to leave out "and five" and make it "100"—his argument will be answered by the right hon. Member for Newcastle - under - Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), who is desirous to leave out "five" for the purpose of inserting "ten," and when that interesting clash of opinions takes place, it may be that the Government will be relieved from any necessity for saying anything else, except that they have attempted to arrive at what they believe to be a proper figure, which lies between these two extremes.
That matter could be discussed when we came to these particular Amendments. I merely rise to say two things. The hon. and learned Member for South-East Leeds (Sir H. Slesser) asked the Government whether they would be prepared to leave this matter to a free vote of the House. If I may say so respectfully, I think he destroyed his case by admitting that, in his view, and in everybody's view, something requires to be done, and to be done urgently. The Government would be failing in its duty if it gave no guidance to the House as to the proper way in which this problem ought to be dealt with at this particular time. On that ground, because the Government believe it to be its duty to propose a solution to the House, and to ask the House to accept that solution, the Government is unable, as is suggested, to refrain from giving the guidance which is generally expected when it asks its supporters to follow its advice.
Perhaps I may refer to one other point. It has been repeatedly suggested that there has been no measure of agreement on the part of the clergy in this matter. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North East Leeds (Major Birchall) answered that, and he has a right to speak on behalf of the clergy, holding the position he does, but perhaps I may refer to a letter which was written by the Secretary of the Central Board of Finance of the Church of England, which appeared in yesterday's "Times," in which he said that he desired to say that the clergy were very fully consulted about the terms secured to the Church in the Government's Tithe Bill, and he proceeded:
It seems necessary now to amplify that statement by saying that the findings of the representative committees of the clergy were either unanimous or carried by very large majorities.
That appears to be sufficient to dispose of the suggestion that the Government had been arbitrary and had gone over the heads of the clergy in the decision at which they had arrived to present this solution of a difficult problem to the House. I respectfully hope that the House may find it possible to conclude this particular discussion now.
May I just ask. before the hon. and learned Gentleman sits down, whether those clergymen who came to that conclusion were country clergymen or town clergymen? It makes a difference.
Representatives of every class of clergy were included upon the committees, from every diocese, and a former Member of this House, Sir Arthur Griffith-Boscawen. whose interest in the clergy is very well known, took a very active part in the negotiations, which were very prolonged, as the hon. and gallant Member for North East Leeds has said, in order that the views of the clergy might be ascertained and be represented in the proper form. Nobody suggests that you can obtain the views of each individual tithe owner in a matter of this sort, but the right hon. Gentleman opposite is the last person in the world who should suggest that representative opinions are not to be binding upon bodies of men without the necessity of going to each individual member of the union or the organisation.
That is the position. The proposal of the hon. and learned Member for South-East Leeds was that we should bring in a short Measure as an alternative to this Bill, which would continue the status quo. I would have the House to understand that, if this Bill is not proceeded with, the alternative might be, would be, to go back to what the Act of 1918 enacted should take place after December, 1925, which would have the effect of making tithe rentcharge estimated upon a 15 years' basis. That would be very much more unfavourable to the tithe payer than the figure of 109, which was adopted in 1918 for a few years. The tithe payer certainly does not want the basis to be either a septennial average or a 15 years' average. What some of the tithe payers desire is a continuation of the temporary figure of 109 as it has stood, and will stand until the end of this present year. The Government's view is that it is better to settle this question, after the prolonged discussion that it has had, once for all in the way in which they believe it to be best capable of settlement, and we hope to get the support of hon. and right hon. Members who generally support the Government, whatever their opinions may be as to the precise figure to be put in the Bill and on matters of detail, which will doubtless receive adequate discussion later on.
The reason we have pressed for a free vote from this House is because, in Clause 1, the Government appears to be trying to stabilise a vexed question, and we cannot see how there is any possibility at this stage, in view of the differences that exist between the two parties, of coming to any arrangement over a period of 85 years. The hon. and gallant Member for North-East Leeds (Major Birchall), who has been, I think, a very devoted supporter of the Bill, both in Committee and in this Chamber, himself admitted to-night that there is very little chance of agreement between the two parties, and yet, on the other hand, the Noble Lord below the Gangway introduced, I consider, another issue into the tithe dispute that is likely to become more important in the future than it is in this Chamber to-night. His reasoning was that the tithe is a form of property, and that because in 1836 certain rights were endowed upon this form of property, therefore they must continue in perpetuity.
This is most irregular, but, after all, we are going to vote on Clause 1, and we cannot have a vote on a matter which is not to be discussed. The discussion before you were in the Chair was to be allowed to range over the whole question of stabilisation.
I do not desire to dispute your ruling, but as certain Members have been allowed to introduce the subject into this Debate, at least we should be allowed to put the opposite side. Tithe is not a form of property, and has no form of permanency at all, any more than other liabilities which are imposed, like royalties, wayleaves and matters of that sort. Public opinion changes on the question of tithes, royalties and way-leaves, and then permanency disappears.
There are people who own land to-day which did not always belong to them. There was no question of right and wrong when they got it. They took it whether right or wrong, and, so far as tithe is concerned, the tithe to-day represents an unnecessary charge on agriculture, and Members of this House are entitled to approach it, not only from the point of view of whether this Bill is desirable or not for the clergy, but also as to whether the tithe is necessary, harmful or useful to the life of the people of this country.
As I said, I do not desire to dispute your ruling, but my point is that the Noble Lord raised the question that tithe is a form of permanent property, and it is that point I am endeavouring to dispute in the Debate. If I am out of order, I will accept your ruling.
If I am not allowed to follow that line of argument, then the point I will submit to the House is that this Clause should be abolished, and, although the Minister says that if this Clause were abolished it would mean that the Bill would not be proceeded with, personally I confess I see no harmful result either to tithe owners at the present time or to tithe payers if this Bill be not proceeded with. Certainly, before this subject is settled on an 85 years' basis, all parties to the dispute, in the interests of the community generally, should be heard. So far it has only been those who have paid the tithe rate and those who have received the tithe who have been called together, but I submit that the person who pays the tithe ultimately is not the actual landowner or farmer, but it enters into price, like every other charge on industry. As I understand the situation, in the 1918 Act there was embodied a voluntary purchase Clause in a 50 years' basis. Under this Bill it is proposed to withdraw that. I want to emphasise the additional liability which is placed on the agricultural interest of this country. No party in Great Britain has emphasised the deplorable economic conditions of agriculture more than the Conservative party, and particularly members of the Conservative Government. There is only one way of putting the agricultural industry, like every other industry, right, and that is to remove unnecessary charges that represent an economic cost, without giving an economic return, and when one approaches a subject like tithe, which has been handed down from mediæval to modern agriculture, and asks for its abolition, because it puts an unnecessary cost on industry, then we are met with the desire to make it a permanency. Therefore, from the standpoint of the general interests of agriculture, and because ultimately tithe finds its way into price, I support the abolition of this Clause.
I must say this Debate has diverged very much from my intention. It was my intention to allow Debate only on the Motion to leave out Clause 1, so as to obtain a statement from the Government as to whether they proposed to proceed with it or not. I think we should have a decision on this Motion, in view of my announced intention to allow two Amendments later on Clause 1.
|Division No. 368.]||AYES.||[5.23 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Fermoy, Lord||Macintyre, Ian|
|Albery, Irving James||Fielden. E. B.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Fleming, D. P.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Foster, Sir Harry S.||MacRobert, Alexander M.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-|
|Apsley, Lord||Gadie, Lieut.-Colonel Anthony||Malone, Major P. B.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Ganzoni, Sir John||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Gates, Percy||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Balniel, Lord||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Gee, Captain R.||Meyer, Sir Frank|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Goff, Sir Park||Moles, Thomas|
|Bennett A. J.||Gower, Sir Robert||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Grace, John||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Grotrian, H. Brent||Moore, Sir Newton J.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Hall, Vice-Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Hammersley, S. S.||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive|
|Brass, Captain W.||Hanbury, C.||Murchison, C. K.|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Nail, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Briggs J Harold||Harrison, G. J. C.||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hartington, Marquess of||Neville, R. J.|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R I.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Broun-Lindsay Major H.||Haslam, Henry C.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks Newb'y)||Hawke, John Anthony||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hon. W.G. (Ptrsf'ld.)|
|Buckingham Sir H.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Burman J. B.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Oakley, T.|
|Butt Sir Alfred||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Campbell, E. T.||Herbert, S. (York, N.R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Pease, William Edwin|
|Cautley Sir Henry S.||Hilton, Cecil||Penny, Frederick George|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Cayzer Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Perring, William George|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Chapman Sir S.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Charteris, Brigadler-General J.||Holt, Capt. H.P.||Pliditch, Sit Philip|
|Christie, J.A.||Hope, Capt. A.O.J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Hopkins, J.W.W.||Price, Major C.W.M.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Radford, E.A.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J.N.||Raine, W.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)||Remnant, Sir James|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D||Hume, Sir G.H.||Rhys, Hon. C.A.U.|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Huntingfield, Lord||Rice, Sir Frederick|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Hurd, Percy A.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hutchison, G.A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Couper, J. B.||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L.||Jacob, A. E.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Jephcott, A. R.||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Savery, S. S.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Knox, Sir Alfred||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Lane-Fox, Colonel George R.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Smithers, Waldron|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Davison. Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Spender Clay, Colonel H.|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Loder, J. de V.||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)|
|Drewe, C.||Looker, Herbert William||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Lord, Walter Greaves-||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Elveden, Viscount||Lougher, L.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Lumley, L. R.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Templeton, W. P.|
|Fanshawe, Commander G. D.||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Tinne, J. A.||Wells, S. R.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Turton, Edmund Russborough||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.||Williams Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)||Wragg, Herbert|
|Wailace, Captain D. E.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Warrender, Sir Victor||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl||Captain Hacking and Major|
|Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)||Wise, Sir Fredric||Hennessy.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Scurr, John|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hardie, George D.||Sexton, James|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hayday, Arthur||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Baker, Walter||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Aberfillery)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Barr, J.||Hirst, G. H.||Smillie, Robert|
|Batey, Joseph||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Smith, H. B. Lees-(Keighley)|
|Briant, Frank||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Bromfield, William||Kelly, W. T.||Snell, Harry|
|Bromley, J.||Kennedy, T.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Kenyon, Barnet||Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)|
|Buchanan, G.||Lansbury, George||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Cape, Thomas||Lawson, John James||Stamford, T. W.|
|Clowes, S.||Lee, F.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lowth, T.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Lunn, William||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)|
|Connolly, M.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Cove, W. G.||Mackinder, W.||Thurtie, E.|
|Cowan, D. M, (Scottish Universities)||MacLaren, Andrew||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Dalton, Hugh||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Townend, A. E.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Montague, Frederick||Variey, Frank B.|
|Duncan, C.||Morris, R. H.||Viant, S. P.|
|Dunnico, H.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Murnin, H.||Warne, G. H.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Naylor, T. E.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Fenby, T. D.||Oliver, George Harold||Watts-Morgan. Lt. Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Forrest, W.||Owen, Major G.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Palin, John Henry||Westwood, J.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Paling, W.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Whiteley, W.|
|Greenall, T.||Ponsonby, Arthur||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Greenwood. A. (Nelson and Colne)||Potts, John S.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Griffiths. T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Groves, T.||Ritson, J.||Windsor, Walter|
|Grundy, T. W.||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W.R., Elland)||Wright, W.|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Scrymgeour, E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. A. Barnes and Mr. Hayes.|
I beg to move, in page 1, line 12, to leave out the word "five" and to insert instead thereof the words "two and one-half."
This Amendment seeks to fix and stabilise the price at £l02½. I know there are great differences of opinion as to the correct figure to be inserted in the Bill, and a great deal of hostility has been expressed to the £105 and other figures that have been suggested, but I put forward this Amendment in the hope that the Government can at least see their way to take the figure I propose, that is 2½, and I trust that the House will accept it. The figure is put forward as a compromise, in the best interests of all parties, to grease the wheels, as it were, in the working of the Bill if it passes into law, and to enable those who are most opposed to the figure which is inserted in the Bill to look upon the liabilities that have been forced upon them with a feeling that their views have received some consideration, and that some concession has been made to them. From the point of view of business, and the point of view of real value, even the £102½ is, in my opinion and that of very practical-minded people, more than the incumbent should receive. In other words, the Church is receiving too much, and the owner of the land or the owner-occupier is paying too much. I approach this matter on this particular Amendment from a purely business standpoint, with no feeling as against the Church, or with any special regard to the landowner, or the tithe payer, or the tithe owner, but solely in the interests, as I say, of effecting a compromise, and trying to arrive at a fair thing.
In 1836 tithe was commuted from one-tenth of the produce, taken in kind, and the sliding scale, as fixed by the Act then passed, depended on the prices of wheat, oats and barley collected from various of the more important markets of the country. £100 of tithe in 1836 was represented by £100 according to the calculations and figures arrived at. The first point which I wish to press upon the attention of the House is that, from 1836 to 1914, just before the War, the average value of tithe rentcharge had been £92. Again, taking the average from 1836 to the present year 1925—thus including the War years—you will find that the average was £98. This Bill proposes to give a parson £105 or, rather, £100 net in perpetuity—or, I should say, in 85 years—and at the end of that time the accumulations, in my view, and that of business people, will yield a capital sum which will provide a yearly interest for the incumbent that will be considerably larger than the £100.
The next point that I want to draw the attention of the House to is this: that up to 1899 the incumbent as well as the lay tithe owner paid the poor rates on the tithe. In 1899 the incumbent was relieved of one-half the rates which were made up by the general taxpayer. By the Act of 1922 the incumbent with an income of less than £300 was further relieved from all rates, and those rates were payable by the other ratepayers in the parish. All these various Acts expire at the end of this year, and it is, therefore, important to consider the position as on 1st January next. From that date, if this Bill does not pass, the tithe rentcharge will be £130 and the tithe payer would have to pay £130 instead of £109 3s. l1d. which has been fixed by the expiring Acts. But the position of the incumbent would be this: He would remain liable for half his rates. With the rateable value of £100, in tithe, at about £70, and the average rates of the country parishes at 8s. in the £, and the rates of the towns rather more than those of the country, the lay tithe owner would be liable to 8s. upon a rateable value of £70. This would make £28. He is entitled to 5 per cent. at least for the collection, profits, losses and for legal expenses, say, £6 10s.; £34 10s. in all. It would make a net income to the lay tithe owner of about £96. As the incumbent, however, would still be free from half the rates, the utmost and extreme amount going into the pocket of the incumbent would be about £108 or £109. That is when tithe, so far as human foresight can see, is at the very highest price that it can be, except possibly in the following year, when, I believe, there may be another rise of 30s., or, possibly, £2. By the Bill the income to the incumbent is stereotyped for 85 years. The net payment to a parson at £100, less, possibly, 2½ per cent. cost of collection, will thus make a net income of £97 10s. for 85. years. At the end of that time he will have a large sum for redemption, yielding much more than £100 a year, but that is a part of the Bill which I am not for the moment dealing with. It gives him a net income of £97 10s. without risk, and no trouble, and treating the good tithe equally with a bad tithe.
Having regard to the previous yearly average figure of £92 before the War, and £98 including War-time, this figure of £105 cannot be right. It is too much. As a man of business I shrink from fixing for 85 years the payment of such an annuity under the circumstances of these figures—
Personally, I should not object. I supported the Second Reading of the Bill, because I thought it was desirable to get tithe out of the way. I believe I stated then, and I am more than confirmed in that opinion now, and after knowing what took place in Committee, and the evidence given—I am, I say, more than satisfied now that the payment is too high if it has to be a stereotyped figure. I still think it is desirable to get this matter out of the way. But the figure must be equitable. Again, tithe has been a marketable commodity for years. It is sold by auction. It is sold privately. It is dealt with as real estate. Tithe varies in character, or in value I should rather say, as much as other kinds of real property. There is no contractual obligation to pay tithe. The tithe owner only ranks for tithe if the land yields it. His only remedy is to distrain or to get a receiver appointed, or himself to go into possession. That is his only remedy. He cannot sue for the money. A great deal of land in Essex and the heavy land is tithed up to as much even as 10s. an acre. In living memory we have seen a great quantity of land go out of cultivation, and the tithe owner, consequently, get nothing. This time may come again.
The value of tithe depends upon the security behind it. If you have a small tithe of 1s. or even less on land which is let at £2 an acre you have an admirable security. If you have land tithed at 8s. or 10s. and let at 12s. or 15s. you have a bad security. The result has been that bad tithe has not yielded at auction more than seven or eight years' purchase, whereas good tithe might fetch 15 years'. I believe 15 or 16 to be the top price. This Bill is fixing the figure at more like 20 years' purchase. This large difference in value is by this Bill given to the incumbent. Why? How can it be justified? I could go further with the figures, but, really, I will not weary the House with them. I put it to everybody who takes an impartial view of the matter that the figure of £105 is too high. It was arrived at by Sir Charles Longmore, a high authority, I agree, but whose views as to what is going to happen to the prices of cereals during the next 85 years are, perhaps, no better than mine or other people's, or than could be formed by any ordinary intelligent person in this country. I ask Members to say whether there is any reason to think that in the 85 years to come the value of tithe rentcharge will not fluctuate as much as it has done in the past 80 years, and whether we are not likely, within quite a reasonable time, though not in the immediate, future, to see a steady reduction in prices throughout the world. When that time comes, will there not be such an outcry among tithe payers for a revision of the terms the Government are now seeking to force upon them that the Government of the day will again have to take up this very complicated question? On the other hand, if moderation can prevail, and we can get this small concession of £102 10s. instead of £105, will the effect of that in bringing about some sort of agreement not be worth while? Further down on the Paper I and the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Faversham (Sir G. Wheler) have another Amendment designed to allow the incumbent to collect his own tithe as agent for Queen Anne's Bounty. The two run together, and I will just state what our view is. The effect of that change would be that where the incumbent has good tithe, tithe which would fetch the highest price if it were taken to the market and sold, and has no trouble in collecting it, he would avail himself of the powers conferred by my Amendment, and would receive a commission of 2½ per cent., which would mean that he would get the £105 which the Bill provides. On the other hand, the incumbent with troublesome tithe, tithe that is badly secured and divided into very small amounts, which are difficult to collect, would be only too glad to get £100 for it, and to put the obligation of collecting it on to Queen Anne's Bounty, because it would avoid the present troublesome method of collection which so often interferes with relations between an incumbent and tithe payers. For these reasons, including this last suggestion under which the good tithe owner would get every penny provided by this Bill and the owner of inferior tithes would get ample payment for the security he has, I ask the House to adopt my Amendment.
