Orders of the Day — Church of England (National Assembly) (Measures)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 10th March 1944.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Molson Mr Arthur Molson , High Peak

I could have understood much better the argument of the hon. and learned Member for Warrington (Mr. Goldie) had it not been for the careful provision that is made in the Church of England Assembly Act, 1919, that in the case of any Measures passed by the Church Assembly, the Ecclesiastical Committee of the two Houses should consider whether it affected the constitutional rights of any of His Majesty's subjects. As the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Rye (Sir G. Courthope) has pointed out, this matter has been gone into in a judicial spirit by this Committee, and it recommends to the House that the Measure should be approved. I rise to draw attention to the value of the work of the Ecclesiastical Committee. In the case of a great deal of legislation it has been found necessary for this House to give delegated power to other authorities. The power to legislate in the case of legislation dealing with the Church of England has been delegated to the Church Assembly. When a Measure has been passed it is submitted to this House for approval or disapproval.

When the hon. and learned Gentleman said there was something peculiarly wrong in this House not undertaking to examine these Bills in detail in Committee, the same thing occurs in the case of a number of Regulations as, for example, the Regu- lations under the Unemployment Act, 1935. What does so clearly distinguish the case of ecclesiastical Measures of this kind from the other delegated legislation which is enacted by Government Departments and by the Executive in general, is that there is no Committee of this House which subjects other delegated legislation to a careful scrutiny to ensure that the constitutional rights of His Majesty's subjects are not unduly infringed.