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Rules Of The Ecclesiastical Commissioners—Question

Volume 202: debated on Thursday 30 June 1870

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said, he would beg to ask the hon. Member for North Devon, Whether the Rules and Regulations of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners are generally known or understood; whether he will be so good as to state what are the conditions on which the Commissioners make Grants for Churches, for Parsonages, for Endowments, and in aid of Endowments; and, whether they make Grants or give aid in any way to small populations in the same relative proportions as to large populations?

, in reply, said, if the experience of the hon. Member for Derby led him to the conclusion that the proceedings of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners were not generally understood, he could assure him it was not from any want of any care or trouble on the part of the Commissioners, whose constant endeavour was to give the public the fullest information, and to make their rules distinct and intelligible. If he might judge from the number and form of the applications brought constantly under the personal notice of the Commissioners, there was little lack of understanding of the rules on the part of those whose interests were chiefly affected. As regarded the second Question, the conditions on which the Commissioners made grants for parsonages and endowments and in aid of endowments, were advertised in the papers yearly, as will as set out in the Annual Reports presented to Parliament. As regarded churches, the Commissioners only contributed in their capacity as landlords, where estates were vested in them. They contributed to schools also on the same principle. In all cases where ecclesiastical property had passed through the hands of the Commissioners the local claim of the parish was recognized at the earliest possible period with reference to its peculiar circumstances. Respecting these local claims there were no published rules, but it might be stated generally that in the case of parishes having such a local claim, and a population of not less than 500 persons the income was raised to £300 a year with a house; where the population was large, provision was also made for a curate, as in the case of the local claims on the Finsbury Prebend. In cases of population below 500 having a local claim, an augmentation was made, but to a smaller amount. There was another class of cases in mining districts, in which the Commissioners gave one-half of the stipend of a curate on condition of the other half being locally provided. These grants amounted to nearly £12,000 per annum, as stated in the last Report. As regarded the third Question, the Commissioners did make grants and give aid to small populations in at least the same relative proportion as to larger populations. As was stated to the hon. Member on a former occasion, they were in a greater relative proportion. If the hon. Member had any suggestion to make with a view to render the proceedings of the Commissioners more generally known they would receive every attention, as the Ecclesiastical Commissioners courted publicity in every way, and only desired to discharge their duty in the most efficient manner.