I beg to second the Amendment.
If ever there was a Bill on which agreement was necessary, even if it means concession on the part of the Church— and I speak as a churchman—it is this Bill. As a churchman, I cannot imagine anything more unfortunate, as far as the country clergy are concerned, than that a Bill should be passed which, in many cases, in the vast majority of the parishes of this country, may create a feeling of bitterness between the parson and, very likely, some of his best supporters in the parish. That is a situation which is very likely to arise, and that is a situation which, as one who knows a very large number of country clergy, I know they wish to avoid, and it if because of that that I second this Amendment. It was made perfectly clear to us that it was expected that the clergy would have to pay at least 5 per cent. to secure the cost of collection under Queen Anne's Bounty. That would reduce the amount to £95. That was an understanding which the late Minister of Agriculture made perfectly clear—that £95 would probably be the total amount the country clergyman would get. Our proposals would put the country clergyman in a better position. We are out to secure an Amendment under which the country clergy are to be allowed to collect their own tithes. They will be saved the cost of collection and they will get 2½ per cent. commission, as the hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) has already mentioned. Therefore, so far as they are concerned, and they are the people I am more concerned with than anybody else, they will come out better under these proposals than under the proposals of the Bill. While I cannot speak for the colleges, at any rate I was at college, and have therefore the greatest sympathy with and loyalty towards the college at Oxford where I was educated; but I do want it to be realised that colleges do not draw their whole income from tithe, nor do the clergy. That is a fact which is often forgotten. If the country clergy are going to drive a hard bargain, and claim their full pound of flesh, they will lose the support of a good many who, in addition to paying tithes, have been very good subscribers to the Church in the past, because these will feel that, with the help of the Government of the day, the clergy are driving a bargain which, considering the extraordinary value of this security over a long period of redemption, is too hard a bargain. Therefore, speaking as a churchman, I deprecate very strongly the attempt of the Government to drive through any Bill containing the figures proposed. Not only will it do harm to the Church, but it will impose an obligation which, as my hon. and learned Friend has clearly shown, cannot be met by a good many people.
We are moving this Amendment in the spirit of compromise. Looking at the circumstances in which agriculture is today, and considering the feelings which I know myself, as one who has a good deal to do with the county clergy, are the feelings of the vast majority of them, and realising that where tithe is difficult to collect they will have it collected for them, and that where they get their tithe paid by cheque they can have it paid to them without any cost of collection, I venture to appeal to the Government to look at this proposal with favour. I think I am justified in saying that if this Amendment were carried it would bring in a very large number of the farming community. I happen to know they have said that if they could get this they would accept it, though many of whom are hostile at present. I ask the Attorney-General whether that is not worth having, and I appeal to the hon. and learned Gentleman who is representing the Ecclesiastical Commissioners as to whether this would not be in the true interest of the Church in future? Although the Government have power to drive this Bill through, I ask them whether compromise will not better secure for the Church what it wants—loyalty amongst its supporters rather than have them disgruntled.
To hear how their views are put forward with a sob, and how arguments based upon their interests are put forward in support of a proposal to reduce their incomes. It is advisable that we should understand exactly what this Amendment means. It would for all time reduce stabilised tithe from £105 to £102 10s., in other words, reduce by 2½ per cent. or thereabouts, the amount of tithe received by the Church and educational establishments.
The Amendment is to reduce the stabilised figure of the tithe by 2½ per cent. The arguments of the hon. and gallant Member are beside the point. If that figure is reduced by 2½ per cent. the present tithe, which amounts to about £3,000,000 a year, will be affected to the tune of £75,000 a year. I am leaving out of the question the cost of collection, rates and all the rest of it, for that applies equally to the £105 and £102 10s. This Amendment, if carried, would take £75,000 a year, for all time from the pockets of the parson, and landlords would benefit to that extent. We hear about the lamentable condition of the farmers. Hon. Members opposite know perfectly well that the man who pays is the landlord, and that this does not affect the farmer in the least. It means £75,000 a year in the landlords' pockets or in the parsons' pockets, and I think it requires some assurance to put forward this Amendment as one that is in the interests of the Church. Then the right hon. Gentleman opposite said that while this Amendment was discussed he could sit idle and dream of happy times, that he would not need to use arguments, because I and the hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) would mutually cut each other's throats. On this side of the House we have put down an Amendment to raise the figure from £105 to £110, because we believe that that would be a fairer bargain, that it would be more to the interest of the country as a whole that the parsons should get a generous bargain instead of the niggardly one proposed by the Government. The right hon. Gentleman opposite will observe that the two parties who are to cut each other's throats will be able to join hands in the division lobby. We will vote with them for the removal of "five" in order to substitute "ten" and they will vote to leave out "five" in order to substitute "two and one-half." Considering the way in which this Bill is drafted, the Government will have to make out a very strong case for keeping things as they are, and that case will have to be enforced by the rigorous efficiency of the party Whips opposite. What I want to make quite clear is that the actual result of this Amendment does not affect the community in the least, and it is of no interest to the population of this country, except in so far as they are landlords or parsons. It really means the division of the spoil of the two sets of robbers.
The Noble Lord opposite pointed out that there are five people interested in agriculture, the landlord, the parson, the farmer, the tax collector and the labourer, but the poor devil who does the work has to find the money for all those people. Is it of any interest to the community to know how the robbers divide the spoil? I should say that when we are registering a voice as to who is to have the £75,000 a year spoil, it would be well for us to see that those more in need of the money get it, and I think the parsons are more in need of it than the landlords. The parsons are not represented in this House. [An HON. MEMBER: "Yes, they are!"] Nonconformist parsons are represented, but the Church of England clergy are not represented. On this question I would like to ask if hon. Members represent their constituencies or their own interests? If so, then let them consider who is most in need of the £75,000 a year, and not vote in the Division Lobby in their own interests. There are plenty of hon. Members who as landlords will actually benefit in this way.
But that does not alter the fact. We should understand that when certain questions come up for decision individual interests come into play. I remember when voting on the Railway Amalgamation Bill an Amendment was moved to enable directors of the amalgamated railways to be compensated, and I asked whether it was in order for directors who would receive compensation under that Measure to vote in the Division, and you, Mr. Speaker, ruled that would be in order.
I meant class motives, and that is not confined to any one side of the House. People should realise that class motives would come in when we are dealing with this particular case, and therefore the position is clear. It is merely a question of money on one side or the other, and when such a position is put before hon. Members they ought to ensure that that money goes where it is most required, and we should see that the claims of the parsons should be considered in preference to the claims of the landlords.
I should like to say a word or two in reply to the position which has been taken up by the right hon. and gallant Member opposite (Colonel Wedgwood). I approach this matter as a strong Churchman, and as a man who would not do anything to interfere with the activities either of the Church of England or other denominations, because I greatly value their work. This is not a question of religion at all, but it is a pure matter of finance, and it is from that point of view that I approach it. The whole position of tithes is very complicated and difficult, and I am afraid very uninteresting.
I want to congratulate the Government through the late Minister of Agriculture upon having made a very genuine attempt to solve this very difficult problem. I desire to see this problem solved, and I am sure every other hon. Member wishes to see a solution found. From the financial standpoint there are only two parties immediately interested, namely, the tithe owner and the tithe payer. The tithe owner and the tithe payer desire to have a settlement of this question, and it is because this Bill will effect a settlement that I am supporting it. I submit, however, that under the Bill the settlement is not quite an equitable one between the two parties, that is the tithe owner, and the tithe payer. I have no desire to repeat what has already been so well said by the proposer of this Amendment, and I am sure the figures which he gave are in the minds of hon. Members.
Under the Bill tithe is to be stabilised at the figure of £105 for the next 85 years. I do not think that is quite an equitable settlement. We have heard from the mover of this Amendment that in the year 1836 tithe was commuted on a seven years' average. It was commuted upon its value in relation to the price of three c reals, namely wheat, barley and oats. The price of wheat was fixed at 56s. 2d. per quarter, barley 31s. 8d., and oats 22s. per quarter. Those cereals would produce £100 of tithe. Now what is the value of those cereals to-day. English wheat is 50s. per quarter, and that is a higher price than it is likely to be in a month or two. That is 6s. per quarter lower than it was in 1836. Barley is now 35s., and oats 27s. per quarter. I suggest that if tithe was fixed to-day at the present value of corn prices, the value of tithe would not be much more than par value of £100.
These figures, I know, are extremely difficult to follow, and I am quite prepared to accept any correction. The Mover of the Amendment was asked if he would accept the figure which would be given to-day for tithe under the Commutation Act of 1836. I have considered what that figure would be. If this Bill is not passed, and we go back to what would be given under the Tithe Act of 1836, it is estimated that in 1930 the value of tithe would be down to £95, and upon that the tithe owner would have to pay rates. The tithe, as fixed in the Bill, may have been fixed a year ago when the prices of corn were higher than they are to-day, and it is because I consider that the prices fixed are not quite equitable as between the tithe payer and the tithe owner that I desire to see an equitable settlement. It is because I want a settlement through this Bill that I have risen to support this Amendment.
I desire, briefly, to support the Amendment. The Mover and Seconder have put the matter so clearly that it is, perhaps, unnecessary to add very much, and it is certainly not desirable that we should try to emphasise it too much. The reason why I am supporting this Amendment is, frankly, that, as it has not been found possible to call the Amendment to which my name is attached, and which suggests that the figure should be 100, on the principle that I cannot get the 100, I am now prepared to support the 102½. The figure of 105 in the Bill is admittedly the result of an actuarial calculation. Actuarial calculations that are made for past years can be accurate, but in this case the actuarial calculation is made upon suppositions of something which may happen in the future, and my contention is that that is entirely a matter of guess-work. Consequently, I do not think we should pay too much attention or give too much weight to the figure which has been arrived at under conditions of that description. We do know that in these actuarial calculations, or guesses—I prefer to use the latter word—the figure of 130 was taken for next year. If the larger figure of 130 is going to be taken, I think we ought to be satisfied that the lower figure which, undoubtedly, will come in the future, have been given due weight also.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) said that this was not a farmer's question, but a landlord's question. There is a certain amount of truth in that, but I should also like to point out to the right hon. Gentleman that under present conditions the occupying owners are about 24 per cent. or 25 per cent. of the whole. In those cases it is not only the landlord, but the farming landlord. He is acting in a dual capacity, and, moreover, in these cases, he is often not a wealthy man; he is often a landlord despite his own desire, having, from the necessities of the case had unwillingly to buy his own farm, and in many cases to put a millstone round his neck to pay for it. Under the Bill, the £5—and, I take it, under the Amendment the £2 10s.—is to go towards relieving the rates of the tithe owner. I am one of those who believe in the principle of the relief of rates, but I understand, too, that the true principle is that the relief should be given by the community as a whole paying for the relief, and paying equitably. In this case, however, that is not being done; you are giving relief in rates, but you are making the tithe payer pay for it.
You are also stabilising the tithe for all time, at whatever figure may be decided, whether it be 102½ or whether it be 105, as in the Bill. In the first instance, tithe was paid in produce, and it was, as produce, a variable value. Later on, it was stabilised for a number of years, but upon the prices of corn, and there, again, it was a variable quantity, with risks of alterations either one way or the other. Now it is going to be stabilised at above par. We have to remember that when tithe was down at 66—and it has been as low as that, and not 67, as was mentioned previously in the Debate—the tithe payer was not allowed to redeem unless he redeemed at 100. Now, under present conditions, it is proposed to make it compulsory that he should redeem at the higher price. Something may be said for the position of the tithe receivers, that is to say, the beneficed clergy, because there might be a certain amount of hardship in fixing tithe after the conditions which they had to go through in the hard times during the War. But you are not stabilising this for the present incumbents only; you are stabilising it for all future incumbents, for posterity, at this high price, and I do not think that is fair.
You are also going to stabilise the rate, because, under the Bill as it stands, the £5—and I presume also the £2 10s. if it be agreed to—would have to be paid to the Inland Revenue authorities, who would in future accept the liability of paying rates, and any deficiency in future would have to come from the Treasury. In that case you are stabilising for the incumbent the rate which is going to be paid, and there is no other industry that I know of in which rates are being stabilised in that manner. I think that that also is unfair. If you are going to stabilise rates, I think it would be better to start and stabilise other things also, in order to be fair. I do not wish to labour the matter, after the admirable way in which it has been put, but only wish to say that, not being able to obtain the opportunity of voting for 100, I am prepared to accept 102½.
I think the Church will be very grateful for its new-found champion in defence of its rates, in the person of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood). He has made to-night, to my mind, one of the most amazing speches of his career with regard to political economy. He has told the House that to impose a charge of any character upon land is only going to affect two parties, the tithe payer and the tithe receiver. I am quite convinced that, if we were discussing the question of land and the landowner, my right hon. and gallant Friend would tell quite a different and distinct tale. He knows perfectly well that, if you impose a charge upon the tithe payer greater than he has to bear to-day, sooner or later that will percolate down to the labourer on the land. That would be my right hon. and gallant Friend's theory if he were talking about rating the landowner. I know perfectly well that it would, and I think he could justify it. But to-night, for some reason or other, he is advocating a distinct and new form of political economy, probably to justify the position he is now taking up.
It does seem to me that the figure of £105 fixed in the Bill has been fixed for the purpose of using the £5 for the relief of the rates of the incumbent. It is quite evident that in the last five years the poor clergy have been relieved, if their incomes have been below £300 or £500— to the extent of the full rate if their income was below £300, and of one-half if it was below £500. That burden has largely been borne by the taxpayer. If the figure of £105 goes through, you are transferring some of the burden which has been borne by the State on to the British farmer again—on to a party who is not in a position at the present time to bear the burden which it is sought to impose upon him. I differ from the Amendment in this, that I should have expected to find a consequential Amendment to Clause 4 transferring the burden where it ought to have been transferred. In my opinion, those who have moved this Amendment are seeking to take the 2½ per cent. out of the share that should have gone to the clergy, and, if there had been a consequential Amendment to the effect that the burden which the State is bearing to-day with regard to the relief of the rates of the clergy should continue to be so borne, I could have understood the matter better than I can now. So far as I am concerned, I want to give as much relief as I can to the British farmer—
Then I can see the position of the Mover and Seconder. It is a very unfortunate position, because, if their Amendment be carried, it will certainly mean that, instead of the clergy getting the £100, which I know the great majority of the tithe payers are willing that they should have, it would be reduced by a further 2½ per cent. The responsibility is the Government's for the Bill being drafted in that way. It is unfortunate, because I would say now that I should have had no hesitation in going into the Lobby with the Mover and Seconder of this Amendment if it had remained at £100 for the clergy. It follows from the reminder of the hon. and learned Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) that that cannot be done, and, therefore, it would be very unfortunate if this Amendment were accepted, and the further burden had to fall upon the clergy, who in some instances are poor enough at the present time. I should have liked to vote for the Amendment, and would have voted for it had there been a consequential Amendment to Subsection (1, b) of Clause 4 making it 2½ per cent. instead of 5 per cent.
This Amendment is one of several Amendments which seek to vary the figure at which the Government think tithe should be stabilised. On the one side we have those who wish to stabilise it at 100; we have the 102½ of this Amendment; we have the 105 of the Bill and the 115 of my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson)—in an Amendment which he moved in Committee but has not repeated to-day—and there is also the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), who desires that it should be 110. We have all these different figures suggested as the right amount at which tithe should be stabilised. The figure which the Government have inserted in the Bill, namely, 105, has been arrived at after a really exhaustive inquiry. It has been said that Sir Charles Longmore is not an authority, but he, Sir Henry Rew, and Mr. Le Fanu, sat as a Committee in 1923 and took evidence from the various parties, and they came to the conclusion that 104 was the figure which should be adopted for the purposes of redemption, which was the immediate object of their inquiry. Then, when this Bill was being prepared, Sir Charles Longmore was asked to give his opinion as to the figure which should be put in, and he had before him all the evidence that was to be got before he gave that figure of 105.
I do not pretend that anyone can prophesy accurately what the prices of agricultural produce or of the three cereals concerned are going to be for the next 85 years. Of course, no one can; but I will say this, that Sir Charles Longmore, having taken that evidence, is, with his experience, as likely to be right as anyone else. The Debate we have had this afternoon shows the great variation of opinion among those who know, because both the Mover and the Seconder of this Amendment are men whose opinions are entitled to respect. They thoroughly understand agricultural matters, and have both studied this question, and, far from speaking for their personal interests, I am perfectly certain that the whole House knows that they have only spoken in order to improve this Bill if they can. I wish I could accept their Amendment, but I cannot do so.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Faversham (Sir G. Wheler) suggested that the Government should make a concession, but how can the Government make a concession? What concession is there that the Government can make? Make it 2½. From whom would the 2½ come? It is quite easy for the Government to say, "Yes, 2½." The 21 then comes from the pockets of the clergy, and unless we believe that 102½ is a fairer figure than 105, we cannot possibly accept the Amendment, and we do not believe it is a fairer figure. We believe 105 is the fairest figure that can be accepted. My hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr. Lamb) suggested that if it were fixed at 102½, 2½ only should be used instead of 5 for the payment in lieu of rates. I cannot accept that.
I thought my hon. Friend was reconciling the Amendment on the Paper with his own view by suggesting that 2½ instead of 5 should be used for the redemption of rates. If I could accept that I should like to do it, but does the House realise what it means? It would mean throwing an extra charge on the Exchequer of something like £50,000 a year, and it is quite obvious that I cannot accept-that. Earlier in the evening the question was raised whether in fact the terms of tithe redemption were more onerous than under the 1918 Act, and some surprising figures were quoted that there was a difference as between £6,500 and £9,200, and that an additional burden of 60 per cent. was being put upon those who wished to redeem tithe. Those figures are utterly wrong. There is no such addition as 60 per cent. There is an addition per £100 of tithe equivalent to something like £280, but it is nothing like the 60 per cent. to which the hon. Member was referring, and that is because, at the time of the 1918 Act, tithe was paying half rates.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in 50 years, on his method of calculation, £5,475 will be paid, and there will be still 35 years more to pay, as against £6,000 under the 1918 Act?
What hon. Members appear to overlook in regard to redemption annuities is the relation of the time factor to the interest running upon these sums. It depends on the present value of the capital sum and the rate of interest.
Does not the right hon. Gentleman see that if two tithe owners agree to redeem, one under the 1918 Act will pay £6,000 for 50 years and the other, under the 1925 Act, will pay £5.475 in 50 years and will have 35 more years to pay?
