asked the Home Secretary (1) whether he is aware that the Commissioners of Church Temporalities, established under the Welsh Church Acts for purely temporary functions, are still in possession of substantially all the funds intended for charitable purposes; and, as they have now held this fund of nearly £2,000,000 for close upon 25 years to the deprivation of charitable causes, spending nearly £250,000 on salaries and other expenses and a further £40,000 in law charges, will he take steps in the coming autumn to wind up the administration of the Commissioners;
(2) whether he is aware that the present custodianship of the Commissioners established under the Welsh Church Acts is to be of indefinite duration and that £10,000 per annum of these charitable funds are spent in administrative expenses; and what steps are being taken beyond the partial distribution of funds next autumn to relieve the beneficiaries who have been committed to capital liabilities and who are embarrassed by the postponement of the full distribution of funds?
My right hon. Friend has made careful inquiries and is satisfied that the continuation of the life of the Welsh Commissioners has been due to circumstances quite beyond their control. Their work is, however, now nearing completion, although the final distribution to beneficiaries must necessarily await the computation by the Tithe Redemption Commission of the amount of Redemption Stock to which the Welsh Commissioners are entitled. I know of only one case in which embarrassment was alleged to have occurred, and understand that payment to the full amount requested was made last January. The beneficiaries are now receiving all the land to which they are entitled. It is the intention of the Commissioners to make the partial distribution of funds this autumn on as substantial a scale as the Welsh Church Acts permit.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the University College of North Wales has undertaken very heavy financial responsibilities for buildings, and that unless this money is distributed soon they will have to borrow money at a very heavy rate of interest to meet their commitments, and is it not a scandal that one Department of the Government is able to hold up this distribution for a period of 25 years at an enormous expense and loss to the beneficiaries?
As I have said, my right hon. Friend has made personal inquiries into this matter, and he is satisfied that the Commission have conducted their affairs properly and expeditiously. There will, however, this autumn be a very substantial distribution of cash to the beneficiaries.
I have said that the Commissioners are now nearing the completion of their work, and Parliament will have an opportunity this autumn of discussing the position of the Commission.