Laurie to Under-Secretary of State
Colonial Committee of the
Church of Scotland
22 Queen St. Edinburgh
21 September 1869
I have the honour on behalf of the above Committee to submit the following reply to your letter of the 31st May with enclosure from the Governor of British Columbia.
1. As it appears from the Attorney General's Report to the Governor that the existing Law of the Colony is now sufficient for the purposes of the Promoters of the "Ordinance to incorporate the Members" of St. Andrew's Church, and as there is a prima facie inexpediency in granting to various religious bodies separate legislative incorporation, the Committee are not prepared at present to support the application for the enactment of the ordinance. They must wait for further information as to the special grounds for urging it.
2. At the same time while waiting for fuller information, the Committee must respectfully protest against the doctrine on which the argument of the Attorney General for theColonyManuscript image Colony of British Columbia seems to be in large measure founded. If for general or special reasons of local importance it be considered expedient that the ordinance in question should be passed, no objection can be taken to it on Constitutional grounds. The Church of Scotland is a part of the Constitution of the United Kingdom and is necessarily recognized as such by the Crown at home and abroad. (See 5 Anne cap. 8 Art. 25 of the Treaty of Union and relative Act of the Scottish Parliament 1690 cap. 5.)
On this point the Attorney General seems to be under some misapprehension.
I have the honor to be,
Your obedient Servant
Simon T. Laurie
Minutes by CO staff
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[WR] 22 Sept 69
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Sir F. Rogers
I gather from this letter that the Colonial Committee of the Church of Scotland view with disfavour the proposed Ordinance.
Probably, therefore, without some further explanation of the special objects which this congregation has in view, Lord Granville wd hardly be prepared to instruct the Governor to assent to the proposed measure.
Send a copy of this report to the Governor & write as above suggested.
I have no very strong opinion against the incorporation—though I think this Ordinance should be reconsidered—but I still am disposed to think that it is not desirable that every congregation or religious body should be incorporated.
The incorporation of the congregation of a Church is certainly unusual, if not unprecedented, and as all the objects (so far as I know) of the members of the congregation can be attained without incorporation, the onus is upon those who advocate the change to show the special advantages of it.
I certainly doubt the expediency of allowing such a section as the 7th by which rules of the corporation are put on the same footing as a local ordinance.
HTH 23.9.69
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I do not know on what ground the Committee state "that there is prima facie inexpediency in granting to various Religious bodies separate Legislative Incorporation." I should have stated positively the direct contrary—that whenever there was practical succession, it was prima facie expedient to give that succession the most convenient possible legal shape.
In the paper of [GH?] I believe every constituted society is ipso facto a corporation, capable of acting thro' some officer. And I fancy that the system works well. On this point vide minutes on 5567.
I think generally we shall get into a scrape, if, in a Colony not practically Crown, we intervene betn the central body of the Scotch Church & its outlying dependencies—not receiving Govt pay.
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However in the present case the authority of the Col. Committee is recognized by the promoters of the Ordce—so that we are safe in acting on their authority—within limits.
I wd write that observing that the promoters of this Ordinance recognized the jurisdiction of the Colonial Committee of the Church of Scotland, Ld G. had referred it to that body for any observations they mt wish to make upon it. That it appeared that the Colonial Committee declined to urge its adoption, & that, this being the case, Ld G. considered that, independently of objections of detail raised by the A.G.,Manuscript image the promoters of the bill wd themselves desire that it not be passed—that Ld G. therefore directed the Govr to withold his assent from it.
FR 25/9
G 30/9
Other documents included in the file
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Rogers to Secretary to Colonial Committee, Church of Scotland, 6 October 1869, forwarding copy of despatch to the governor on the subject for information.
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Draft reply, Granville to Musgrave, No. 96, 2 October 1869.