I really do not follow the hon. Member's figures. I have the exact figures of consideration money, which I can give him. Under the 1918 Act it was £1,875 and under the present Bill it will be £2,166, and whether those capital sums are spread over 60 or 85 years does not make the slightest difference. The actual consideration payable is, as I say, £l,875 in one case and £2,166 in the other. I am afraid, therefore, I cannot accept the Amendment for the reasons I have stated.
I should like to say a few words in support of the Amendment, not that I can claim any special knowledge of this complicated question, nor do I feel that I know sufficient about it to say what ought to be the redemption value. But I have taken a great deal of trouble to find out the position and feeling of my constituents, and the right hon. Gentleman has told us what great diversity of opinion there is in regard to what ought to be the redemption value. The hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Spencer) said this is a matter entirely between the tithe payer and the tithe owner. This is a compulsory Bill. We are compelling the tithe payer to redeem at an ascendind value. Therefore Parliament ought to be very careful to see that it is a fair and equitable value. In my constituency — and I think my constituency is the same as most others—this value of 105 is not considered fair or equitable. I feel that if Parliament imposes this figure upon tithe payers, a good deal of harm will be done to the clergy themselves. I have the greatest sympathy with the clergy. I realise their position quite well and I know there are a great many clergymen all over the country whose incomes are very small. But at the same time we have to remember that if we compel, as we are doing under this Bill, tithe payers
to redeem at a certain price which they do not think is fair or equitable, we are doing something which will cause friction and resentment against the Church. That would be a great calamity and it is because I feel so strongly that we ought to do everything we can to enhance the prestige of the clergy and to improve their position and their influence over their parishioners, that I regret very much that Parliament should force a Measure like this upon tithe payers which, I believe, will have a very bad effect on the position of the clergy.
|Division No. 369.]||AYES.||[6.40 p.m.|
|Albery, Irving James||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Holland, Sir Arthur|
|Alexander, E.E. (Leyton)||Dalkeith, Earl of||Holt, Capt. H.P.|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Davidson, J. (Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)||Hokins, J. W. W.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)||Howard, Captain Hon. Donald|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Balniel, Lord||Dean Arthur Wellesley||Hudson, R. S. (Cumb'l'nd, Whiteh'n)|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Doyle, Sir N. Grattan||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Drewe, C.||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Dunnico, H.||Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Elliot, Captain Walter E.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.|
|Bennett, A. J.||Eiveden, Viscount||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston.s.-M.)||Jacob, A. E.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Erskine, James Malcolm Moneith||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Jones, G. W. H.|
|Bourns, Captain Robert Crott||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William|
|Bowyer Captain, G. E. W.||Franshawe, Commander G. D.||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Fermoy Lord||Kidd, (Linlithgow)|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Fielden, E. B.||Kindersley, Major G. M.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Fleming, D. P.||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Foster, Sir Harry S.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Fraser, Captain Ian||Lane-Fox, Colonel George R.|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Gadie, Lieut.-Colonel Anthony||Lee, F.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Ganzoni Sir John||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Gates, Percy||Lister, Cunliffe, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip|
|Burman, J. B.||Gee, Captain R.||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Loder, J. de V.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Looker, Herbert William|
|Cape, Thomas||Goff, Sir Park||Lord, Walter Greaves-|
|Cayzer, Sir C, (Chester, City)||Gower, Sir Robert||Lougher, L.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Grace, John||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Gretton, Colonel John||Lumley, L. R.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Grotrian, H. Brent||Lynn, Sir Robert J.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||MacAndrew, Charles Glen|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Christie, J. A.||Hammersley, S. S.||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Hanbury, C.||Macintyre, Ian|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Harland, A.||MacLaren, Andrew|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Harrison, G. J. C.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Cockcrill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Haslam, Henry C.||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hawke, John Anthony||MacRobert, Alexander M.|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-|
|Couper, J. B.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Malone, Major P. B.|
|Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Herberts.(York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Hilton, Cecil||Merriman, F. B.|
|Crookshank, Cpt H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Meyer, Sir Frank|
|Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Thompson, Luke (Sutherland)|
|Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Rice, Sir Frederick||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Tinne, J. A.|
|Moles, Thomas||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Rye, F. G.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Moore, Sir Newton J.||Salmon, Major I.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Nail, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph||Sandeman, A. Stewart||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Sanderson, Sir Frank||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Wells, S. R.|
|Nuttall, Ellis||Savery, S. S.||White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple|
|O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Pease, William Edwin||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Penny, Frederick George||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Wilson, M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)|
|Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Perring, William George||Smithers, Waldron||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Spender Clay, Colonel H.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Pilditch, Sir Philip||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)||Wood, E.(Chest'r. Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Radford, E. A.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Raine, W.||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Rawson, Alfred Cooper||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Rees, Sir Beddoe||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Remnant, Sir James||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Rentoul, G. S.||Templeton, W. P.||Captain Hacking and Major|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Scurr, John|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Sexton, James|
|Baker, Walter||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Barnes, A.||Hayday, Arthur||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Barr, J.||Hayes, John Henry||Smillie, Robert|
|Batey, Joseph||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Hirst, G. H.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Snell, Harry|
|Briant Frank||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Broad, F. A.||Hurd, Percy A.||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Bromfield, William||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Bromley, J.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Kelly, W. T.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Buchanan, G.||Kennedy, T.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Caine Gordon Hall||Kenyon, Barnet||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Lamb, J. Q.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Clowes, S.||Livingstone, A. M.||Thurtle, E.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lunn, William||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Townend, A. E.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Connolly, M.||Mackinder, W.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L.||Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)||Viant, S. P.|
|Cove, W. G.||Montague, Frederick||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Morris, R. H.||Warne, G. H.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Murnin, H.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Duncan, C.||Naylor, T. E.||Westwood, J.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hon. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Oliver, George Harold||Whiteley, W.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Owen, Major G.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Palin, John Henry||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Forrest, W.||Paling, W.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Ponsonby, Arthur||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Potts, John S.||Windsor, Walter|
|Gosling, Harry||Price, Major C. W. M.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wright, W.|
|Greenall, T.||Ritson, J.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W.R., Elland)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.||Sir Henry Cautley and Major Sir|
|Grundy, T. W.||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Granville Wheler.|
I beg to move, in page 1, line 13, at the end, to add the words:
Provided that where any tithe rentcharge is on the appointed day vested in or held
in trust for the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge or any of the colleges or houses of learning within either of those universities or any of the colleges of Eton, Win Chester, and Westminster, or any society or body of persons associated together for
the promotion of education or the relief of poor, sick, and aged people, the sum becoming payable on or after the appointed day and up to and including the last half-yearly date of payment in the year nineteen hundred and twenty-seven in respect of such tithe rentcharge shall be computed on the basis of one hundred and nine pounds three shillings and elevenpence for every one hundred pounds of tithe rentcharge, and from and after the said last half-yearly date of payment shall be computed in the manner prescribed in the Tithe Act, 1836.
The effect of the Amendment is that, for the first two years, to the end of 1927, the amount to be paid will remain about the same, that is, at £109. After that date, the seven years' average which existed before the War will be returned to, and will continue. I want to put the position and the effect of the Bill. At the present time, the tithe is fixed at £109. That was done by the Act of 1918. If no Bill were passed and nothing were done, the tithe next year would go up to £130. This Bill proposes that the figure should be £105. The effect of that will be to bring down the tithe which is now payable to the institutions for which I appear from £109 to £105.
The figure which was given on the Second Reading as to the effect which the Bill will have upon these institutions, as far as the colleges of Oxford alone are concerned would mean a loss of £3,000 per annum. That is a very heavy drop in the amount to be received. I am speaking now for lay tithe owners only, under the first part of the Bill. The second part of the Bill deals with clerical tithe. The first Clause applies to clerical lay tithe alike, and stabilises it at £105. As far as these colleges are concerned, and the charitable institutions, which I have mentioned before, at Winchester and Birmingham, and wherever these different charitable institutions may be, and also the different schools and places of education concerned, the, effect will be this very heavy loss in their income. They will not have any of the countervailing advantages which the second part of the Bill gives to those concerned with clerical tithe.
Although the amount of tithe is to be stabilised, the amount to be paid in rates is not stabilised. That is the crux of the matter, and why I ask for exceptional treatment. At the present time, these colleges and kindred institutions have to pay rates in full and they will pay rates in full under this Bill. Although it is proposed to stabilise at £105 the amount of tithe they are to receive, there is no proposal for stabilising the rates which they will have to pay, and which will have to be paid out of their depleted income. On the other hand, they will get none of the advantage which it is alleged the clergy will get under Part II. The odium of collecting the tithe, will be taken away from them, and will be handed over to Queen Anne's Bounty, but I doubt whether that is a great advantage, although we are told by the Government that it is. We shall not get the benefit of it, if it is an advantage. We get none of the other advantages which the other people get.
I hold the view, despite the decision of the House a few minutes ago, that £105 is not a sufficiently large sum at which to stabilise tithe to-day, if you must stabilise it at all. In that view I am backed up by every economist who is connected with the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and nearly every other economist is of the same opinion. The Government, by this Bill, are suddenly coming down upon these bodies who are engaged in useful work and in work which the House wishes to encourage, and taking away from them income without giving them any compensating advantage. Speaking more particularly for the colleges of my own University of Cambridge, these colleges do not get one penny of Government help. In many eases they have, I might almost say, a difficulty in making both ends meet. No one can take that view more strongly than hon. Members opposite.
These colleges have to provide funds for scholarships for their poorer scholars, and the amount which is left over for the needs of the college is certainly in many colleges not at all excessive. Nevertheless, you are suddenly coming down upon these colleges, and saying that you will cut down their income from £109, at which the tithe now stands, to £105, and you give them no compensating advantage, no stabilisation of rates, and no other advantage from the Bill in any way. You are suddenly asking them to suffer this great loss, and a loss which is admitted by the Bill. If you believe us, and those whom we have consulted in the matter, you must realise that the loss will be great, and that it will be very much greater in time to come.
We have heard a great deal about stabilisation. I cannot understand why stabilisation has suddenly become such an urgent question. When the Labour Government were in office, I said in regard to this matter that to pay such a large sum of money for this Bill was not desirable. Now, our Government has taken it up and are paying this very considerable sum of money for the purposes of the Bill. A sum of £202,000 for the first year is the figure which the Government give. Many people think that is an under-estimate. Some part of that, no doubt, will come from the colleges, so that both as taxpayers and as colleges we are getting no advantage from this Bill, although we are losing a very large sum. As far as stabilisation is concerned, why should we pay this very high figure to get it? Is there any great demand for it? As far as the colleges are concerned, the system proposed is a very bad system. There is no better investment for colleges, who have to look a long way ahead, than the old seven years' average which existed before the War, because it varies with the price of corn. If corn goes up, the price of living equally goes up, and if the price of corn is low, the probabilities are that the cost of living is low. Therefore, there is no hotter investment from the college point of view than this tithe investment, which varies with the price of corn from time to time.
As far as the colleges and other public bodies of that kind are concerned, they have nothing to gain by stabilisation but everything to lose. Those who are more learned in this matter than myself say that the money is likely to become of less value 60, 70 or 80 years hence than at the present time. I do not say that I should be able to fix a figure which would be perfectly right, or that I should be able to say what the price of money will be 60 years or so hence, or what the price of corn will be 40, 60 or 80 years hence. That is not the point. You are by this Bill fixing this stabilisation figure upon the different educational establishments I have indicated, and it is perfectly plain that it is unjust. They dislike stabilisation. It is bad for them, and there can be no advantage to them from this scheme.
When I moved a similar Amendment in Committee upstairs, two arguments were used against it. One argument, which was advanced by Mr. Wood, who was then Minister of Agriculture, was that it would lead to great inconvenience, that it would be incredible that in one parish there could be two people paying different rates of tithe, one sum where the tithe was owned by a college, and a totally different sum where it was owned by a clergyman. He said that would reduce the whole thing to an absurdity. I hope that that argument will not be repeated to-night, because this Bill does provide that two different sums shall be paid. In one parish where the lay tithe owner —a college or an ordinary lay tithe owner—owns the tithe, the tithe payer will only have to pay at the rate of £105, but if it is clerical tithe he will have to pay £109 10s. Therefore, there is a difference in the amount to be paid. A second objection which was raised in Committee was that it was too early in the progress of the Bill to consider such a matter, that it would be sympathetically considered, but that time was needed to consider what should be done for the institutions I represent. That time has been very ill spent. Hopes were held out during the Debate upstairs but nothing has been done at all. and you are, in effect, if you pass this Bill without amendment, doing an absolute injustice. After all, we are entitled to fair play. Why are you forcing this upon us? Why is the House to take this tithe at £l05 and therefore make us suffer very large losses? The Amendment which I am moving does not ask for a penny of Government money at all. It does not add to the expenses of the Government in any way. I am asking, in effect, that for two years the existing state of affairs shall go on. That is to the advantage. I should imagine, of everyone. The real reason why, on the last Amendment, those who represent the agricultural interests are anxious to do something at the present time is because of the great rise in tithes which would occur if nothing is done until next year. Next year they could be up to £130. My Amendment suggests that things remain as they are. Let £109 be paid at the end of two years. At the end of two years it is suggested that we should go back to the seven years average. It would probably come out at something like £117.
The reason for the delay and the use of the delay is this: Tithes went up to an exceptional amount in 1919–20. Every year the figures get nearer the normal. The offer we are making is that after 1927, instead of using the 15 years' average which brings it up to £130, because it includes the War years, we should take a seven years' average. I have not the slightest doubt that, even if it became necessary to compromise the matter, it could go on for three years instead of two years. If the Government chose to accept the Amendment, no one would be likely to oppose.
What I am asking for is just and simple fair play. For the next two years, having regard to the fact that there have been exceptional rises in 1919 and l920, keep at the existing amount of £109. After the end of two years go back to the seven years' average which existed before the War. Every person who has bought land since 1835 and 1836 knew the tithe upon it and that it was a shifting amount according to the seven years' average. It has worked well, because it has varied with the amount. For many years, the tithe owner has had a very thin time. In the War, if Parliament had not intervened, he would have had a very thick time, but Parliament intervened, and intervened simply because of War necessities. It was as a War sacrifice that the matter was brought in. That was perfectly right during the War. The effect of the War, under this Amendment, would be entirely eliminated, and you simply would be going back to the original contract, each seven years varying, with the price of corn you have to pay, the amount of your tithe. I submit here that I am showing a great injustice to a body of people to whom stabilisation is a mistake to start with. It is only in a case of great need that the Government or this House should intervene between people who have made a contract in respect of land, and in this case there is no such necessity. I press the House very strongly to allow this exception to the Bill. An enormous amount of injustice is being caused to a large number of institutions who deserve, not ill, but well.
I earnestly trust that the Government may see its way to accept the Amendment which has been so lucidly and cogently explained by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson). The House will realise that this is in no sense a wrecking Amendment. It accepts the main principles of the Bill. It is based upon the assumption that the tithe is to be stabilised and that it is to be stabilised at a figure settled by the Government. It is also an Amendment which is not conceived in any spirit of hostility to the landowning classes. The charitable corporations, in whose interests this Amendment is framed, do not suggest for a moment that they should be exempted from the operation of any limiting condition. They do not think it would be fair to ask the landowners to pay £130 which is the figure to which they would be entitled under the free working of economic forces. Again, in suggesting that after 1928 a return should be made to the old seven years' corn averages under the settlement of 1836, we are proposing to leave out the years where prices were on an abnormally high level owing to War conditions. It will therefore, I think, be generally appreciated that we desire a fair settlement and nothing but a fair settlement.
Why is it that this Amendment has been proposed? My right hon. and learned Friend has pointed out that the charitable corporations will suffer a very heavy immediate loss under the operations of this Bill. Let me illustrate that from calculations which have been made in Oxford as to the loss which would be suffered by two colleges. I will take Christchurch. Christchurch estimates that if this Bill goes through in its present form it will experience a loss next year of something over £1,000, which might otherwise be spent upon scholarships and fellowships. Take New College. New College estimates that if this Bill goes through in its present form it will experience a loss of nearly £400. The total capital sums, now enjoyed by the University and Colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, and which will be destroyed under the provisions of this Bill, amounts in our calculation, to £60,000 And for what? For a principle of stabilisation which is not to our interest, which we do mot desire, but which we are quite ready to accept if it is to the general advantage of the country. In other words, if this Bill be just to the clergy, it is unjust to the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, and the other charitable corporations, because, as my right hon. and learned Friend has pointed out, the clergy would only be able to accept the figure of £100 by reason of the fact that it is accompanied by a concession which is not enjoyed by the colleges. In other words, for £100 of amounted tithe value rate free which goes to the clergy, the colleges will get £71. That is an injustice which cannot under any conceivable line of argument be substantiated to the reasonable mind. In fact, in the Debates which have taken place in the House on this Bill there has been no attempt made to justify the treatment which has been meted out to the charitable corporations.
We are all well aware that the late Minister of Agriculture was a mirror of justice. We know perfectly well that nothing was further from his thoughts than to inflict an injury upon the charitable corporations. It was very natural that the Minister of Agriculture, having to reconcile two great interests in the country, the interests of the landowner on the one hand and the clergy on the other hand, and finding that it might be possible to adjust those two conflicting interests round about the figure of £105 —it was very natural that a Minister, placed in such a situation, should say to himself, "Let us get an agreement between the main interests involved." The charitable corporations, being a minority interest, have consequently suffered. I am well aware that it very often happens in legislation that a minority interest has to suffer because it is a minority interest. It is, however, always undesirable that this should be the case, but still circumstances are sometimes so strong as to overpower the call of justice, but whenever possible that should be avoided. I think everybody will agree with me there. We maintain that it is quite possible for the Government to meet the just claim of the charitable institutions without sacrificing anything of value. That is the case which we put before the House. I trust the Govern- ment will meet us to-night. Of course I appreciate the fact that the Government may not acquiesce, though I hope that they will, in the suggestion in the later part of the Amendment that after 1928 the charitable co-operations shall return to the old seven year corn averages of the settlement of 1836.
That really is not the most essential part of this Amendment. What we want is some delay in order that the matter may be further considered. There are other alternatives. If the Government feel strongly that the policy of stabilisation should be carried out throughout, and that there must be no exception to stabilising, I am confident that we shall be able to propose a scheme which would enable that to be carried through. Mr. Keynes himself has suggested a. scheme which, so far as we can see, is watertight, and which will enable stabilisation to be carried through, and yet at the same time give the colleges £84 instead of the £71 which they are now allotted under the operation of this Bill. But whether that may be, we feel that we have so strong a case for being specially considered that we trust earnestly that the Government may see their way to accept this Amendment.
