asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that the Tithe Redemption Commission mistakenly withheld the payment of some £62 per year for four years from the Archdeacon Johnson's Foundation Charity, Oakham and Uppingham, upon the alleged grounds of a possible liability to Land Tax, which was finally found not to exist; that if reasonable care had been taken this could have been discovered in the first year; that, as a result of this underpayment, the charity was unable to carry out its full obligations, with resultant hardship to the aged poor of the county of Rutland; and whether he will direct that the sum of £33 11s. 6d., representing interest at three per cent. on the sums withheld from the due dates, shall be paid to the said charity?
I have inquired into this case and am satisfied that the amount of interest withheld was a proper precaution against overpayment. I regret that full payment could not be made earlier, but this was one of the last of a great number of cases where the facts relating to Land Tax had to be ascertained. The Tithe Act provides for the payment of arrears of interest, and these have been paid; but there is no authority in the Act for payment of interest on these arrears.
If the Tithe Commissioners have retained this money for four years, has it not earned interest in their bank account, and why could not that income be paid over to this charity?
I have explained to the hon. Gentleman that there is no authority for doing so under the Act.