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Scottish Churches Commission

Volume 180: debated on Thursday 8 August 1907

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I beg to ask the Prime Minister what amount of capital funds was entrusted for allocation to the Commissioners under The Churches (Scotland) Act, 1905; what sums have now been allocated to the Free Church and the United Free Church, respectively; and what amount remains unallocated.

The evidence given before the Royal Commission showed the total of all the funds of the undivided Church to be £1,618,000. I am informed that subject to the addition of certain legacies which were not then available, this is believed to be correct. The Commissioners are not at this moment in a position to give a final and specific statement of amounts under the several heads of allocation; but for the convenience of those interested, they have, in their Memoranda on this subject, closely followed the arrangement of the Abstract of Funds quoted in the Report of the Royal Commission, and a comparison of these documents will give the information required as accurately as is as yet practicable.

Do the Government intend to take any action to prevent the improper allocation of the money?

That is a matter clearly within the discretion of the Royal Commission, with whose action the Government has no power to interfere at this stage.

I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that, by a Memorandum dated 26th July, the Churches (Scotland) Act Commission has from capital funds subscribed for definite purposes allocated to the Free Church a lump sum of £250,000 for the support of the ministry, for itinerant preachers, and for administration, and that, to prevent the Church from being unduly fettered in its detailed distribution and management, this fund has been allocated without any restriction to the trust purposes for which it was originally subscribed; and whether, in view of this diversion of trust funds, he proposes to take any action.

I am acquainted with the terms of the Memorandum referred to by my hon. friend, but since the Commission have acted on the responsibility imposed on them by the Act of 1905, I am not prepared to take any action.

How will it be secured that the money is applied to the purposes for which it has been allocated if there are no restrictions as to its distribution?