I should feel myself more out of touch with my constituents than I have ever been in my life if I did not rise to support this Amendment. I have represented Oxford University for six or seven years, and there has never been a conviction upon which the whole University of Oxford, whatever the politics of the individual, his age or his status, is so absolutely unanimous as the belief that the particular Clause of this Bill which we are endeavouring to amend is disastrous. We ask the Government to consider that in the eyes of Oxford— Oxford may be wrong possibly—Cambridge may be wrong also—they are making themselves by this attack on the colleges an enemy of education. We know that the Government do not wish to be enemies of education, but they are cutting down the resources derived from the not too great wealth of the universities, by this scheme of stabilisation which they are about to inflict on us. We are disappointed with what is happening. The Prime Minister received most powerful deputations from Oxford and Cambridge last summer, and we were told that our case would be gone into. The late Minister of Agriculture was again and again appealed to in this matter, and he expressed his sympathy, but nothing was done. And it is only within the last two or three days we have discovered that all this talk of sympathy has come to nothing. I am bound to say that the Government never gave us any pledge, but if this Amendment were introduced we thought that they might consider our special case.
The only arguments in favour of the present proposition which I have heard— and I have sat day after day in the Committee—were two. The first was the "wisdom of our ancestors" in decreeing that corporations, like colleges and hospitals holding tithes, should have the position of mere lay tithe owners and should be treated as such. Will anybody say that a college or a hospital is in the same position as a layman holding tithes? Obviously not, and there is no reason why they should be treated in the ordinary way as laymen holding tithes. In the ease of Income Tax, special arrangements are made in favour of corporations like colleges, and they get enormous advantages over the individual citizen. But there is nothing in this proposal to provide that similar advantages should be given to educational corporations.
The second suggestion which I have heard the Minister make was that the college revenue from tithe was derived from what was a pure investment made in comparatively modern times, in the nineteenth and eighteenth centuries. I went into this matter at a meeting of 18 bursars of colleges which was held to consider the subject, and the suggestion made is not in accordance with the fact. The fact is that these old tithes were given by early founders in the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It was the way most favoured by them of securing something very definite to the institutions which they were setting up. We have been told that "stabilisation must come," and that stabilisation in itself is an excellent thing. May I point out that stabilisation all through the ages has been a poor business for the person who took the definite sum, and an advantage to the person who paid it. And this form of endowment in a proper way should be calculated on a percentage as was done under the old scheme of the corn values tithe.
Whenever an individual has commuted for a sum in the past ages, he has been hopelessly cheated. The King in the early times was badgered by his vassals into commuting various rights and dues which he owned for sums like £5 and £10 which became ridiculously small in a few centuries. Similarly the King was induced to get the votes in Parliament of fifteenths and the tenths stabilised. But within a short time the purchasing value of the sums which he received under these heads amounted to very little and formed quite an inappreciable part of the revenue. The Land Tax—it is about £1,000,000 a, year now— is a similar case. After the great fire of London, the vicars of the City parishes were induced, or rather compelled by Act of Parliament, to take fixed sums for their glebe revenues which they commuted. Just consider what they would have been receiving, if the glebes had not been taken over. A vicar of one of those churches this morning explained to me that if it had not been for the commutation made in 1666, he would be now receiving £80,000 a year. Think of the enormous amount involved by the commutation for a few pounds of urban glebe which would now be worth tens of thousands.
In this connection may I point out that the word "pound" is generally used for a definite thing, but it does not mean a definite thing. In the reign of Henry VIII a great number of institutions were given grants of £20, £40 or £60 from the Grown. A pound meant then 240 grains of pure gold. To-day it only means 122 grains of pure gold. The result is that any corporation which was foolish enough in the reign of Henry VIII to commute for a grant of £20, is receiving for each pound only 122 grains instead of 240 grains of pure gold. Anybody who went bargaining in pounds in past ages was always being cheated gradually by the deterioration in the currency. What is to prevent the decay of our present pound in a similar way? May not the amount represented by the pound grow "small by degrees and beautifully less" like that of the franc or the lira? I have heard it argued that in introducing the decimal system the pound should be brought down by a few grains in order to square with some mathematical system of those who advocate the change. How is it possible to secure that the pound later on will be what it is now, 122 grains of pure gold? Percentages are enormously preferable to stabilisation.
If you said, instead of expressing the amount in pounds, "Let us receive such and such a proportion of the produce in question, whatever the denomination of the money," the proportion would remain the same, and the value of the proportion given would remain consistent. If you choose a word like pounds, the person who is to receive £100 under this Act may be receiving the value of 100 francs or 100 Austrian kroner later on. Therefore, percentage calculations should be made, and you should not stabilise a thing like the pound, which is always liable to grow less, and which in the course of centuries has actually grown less. In addition to that, there is always the tendency through the ages for the purchasing value of the coin, even if it remains the same size, to grow less. Can anybody say what you will be able to buy for £100 100 years hence? The facts of history prove that commodities have always grown in price compared with money. I do not know if anybody in this House remembers reading the moan of the poor consumers in the reign of Henry VIII after his monetary changes. They attributed the change, unfortunately, to the disestablishment of the monasteries—not the main real cause. Their ballad began:
I'll tell thee what, good fellow, before the friars went hence,
A barrel of the best beer was sold for eighteen pence.
And forty eggs a penny that were both fresh and fair.
This is but one example of the way in which commodities have regularly increased while the purchasing power of money goes down. Under any system of stabilising in money instead of arranging payments on a percentage basis the person to whom the payment is to be made will be cheated. There is not the least doubt of that, because, in the long run, the value of money to purchase commodities decreases and the value of the commodities as measured by money goes up. I support this Amendment.
This Amendment, which has been moved and supported in some very interesting speeches, is, in substance, the first Amendment which was moved in Committee upstairs. I am only sorry that Mr. Edward Wood, who was then Minister of Agriculture, is not here himself to defend this Bill this evening, because I think that it would have been a little more difficult in his presence to suggest that the Government is making itself an enemy of education by refusing to listen to the appeal which has been made by this Amendment. I do not propose to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University (Sir C. Oman) in the very interesting discussion with which he has entertained the House as to the diminishing value of the currency. He is never more interesting than when he informs us upon this matter. My only regret is that in 85 years ho will not be heard to explain with undiminished vigour how it was that his prophecies as to the value of money have not been fulfilled.
My right hon. Friends who have spoken on this Amendment must have appreciated already the answers of the Government. They were given upstairs, and I can only repeat them now. The right hon. Member for the English Universities (Mr. Fisher) spoke about justice and he made an eloquent plea for the admirable institutions that would benefit if this Amendment were adopted. He did not remind the House that the colleges in particular will stand to benefit to a considerable extent as tithe payers, by virtue of the Bill. From the point of view of some hon. Members of this House, it may be that they will consider that on the whole the colleges will stand to gain something, almost as much, perhaps, as they stand to lose, by the enactment. But quite apart from that countervailing advantage, there are disadvantages which will occur to everyone, in the adoption of this proposal. In the first place, it would stereotype two classes of tithe. The proposal is that any tithe rentcharge which is on the appointed day vested in these charitable institutions, shall, after the expiration of two years, be estimated upon the old septennial average. Therefore, if in a few years the colleges or charitable institutions part with the tithe rentcharge which they now own, the purchaser of that tithe rent-charge would have to inquire into the ancestry of it in order to see what was the amount which he would have to pay.
The principle of this Bill is that all tithe rentcharge shall be stabilised, and. as the late Minister of Agriculture pointed out in Committee, you would have in the same parish two different values of tithe permanently fixed. It will be noticed that the proposal is as the right hon. Member for the English Universities said, not to give the Universities the full pound of flesh which they would get under the 1918 Act, £132 or whatever it is, immediately, but it is that for two years they shall receive £109, and after two years receive the amount which is calculated upon the septennial average. The right hon. Gentleman recognised that excellent though these colleges are, they are not to expect to get their full pound of flesh, but they are to go back to the septennial average. It has been estimated in a document issued by the colleges themselves that in 1928 that would amount to £118 and in 1929 to £113, which showed that there would be a considerable and important difference between the rentcharge paid to the colleges and charitable institutions and to other lay tithe owners.
The right hon. Gentleman is now suggesting that the Bill should assimilate the position of the lay tithe owner and the clerical tithe owner. His proposal was to differentiate the charitable institutions from the other lay tithe owners. That is the proposal embodied in this Amendment. I understand that the proposal is really made in order to give an opportunity to the colleges and charitable institutions to enter into a further, and possibly a prolonged, discussion with the Government of the day, in order to secure more advantageous terms. I think that my right hon. Friend said so.
I am sorry not to have made myself clear. We shall, of course, be delighted if the Government see their way to accept our Amendment. Then the case would be concluded, and there would be no further discussion necessary. If, on the other hand, the Government feel that they cannot here and now assent to our proposal for the five years' average, then we suggest that we might submit to the Government another which would involve the principle of stabilisation, and which we believe the Government might very reasonably accept. What we contend is that, if the present Bill is passed, the charitable corporations which have functions not very dissimilar from the functions exercised by the clergy, will suffer. They are subject to a heavy immediate loss of revenue.
I think that I appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's position. He hopes that the Government will accept the Amendment as a permanent solution of the difficulty of the colleges, and if the Government does not accept it, at any rate it will accept the suggestion of further negotiations. I am bound to say that no proposal has been made either in Committee or on Report which would be acceptable both to the colleges and the Government, and I am afraid that I can deal only with the proposal which is embodied in the Amendment now before us. Upon that, as the late Minister of Agriculture said upstairs, the great objection is that it would be differentiating between the charitable institutions as lay tithe owners and the other lay tithe owners. Although we fully recognise the hardships that, these charitable institutions will suffer, yet it is a hardship which other lay tithe owners will suffer. What differentiates the colleges from others is in what is said to be the excellence of the objects to which the colleges devote their funds.
The Government are forced to the conclusion that it would be a serious blemish in the Bill if there were an exception of the colleges from the general stabilisation of the tithe rentcharge proposed by the Bill. Not even the hardships described nor the excellence of those objects would justify a permanent differentiation between the two classes of lay tithe owners. The Amendment would apply to all sorts of charitable institutions as well as colleges, to what are called charitable institutions, and to institutions to which we apply the term "charitable," rather in the technical sense. Of course, the House will recognise that, although the case has been argued most eloquently and forcibly by the distinguished representatives of the universities, it has a much wider scope than that which they suggested. With all the good will in the world which we all feel towards colleges and charitable institutions, to which many of us owe a great deal, the Government are unable to accept the Amendment.
I supported this Amendment in Committee, and we have on the Order Paper to-day an Amendment similar in effect to that now under discussion. The grounds for supporting the Amendment have already been stated quite clearly. If this Bill be not passed, these charitable institutions will be in receipt of a larger income than they will get if the Bill is passed in its present form. That change in the fortunes of these charitable institutions is not being made at the expense of the taxpayer, but will be made at the expense of the landlord. If this Amendment be carried, the charitable institutions and not the landlords will enjoy a certain annual sum of money, and, therefore, we on the Labour benches think that the Amendment should be carried in order that this disputable sum which charitable institutions are enjoying now shall be continued.
The amount of money in dispute is not quite certain, but we had given us in Committee a figure of £300,000 a year in tithe as coming under this Amendment. As far as I can judge, the immediate effect of this change would be a change of about 10 per cent. of that £300,000 of annual tithe, or a sum of between £25,000 and £30,000 a year. Charitable institutions are not merely colleges, but they are also trusts such as that at Birmingham or the St. Cross Trust, near Winchester, and other almshouses doing magnificent work thoughout the country. With this question before us as impartial arbiters we ought to decide that the charity shall get the money and not the landlord. There is more than that. On what ground do we ask to have a change of the existing contract? On what grounds of justice can we pass a law which directly affects the financial interests of these rival institutions?
The Government say that it is impossible to have two different sets of tithe in one parish. That is the only argument used against this change and in favour of what is presumably an injustice. It is the feeblest argument that could be brought forward. In every parish you have some farms paying tithe and others in which the tithe has been redeemed. In parishes you have tithes which are not in accordance with the value of the land but in accordance with the prehistoric value of the land. Judging between the rival claims of the landlord on the one hand and of educational institutions which do invaluable work in providing scholarships for poor boys from elementary schools and secondary schools on the other, we put our money on education every time.
The representatives of the Universities will not be alone in hearing with profound regret that it is the intention of the Government not to give any relief in response to the claim of the charitable and educational institutions under this Bill. The case is a very clear one and has already been very clearly stated. The colleges and charitable institutions which we represent are to be deprived of a considerable sum of money. As far as Oxford and Cambridge are concerned it represents a value of between £50,000 and £60,000. That money is their property by every right of justice and equity. Tithe is as much property as land. It is a well recognised form of sharing in property and it is rated as property. One of the astounding in-equitabilities about this settlement in respect of the colleges is that they are created as owners of property in respect of rates, but are given none of the security of property when it comes to confiscation. We are not to be treated as having any of the sanctity of property when we are dealing with the stabilisation of tithe, but on the other hand, the full burden of rates is still to be levied on the reduced value of our property as though it were landed property owned by secure title and incapable of being confiscated— at any rate by a Conservative Government.
The Government are, therefore, quite clearly proposing to take away from us that which belongs to us and in regard to this matter there is none of the element of consent which in some degree affects the settlement in respect of clerical tithe, because the clergy, as I explained earlier in the Debate, are to a large degree satisfied with the new arrangement, but the colleges and charitable institutions have, from the beginning, protested that this was an unsatisfactory settlement. Their property is being taken from them without consent and a clearer case of confiscation could hardly be made out. A Government which purports to be here in order to defend the rights of property is taking away property from the people to whom it belongs. It makes the case no better to say that it is to go to others who share in that landed property. It is plainly an act of confiscation and it will be observed that the settlement which we propose is by no means a bad settlement to the tithe payer. A great deal was said in the Debate which preceded this discussion about the prospective value of tithe. I rather concur with those who say that it is a matter of conjecture, but the Government ought to recognise that so far the estimate on which their Bill is based has not been justified by experience. The estimate, which rests on the high authority of that very distinguished man, Sir Charles Longmore, has not been borne out because he anticipated that tithe would have fallen from £115 in 1920 to £105 in 1924–25, but it has not; it began at £114, went down to £100, went up again to £119 and then in 1925 went to £117. The average for four years, according to this anticipation, was to be £108; according to reality it was £113. That shows how very uncertain are the calculations on which the Bill is based, and we are asked to accept a stabilisation against our will—a stabilisation is to be thrust upon us—which plainly costs us a great deal of money, on the basis of a calculation which has already turned out to be untrue. That seems to be indefensible.
I observe that those who speak from the point of view of the tithe payers, the most extreme defenders of the rights of the tithe payers, seem to be quite willing to go back to the settlement of 1836. I put a question across the Floor of the House, and that seemed to be the preference indicated. We have dropped the years of the War, and if the Government make the point which the Solicitor-General appeared to make, that the value of tithe under our system would be too high, we are even willing to drop the year 1922, the last year which could by the widest interpretation be said to be affected by War values. What we are anxious to do is to go back to the old settlement of 1836 and if ever there was a plain case of a Parliamentary contract being broken and a Parliamentary understanding being violated, surely it is this case. In 1836 a settlement was formally and expressly made, and it should not be violated without the consent, and certainly not in face of the indignant protest, of those who are to be deprived of their money.
We are told that this matter has a wider scope. It has indeed. How are you going to defend property, how are you going to justify the case against confiscation in the future? The Secretary of State for War laughs, but it is no laughing matter to be deprived of £60,000. How would the right hon. Gentleman himself like to be deprived of £60,000? I do not put the case for these educational institutions merely on the ground of the good work which they perform. I do not believe in confiscating anybody's property, even if they are not doing such valuable work. But these institutions, in fact, are doing educational work, and the Government profess to be friends of education and are making grants of public money for education. Therefore, you have not even the poor excuse that what you are doing is in the public interest. Obviously it is not in the public interest, but is injurious to the public interest, whereas it is generally sought to justify confiscation by saying, "It is an invasion of private rights, but see how the public gain!" This peculiar brand of confiscation has the character that it both injures the public and violates all honesty and fair dealing. The only ground for this astounding invasion of all sound principles of government is the view that if it is not done there will be farms in the same parish some of which will pay tithe on a. different system from the others. The Government, so careless of honesty, are zealous for consistency.
As a matter of fact, I think charitable and educational owners of tithe do stand on a different footing because of their work, but we do not mind extending this Amendment to the others if the Government think fit to do so. That is no business of ours, but we have a right to protest if you should feel such a moral obligation in robbing somebody else, that you are bound to rob us also as a matter of consistency. It is behind that miser- able rag of pretence that the Solicitor-General is not ashamed to ask a Conservative House of Commons to support the Bill as it stands. Was there ever a thinner veil to hide the ugly face of banditti from our indignation? The universities and colleges are to be treated by a Conservative Government in a way in which they never would have been treated by a Liberal or a Labour Government. The argument of private rights would not have weight or strength with those Governments. It ought to weigh with this Government, but it does not. Other arguments would have weighed more strongly. The argument of the great educational work done by these colleges, and the like, would have weighed very strongly. Do not let us delude ourselves. These things will come home to roost. If you show yourself indifferent to arguments of justice and right, if you do not try to act honestly, if whilst professing great zeal for the public, you neglect the public interest—if you do all these things combined together in one unjustifiable transaction, other people will imitate all that is worst in your action and you will find, too late, that it is a bad business to rob the charitable and educational institutions of this country and that fair dealing would have been a good policy for the whole country as well as being honest and right.
