Слике страница

satisfaction of the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, in at least three-fifths of the value thereof; and he shall cause the receipt for the premium for such insurance for each year to be exhibited at the first visitation of the Bishop or Archdeacon next ensuing after the same shall become payable.' And the 55th section :

“In case of fire, if the Office shall elect to pay the sum insured, instead of causing the buildings to be reinstated at the expense of the office, the sum so paid shall be paid to the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, and dealt with as moneys standing to the credit of the dilapidation account.'

In the following year (1872), a Committee of the Lower House of the Convocation of the Southern Province was appointed to consider what alterations should be made in the law relating to the Dilapidations of Ecclesiastical Buildings. The members who formed the Committee were the Prolocutor, the Archdeacons of Taunton, Ely, and Berks, the Rev. Lord Alwyne Compton, the Rev. Messrs. Dayman, Fagan, Hopkins, Howeil, Sumner, Tatham, Woodgate, and Gibbs (Chairman). In their Report, amongst other valuable suggestions on the main subject of their consideration, they made the following observations on fire insurance :

As a class, ecclesiastical buildings are less liable to be burnt down than other buildings, and consequently form one of the most profitable classes of insurance for the Fire Insurance Offices, and yet the same premium is charged for them as for other buildings. It is credibly reported that owners of many houses, instead of insuring them in any Fire Office, become their own insurers, by annually putting aside, or at least saving themselves from paying the amount of premium which the Fire Office would charge. In the event of fire, this saving is available for restoring the damaged building, and the owner has the profit which otherwise would belong to the Office. Your Committee are of opinion that the Church might act as such owner of all its buildings and become its own insurance office. Your Committee therefore recommend that legal provision be sought to enable the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty to act in this matter in behalf of the Church, and to undertake the insurance of all ecclesiastical buildings and their contents against damage by fire, in a method similar to that which is now in operation in connexion with the Fire Offices. Your Committee further recommend that all new incumbents be obliged to insure with the said Governors. The premiums might be paid by the clergy as tenths now are, and be recoverable by the Governors in the same way. The facilities which the office of the Bounty Board affords for this proposed work in connexion with that which it now performs, no less than the kind of property insured, justify the Committee in expecting that these insurances might be effected at a less percentage, and also that there would result a profit income applicable to increase the fund for the augmentation of small livings, or to pay the expenses of the surveyors and registrars under the Ecclesiastical Dilapidations Act, 1871, or' for other Church purposes. The provision here recommended would be especially beneficial to the clergy by diminishing both the trouble and the expense occasioned by the 55th section of the Act ; for, as the Governors would know the fact of insurance and could secure the payment of the premium, a proviso might be added that the receipt of the premium of insurance be not exhibited at the visitation, when the insurance has been effected at the office of the Bounty Board. The Governors might also be empowered to accept the insurance of the whole fabric of the church on the application of the churchwardens and others.'

This proposal, explained and recommended as above, was formulated into a Bill and introduced into the House of Lords by Lord Egerton, that same year. The Bill was read a second time, was referred to a Select Committee, and amended by the Committee without limiting the principle upon which it was based. It was not, however, proceeded with further in the session of 1872.

In the year 1876, we find the Lower House of the Convocation of Canterbury again taking up the matter, and referring it to another and larger Committee. The Report of the Committee runs in the following words :

Whether the Church of England, by means of the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, should become its own fire insurance office, is another branch of the inquiry now before your Committee. In most of the replies made to their inquiries, this proposal was approved. Some, indeed, approved it subject to no fees being called into existence, but others gave it their unconditional support.' The Committee proceed to recommend that another Bill should be introduced into Parliament, and the profits of fire insurance should be applied'in aid of the dilapidation account of the several benefices in proportion to the amount of the several premiums received from those benefices.

Partly in consequence of this Report, but perhaps more in consequence of the deep dissatisfaction felt by the clergy with the operation of the Ecclesiastical Dilapidations Act, Mr. Goldney, in 1876, moved in the House of Commons for a Select Committee to inquire into the whole subject. In an exhaustive Report, the Committee give the weight of their authority in favour of a scheme which had occurred to more than one person, and which was powerfully supported by the

Bishop of eithed, thee. By ure the ccidente sion of

Bounts for insuranceja secure the rident, or b

Bishop of Peterborough, which would include, in one annual payment either to a Diocesan Board, or to Queen Anne's Bounty Board, the charges for dilapidations and the premiums for insurance. By this simple method, one payment, annually made, would secure the incumbent from loss arising either by decay of time, or by accident, or by fire.

It was earnestly hoped that the session of 1877 would not have passed away without a Bill founded upon the report of Mr. Goldney's committee being introduced by the Government. Representations had been addressed to the Home Secretary, and the clergy anticipated relief. No Bill, however, was brought forward. In the meantime, the Dilapidations Act continued in operation, causing hardship in particular cases, and creating unnecessary expense in all cases. The unpopularity of the Act, to some degree, extended itself to the authorities into whose hands its execution was entrusted, that is to say, to the Bishops and to the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty.

