Skip to main content

Ecclesiastical Tithe Rentcharge (Rates) Bill

Volume 41: debated on Monday 14 June 1920

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Amendments reported (according to Order).

My Lords, in the Committee stage I undertook to consider an Amendment by Lord Parmoor in Clause 1 at the end of subsection (1) to the effect that in estimating the net annual value of the tithe rentcharge or any payment in lieu of tithe for such assessment the deduction in respect of rates to be allowed from the value of the rentcharge shall still be the full amount of the rates assessable upon the owner of the tithe rentcharge or payment in lieu of tithe. Since then I have considered the matter carefully and have reluctantly come to the conclusion that it does not properly come within the scope of this temporary measure. In the circumstances I am unable to accept it.

My Lords, I desire to ask a question of immense agricultural importance with regard to the effect which tins Bill will have upon the redemption of tithe. I, and others, have been going into the question, and it seems to us that the result of this Bill will be seriously to increase the number of years purchase for the redemption of tithe. The object of the Act of 1918 was to facilitate and increase the redemption of tithe as far as possible, and I understand from what my noble friend said the other day that a great number of applications have already come an for the redemption of tithe, and that he redemption is going on satisfactorily.

I think I am right in saying that under the present conditions it was estimated that in the majority of cases the cost of redemption would be from 16½ to l8½ years purchase. Under the Redemption Act in estimating the amount of the purchase money, the amount of rates that had been paid by the incumbent for tie past three years was to be deducted, and I take it that the effect of this Bill will be to say that the incumbent is to pay no rates at all, and so any one redeeming this year will have an average of three years. Say, for instance, the first year of the average the rates are 7s. in the £, and the previous year 8s. in the £, and this year nothing in the £, the effect will be that you will only have to add 7s. and 8s. in the £ and to divide the total by three, and the result will be a reduction for the present year of only 5s. instead of 6s. or 7s. in the £. Then, after this year, there will be no rates at all to be deducted in the case of redemption.

I do not want to go into the question at this late hour, but I would like to remind your Lordships that when tithe was commuted a very liberal allowance was made in regard to rates, and I noticed in a Parliamentary return made to the House of Commons in 1839, under the heading of my own county of Somerset, in the parish of Wells, the net amount of the tithes was put at £431, while the rates paid by the landowners in the parish were £112, which together works out at £543. When, however, the tithes were commuted, the commissioner was even more liberal, because he added another sum of money, and the whole computation came out at £600. Therefore, the rector for the time being, instead of receiving £131, received £600 a year. It is true that he had to pay the rates of £112.

It seems to me that now that the tithe is being redeemed, in the same way as the Rector got the benefit before when the commutation was made, the landowner should get the benefit of the rates when the tithe is being redeemed. If the number of years' purchase is increased in this way from 18½ to 20 years it will, I think, considerably prevent the redemption of tithe. There will be no very great temptation to the landowner to redeem. I understand that the object of the Bill is to promote temptation, and that the Church thinks it very desirable to get tithe redeemed. Therefore, I hope that my noble friend has thoroughly considered this question.

My Lords, it will, of course, be one result of this Bill that the deduction for rates in arriving at the compensation for redemption will eventually be considerably less than otherwise would be the case, and that, consequently, the redemption money to that extent will be increased. This may possibly induce landowners to apply at once, before the full effect of the alteration is felt, and thus increase the present rate of redemption. But I do not expect any very large increase from this cause, in the immediate future. In the long run I see no reason to expect that the Bill will affect the progress of redemption, which is already proceeding very rapidly, out of all proportion to anything known in the part. For example, taking the first six months of this year, the number of applications received was 1,789 as compared with 230 in 1913, and the amount of rent charge involved is £36,000 as compared with £885. That shows the great progress which has been made. With regard to the noble Lord's request that the matter should be fully considered, in view of the circumstances to which he has referred, I can tell him that certainly the point will be carefully taken into account when the whole matter comes to be automatically considered at the end of the present year. His arguments will be very carefully considered by me at that time.

Can the noble Lord say what will be the difference in the number of years purchase?

That is a matter which has to be considered. I cannot give the figures now.