I only intervene in this Debate to express the solidarity that exists among all the universities of this country in this matter. It is true that the universities which I represent are not particularly interested in tithes, but we are directly interested in the prosperity of the old universities which supply us with so large a number of teachers, provide scholarships for so many of our students and carry on to a higher degree the work which we bring to a certain point. In listening to the speech of the Solicitor-General I sympathised with the right hon. and learned Gentleman very heartily. Never have I heard in this House a Minister with so poor a case or indeed with such difficulty in making any case at all. I was not on the Committee which considered this Bill upstairs and therefore I had no knowledge of what arguments the Government were bringing forward in support of this confiscatory action and I confess as I listened to such arguments as the Solicitor-General was able to adduce, I was unable to understand how any Government could sit on those benches and hear such miserable arguments as they put forward rent to shreds and tatters without paying any attention whatever. It is quite clear that here you have a Conservative Government delivering two direct blows—and knowing that it so delivers them—one against education and the other against property. I need not expand on what has been so admirably put by the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil), but the Government are distinctly striking a blow at the sanctity of property. It being so plainly a case of confiscation, I wish to ask what compensation is it proposed to give the Universities? It is scarcely possible that after this Debate, the Government can refuse to compensate in some form or other the Universities for the robbery which it has inflicted upon them. I trust if they insist on carrying this Bill in its present form the Government will consider the clear duty enforced upon them of compensating the old Universities. I will not repeat arguments that have been so clearly set forward by one speaker after another, but I will content myself with saying that, as I shall vote against the Government on this matter, those are the reasons for which I shall give my vote.
I do not want again to tell the House the reasons that have already been given by my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General, but I think T must intervene for a moment to rebut the charge of confiscation and robbery. I can quite understand that feeling is strong on this question. I realise that in the Universities, with the work that they are doing, it naturally arouses the very strongest feeling, but it is not fair, because you disagree with the figure which has been selected, after what is believed to be the best advice, for the value of the tithe, namely, 105, and because you think that figure ought to be 110, or 115, or some other figure, not based on gold but based on cereals, that you should say that the Government, disagreeing with that view, is confiscating.
It is all very well to say that, but a Parliamentary understanding, or rather an Act of Parliament, provided that a tithe-should be payable which was calculated in certain ways, which was the mixed value of three cereals, and that was a form of currency which was adopted for the purpose of assessing the value of tithe. That had to be suspended, I think by universal consent, in 1918, owing to the very great rise in the value of those cereals. The tithe owners, the clergy—I believe it originated in a resolution of clergy meeting in Suffolk— passed a resolution that they ought not to demand the full tithe to which they were entitled.
It was very patriotic of them, and they did it, and that was the origin of the alteration which was made and incorporated in the 1918 Bill. There was a temporary stabilisation then, and the question really in dispute is whether you wish tithe in future to be based on a gold standard, or whether you wish it to be based on a cereal standard, which was the standard adopted in 1836. In these circumstances, to say that the Government is dealing a blow at property is making use of phrases which will not serve the Noble Lord in his general advocacy of the protection of property. To use that sort of words about action such as we are now proposing to the House is, to my mind, a misuse of language, against which I really must protest. The actual amount of tithe owned by the colleges is, at par value, £117,000. Some quite exaggerated figures were given from the Front Bench by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newoastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood). He was talking about £300,000. It is £117,000, and the actual immediate loss is, I am told, about £5,000 a year, shared between both Universities about equally. Then, of course, the colleges themselves are tithe payers, or some of the colleges are, as well as tithe owners, and what they lose on the one hand they gain on the other.
The total, as I understand it, is £117,000, and the actual loss on the present figures is about £5,000 a year, subject 10 what they may get back as tithe payers. Those are the actual facts, and the Noble Lord talked of £60,000.
It really is a great exaggeration to speak as the Noble Lord spoke and to say that the Government is confiscating, when there is a real difference of opinion as to whether it is better to have one basis of currency or the other basis.
Not at all a ground for injuring either the Noble Lord or the universities. The Government cannot really be credited with that intention. There has been a period, a very difficult period, both for the occupying landowner and for the clergy, and here is a situation in which, if nothing were done, the landowner who is liable to tithe would have to pay at the rate of about 132 for some time to come. It is better that that burden should be stabilised and spread over a period of years. Then comes the problem. Is it to be 105 or is it not to be 105? But that is neither robbery nor confiscation.
The ingenious defence by the Minister for War of the Government's attempts at confiscation can have very little weight with this House, if we come to consider what he has been saying about the difference between the colleges as tithe payers and tithe owners. Any of us would be perfectly willing to enter into a particular arrangement under which we were to benefit, and the expense of it was to be paid by the right hon. Gentleman, but it is ridiculous to say that a college in Oxford which is a tithe owner is to give up some of its rights, because some other college, in Cambridge, happens to be a tithe passer. There is absolutely no justification whatever for bringing that forward as an argument. The authorities of the universities may still be children in finance, but at least they know a little, and they know their own business, and the particular colleges know what they are going to lose by this particular proposal. I think I am the only one, with the exception of the right hon. Member on the front bench opposite (Colonel Wedgwood), who has spoken in favour of this Amendment this evening who is nor directly representative of the universities. I speak merely as one who is nothing more than a humble member of one of those universities, and I want to remind the House that it is not merely the universities of Oxford and Cambridge that are concerned.
There are other charitable institutions and great hospitals, and I want to know why it should be necessary to bring this undoubted hardship upon these bodies merely for the sake of some apparent uniformity. The Government know perfectly well, and everybody in this House knows, that the institutions which are going to suffer under this proposal are the particular type of institution which everybody has been most anxious should not have to live and exist upon Government subsidies. They are known to be institutions which are very hard up. and which it is advisable that the Government should help as much as ever they possibly can without resorting to direct subsidies, and now the Government, which has taken that line all along, is proposing here to deal a real and serious blow at these institutions, for reasons which really, if I may venture to say so—it is only adding to what has been said by every speaker—are positively ridiculous. Why it should be necessary, because you deal with a certain amount of tithe in one way, to deal with every scrap of tithe in that way, I cannot understand; and to say that a man, when he purchased land, would have to inquire into the ancestry of the tithe is saying that he has to do nothing more than he has to do at the present time. When he buys a piece of land he does not merely inquire whether tithe is payable, but whether land tax is payable, and, if so, the exact amount. He inquires whether quit rents and all sorts of charges are payable, and he has only to inquire here what is the nature of the tithe and what is the amount. The whole case of the Government is shown to be absolutely non-existent when they bring forward such flimsy arguments in its favour as that particular one.
May I point out the real and serious difference that there is in the cases of the tithe that is owned by these institutions and that which is owned by other persons? The difference is that one is, to a great extent, a commercial asset, while the other is not. There may be considerable justification for forcing the conversion or purchase of something which is in the nature of the private property of individuals; there may be justification for that in the public interest, but here you have got something which is not the property of ordinary private individuals, or even of ordinary corporations, but is the property of corporations which everybody hopes will go on, I was going to say, as long as this world goes on, and which, as long as they do go on, are not the least likely to want to deal with these particular forms of property. Therefore, for that reason, they ought to be treated in a different way, on ordinary principles of justice, and because the Government themselves have admitted over and over again their anxiety to help these institutions, and there is no reason of practice or convenience whatever why they should not. I can only hope that hon. Members who have heard this Debate will show what they think of it by voting in favour of this Amendment, and I can only hope that when my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University (Sir C. Oman) is descanting in 85 years' time, as the learned Solicitor-General said, upon some of these matters, and the Solicitor-General is not there to hear them, it will be because the place where my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford, University is, is the one up above.
I want to keep the House one minute only in the endeavour to remove the impression left by one word said by the Secretary for War. He said it was only £5,000 a year spread out among the colleges. I ask the House to try to adjust their conception to the sort of difficulty we are up against in Cambridge. I could tell the House of the extraordinarily narrow margin on which some of the smaller
colleges are running themselves at the present moment, and of the real heroism of one or two people there, many of whom are on small salaries already, who are subscribing to the scholarship funds. I could give three or four cases. To have that £5,000 thrown in our face in that way is a thing that makes me indignant, and I intend to vote against the Government on this matter, and I do hope every other Member will, because I believe it to be unjust and unfortunate.
|Division No. 370.]||AYES.||[8.18 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Remnant, Sir James|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Ritson, J.|
|Baker, Walter||Hanbury, C.||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W.R., Elland)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hayday, Arthur||Saklatvala, Shapurji|
|Barr, J.||Hayes, John Henry||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Batey, Joseph||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Scurr, John|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Hirst, G. H.||Shiels, Or. Drummond|
|Briant, Frank||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bromfield, William||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Bromley, J.||Hurd, Percy A.||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Smillie, Robert|
|Buchanan, G.||Jephcott, A. R.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Smith, H. B. Lees-(Keighley)|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Snell, Harry|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Kelly, W. T.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Kennedy, T.||Somerville. A. A. (Windsor)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Kenyon, Barnet||Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)|
|Clowes, S.||Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lansbury, George||Stephen, Campbell|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lee, F.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Connolly, M.||Lindley, F. W.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Conway, Sir w. Martin||Lowth, T.||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro., W.)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Thurtle, E.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lunn, William||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Townend, A. E.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Mackinder, W.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Dennison, R.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Viant, S. P.|
|Duncan, C.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Dunnico, H.||Macquisten, F. A.||Warne, G. H.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Moles, Thomas||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Montague, Frederick||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Morris, R. H.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Fenby, T. D.||Murnin, H.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Naylor, T. E.||Westwood, J.|
|Gillett, George M.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Goff, Sir Park||Oliver, George Harold||Whiteley, W.|
|Gosling, Harry||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Owen, Major G.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Palin, John Henry||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Greenall, T.||Paling, W.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Groves, T.||Phillpson, Mabel||Windsor, Walter|
|Grundy, T. W.||Ponsonby, Arthur||Wright, W.|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Potts, John S.|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Price, Major C. W. M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES. —|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Mr. Rawlinson and Mr. Fisher.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Balniel, Lord|
|Albery, Irving James||Astor, Viscountess||Barnett, Major Sir Richard|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Atholl, Duchess of||Barnston, Major Sir Harry|
|Apsley, Lord||Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Bellains, Commander Carlyon W.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Hawke, John Anthony||Radford, E. A.|
|Bennett, A. J.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Raine, W.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Reid, Captain A. S. C. (Warrington)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Remer, J. R.|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon William Clive||Hilton, Cecil||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.|
|Broad, F. A.||Holt, Captain H. P.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Burman, J. B.||Howard, Captain Hon. Donald||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Huntingfield, Lord||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)||Savery, S. S.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Sexton, James|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Jacob, A. E.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Spender Clay, Colonel H.|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Lamb, J. Q.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Lane-Fox, Colonel George R.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Cope, Major William||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Storry Deans, R.|
|Couper, J. B.||Looker, Herbert William||Stuart, Crichton-. Lord C.|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Lord, Walter Greaves-||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L.||Lougher, L.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Lumley, L. R.||Templeton, W. P.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.||Macintyre, Ian||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)||Macmillan, Captain H.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Drewe, C.||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Elliot, Captain Walter E.||Malone, Major P. B.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Elveden, Viscount||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Fanshawe, Commander G. D.||Margesson, Captain D.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Fermoy, Lord||Merriman, F. B.||Wells, S. R.|
|Fleming, D. P.||Meyer, Sir Frank||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Williams. Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Wilson, M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)|
|Gates, Percy||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Gee, Captain R.||Nail, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Nelson, Sir Frank||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Grotrian, H. Brent||Nuttall, Ellis||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Harland, A.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||Perring, William George||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Pilditch, Sir Philip||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Haslam, Henry C.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Captain Hacking and Viscount|
I beg to move, in page 2, line 17, to leave out from the word "redemption," to the word "of," in line 19.
The object of this Amendment, as hon. Members will see, if they read the Clause in the Bill, is to avoid fixing a period of 85 years, and to make it quite certain that the accumulations of the reserve fund will, before the payment of the tithe finishes, provide a capital sum sufficient to provide the same income that the incumbent Las at the present time, and not to stabilise tithe as regulated by the Bill. The danger is that we are arguing without knowing in the least what the rates of interest for money will be during the next 85 years. There has been an estimate formed by the Government which, of course, is pure guess-work as to what the ordinary rate of interest on invested money will be. They assume that the rate of interest will be 5 per cent. at the start, ending up with 3½ per cent.
That is all based upon an absolutely arbitrary guess as to what the Bank rate will be, whether high or low. They are right provided their estimate is correct. If so at the end of 85 years the capital accumulated by this redemption fund will be sufficient to provide an income for the benefice equal to the amount of the payment next year. If the rate of interest on the money falls, then at the end of the period the accumulations at compound interest will not be sufficient to provide this income. Therefore the Amendment I am moving is simply this: that the accumulations shall go on till a capital sum has been accumulated to provide the income sufficient to meet the annual sum at present receivable from tithe. I think I have made the point quite clear. There is a provision for reducing the period in case the money is accumulated before the 85 years. I think I am right in saying that. On the other hand, there is no provision for extension, for continuing the period, in case the accumulations are not sufficient.
Before a reply is made by the representative of the Government, I should like to put the other point of view to that put forward by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood). In my view the accumulations at the end of the 85 years of the capital sum will yield a much larger income than that to which the incumbent is to be entitled. I am not too certain of the accuracy of what I am now going to say, but I believe the £4 10s. accumulating for 85 years at 4 per cent. will realise something like £3,500. If you take the income of that you have £140. If the total is £3,000 instead of £3,500 you get £120. I do not, therefore, agree at all that the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Gentleman is necessary.
The Bill as drawn provides for the payment, over a period up to 85 years, of a sum which, invested at various rates of interest, will, it is estimated, produce at the cud of that period the net amount receivable by the tithe owner, that is, £109 10s., less £5, less £4 10s., and less £2 10s. which is the cost of the collection. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for East Grinstead (Sir H. Cautley) is perfectly correct in saying there is no provision for a reduction of that period of 85 years if it should be found that, owing to some advantageous conditions which are not contemplated, the necessary capital sum, accumulates before the expiration of 85 years. A calculation has been made—it may be said that it is by way of being a prophecy, but at any rate the calculation has been made—which leads to the result embodied in the Bill, and the calculation is that £97 10s. net-will be the fruit of the accumulated sum at the end of the 85 years. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for New-castle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) in this Amendment and the one to which he has referred to wants to provide that the accumulation shall go on for an indefinite period until £105 is the fruit of the capital sum accumulated and invested. So far as I am aware, no argument has been used by either of the hon. Gentlemen which would justify the suggestion that at the end of the period the incumbent should receive £105 instead of the net sum which he will be receiving during the period of 85 years. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for New-castle-under-Lyme provides by his next Amendment for £105 instead of £97 10s., which is the net sum the incumbent will receive. As I have said, the calculation made is the best the Government have been able to arrive at, and they think it is right, so far as it is possible to prophesy. Having regard to the scheme of the Bill, I cannot ask the House to accept the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman.
I am afraid the learned Solicitor-General has not understood the point of the Amendment, which is to ensure that the clergyman, who during these 85 years has been receiving £97 10s., or whatever the amount may be, shall be absolutely certain that he will continue to receive that sum from the accumulated fund, and that accumulations shall go on till the necessary capital fund has boon provided.
|Division No. 371.]||AYES.||[8.40 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)|
|Albery, Irving James||Goff, Sir Park||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Grotrian, H. Brent||Moles, Thomas|
|Apsley, Lord||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Moore. Lieut. Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Astor, Viscountess||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.]||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hanbury, C.||Nail, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Balniel, Lord||Harland, A.||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Harrison, G. J. C.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Haslam, Henry C.||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Hawke, John Anthony||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Perring, William George|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Henderson. Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Philipson, Mabel|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Pilcher, G.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Hilton, Cecil||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Holland, Sir Arthur||Radford, E. A.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Holt, Captain H. P.||Raine, W.|
|Buckingham. Sir H.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Burman, J. B.||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Remer, J. R.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Howard, Captain Hon. Donald||Remnant. Sir James|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Huntingfield, Lord||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hurd, Percy A.||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hertford)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Jacob, A. E.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Jephcott, A. R.||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Savery, S. S.|
|Cope, Major William||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Couper, J. B.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Lamb, J. Q.||Smith. R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L.||Lane-Fox, Colonel George R.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Craig. Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Looker, Herbert William||Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Lord Walter Greaves||Spender Clay, Colonel H.|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Lougher, L.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Davidson, Major General Sir John H.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)||Lumley, L. R.||Steel. Major Samuel Strang|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Stuart. Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Drewe, C.||MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Elliot, Captain Walter E.||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Sykes. Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s. M.)||Macintyre, Ian||Templeton, W. P.|
|Erskine James Malcolm Monteith||Macmillan, Captain H.||Thompson. Luke (Sunderland)|
|Fairfax' Captain J. G.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Fleming, D. P.||Macquisten, F. A.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Foster Sir Harry S.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Malone, Major P. B.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Margesson, Captain D.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Gault Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Merriman, F B.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Gee, Captain R.||Meyer, Sir Frank||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Gibbs, Col Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Milne. J. S. Wardlaw||Watson. Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Gilmour Lt-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Wells, S. R.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple||Wise, Sir Fredric||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)||Womersley, W. J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)||Captain Viscount Curzon and|
|Wilson, M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)||Major Hennessy.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hayday, Arthur||Sexton, James|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hayes, John Henry||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bliston)||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Baker, Walter||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hirst, G. H.||Smillie, Robert|
|Barr, J.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Smith, H. B. Lees-(Keighley)|
|Batey, Joseph||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Heath)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Briant, Frank||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Snell, Harry|
|Broad, F. A.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Bromfield, William||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Bromley, J.||Kelly, W. T.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Kennedy, T.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Buchanan, G.||Kenyon, Barnet||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Cape, Thomas||Lansbury, George||Thurtle, E.|
|Clowes, S.||Lee, F.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lindley, F. W.||Townend, A. E.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lowth, T.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Connolly, M.||Lunn, William||Viant, S. P.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Mackinder, W.||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Dalton, Hugh||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Warne, G. H.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Morris, R. H.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Murnin, H.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Dennison, R.||Naylor, T. E.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Duncan, C.||Oliver, George Harold||Westwood, J.|
|Dunnico, H.||Owen, Major G.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Palin, John Henry||Whiteley, W.|
|Fenby, T. D.||Paling, W.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Gillett, George M.||Ponsonby, Arthur||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Gosling, Harry||Potts, John S.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Wilson, R. J. (Jarow)|
|Greenall, T.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Windsor, Walter|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Ritson, J.||Wright, W.|
|Groves, T.||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W.R., Elland)|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Salter, Dr. Alfred||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Scrymgeour, E.||Mr. A. Barnes and Mr. Charles|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Scurr, John||Edwards.|
I beg to move, in page 2, lines 20 and 21, to leave out the words "Queen Anne's Bounty," and to insert instead thereof the words "the Commissioners of the Treasury."
