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made affecting the modes of procedure and the application of the funds arising from the Royal bounty of Queen Anne. The scope of the Governors' work and the area of their responsibilities have been enlarged almost in proportion to the increase of their capital. At length, by the Dilapidations Act of 1871, the Board were made, for the purposes of that statute, the bankers of the clergy, and the recipients of all money paid under it. They were also, as we have stated above, made necessary parties to the insurance of all ecclesiastical buildings. In their capacity as bankers a sum of about 80,000l. is constantly lodged in their hands.
This sketch of the history and action of Queen Anne's Bounty Board will enable us the better to form a judgment on the part they have been called upon to play in the matter under consideration, and of the wisdom of the course which they themselves have adopted.
In the year 1872 Lord Egerton, one of the acting Governors of the Board, introduced, as we have seen, into the House of Lords a Bill for the Insurance of Ecclesiastical Buildings. In the succeeding year the Governors passed the following resolution :
“Having considered the Report, they determine to wait for a time; but record their opinion that it strengthens the impression entertained by them that it is desirable in the interests of the Church that a measure on Fire Insurance similar to the Bill submitted to the House of Lords should become law.'
In the same year they passed the following resolution :
"The Governors agreed that the Church of England Fire Insurance Bill should be introduced into the House of Commons; Mr. Alderman Besley to act on behalf of the Board as to the measure during its progress through Parliament.'
On February 16, 1878, a similar Bill having been introduced into the House of Commons, they passed the following resolution :
"That this Board approves the principle of the Bill introduced by. Mr. Leighton for compulsory insurance with this Board of ecclesiastical buildings, and that a Committee be appointed to consider the details of the Bill when printed, and to suggest what is necessary to give effect to the provisions thereof.'
Before they had received the Report of their own Committee, and while the Select Committee of the House of Commons was still sitting, on May 13, 1878, they again met and passed the two following resolutions :
ist. That the Board is of opinion that it has no machinery suitable for giving effect to the provisions of the Bill in the way proposed.
• 2nd. That no part of the funds at present administered by Queen Anne's Bounty Board ought to be applied in any way to the undertaking of insurance.'
It should be stated that the Board was composed of different individuals on each occasion when they considered the subject. They did not rescind their former resolution approving the principle of the Bill—on the contrary it remains a record of their opinion. The explanation suggested is that the first resolution represents the opinion of the Board on the principle, the two last on the details of the scheme. Perhaps, however, the publication of the above resolutions will make some think that the recommendation of Mr. Bouverie's Committee in 1868, with regard to the constitution of the Board, was not ill-timed.
At the beginning of the session of 1878 two Bills were introduced into the House of Commons, affecting very materially the position of the Bounty Board. The one was introduced by Mr. Bass and Mr. Monk, with the object of entirely extinguishing the Board and transferring their duties to the Ecclesiastical Commission. The other was the Bill of which we treat, which proposed to throw upon that body functions possibly exceeding in their pecuniary importance to the Church any which they have up to the present time performed.
It had long been observed that the Dilapidations Act, having introduced the principle that the clergy should be compelled by law to insure the buildings belonging to their benefices, had cast a new burden upon them. The continuous and inevitable decay from lapse of time was an expense which, in one form or another, had always belonged to them. The new Act, while it rendered this old charge more onerous, by creating an extremely expensive method of procedure, at the same time originated a new burden. So it resulted that the clergy were compelled to pay amongst themselves large sums under the head of Dilapidations,’and at the same time, under the head of 'Fire Insurance,' to pay to strangers, that is to say, to the shareholders of the private Insurance Offices, large sums to secure themselves against the very unlikely risk of fire. It was, however, perceived by some that the severity of the compulsory payments under the old denomination of * Dilapidations' might be materially relieved if the clergy were enabled to keep amongst themselves the compulsory
payments under the new head of Insurance. The main groundwork, therefore, of the Bill was to reserve to the clergy themselves the profits arising from their own premiums. The premiums themselves were to be reduced from 1s. 6d. to Is. per cent. for ordinary first-class risks. The insurance policy was to be perpetual, and instead of lapsing every year was to remain in force without renewal, as a charge upon the incumbent for the time being. By this means it was intended to free the incumbent from the danger of losing the advantage of his insurance in case of a fire breaking out when his premium was in arrear. The tiresome obligation of exhibiting the receipt of the last year's policy at the Archidiaconal visitation was dispensed with ; the profits were to be retained for the benefit of the Church. But together with these advantages, the original Bill contained a clause that the business was to be conducted by the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, that is to say, by a body of 600 persons. The compulsion to insure with them was to extend without exemption to all the buildings which came within the scope of the Dilapidations Act, but it was left to the Governors to decide the class under which the insurance was to be effected, that is to say, whether the premium was to be 'Is., or Is. 6d., or 25., or more. The authority given to the surveyors was almost unlimited, and seemed to exclude appeal. It was not evident on the face of the Bill how the profits were to be applied. There was no arbitration clause, nor were the conditions of the insurance to be found in the schedule of the Bill. Moreover, the Governors had power to give up the business after a year's notice. It will be seen how fully these objections were maintained, and the alterations in the Bill when it emerged from the Select Committee show how fully the force of some of them was appreciated.
