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statement were required, we find that within a few weeks one of the leading statesmen of the day-Lord John Russell himself, as one of the Commissioners-has again represented that their powers were completely inadequate, and has made a specific proposition, which, whether it be acceded to or not, shows what the present position of the Board is with regard to a large class of charities. The resolution in question is in the following terms :-“That for the purpose of extending such means (viz. those for national education), it is expedient that the powers at present possessed by the Commissioners of Charitable Trusts be enlarged, and that the funds now useless, or injurious to the public, be applied to the education of the middle and poorer classes of the community.” It is a fact which we will take for granted, that there are numerous and considerable charities which are not only not useful, but positively injurious to the recipients and the parishes where they are distributed. And it is another fact, that the Commissioners have powers insufficient to stop this mischief, and apply the funds profitably. Not that the Charitable Trusts Acts fail in provisions relating to Schemes. They contain clauses enough, under which schemes may be framed for the class of smaller charities, i.e. where the income is less than thirty pounds per annum ;3 and other clauses are directed at the class of large charities; and doubtless, whenever there has been fit opportunity for applying these provisions they have been applied ; but the jealousies, real or affected, under which the statutes in question have been framed, have hindered proper powers being extended to the executive, whereby it may institute as of right those reforms which the commonwealth demands, and which the experience of the Board has shown to be requisite. If, indeed, those interested in charitable trusts—trustees or cestui que trusts—either on account of their desire to amend defects and abuses, or from intestine disputes,

· See the sixth of the Resolutions moved by Lord John Russell on March 7th, relating to National Education.

* See Speech (March 7th) of Lord John Russell, who cites his authorities for the notorious fact, the Dean of Hereford and others. He also referred, justly enough, to the obstructive diligence of Chancery M.P.'s, who fostered all charity abuses with tenderness—a charge which, we trust, no one will be able to prefer against them again.

3 Estimated at about 25,000 in number,

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or any laudable or unlaudable motive, should invoke the aid of the Board, its machinery, indirect or imperfect as it is, may be set at work. But if all parties are content with an improper, uneconomical, and irregular management of an endowment, the chances are that that will still be done which ought not to be done, and that left undone which ought to be done.

When Lord John Russell's resolution above referred to comes on again for discussion, and he endeavours to persuade the House that all the smaller and unbeneficial charities dispersed throughout the kingdom would be better employed in sound education; and when again the schemes of the Charity Commissioners come before Parliament, we entreat our readers to mark the speeches made ; and if no effete argumentation, smacking of borough politics, and weak objections—alternately puerile and senile—are employed to deter the House from taking a sensible course in this matter, we shall have to congratulate the country on having an improved body of representatives, or on these being by accident better engaged than in meddling with and defeating the praiseworthy efforts of others.

While we are now writing, the “Third Report from the Charity Commissioners for England and Wales” has appeared. The bulk of the 148 pages which the Report and Appendix occupy, consists of eight schemes for the better employment of some important charities, to which we shall presently refer; but we find at the outset a statement made as to the

powers which may now be exercised by the Board, which, as being the official account of the result of the legislation, should be compared with its real object, as stated by Lord Lyndhurst in 1844. It will be observed, that in almost all of the more important functions which the Commissioners state they have to perform, they have also to report to her Majesty that they are inadequately armed with authority.

· The debate in committee upon Lord John Russell's resolutions commenced on April 11th, and terminated virtually in their rejection ; but, as we anticipated, the plan of applying charities to educational purposes, which are now confined to demoralizing the lower classes, met with the high disapproval of various members ; and the Board of Charity Commissioners were assailed with charges of " confiscation,” and vague warnings about “subverting all the charities of England.”

The Commissioners then state (in page 3 of the Report): “We have extended powers of requiring information from the trustees of charities and their agents, and the recipients of charitable funds, subject to an exemption of all persons claiming property adversely to any charity, from inquiry relating to such property.

We are enabled to give advice and direction to the trustees of charities, who are protected from responsibility in acting upon our opinion; but the direction has otherwise no authority, and

may be repudiated by all or any of the trustees as they may think fit.

“The right of private persons to institute legal proceedings on behalf of charities is placed under our control, and it is duty to prescribe and regulate the publication of notices of all proposed applications to the Courts for the appointment or removal of trustees, or the establishment of schemes under the summary jurisdiction created by the Act of 1853. Our approval, also, is requisite to the validity of orders made by the County Courts or District Courts of Bankruptcy for the same purposes.

