HC Deb 02 December 1803 vol 1 cc63-4
The Chancellor of the Exchequer

moved the order of the day, that the house do now resolve itself into a committee, to consider of the most effectual and expedient mode of affording a temporary relief to curates, who might be deprived of their cures, by the operation of the clergy residence act, passed last session.

Sir Robert Buxton

expressed his opinion, that this was a business which deserved the most serious attention of the house. Nobody, said the honourable baronet, can feel more than I do, the inconveniencies to which that valuable body of men, the stipendiary curates, may for a time be subjected, if no relief can be granted them by the legislature. But whilst I look on this side, of the question, and admit the expediency of affording relief to these men, who must otherwise labour under considerable difficulties, I ought not to neglect to glance a little at the other side, and observe the circumstances that form more than a counter-balance to the necessities of the curates, and that is the necessities of the country. In the present situation of the country, so burthened with taxes, to support the arduous contest in which we are engaged, nothing can excuse a compliance with an application of this sort, but the most absolute necessity. In the present instance, I am by no means satisfied, that such a necessity does exist. The clergy, who before kept curates, but who are now compelled to reside on their livings, may very well spare a maintenance for those who were in the habit of performing the duty of their functions, until another provision shall occur. The clergy are certainly able to afford this expense, as it is notorious, that the value of their livings have of late received a very ample increase. These few observations, I have thought it my duty to throw out at present; at the same time pledging myself, that whenever any subject of expenditure, that is not indispensably necessary, does come before the house in the present circumstances of the country, I shall uniformly and strenuously object to it.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

agreed, that nothing could be more commendable than the cautious jealousy expressed by the hon. baronet, respecting the application of the public money. He was anxious, however, that the house should rightly understand the object of the present motion. It was merely meant to do away an informality which has crept into a similar bill, brought forward last session, even after the commencement of hostilities, and which passed through all its stages in that house, without having met with one dissentient voice. When the bill for enforcing the residence of the clergy, was under consideration last session, it was generally acknowledged, that its operation must press hard upon a certain description of curates, who might be reduced, both themselves and their families, to great distress, by the passing of that bill. It was not then, neither is it now, intended) to make full and general compensation to all of that description, who may be deprived of their cures; but merely to rescue from the most ruinous indigence, many meritorious curates, who may be more particularly injured by the non-residence bill. He was as sensible as any gentleman could be, of the propriety of observing a system of rigid economy; but he was as equally satisfied, that the house would not wish that any system of that nature should stand in the way of the generosity, he had almost said the justice, which certain individuals, under certain circumstances, might have to expect at their hands, The house would, no doubt, the more incline to that opinion, when they understood that the sum to be proposed, for answering this object, was not to exceed 8,000l. and that that sum, small as it was, would be under the restrictions imposed by a bill which had already received the unanimous approbation of the house. He had only to repeat, that the object of the bill went merely to procure a temporary relief for indigent curates, and that the amount of that relief was not to exceed 8,000l.—The house having agreed to the motion, the right hon. gent, moved, "that a sum not exceeding 8,000l. be granted for the relief of such curates as should be deprived of their cures in consequence of the bill compelling the residence of the incumbents." This motion was agreed to, and the resolution immediately reported.

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