Queen Anne's Bounty Board is an institution, if not ancient, yet long established, and is one of those peculiar growths issuing from the connexion of the Church with the sovereign of these realms. Bishop Burnet, in his History of His Own Times, tells us how, in the year 1704, on her own birthday, which was the 6th of February, Queen Anne sent a message to the House of Commons, signifying her purpose to apply that part of her revenue that was raised out of firstfruits and tenths paid by the clergy to the increase of all the small benefices of the nation. The revenue amounted to 15,000l. a year, and had never been applied to any good use. Indeed, in Charles II.'s time, the Bishop says it went chiefly among his women and natural children. When the Queen's message was brought into the House of Commons it was opposed by the Whigs and supported by the Tories. In the House of Lords the Bishops were zealous and unanimous for the Bill, so it was carried and passed into law.'

It was high time, indeed, that something should be done to improve the social and pecuniary condition of the clergy. We need not here describe, again, a state of things which underlay the vivacious pictures of Lord Macaulay and Mr. Lecky. But we may point out how both historians admit that, notwithstanding the hard lot of the rural clergy, their political influence was enormous. In writing of the general election of 1710, Mr. Lecky makes these remarks :

“The immense power displayed by the Church in this struggle was not soon forgotten by statesmen. The utter ruin of a Ministry

supported by all the military achievements of Marlborough, and by all the financial skill of Godolphin, was beyond question mainly due to the exertions of the clergy. It furnished a striking proof that when fairly roused no other body in the country could command so large an amount of political enthusiasm, and it was also true that, except under very peculiar and abnormal circumstances, no other body had so firm and steady a hold on the affections of the people. Never was there a period less characterised by that intellectual torpor, which we are accustomed to associate with ecclesiastical domination, yet in very few periods of English history did the English Church manifest so great a power as in the reign of Queen Anne.'

Such was the position and influence of the Church of England when the Bounty Board was established, just one hundred and seventy-two years ago. What is her present position and influence it is not the province of this article to describe, but we take notice that in the late session of Parliament a Bill was brought in by Mr. Bass and Mr. Monk for the total abolition of the Bounty Board and the transfer of its duties to others.

The Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty are nominated in the charter of their creation, and consist of the Archbishops, the Bishops, the Deans, the Lords-Lieutenant of counties, the Judges, the Queen's Counsels, the Serjeants-at-Law, the Chancellors and the Vice-Chancellors of the two Universities, the Mayors and Lord Mayors of cities, the Aldermen of the City of London, the officers of the Green Cloth, the whole of the Privy Council, and the Speaker of the House of Commons—in all about 600 persons. Their duties, which have in the course of years been largely extended, now consist in the collection of the revenue from first-fruits and tenths, its application to the augmentation of small livings, the control and investment of a constantly increasing capital, the lending of money to the clergy for building and kindred purposes. In recent times the augmentation grants have invariably been met by voluntary benefactions. For example, 2001. offered for the augmentation of a living by an individual benefactor, or through public subscription, is met by the Bounty Board by a grant of another 2001. The whole 4001. is then handed over to the Governors, invested by them, and the interest paid by them to the incumbent of the benefited living. From the year 1809 to the year 1820, an annual sum of 100,000l. was placed at the disposal of the Board by a Parliamentary vote; the revenue was appropriated to the augmentation of certain specified livings, the capital sum remaining in the hands of the Board for investment. Thus has been accumulated in the course of years a capital which now amounts to between 3,000,000l. and 4,000,000l., which is held by the Governors, and placed by them upon a great variety of securities. Interest at the rate of 31. or 311. per cent. is paid to the incumbents of the augmented livings. It is computed that through this instrumentality the addition to incomes now being received by incumbents has reached an annual sum of 250,000l. and is increasing at the rate of about 1,000l. a year. The augmentation of income has been coupled with a corresponding addition to duties. New churches have been built, in consequence of a sufficient endowment having been provided for the performance of services, and the residence of the clergy has been secured by the erection of suitable parsonages. The capital in the meantime has been used to facilitate various ecclesiastical purposes, other than the augmentation of small livings, to the great benefit of the Church. Thus in 1777, under the provisions of Gilbert's Acts, the Governors were enabled to lend money at interest for the building of new and the improvement of old parsonages. Since that year about one million has been lent under that head alone. By virtue of similar Acts of Parliament, large sums have been lent for the building episcopal and capitular residences. In the year 1843, under an Act of Parliament, 600,ocol. was lent by the Governors to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. This sum has lately been repaid, and again invested by the Board. The operations of the Board are now extended to such a degree that either as payers of augmentation grants, or as receivers of the interest of money lent for building purposes, they are in yearly correspondence with 10,000 beneficed clergymen. In the judgment of Mr. Bouverie's Select Committee, which sat in 1868, and took evidence in reference to this peculiar corporation, the business was carefully and well conducted,' and in their opinion 'neither economy nor convenience would be promoted by its amalgamation with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.' But a recommendation was added worthy, perhaps, of greater attention than it has ever received, either from the Church or from Parliament, to the effect that the Board should be rendered 'more conformable to the shape in which it actually works, by being reduced in number, the members having a more defined responsibility, and there being a considerable lay element in the new constitution.'

So in the course of years from its foundation to the present time, both by Acts of Parliament, and also by a series of orders under the sign manual, many changes have been

« ПретходнаНастави »