“For enforcing the due application of the funds of charities, or the recovery of their rights, or procuring for them administrative relief, we are enabled to certify to the Attorney-General cases in which we consider it desirable that legal proceedings should be instituted by him ex officio for such objects. This is the only mode open to us of attaining them where no persons are disposed to undertake the necessary proceedings before the Courts upon their own responsibility, or it is inexpedient that private parties should conduct such proceedings.

“We have very beneficial powers to authorize sale, exchanges, leases, and improvements of charity estates; and we may sanction the redemption of rents-charge, the compromise of disputed claims, and the removal of schoolmasters and other officers, though our warrants for these purposes are not imperative on any persons. The Act of the last session has afforded also to charities an important protection against improvident leases and alienations of their estates, by prohibiting such dispositions for

| Referring to certain provisions of the Amendment Act which escaped through the Commons.

terms exceeding those of ordinary occupation-leases, unless made with the authority of our Board, or under parliamentary or judicial sanction.

“ The same Act contains a provision under which we may authorize the transfer of charitable funds to the official trustees by any trustees or other persons holding such funds, and willing to adopt that course.

“We may apportion any charities of a parish divided into districts between such districts, if the annual incomes of such charities do not exceed 301.

“We are empowered to propose for the sanction of the Legislature schemes for the improved application of charities, where the same objects are beyond the jurisdiction of the Courts.

“Finally, we receive the annual statements of account directed to be made by all trustees of charities, though we have no direct means of enforcing their delivery."

After stating what the Board has done (or endeavoured to do) upon nearly nine hundred applications, the Report proceeds to state that the Commissioners are without the means of instituting any systematic or comprehensive inspection of charities ;" but that, nevertheless, they have been enabled to discover and register 3,000 charities which either had escaped the inquiries of the former Commissions, or had been founded subsequently to them. A little later we read (Report, p. 5): "Further experience has confirmed us in our estimate of the very beneficial effect of an authority to direct and indemnify trustees by our advice in cases of doubt or difficulty ; but we have reason to think that its benefit would be greater if the law had given to our direction (at least when adopted by a majority of the trustees) a binding effect until reversed or varied by a competent Court.”

The Commissioners then, we see, state again, as they have stated before in almost every paragraph of their third Report, that their utility is still limited, and, as we infer, that the parliamentary fetters forged for them—by the persons and in the way we have already described-have answered remarkably well for all the purposes of rendering their labour and its results out of all proportion. During the year 1855, eight hundred and fifty-four special applications were made to the Board. The circumstances of these charities were considered, and no doubt on numerous occasions trustees have received very useful advice and directions; but it is palpable that even here their efforts are crippled, and their labours may be made nugatory at the will and pleasure of recasant trustees.

And now it behoves us to say a few words as to the principles upon which new schemes for the employment of charity property may be framed.

There are eight schemes proposed by the Board under the 54th and six following sections of the Charitable Trusts Act, 1853, which enacts that when it shall appear to the Board desirable to have a new scheme for the management of a charity, which cannot be carried out otherwise than by the authority of Parliament, such scheme may be proposed by the Board, and having been provisionally approved," "published,” “altered,” “modified,“referred to,” and “reported on" by inspectors, unprovisionally approved” and “

and “certified,” shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament, together with the objections which have been made against the scheme, as well as the grounds of the Board's approbation thereof. These eight schemes, which will have to encounter the wisdom of the Lords and Commons, relate to some large and important charities, including Sherburn Hospital (Durham), Moulton Endowed School, the Spalding Charities, Dulwich College, and the Coventry and Nottingham Charities.

The decision of the Legislature, say the Commissioners, referring more particularly to the Coventry Charities scheme,

may enable us the more confidently to select our course of duty in other cases.” The scheme in question cuts off mischievous distribution of large funds, and proposes their rational application; wherefore, there is out of doors, amongst the dispensers and recipients of the large funds, much holy horror for the impious Board which dares profane the sacred wills of founders dead and gone. Probably the discontent in Coventry will find some eloquent echo at St. Stephen's;? but we will not prophesy whether the Commissioners will find real support

1 Strong indications of this have been already shown incidentally in a speech by Mr. Ellice, the member for Coventry, on April 11.

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