The object of this Amendment is to ensure that the payment of the £4 10s. to the sinking fund shall be made to the Treasury instead of that independent private organisation known as "Queen Anne's Bounty." I am conscious in moving this Amendment that T shall not have the unquestioned support of the ex-Solicitor-General because I know that I am trenching upon the old squabble between Erastianism and the other thing whatever it is. By this Amendment I am simply asking for public control over the management of these funds, and in doing that I think I am acting in the interest of the Church and the benefices which are affected by this Bill.
If the money goes to Queen Anne's Bounty it goes to a body entirely uncontrolled by this House. They could invest that money under the Bill in buildings, companies abroad, or in bonds, and they are not confined even to trustee securities. Therefore I submit that when you are dealing with such large funds as are involved in this Bill it would be much better, in the first place, that there should be public control over the investment of the funds. Secondly, I think the funds should go automatically to the officials of the Treasury and should be invested in order to reduce the national Debt or War Loans, which we have unfortunately with us at the present time. This is a case where public control is more required than in any other case, because you are now giving to Queen Anne's Bounty duties which up to now they have not undertaken.
They are, I know, already the custodians of large funds conveyed to Queen Anne's Bounty by Parliament and by pious donors at various times, but here you are putting them in charge of what is really a public trust fund. I cannot con- ceive any argument that could be used either from the point of view of safety or public policy which would recommend us to put these enormous sums year by year under the unfettered control of an organisation which, however excellent it may be now, may not always fulfil those functions wisely or with financial prudence. It is particularly important in the case of these semi-charitable funds that we should have public control and all those who have read Anthony Trollope's novel "The Warden" are aware of the risk which charitable funds inevitably undergo as time goes on.
Take the case of the ordinary safeguard of public control. That would tend to the welfare of the fund because it would perhaps mean a lower rate of interest, and if the figures given by the hon. and learned Member for East Grin-stead (Sir H. Cautley) are correct, there is plenty of margin during those 85 years to enable us to pile up the necessary reserve fund with a low rate of interest. I hope the Government will see their way to make this alteration, and yet I am afraid they will not do so because Queen Anne's Bounty seems to have got pretty nearly everything it has asked for. It is really the Bill of Queen Anne's Bounty and when we ask for a little more control by the public and a little less by Queen Anne's Bounty I am afraid there will be no response from the Government.
This is a particularly small Amendment and may be regarded as one which ought not to take up much time. The reason why we cannot accept this Amendment is that Queen Anne's Bounty already holds very large funds for the benefit of these benefices in whose interests these sums will be payable. On this point Queen Anne's Bounty have authorised me to say that it will be possible for them, out of their corporate funds, to pay the whole cost of the administration of these funds, and this saving will inure entirely to the benefit of the parsons in whose interests these sums are to be paid. If on the other hand the sums were to be paid to the Treasury, naturally it would be an expense that would be borne out of public moneys, which would reduce the net sum available for the beneficiary, who is the parson. I hope that that consideration will appeal to the tight hon. and gallant Gentleman, who has shown himself so genuinely interested in the welfare of the parson, and that the Amendment will be withdrawn.
I do not desire to detain the House for more than a few minutes. In various former Debates we on these benches have asserted that there are national funds and a national property, and we hold, therefore, that these should be some measure of control and some measure of recall, should the popular will so demand. That does not mean that we are Erastians. We believe in the Church being free from State control. But, when it does accept privileges and endowments. it must submit to some measure of State supervision at the very least. We find in this Bill that the position is really being fundamentally changed: tithe, from being an annual grant, is becoming, through the process of redemption, largely the private property of the Church, and at the end of 85 years it is to be a trust for the benefit of the incumbents. Therefore, we think we should, in this way at least, make it possible that, if the will of the people should so determine, there might be an easier power of recall of what is now in a measure being given away. I do not suppose that even those who are strong supporters of the present Church and State relation desire that it should repose on anything else than the will of the people, and that has been expressed from year to year. It is because, by this provision, we prevent these moneys from passing altogether out of the control of Parliament, and because we believe that even the gift of public moneys after an extent of time should be accompanied by some measure of public control and public supervision, and, if the people should so determine, of public recall, that I support this Amendment.
Yes, of administration. Does that mean, as I hope sincerely it does, doing away with the present very high taxation upon the income of the incumbent of the benefice? Assuming that £100 goes to the incumbent, there is a large sum to come away for the cost of collection; there is a sum which we remember was described as overhead charges—that is to say, the charges of Queen Anne's Bounty in London, for clerks and so forth. That is estimated at 2½ per cent., which is a very considerable sum. Does the assurance of the Solicitor-General mean that all that charge will be cleared away? I have a very strong feeling against it, and, if it were cleared away it would certainly make me much more favourable to the Bill. Does it, on the other hand, merely refer to the charge of sending money to the bank for the purpose of investment, and nothing more? If the latter, it means very little; if the former, it means certainly 2i per cent., and the removal of that charge would make the position a very much bettor one from my point of view, because one of the chief objections I have to the Bill is in regard to the enormous deductions made from the income of a poor in- cumbent before he gets the money. If "administration" means the administration of the fund altogether, I shall be very glad indeed, but I do not want to misunderstand it in any way.
I am not in a position to give any figure; I cannot say whether it will be 2½ per cent. or any other sum; but I am able to say categorically that it is not the cost of collection that they will pay out of their corporate funds, but the cost of their administration, that is to say, the clerical work and so on which is necessary for the administration of the fund.
I find myself, to my regret, quite unable to support this Amendment, and I want to make my position quite clear on this point. My objection to Queen Anne's Bounty has been throughout that it has taken away from the parson the freehold which was his but I recognise that Queen Anne's Bounty is far more an ecclesiastical institution than the Commissioners of the Treasury, and, if I am bound to choose between the two, I unhesitatingly choose Queen Anne's Bounty every time. Queen Anne's Bounty, with all its defects, is a. body which is largely controlled by the Church, and I really cannot understand the arguments of my hon. Friends when they say that this money should now be controlled by the State. As I understood, the whole case against this Bill was that we objected to control of the money of the parson at all. Therefore, having got control to some extent—anyhow, the legal ownership in Queen Anne's Bounty—I would ask why we should make the matter even worse from my point of view by vesting it actually in the State? I have always feared that the effect would be to turn the priest into a kind of civil servant, but that danger is far greater if the Commissioners of the Treasury administer this Fund at any stage than if Queen Anne's Bounty administers it. I only rose to explain that the very reasons which make me oppose this Bill make me all the more opposed to the Amendment.
I am not aware that there is any official, but there are several members of Queen Anne's Bounty, one of whom (Sir H. Slesser) is sitting next to the right hon. Gentleman at the present moment.
|Division No. 372.]||AYES.||[9.6 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Gee, Captain R.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John|
|Albery, Irving James||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Allen. J. Sandeman (L'pool, W, Derby)||Gilmour Lt. Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||MacRobert, Alexander M.|
|Apsley, Lord||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Goff. Sir Park||Malone, Major P. B.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Grotrian, H. Brent||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Merriman, F. B.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Meyer, Sir Frank|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Hall, Vice-Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)||Milne. J. S. Wardlaw|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Hanbury, C.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Harland, A.||Mitchell. W. Foot (Saffron Walden)|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Harrison, G. J. C.||Mitchell. Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Moles, Thomas|
|Brass, Captain W.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Haslam, Henry C.||Moore, Lieut. Colonel T. C R. (Ayr)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Hawke, John Anthony||Morrison. H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Briggs. J. Harold||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootie)||Nall Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Nelson. Sir Frank|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Herbert, S.(York, N. R, Scar. & Whby)||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Burman, J. B.||Hilton, Cecil||Oakley. T.|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Holland, Sir Arthur||Owen, Major G.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Holt, Captain H. P.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Hope. Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun)||Perring, William George|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Philipson, Mabel|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Howard, Captain Hon. Donald||Plicher, G.|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Huntingfield, Lord||Pilditch. Sir Philip|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Hurd, Percy A.||Pownail, Lieut.- Colonel Assheton|
|Cope, Major William||Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)||Price. Major C. W. M.|
|Couper. J. B.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Radford, E. A.|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Jacob, A. E.||Raine, W.|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L.||Jephcott, A. R.||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk, Peel|
|Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Reid Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Remer, J. R.|
|Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)||Knox, Sir Alfred||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Lamb, J. O.||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Drewe, C.||Lane-Fox, Colonel George R.||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Looker, Herbert William||Rye, F. G.|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Lord, Walter Greaves.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Lougher, L.||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Fermoy, Lord||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Fleming, D. P.||Lumley, L. R.||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Savery, S. S.|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Sexton. James|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Macintyre, Ian||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Gauit, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Macmillan, Captain H.||Smith, R.W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dint, C.)|
|Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Wilson, M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)|
|Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Turton, Edmund Russborough||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.||Windsor-dive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Spender Clay, Colonel H.||Wallace, Captain D. E.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Steel, Major Samuel Strang||Warrender, Sir Victor||Womersley, W. J.|
|Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Watson Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).|
|Sugden, Sir Wilfrid||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.||Wells, S. R.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Templeton, W. P.||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)||White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple|
|Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Tinne, J. A.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)||Captain Viscount Curzon and Lord|
|Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)||Stanley.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Robinson, W. C.(Yorks, W.R., Elland)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Hayday, Arthur||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Baker, Walter||Hayes, John Henry||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Barnes, A.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Smillie, Robert|
|Barr, J.||Hirst, G. H.||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)|
|Batey, Joseph||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Snell, Harry|
|Broad, F. A.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Bromfield, William||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Bromley, J.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Sutton, J. E.|
|Cape, Thomas||Kelly, W. T.||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)|
|Clowes, S.||Kennedy, T.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cluse, W. S,||Kenyon, Barnet||Townend, A. E.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lee, F.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Connolly, M.||Lindley, F. W.||Viant, S. P.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lowth, T.||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lunn, William||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Dennison, R.||Mackinder, W.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Duncan, C.||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Dunnico, H.||Morris, R. H.||Westwood, J.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Murnin, H.||Whiteley, W.|
|Fenby, T. O.||Naylor, T. E.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Oliver, George Harold||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Gillett, George M.||Palin, John Henry||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Gosling, Harry||Paling, W.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Windsor, Walter|
|Greenall, Thomas||Ponsonby, Arthur||Wright, W.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Potts, John S.|
|Groves, T.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Ritson, J.||Mr. Warne and Mr. Charles Edwards.|
I beg to move, in page 2, line 23, at the end, to insert the words
and such annual sum as aforesaid shall continue payable until the half-yearly date of payment which precedes the expiration of the said period of eighty-five years.
This is a purely drafting Amendment to make it quite clear how long the sinking fund is going to continue, and to bring the Clause into line with the previous words. It will effect the same purpose as the words in the Bill.
I beg to move, in page 2, line 35, at the end, to insert the words
(3) Where a part of the sum claimed in respect of tithe rentcharge is remitted under Section eight of the Tithe Act, 1891, a proportionate part of the amount remitted shall be treated as attributable to
the sum payable by way of sinking fund payment and that sum shall be reduced accordingly.
This is a drafting Amendment relating to a point that is a little technical. Under the Tithe Act, 1891, there is a provision by which the sum that is payable in respect of the rentcharge may be remitted to the extent of one-third. The object of that proposal was to encourage the tithe payer to cultivate his land. Otherwise, if the tithe rentcharge took up the whole of the profits, there was no inducement to cultivate. We propose to add these words in order to include in the Bill an enactment that a proportionate part of the amount remitted shall be treated as attributable to the sum of £4 10s., and that if the whole amount is reduced, a proportionate amount of the £4 10s. shall also foe deducted.
These words were inserted in Committee after a long Debate and a Division. I am very glad that they are coming out, because I voted against them in Committee. The tithe in a parish comes in in varying amounts. The landowner will pay in one lump sum, on the day, while there are other tithe payers who pay two or three months later, and there is some tithe that may be a year or more in arrears. When these sums come in to Queen Anne's Bounty, are they immediately credited in full to the parson, or has he to wait until the end of the year or until the time when the collection has been completed before he obtains his money? I ask this question because the £4 10s. has to be deducted from the total £100. Does he get the first £50 straight away, and is the £4 10s. deducted at the end of the year, or is a proportion of the £4 10s. deducted from the first £50? It makes a great deal of difference to some of these poor parsons. It makes a difference if you have to wait perhaps for six months for your money, when you are living from hand to mouth.
I would like an assurance from the Solicitor-General whether the tithe as it comes into Queen Anne's Bounty is paid out to the incumbent, with the proportionate deductions and not retained until the end of the year, so that the incumbent may not be out of pocket to the amount of half his income for a considerable period.
The right hon. and gallant Member has referred to a question which was raised in Committee. All that it is possible to say is that now that the point has been mentioned twice, Queen Anne's Bounty are certain to direct attention to it in order that the beneficiary shall not in any way be prejudiced. This is a sort of matter which Queen Anne's Bounty are certain to decide in favour of the beneficiary and possibly in a way which His Majesty's Commissioners of the Treasury would not have been able to arrange it, had we passed the last Amendment. I cannot say precisely how or in what proportions or when these sums will be paid out, but the Queen Anne's Bounty, which meets monthly, under the chairmanship of the Archbishop of Canterbury, will make arrangements which will be as helpful as possible to the beneficiaries.
I pressed this question very strongly in Committee, but I could get no assurance. Reading the Bill as it stands now, it seems to me that the £4 10s. and the £5 must be deducted before the incumbent can get anything at all. The Clause says that the £4 10s. shall be paid to the sinking fund and that the £5 shall be paid to the Inland Revenue Commissioners
to be applied by them towards the payment of the sums hereinafter directed to be paid by them on account of rates; and after deducting the amount of any land tax or other charge to which the tithe rent-charge may be subject, and the sums duo on account of the cost of collection, the expenses of administration, and other outgoings properly attributable to the tithe rentcharge, shall pay the balance to the incumbent of the benefice on account of which the tithe rentcharge is held or other the person for the time being entitled to receive the emoluments of the benefice.
It seems clear that the £4 10s. and the £5 are a first charge on all the money that comes in. There is no other construction to be put upon it. After that, any balance shall go to the incumbent. It appears to me to be quite clear that both the £4 10s. and the £5 will come ahead of anything the incumbent géts. The balance may come to the incumbent at long intervals. Do Queen Anne's Bounty intend to make payment on account or not until the last money has come in? It is a very serious matter if the incumbents are to be kept without their money right to the end. In Committee, the Minister of Agriculture was very angry with me on this point. It is very hard for these people to be kept out of their money for a long time. If Queen Anne's Bounty do not pay out the money until late it will be a serious matter for the clergy, and if they do pay it out at intervals it will mean a heavy book-keeping item. Will they be paid as the money comes in, or will they be kept without their money until the total amount comes in, or will they be paid by half-yearly instalments?
I hope we shall have some definite statement on this matter before we proceed any further. It is a matter of the utmost importance. This money is now being vested in Queen Anne's Bounty, and the clergy are entitled to be told by the Government whether the money is to be held for long and undefined periods, or whether they are to receive their money at certain intervals, and if so, when? It is useless for the Solicitor-General to tell us that the Archbishop of Canterbury presides over the Queen Anne's Bounty meetings. What we want to know is, what is the intention of the Bill? As the right hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson) has pointed out, on the face of the Bill the two charges of £4 10s. and £5 are first charges before any question of balance arises. What is going to happen to the balance? When is it going to be paid? How long are the clergy to wait for their balance? They are entitled to know, in unambiguous terms, from the Government, what is the method by which they are to receive their money. They should not be left in obscurity. They do not know when they are to get their money. They may be kept waiting for such period as Queen Anne's Bounty may think fit. They are entitled to know that at certain regular intervals they will receive their money. I appeal to the Government to set at rest the doubt by saying what is to be done. These people belong to a poorer class, financially, and it is of the utmost importance to them that they should know from month to month what moneys they are likely to receive. It is all in a state of complete uncertainty.
I beg to move, in page 3, line 0, after the word "shillings" to insert the words
subject to any deduction on account of remission of tithe rentcharge.
This Amendment is part and parcel of the one the House has just considered. It is a technical matter and only a drafting Amendment.
The two next Amendments on the Paper—in page 3, line 11, to leave out the word "five" and insert the word "ten'; and in page 3, line 11, to leave out the word "five" and insert the word "seven"—involve an increase of rates and cannot be taken.
I had hoped I was going to get something better. The Amendment is this. Out of the £109 the landlord pays to the parson, £4 10s. goes to the reserve fund to build up the reserve to extinguish the tax. The next £5 goes for rates. Under Clause 4, Queen Anne's Bounty is instructed to deduct the first £4 10s. and then the £5, leaving £100 for the parson. From this £100 they still further deduct the amount of any land tax or other charge, and the sums due on. account of the cost of collecting. That has been estimated at anything from £2 10s. to £5, and it still further reduces the amount received either to £97 10s. or £95. Unfortunately, the costs of collection by Queen Anne's Bounty are likely to be much heavier than if the parson does it himself or employs a local agent. Now, what we are moving is to leave out a still further deduction outside the cost of collection, namely, the expenses of administration, and this further deduction from what the parson gets the Government consents to leave out. So that, after the cost of collection has been deducted, 2½ per cent. or 5 per cent., then the parson will get what is over, though I notice he will still pay over outgoings properly attributable to the tithe rent-charge. The Solicitor-General has told us that Queen Anne's Bounty has made a generous offer that they will take on their shoulders—I do not know at whose expense—the whole cost of administration, which must be enormous. Therefore, we have got one alteration in this Bill which, I think, will be of some use.
I do not wish to detract from the generosity of Queen Anne's Bounty, but I would remind the Solicitor-General that in the Committee stage he told us that this cost of administration would be infinitesimal as compared with the cost of collection. I have it here in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I just mention that in passing without detracting from the generosity of Queen Anne's Bounty.
May I thank the Solicitor-General. I take the view that it is a great concession and I thank him personally for adding it to the Bill, for at an earlier stage of the evening he seemed to think he would only be able to mention it to us. The provision is now being struck out of the Bill, and it is a great concession. In £9 10s. being paid, £4 10s. goes into the sinking fund and £5 to the rates. From that there is a deduction of collection charge by Queen Anne's Bounty. The Amendment upstairs to leave that at 5 per cent. per annum was rejected. Therefore, you may take it it will very likely be more than 5 per cent. per annum. From the £95 there must be the cost of administration in London, which must be very large indeed when you come to think of the book-keeping involved in this large enterprise. I am very grateful to the Government for having exempted the poor incumbent from it.
I beg to move, in page 4, line 15, at the end, to insert the words:
(iii) The costs of collection shall not in any event exceed five per cent.