The Bill came on for its second reading early in the session of 1878. The debate proved that although the House of Commons were willing to consider any Bill of such a character which was proposed in the interests of the clergy, yet that upon the merits of this particular Bill they were profoundly ignorant. When members were told on one side that the clergy approved, that Queen Anne's Bounty Board approved, that the House of Lords had approved a similar Bill six years before, that a Select Committee of their own House had approved the principle, that the Lower House of Convocation had approved, that the parochial clergy had been consulted through the Rural Deaneries, and that no less than 140 Rural Deans had signified approval, they were inclined
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to read the Bill a second time. But when they heard almost every one of these statements questioned, if not flatly contradicted, and when, moreover, it was urged that to sanction the Bill would be to create 'a system of gigantic monopoly.' that it would be 'a breach of trust to allow the funds of Queen Anne's Bounty to be used in a method not contemplated by its founder,' that 'the scheme was quite certain to end in ruin, and was a mere speculation, when they heard all these things asserted in opposition to the Bill, and when, moreover, the Bill was not brought forward by the Government, but by a private member, it was only natural that the House should readily accept the middle course, which relieves it from all responsibility; and so the Bill was referred to a Select Committee.
The Committee in the present instance consisted of the following seventeen members :-Earl Percy (chairman), Mr. Rodwell, Mr. Monk, Mr. Birley, Mr. Whitwell, Mr. Bristowe,
Waterlow, Mr. Freshfield, Mr. Rowley Hill, Mr. Wait, Mr. Mc Lagan, Mr. Stanley Leighton, Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen, and Mr. Hall. The last two were unable to attend.
In comparing the names on the Committee with the published lists of Directors of Insurance Offices, we find that at least six were Directors of Fire Insurance Offices.
It was necessary for the promoters of the Bill, if they were to carry its principle, to show generally
ist. That the clergy desired the Bill.
3rd. That it was possible to give to Queen Anne's Bounty Board a machinery equal to the work.
The exact contrary of each of these propositions was maintained by the opponents of the Bill; and so battle was joined. We will now discuss the arguments submitted to the Committee under separate heads, not in our own words, but in the words of the witnesses themselves, whose character and position we will first describe.
The clerical witnesses were the Rev. Michael Gibbs, Vicar of Christchurch, Newgate Street, London, Proctor in Convocation for the Diocese of London, Prebendary and Treasurer of St. Paul's Cathedral, Chairman of the Committee of Convocation for the amendment of the Ecclesiastical Dilapidations Act; the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of Chichester; the Rev. Lord Alwyne Compton, Rector of Castle Ashby, and Archdeacon of Oakham; the Rev. H. A. Jeffreys, Hon. Canon of Canterbury Cathedral, Vicar of Hawkhurst, Rural Dean,
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member of Convocation; the Rev. George Trevor, Canon of York Cathedral, Rector of Beeford.
The actuarial evidence was given by~Mr. Cornelius Walford, Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries, Chairman of the Colonial Life Insurance Company, standing counsel to several Insurance Companies, author of the Insurance Cyclopædia; Mr. Plummer, the Manager of the Wesleyan Methodist Trust Assurance Company; Mr. Dudgeon, the Manager of the County Fire Office in Ireland, which takes the Insurances of the Irish Church property ; Mr. Ansell, an actuary ; Mr. Tomkinson, Chairman of the Committee of the Associated Fire Insurance Companies ; Mr. Aston, Treasurer and Secretary of Queen Anne's Bounty Board.
In taking evidence before a Select Committee of the House of Commons the Chairman examines the witness in
nation, every member of the Committee is invited to put any question he likes to the witness. The intention of the Committee is first of all to call before them the persons most conversant with the subject who are willing to give evidence, and then to obtain from them, all that can be said for and against the scheme submitted to them. For the sake of brevity and clearness, we have divided the evidence under certain distinct heads, giving in the words of the several witnesses themselves their opinions. We have in some instances inserted the question as well as the answer, in order the more exactly to show the drift of the argument.
On the question of the opinion of the clergy in reference to the Bill, the Rev. Michael Gibbs said :-.
“The subject of Ecclesiastical Fire Insurance has been under the consideration of Convocation, and their opinion is that Parliament should take it in hand. The action of Convocation in the matter during the last six years has been to appoint two Committees to report on the question.'
The Report of these two Committees upon which the Bill is based have been referred to at length in an earlier part of this article; we therefore omit them here.
As far as I have collected, there is a very large preponderance of clerical feeling in favour of the Bill, there are not half a dozen cases in my knowledge in which the feeling is doubtful. I have seen answers from 150 Rural Deans, not one of which is entirely adverse, but three or four object to the compulsory part of the Bill. It appears, from the circulars which have been sent out to the Rural Deans, that the parochial clergy all over England and Wales have been consulted through the Rural Deaneries. Broadly, I consider