To make the matter more definite there should be added at the end, "of the value of the tithe rentcharge." With the permission of the House I should like to move to add those words. This Amendment has the advantage that it raises no question as between the tithe owner and the tithe payer.
It is to meet the alarm that is felt among many of the clergy at the possibility of their slender incomes being rendered still more slender by the cost of collection. The objections to this Amendment are these. We are told to trust Queen Anne's Bounty and also that you must not put a bar in the Bill which would tend to stop the machine. Queen Anne's Bounty is a body for which we have the greatest respect, but as at present constituted or as constituted in its prospective form, it is not exactly a body to collect the tithes in the most economical way. We also know that in the first paragraph of the first schedule, power is given to Queen Anne's Bounty to employ agents and bodies and committees and to collect the tithes and I think most of us know the tendency of agents and committees to do their work somewhat expensively. Therefore, it seems to me very necessary to put something in the Bill. We put no bar in the Bill which may stop the machine. It is not at all likely that if the tithe is economically collected that the costs will reach 5 per cent. In a good many parishes the cost is next to nothing where the tithe is paid by very few large tithe payers. In many cases the tithe is collected by an agent on commission of 2½ per cent. The strong probability is that the average cost of collection of the tithe is considerably under 5 per cent. At any rate, that such a limit should be found in the Act would have a very steadying tendency and keep down the cost of collection. It is said that if you put in a figure of 5 per cent., that would be regarded as minimum. To that I would say, trust Queen Anne's Bounty. I may be considered to be arguing against myself, but the fact that there was a limit and that they would very much like to be able to say to the poor clergymen for whom they do so much, "We might have charged 5 per cent., and we have collected this for 2½ per cent.," would be a very strong incentive. I hope that the Solicitor-General will see his way to accept this unambitious but, I think, very useful Amendment.
This matter was very thoroughly thrashed out in Committee, and although I do not in the least complain of my hon. Friend raising it again. I am afraid that the answers which were given then must be the answers given to-day. My hon. Friend has indeed anticipated the answers. He has been good enough to give them to the House in a. very convenient way in the course of his observations. The fatal objection to a proposal of this sort, which will occur to everybody, is the question, "What is to happen if the cost of collection does in fact exceed 5 per cent?" because it is one thing for Parliament to say that the cost of collection shall not in any event exceed 5 per cent., and another thing to say that if it does exceed 5 per cent. some other fund shall provide the excess. This proposal is that in no event is the cost of collection to exceed 5 per cent. If it were carried, and if the 5 per cent. limit ever were reached, then it would be impossible for the process of collection to continue, because the limit had been reached and that would be contrary to the interests of the parson.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson) suggested a figure I think in excess of 5 per cent. I hope that the House will not accept it for a moment. After the first year or two, after certain initial expenses have been incurred, which will not be repeated in following years, it is expected that the expense will be much below 5 per cent. Some hon. Members may say that it is the parson who wants the protection, but in any event I am afraid the only answer is that it is useless to put in a Bill that the expenses of the cost of collection shall not exceed 5 per cent. if you want to collect all you can in the interests of the parson. Naturally we want to keep those expenses to the lowest possible limit, and it may be possible to say that the clergy should be represented upon the bodies charged with collection. An Amendment has been put down in consequence of some suggestion which Mr. Wood, when Minister of Agriculture, made in Committee holding out the hope that there might be some representation. The object is to give the clergy representation on these bodies, but, whether the House thinks that that proposal is a good one or not, it is impossible on behalf of the Government to accept this Amendment.
In page 4, line 15, at the end, to insert the words
(iii) the sums provided in paragraph (b) of this Sub-section shall not be payable in respect of the incumbent of any benefice who was immediately before the expiration of the Ecclesiastical Tithe Rentcharge (Rates) Act, 1920, by virtue of that Act entitled to total or partial exemption from the payment of rates as aforesaid, if notice in writing be given to Queen Anne's Bounty before the expiration of three months from the appointed day, but such payments shall be made to the incumbent and shall not be recoverable by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue.
I beg to move, in page 5, line 43, after the word "thereon" to insert the words
and of making proposals for the amendment of a valuation list and of receiving notices and copies of notices required by the enactments relating to rating to be served on the owner of the tithe rent-charge.
Hon. Members will appreciate that the Inland Revenue authorities are interested in the amount of rates, and the proposal at the bottom of page 5 of the Bill is to give surveyors of taxes certain rights of appeal. The words which are now proposed are simply to put the surveyors of taxes in precisely the same position in regard to amending the valuation lists as if they were ratepayers in the ordinary way. It adds a little to Sub-section (5) and makes the purpose of the Clause more clear.
I bog to move, in page 7, line 1, after the word "Revenue" to insert the words
and a sum in respect of rates on any increased assessment to which the land would be liable equal to 10 per cent. of such commuted amount, and.
This Amendment and the two Amendments which follow really amount to the building up of a whole scheme. The purpose of these Amendments is to reduce to a certain extent the consideration for redemption under Clause 8 of this Bill. It is obvious that tithe prior to redemption bears rates. After having been redeemed, there are no rates, therefore the amount of rates upon the land might be increased to a certain extent. The object of the Amendment is to maintain the principle that the tithe is still responsible for rates, and that the sum paid as compensation for redemption should be lessened to that extent. The next Amendment I have on the Paper is for a similar purpose. It is, in page 7, line 4, at the end, to insert the words
together with a sum in consideration of the redemption equal to two and a-half per cent. of such part of the original commuted amount as has not been accumulated in the sinking fund.
The purpose of that Amendment is to reduce again the compensation for redemption. After a certain amount has been paid into the Sinking Fund for the purpose of redemption, a tithe payer desires to redeem. It is in the interest of all parties that he should redeem. The object of the Amendment is to entice him to redeem by giving him what, in practice, amounts to a discount of 2½ per cent. of the sum that is still liable to
make up the compensation. A third Amendment I have on the Paper is, in page 7, line 6, at the end, to insert the words
and in the case of any such application the compensation for redemption shall be ascertained according to the method prescribed in the First Schedule to the Tithe Act, 1918, and as if the application had been made before the first day of January, nineteen hundred and twenty-one.
The object of this Amendment is to give to the tithe payer the same advantages for redemption as were given in the Act of 1918. The first Schedule of the 1918 Act gave certain privileges for compensation. Paragraph 2 of that Schedule states:
The compensation for redemption shall be such as in the opinion of the Board is sufficient, after payment of the cost of investment, to produce when invested in Government securities a permanent annuity equal to the gross annual value after deducting from that value the average amount paid or payable by the tithe owner in respect of the rentcharge for the three years immediately preceding the date of the application to redeem on account of rates and land tax, and such sum not exceeding two and a-half per cent. of the gross annual value as in the opinion of the Hoard represents the necessary cost of collection of the rent-charge.
The third paragraph of the First Schedule of the 1918 Act states:
For the purpose of the redemption of a rentcharge for the redemption of which an application is made on or before the first day of January, nineteen hundred and twenty-one, the gross annual value of the rent-charge shall be the original commuted amount thereof, and the compensation shall be twenty-one times that amount after such deductions therefrom as aforesaid.
It is obvious to those who study those two paragraphs that the rate of compensation given under the 1918 Act is more just to the tithe payer than the rate of compensation give under the present Bill. I would press on the Government my application for some concession. We are asked in the Bill to redeem tithes at a figure of 105. The redemption of tithe, the compulsory redemption of tithe even, is not a new idea. As has been said many times, after the commutation of tithes in 1836, on the seven years' average the tithes varied from 122, at the time of the Crimean War, to as low as 66, and the average figure during the period was 90 or 92. When the tithe was low, if you wanted to redeem, you had to redeem, not at 66, but at the figure of 100. Under
the Act of 1878, redemption was made compulsory in certain cases where land was required for the building of schools, and so on. Under that paragraph dealing with compulsory redemption, when tithe was at 66 or 70, it had to be redeemed at 100. To-day, when tithe is above par, I am asking for the same equitable treatment of those who want to redeem. They should have some consideration in the amount that has to be paid as compensation for that redemption. I ask for a discount of 2½ per cent. for a cash payment.
The three Amendments which stand on the Paper in the name of my hon. Friend are of great interest to the House. I have listened to my hon. Friend's explanation of them very closely and I hope I shall be able to make my answer to each of them quite clear. The first Amendment is intended to assert the principle that the landowner in redeeming shall pay a sum which represents the value of the tithe that is now acquired by the landowner to him. I think I am right in saying that the principle in cases of compulsory acquisition always is that the person who is deprived of property or is selling property receives the value of the property to him and the sum assessed is not the value of the thing acquired to the person who acquires it. I hope my hon. Friend will consider that I understood his suggestion if I say that he wants in future cases of redemption the landowner only to be required to pay that sum which will fairly represent the value to the landowner and tithe payer of what he will acquire. In the past the principle to which I have referred just now has been acted upon and the landowner has redeemed upon a basis which was very favourable to the landowner because of the operation of the Agricultural Rates Act into which I need not enter now. My hon. Friend now wants to have the amount assessed on a different principle. I respectfully think that his suggestion would not be fair. The landlord has had the advantage during a great many years of the ordinary principle of law, and we propose to maintain that principle and not to allow the deduction which the landowner says ought to be made so that he shall not have to pay more than the value to himself of what he acquires. The second Amendment is, to put it quite shortly, a proposal that there should be a discount of 2½ per cent. for cash. That 2½ per cent. would come out of the pocket of the parson, and the Government are not able to agree to that proposal, however businesslike it may sound. The third proposal, which is a different one altogether, is that certain enactments contained in the First Schedule of the Tithes Act of 1918 shall be applicable to cases of future redemption. Although that Amendment has not been moved, I think I may say in answer to it that it would operate harshly against the tithe owner, and my hon. Friend has not been able to convince me as to why the tithe payer should receive additionally favourable treatment to that which he was receiving under the Act of 1918.
The question naturally arises: Was the practice of redemption under the 1918 Act a fair method or not? If it was not a fair method, then the Government of that day were responsible for perpetrating a gross injustice upon the clergy. If it was a fair method then, surely it is equally fair now. Under the 1918 Act the incumbent had to pay rates and consequently when the tithe payer wanted to redeem, he said to the incumbent, "You are not getting £100, you are getting £92 because you pay £18 rates; therefore I ask you to redeem at £92 instead of £100," and the principle was that he had a right under the Act to redeem at £92. One of the Amendments is that the same principle should operate under this Measure. We ought to have some reason to show that it was unjust to enact such a law in 1918 and that because it was unjust this change has taken place. I cannot agree with the further Amendment regarding the 2½ per cent. but I believe there is substance in the first Amendment. Moreover it is the principle applied in the case of a large borough taking some of the rateable value of a county council. Some provision is made for giving compensation in certain cases of that character. If you take out of a parish an assessment on which rates have been paid, somebody else has to pay rates in place of the rates levied on that assessment. What this Amendment says in effect is, "If you are going to take away this value, which is a value to all the inhabitants of that district, in some way or other you ought to make it up." Whether that be right or wrong, I submit there is some substance in the point and I can conceive of very strong opposition being raised in any industrial area where it was proposed to take out a certain rateable value and present it to somebody else without giving some compensation. The Amendment ought to have been met as far as possible.
I beg to move, in page 7, line 6, at the end, to insert the words,
(3) When the total amount of all tithe rentcharge payable by an owner in respect of all lands in his possession does not exceed one shilling it shall be held to be redeemed on the tendering of the sum of one shilling to Queen Anne's Bounty within one year from the date of the passing of this Act.
This proposal virtually amounts to extinguishing the charge so far as sums under 1s. are concerned. I propose to give my reasons in several divisions. First, we think this Bill will lead to an extension of the collecting of small sums. These have not been collected in the past because oft-times the clergyman thought it was not worth while to do so, but there will be a different position when Queen Anne's Bounty surveys the whole of the country and totals up the amount which would be realised if these small sums were called in. In the second place, a clergyman in many cases did not collect these sums because of his friendship or acquaintanceship with the parties in his neighbourhood from whom these small sums were due. perhaps because he respected their rights of conscience and knew that they would give with the utmost reluctance if he called upon them so to do. We have a striking illustration of the results of central collection in Wales. We were told in the Committee stage that the result of the central collection there since the Disestablishment Act was passed—and it is in the OFFICIAL REPORT—was that there had been a great increase and extension of collection, with the result that
not more than one-fourth of 1 per cent. was outstanding now in Wales. That may perhaps have been due in part to the fact that these sums were given more readily when their destiny was for a public purpose, but it was also due to the spreading of the net in the case of the central collection. Then, further, the very fact of redemption, whether through a sinking fund or the possibility of it under Clause 8 of this Bill, may give a new incentive to the collection of these small sums, and here I would like to call to my aid the Lord Advocate, whom I am glad to see on the Front Bench. He said, in a similar case, when we were dealing with the Scottish Bill:
There will be many cases in which the liability for stipend is so small that it has not been worth the minister's while to bother about the heritors, but if, because of this Bill, there is a question of redemption, even over a short period of years, then it may become worth his while, and that which he would not have done apart from the Bill will be brought into operation by reason of the terms of the Bill.
Now many of us would deplore the great extension of the Church's power to collect these small sums, and certainly it would lead to a great deal of irritation, and here again I would like to do the Lord Advocate the honour of quoting his words on the Scottish Church Bill. He said:
It is obvious, as has been stated in several speeches, that it is to the interests of the Church that as little irritation as possible, and certainly no unfairness, should be risked by pressing the existing legal rights of the Church too far.
I am able to plead Scottish precedent, and the precedent of the Scottish Bill, for this particular Amendment, and for the third time I would like to quote the Lord Advocate. I think he has not heard the tributes I have been paying to him in the last few minutes. On the 12-th March, 1925, he said—and I should wish the House to pay particular attention to these words:
The Government have come to the conclusion that it would be fair that every heritor who is shown to be liable for the sum of less than 1s. on the roll, shall be exempt from continuing to pay stipend, and equally from liability to redeem that stipend, and disappear.
That is exactly what we, are proposing here. The Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) twitted the Government on their consistency. I want them to be consistent
in this case, and to apply to this Bill what they did apply in the Scottish case. I have not made any arrangements for v seconder, and I am sure, if the Lord Advocate heard how I have quoted his words and driven them home, he would rise in his place, as I hope he will, and second my Amendment.
I have two answers to give to an objection that may be made, and then I have done. It might be said that this will mean a certain loss to the Church. My answer would be twofold. My answer would be, in the first place, that an increased amount will come in from central collection, by all precedents. I might remind the Solicitor-General that we had if. when we were dealing with this case before, when the Minister of Agriculture, I think, used the words that it was expected that there would be a considerably larger result. In the OFFICIAL REPORT he is reported to have said that there would be at least as large, if not possibly a larger, yield, and I think the yield would be sufficient to make up what might be lost in this way. My second answer is to quote, for the fourth time, from the Lord Advocate, when he said:
That loss will fall on the Church, because I am sure—and I have heard it said in the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland myself—that the Church realises that in a case of that kind, it will be up to the members of the Church, when we get a United Church, to strengthen it in every way, and assist in anything of that kind that may keep our relations good and make everybody feel that there is no sense of injustice.
I feel, therefore, that we have an exceedingly strong case in this matter. In the interests of the Church itself, as well as in the interests of these suburban payers of tithe who may be paying 5d. or 6d. or up to 1s., we have a very good case indeed, and I am confident that the Church itself would not lose but gain by making this concession, which would make for the smooth working of the Act and leave no rankling sense of injustice.
I beg to second the Amendment.
I hope the Government may see fit to accept it. I am bound to say that I did not know, when this Amendment was put down, of the Scottish precedent, but the case can be made out absolutely watertight on principles of common-sense from the point of view of England itself. All over the country now you are getting towns spreading out into the country. Very often you will find bungalows springing up miles from the towns, where the middle class are now living instead of living in the towns, and all over the country you are getting building schemes carried out on what have been up till now rural areas. All the land that is taken for building purposes, whether it be bungalows or smaller houses, is land which is subject to tithe, and that tithe is then broken up among all the people who buy these houses. I know of a case in North Staffordshire of a field that has been tithed at 5s. a year, broken up, and occupied by 30 different householders, with the result that every one of those householders is liable in theory to a tithe of 1½d. a year.
That is, perhaps, an extreme case, but there have been thousands of cases of people liable to tithes of infinitesimal amounts. What happens, of course, is that the demand is made occasionally for these small sums, and the people do not pay, and the arrears pile up until it is worth while summoning them. It is an incessant nuisance to the working people who own these houses, and the money collected is much less than the actual cost to collect it. You are handing over this business of collecting to Queen Anne's Bounty, and we have the example of what has gone on in Wales before us. In Wales, it is notorious that, after the disestablishment of the Church, the tithe collected by the central body has increased enormously from what it was when the parsons did their own collecting. It has been a much more thorough collection, and, in particular, it is these small people who are forced by the official authority to pay their tithes, whereas in-old times it was not worth while collecting them. I wish I could give the figures of the enormous increase of the tithes collected in Wales, but we had them-given in Committee. What is taking place in Wales may very well happen in this country. Queen Anne's Bounty may be much more thorough, may worry these small people much more for these small sums, and I do submit it is desirable, when we are considering this question of redemption, to consider whether we could not make it more easy than it is at present for people to clear themselves; from these annoying demands for small sums.
The Amendment provides that, where-ever the annual tithe to be collected is less than 1s., the tithe payer liable for the sum shall be able to tender 1s. in complete satisfaction of all future demands for tithe. It is the redemption of tithes on a ridiculously small scale, I admit, but the redemption of tithes which are infinitesimal by the easiest process imaginable. This method of redemption has been adopted in Scotland, and I cannot see why we should not have it in this country also. Otherwise, I am quite certain we shall have an enormous amount of irritation in the country owing to this cause, and the relations between the population of the country and the Church will be far less amicable than they are at the present time. One of the great objects of the. Government in making the change proposed in this Bill is to do away with the irritation between the parson and the tithe payer. I do not think you will do away with it if, as a result of this change, you immediately have a large number of tithe demands for arrears as well as current tithes made by Queen Anne's Bounty. I do hope therefore, the Government will adopt this Amendment, and give the first real advantage to the community at large which this Bill provides in the whole of its ambit. Up to now the whole principle of this Bill has been between two sets of tithe payers. Here you get a very large part of the community involved, and I do beg the Government to give this one advantage in this Bill.
This proposal is simply that the very large number of small sums of tithe rentcharge, up to 1s., shall be redeemable upon payment of one year's purchase. I venture to think that will not commend itself to the House. The fact is, there is a very large number of these small payments, which sometimes arise because of re-apportionment owing to the development of building estates. Somebody has acquired a plot of land and built a house upon it, and is subject to a tithe rent-charge of 2d., 6d., or 9d. He can redeem the whole thing for ever by the payment of something round about 20s.
The lawyer's fees, about which the right hon. Gentleman is so apprehensive, would not be a serious matter at all. In any case, they would not justify the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I cannot help thinking that the strenuous champion of the parson's rights has mistaken his vocation. The right hon. Gentleman is, perhaps, ignorant of the fact that in 1891 the Recovery of Tithe Rentcharge Act made it permissible to recover only two years' arrears of tithe rentcharge. A tithe owner, whose tithe was 2d., would only be able to proceed until he had piled up 4d. The fact is, that some clergymen, having regard to the development of the land subject to tithe rentcharge on which they depended, would be deprived of a very large part of their stipend if this particular method of confiscation were followed.
As to the Scottish precedent, that was that the heritors were heritors in respect of very small amounts and had to pay very small amounts. They were relieved of these amounts, so that the position was actually different, though the principle might perhaps have been the same. It made practically no difference at all to the stipends of the country ministers. I allow that it was not a very substantial amount, and it was not thought worth while preserving those small amounts.
Might I just for a moment say something on that point? Might I point out that the Lord Advocate told us that in one particular case in Edinburgh, in the Parish of St. Cuthbert, the remission would cover 4,000 men and that the sum would be no less than £200? He afterwards, I think, qualified that to some extent.
That was with reference to a particular place, a rich city parish, but the hon. Gentleman does not contradict my statement that in the case of the Scottish Church it would involve practically no alteration whatever in the stipends of ministers of small country parishes. Whatever might be done in the case of a Scottish church, where comparatively small sums are involved, there is no justification for depriving the parsons of the very large sums which would be involved by this particular Amendment.
Could the right hon. and learned Gentleman give us what the proportion would be of these small sums compared with the main charge? Would it amount to 1 per cent.?
|Division No. 373.]||AYES.||[10.25 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hardle, George D.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Haslam, Henry C.||Scurr, John|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hayday, Arthur||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Barnes, A.||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Barr, J.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hirst, G. H||Smillie, Robert|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Broad, F. A.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Snell, Harry|
|Bromfield, William||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Bromley, J.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Buchanan, G.||Kelly, W. T.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Cape, Thomas||Kennedy, T.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Clowes, S||Lansbury, George||Thurtle, E.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lawson, John James||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lee, F.||Townend, A. E.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Lindley, F. W.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Connolly, M.||Lowth, T.||Viant, S. P.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lunn, William||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen.|
|Dennison, R.||Mackinder, W.||Warne, G. H.|
|Duncan, C.||MacLaren, Andrew||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Dunnico, H.||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Edwards. C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Morris, R, H.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Murnin, H.||Westwood, J.|
|Fenby, T. D.||Naylor, T. E.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Oliver, George Harold||Whiteley, W.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Owen, Major G.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Gillett, George M.||Plain, John Henry||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Paling, W.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Windsor, Walter|
|Grcenall, T.||Potts, John S.||Wright, W.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Groves, T.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Grundy, T. W.||Ritson, J.||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr.|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N)||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks W.R. Elland)||Hayes.|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Caine, Gordon Hall||Dean, Arthur Wellesley|
|Albery, Irving James||Campbell, E. T.||Drewe, C.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Cassels, J. D.||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool. W. Derby)||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Elliot, Captain Walter E.|
|Apsley, Lord||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Erskine Lord (Somerset Weston-s.-M.)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith|
|Astor, Viscountess||Charles, Brigadier-General J.||Fairfax, Captain J. G.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Christie, J. A.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Fanshawe, Commander G. D.|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Clarry, Reginald George||Fermoy, Lord|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Fielden, E. B.|
|Bennett, A. J.||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Fleming, D. p.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Foster, Sir Harry S.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Cooper, A. Duff||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Cope, Major William||Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony|
|Brass, Captain W.||Couper, J. B.||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton|
|6rldgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L.||Gee, Captain R.|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Glyn, Major R. G. C.|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Curtis-Bennett. Sir Henry||Grace, John|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Grotrian, H Brent|
|Burman, J. B.||Davidson, J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Hall, Vice-Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Macintyre, Ian||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Hanbury, C.||Macmillan, Captain H.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Harland, A.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Savery, S. S.|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Haslam, Henry C.||Malone, Major P. B.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Hawke, John Anthony||Manningham-Bulier, Sir Mervyn||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Margesson, Captain D.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxt'd, Henley)||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Spender Clay, Colonel H.|
|Henderson. Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Merriman, F. B.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Meyer, Sir Frank||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Hilton, Cecil||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Moles, Thomas||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Templeton, W. P.|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Holland, Sir Arthur||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Holt, Captain H. P.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Tinne, J. A.|
|Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Murchison, C. K.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Howard. Captain Hon. Donald||Nall Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)||Nelson, Sir Frank||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Neville, B. J.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Huntingfield, Lord||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Nuttall, Ellis||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Hutchison, G. A. Clark(Midl'n & P'bl's)||Oakley, T.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Oman. Sir Charles William C.||Wells. S. R.|
|Jacob, A. E.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Perring, William George||White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Philipson, Mabel||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Pitcher, G.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Kindersley, Major G. M.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Wilson, M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Price, Major C. W. M.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Radford, E. A.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Lamb, J. O.||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Lane-Fox, Colonel George R.||Rawson, Alfred Cooper||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Lleyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Reid, Capt, A. S. C. (Warrington)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)||Remer, J. R.||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Looker, Herbert William||Rentoul, G. S.||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).|
|Lord, Walter Greaves||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Lougher, L.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Lumley, L. R.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Lynn, Sir R. J.||Rye, F. G.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Major Cope and Major Hennessy.|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I, of W.)||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
I beg to move, in page 7, line 27, to leave out the words "be made" and to insert instead thereof the words "become due."
The expression used that payments shall be made is one that is quite inappropriate in regard to the tithe owners.
I beg to move, in page 7, line 39, to leave out the word "six," and to insert instead thereof the word "three."
Certain provisos were inserted during the Committee stage, and the effect is that this Clause gives to those parsons who collect their own tithes the right, under certain circumstances and conditions, to continue the collection, and so save that 2½ per cent. or 5 per cent, which Queen Anne's Bounty will charge for the cost of collection. It was felt that those parsons who were very poor, and could not afford to employ an agent, should have the option, for a time at least, of continuing to collect their own tithe. It is not a very large sum of money, but, when every penny counts, it is important that we should leave to those men the business of acting, in fact, as collectors for Queen Anne's Bounty. Instead of Queen Anne's Bounty employing a collector to collect the tithes from that parish, the parson will, as the agent of Queen Annes' Bounty, collect it and save the cast of collecting.
When we introduced this Amendment the proviso ran:
Provided that where for six months or more immediately before the passing of the Act"—
a man had acted as his own agent, he could continue to act as the agent of Queen Anne's Bounty. The Amendment I am now proposing is to leave out "six" and insert "three." Three months before the passing of this Measure will date back to such a time after the Committee stage of this Bill as should have given to the parson notice of the fact that he might, if he employed an agent in collecting his tithe, dismiss his agent and start collecting his own tithe. I want to give to those parsons who did employ agents previously, the option of ceasing to employ an agent and of saving the 5 per cent. by collecting their own tithes. It may be that many parsons, when they found there was this opportunity of saving this 5 per cent. on their tithe, may then have started collecting their own tithe. They will not be saved if it dates back six months, because that will take them back beyond the period of the Committee stage of this Bill when the proviso was put in and this permission granted. Therefore, the alteration of the date will affect a considerable number of people who are urgently in need of the money, and who, so far as this House is concerned, might, I think come under the same ex gratia terms of which the other parsons, who have for long collected their own tithe, have the advantage. I think the point is one of not very great importance, but it has just this importance, that those people who are least able to bear the additional charge of the cost of collection which Queen Anne's Bounty is bound to impose, can thereby escape this burden, and be able to get a little more on which to live.
I beg to move, in page 8, line 1, after the word "incumbent," to insert the words "or any future incumbent."
My reason for moving this Amendment is that during the Committee stage of the Bill this Clause was inserted to give present incumbents the right of collecting their own tithe, and, as has been said from the other side on a previous Amendment, of thereby saving the 5 per cent. charge which Queen Anne's Bounty would make for the cost of collection; and I want to extend that to future incumbents, for this reason. It may quite easily happen that the present incumbent may die shortly after the Act is passed The position is exactly the same in that parish as regards the facilities for collecting the tithe, and I cannot see why his successor should not have the same right. Of course it may be said this interferes with the finance of the Bill, but I do not think there is any right to interfere in any way in the case of the poor incumbents. If they can save 5 per cent. they should have the right to do so.
I beg to second the Amendment.
If it is good that the present incumbent should have this option there is no reason whatever why a future incumbent should not have the same right. All the principles that apply to the first should apply to future ones in exactly the same way. I do not think the case needs any argument. The. Government will perhaps see their way to accept the Amendment, which gives all incumbents an equal right whether they happen to be in possession now or hereafter.
We cannot accept the Amendment. The original concession was made for the purpose of meeting the case of incumbents who in the past had themselves collected their tithes, upon whom an extra charge would be put by the Bill for collection. Now what my hon. and gallant Friend wishes to do is really to leave on the incumbent the onus, the burden and the indignity of having to collect his own tithe from his own parishioners. To my mind, central collect ion is the best feature of the Bill, and while we are willing to make an exception in the case of existing incumbents who have not hitherto employed an agent that they may not lose a portion of their income, we cannot alter the main framework of the Bill.
I find a little difficulty in following the right hon. Gentle- man. I should like to ask him how he intends that Queen Anne's Bounty shall collect tithe except by an agent. Queen Anne's Bounty obviously has to employ an agent. All my hon. and gallant Friend wants is that in these cases if the incumbent wishes, Queen Anne's Bounty may be employed at a commission of only 2½ per cent. Why should not the incumbent, who may be a poor man, earn this 2½ per cent. as agent for Queen Anne's Bounty rather than employ a man who might have no connection with the parish? The right hon. Gentleman has made no answer.
I wish we had had an opportunity of discussing Queen Anne's Bounty. We might then have persuaded the Solicitor-General that it was not the best feature of the Bill. Obviously the collection will be much more expensive when you have to send a man from London than when it is managed by a man on the spot. I hope the hon. and gallant Gentleman will proceed with the Amendment, which seems to mo to be an important improvement on the Bill.
On the Second Reading of the Bill we raised the point as to how Queen Anne's Bounty was going to collect these tithes, and, if my memory serves me rightly, we were assured that Queen Anne's Bounty would not attempt to collect the tithe generally through specially appointed agents of their own, but that where there had been agents who had been in the habit of collecting it previously, and they could properly be appointed by the Queen Anne's Bounty, that would be done. If the policy of the Government is that Queen Anne's Bounty is not to disturb old arrangements as to the collection of these tithes, then it is to be supposed that Queen Anne's Bounty will allow the incumbent in every case in which he chooses to do so to be the agent for the collection of the tithe. If I may respectfully say so, we are entitled to some more specific statement of the intentions of the Government as to how Queen Anne's Bounty is to work the business. I am certain that we were given a specific promise that Queen Anne's Bounty would not attempt to collect the tithe through new and central agents of their own, but would continue the previous arrangement in every case in which they could properly and reasonably do so. I hope some answer will be given by the Government on that point.
I hope the Solicitor-General will give the House some further information as to the effect of the proposed Amendment. It may mean that any new incumbent may have the right to collect the tithe, notwithstanding the fact that his predecessor did not collect the tithe himself. Whether that is intended or not, I do not know. On the other hand, it may be limited to the particular incumbent whose predecessor did collect the tithe himself. I cannot see that there can be any real objection, if the limited interpretation which I am seeking to put upon the second hypothesis is the right one. I am prepared to vote in favour of the successors of the incumbent who had exercised the right of collection having the right to collect the tithe. We ought to know what effect the Amendment will have if inserted in the Bill.
I hope the Government will not make a concession on this Amendment. While it may be desirable to give the present incumbent who has been for some time in the habit of collecting the tithe himself, the right to continue to do so, it would be detrimental to the whole scheme of the Bill to make the concession permanent and to allow any or every incumbent (he right to collect the tithe. Tithe is either easy or hard to collect; it is either cheap or expensive to collect. It is either collected from one or two men who pay regularly in considerable sums, or it is collected from a large number of small payers. That means that it is expensive and difficult to collect. If you make this concession to the tithe owner, the result will be that all those owners who can collect their tithe easily and inexpensively will do so while those whose tithe is split up into a number of small pieces, or whose payers are very bad payers, will leave the tithe to be collected by Queen Anne's Bounty or their local representatives. What will be the result? The cost of that collection will be far heavier. It will make it more if the whole of the tithes, good and bad, were collected together in a pool and the expenses shared. A very valuable concession appears on the Order Paper which will compel the collection of the tithes through local committees. That will be a very valuable concession and will meet any objection hitherto raised. I do not see there will be any difficulty about it. Perhaps they will be collected by one agent for a large district.
The point is this. A man is perfectly qualified to collect his own tithe. He does it now and has done it for a long time. His successor will wish to do it in future as his predecessor probably has done it in the past. Why should this House say, "You are not to do this any more. You are to employ an agent to do it." Even if it might be a local agent, agents will not work for nothing, and I do not blame them for that. But why should we say that the collector must be employed to collect the tithe. The main point is why should a man who is capable of collecting tithes in his own parish have to employ a collector? The question of pooling only applies to clerical tithes and docs not include cathedral tithes. The main point is why should a man have to employ an agent if he is capable of collecting himself?
I really do hope the Government will yield on this point. T shall vote against them if there is a Division upon it. The question is whether or not the incumbent may himself collect the tithe. If the tithe is £200 a year, 5 per cent. on that is ten sovereigns. Queen Anne's Bounty is going to charge 5 per cent. That is what we understand. It seems to me
an excessive charge. I do ask the Government why on this simple point the incumbent should not be able to save his £10 or £5, whatever it may be. Queen Anne's Bounty can effect their own economies, but whether they can or cannot, I do claim that the incumbent should be permitted to save his little sovereign.
If this concession be granted to future incumbents it will be granted solely at the expense of the poorer incumbents. The present-incumbents, who exercise this option, will probably be the incumbents who collect what are referred to as good tithes, that is tithes which are easy to collect. If we permit the incumbents who hold good tithes to extend that option to their successors, it will moan that Queen Anne's Bounty will be left solely with the collection of what have been referred to as bad tithes, that is these small tithes which are difficult to collect. I ran give a case of a living of £400, which is built up entirely of tithes of 24s. and 25s., tithes which are very expensive to collect. These are the type of tithes which will ho. loft to Queen Anne's Bounty, and in consequence the overhead charges will rise, and the increased cost of collection will fall on the poorer incumbents.
|Division No. 374.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Adamson. Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Fenby, T. D.||Kennedy, T.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Lansbury, George|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Gibbins, Joseph||Lawson, John James.|
|Barnes, A.||Gillett, George M.||Lee, F.|
|Barr, J.||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Lindley, F. W.|
|Batey, Joseph||Greenall, T.||Lowth, T.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Lunn, William|
|Bennett, A. J.||Groves, T.||Mackinder, W.|
|Broad, F. A.||Grundy, T. W.||Mac Andrew. Charles Glen|
|Bromfield, William||Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Bromley, J.||Hall. F. (York, W. R. Normanton)||Marriott, Sir J. A.R.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Morris, B. H.|
|Buchanan. G.||Hardle, George D.||Murnin, H.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Hayday, Arthur||Naylor, T. E.|
|Cape, Thomas||Hayes, John Henry||Neville, R. J.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Clowes, S.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Oliver, George Harold|
|Cluse, W. S.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Palin. John Henry|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Hirst, G. H.||Paling, W.|
|Connolly, M.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan. Neath)||Philipson, Mabel|
|Dennison, R.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Duncan, C.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Potts, John S.|
|Dunnico, H.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Pecl|
|Edwards. C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Kelly, W. T.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Ritson, J.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W.R., Elland)||Sutton, J. E.||Whiteley, W.|
|Rose, Frank H.||Thurtle, E.||Williams, David (Swansea. E.)|
|Scrymgeour, E.||Tinker, John Joseph||Williams, Or. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Scurr, John||Townend, A. E.||Wilson, M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)|
|Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Varley, Frank B.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Viant, S. P.||Windsor, Walter|
|Smile, Robert||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Snell, Harry||Warne, G. H.||Wright, W.|
|Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES. —|
|Stamford, T. W.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah||Sir Henry Slesser and Sir Gerald|
|Stephen, Campbell||Westwood, J.||Hohler.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Fielden, E. B.||MacAndrew, Charles Glen|
|Albery, Irving James||Fleming, D.P.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool. W. Derby)||Foster, Sir Harry S.||Macintyre, Ian|
|Apsley, Lord||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Macmillan, Captain H.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Fraser, Captain Ian||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John|
|Astor, Viscountess||Ganzoni, Sir John||MacRobert, Alexander M.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Gee, Captain R.||Malone, Major P. B.|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.|
|Benn, Sir A. s. (Plymouth, Drake)||Goff, Sir Park||Meyer, Sir Frank|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Gower, Sir Robert||Milne, J- S. Wardlaw|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Grace, John||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Grotrian, H. Brent||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Brass. Captain W.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Moore, Sir Newton J.|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Hall, Vice-Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)||Morrison. H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Morrison-Bell. Sir Arthur Clive|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hanbury, C.||Murchison. C. K.|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Hanry||Nail, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Harland, A.||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Brown, Brig. Gen. H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Harrison. G. J. C.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Burman, J. B.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Oakley, T.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Haslam, Henry C.||O'Connor. T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Hawke, John Anthony||Oman. Sir Charles William C.|
|Campbell, E.T.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Owen, Major G.|
|Cassels, J. D.||Henderson, Capt. H.R.(Oxf'd, Henley)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Cecil. Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Plicher, G.|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Christie J. A.||Hilton, Cecil||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Churchill, Rt.' Hon. Winston Spencer||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Radford, E. A.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Cobb Sir Cyril||Holland, sir Arthur||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Holt, Captain H. P.||Remer, J. R.|
|Cockerill, Brigadlr-General G. K.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J.(Warw'K, Nun.)||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Conway Sir W. Martin||Howard, Cap|