HC Deb 17 February 1807 vol 8 cc838-40
The Lord Advocate

rose, pursuant to notice, to bring forward a motion upon this subject. The noble lord, after some remarks upon the propriety of enabling the clergy to preserve that independence of circumstances, and that decency of appearance which were necessary to secure the due deference of their station, and not unfrequently to give effect to their instructions, called the attention of the committee to the manner in which the clergy were provided for in Scotland. In many instances their provision was extremely inadequate, and his object was to remove that inadequacy. With a view to that, he conceived it necessary that the commission of Teinds, which had heretofore belonged to the court of session, should be transferred to the court of exchequer. The reason for this transfer must be obvious to those who were at all acquainted with the comparative engagements of these two courts. In the court of session there was, in fact, such a crowd of business, that that court had not leisure to attend to the discharge of this commission, while the court of exchequer was fully enabled, without any inconvenience, to execute every thing that appertained to it. The one court was really a bankrupt in its business to the country, notwithstanding the extraordinary activity and diligence of the judges, and particularly that of the chief judge, who was indeed a model of industry; while the other court was comparatively disengaged. The removing therefore the superintendence of teinds to a tribunal which had time to attend to it, was of course desirable. I[...]the next place, he proposed to create fund for the provision of the clergy, from the stipends received by patrons from the death of an incumbent to the induction of his successor. Such receipts patrons had heretofore disposed of for such purposes as they thought proper to consider pious; but it was now generally felt, that the erection of the fund he had mentioned, would be by much the most pious application of it. The noble lord concluded with moving "for leave to bring in a bill for repealing certain parts of the act of the parliament of Scotland passed in the fourth session of the first parliament of queen Anne, intitled, ?Act anent Plantation of Kirks and Valuation of Teinds;' and for vesting in the Court of Exchequer in Scotland, the said powers: and for regulating the proceedings of the said Court of Exchequer, as to the exercise of such powers."

The Speaker

observed, that as this motion concerned religion, the regular mode of proceeding, according to the standing order, would be to take it into consideration, in the first instance, in a committee of the whole house.—After a few words from lord A. Hamilton, the house resolved into the committee suggested by the Speaker, the resolution proposed was agreed to; and on the house resuming, the chairman obtained leave to bring, in the bill.

The house, after lord H. Petty had announced his majesty's acquiescence in the measure, resolved itself into a similar committee on the motion of the Lord Advocate; and the noble lord proposed that leave should be given to bring in a bill to improve the stipends of such of the parochial Clergy of Scotland as are precluded from farther augmentation by the exhaustion of their teinds.

Mr. W. Dundas

hoped he should not be represented as hostile to the interests of the Scotch clergy, who were a most respectable body, and for whom no man had a higher respect than he had, if he thought it right to state here that in making a suitable provision for their maintenance, regard ought always to be had to the situation in which the order had for two centuries stood. That situation was that of a middle rank, between the common people and the gentry, moderating the pride of the latter and the turbulence of the former. He thought the application of the revenues of vacant benefices might exceed the moderate and suitable provision he proposed.

Lord Archibald Hamilton

considered this a measure of the utmost importance. He had received many communications respecting it, and hoped that time would be allowed to all parties to investigate its merits.

The Lord Advocate

was disposed to accede to any period of delay that could be reasonably expected, and he had no doubt that upon a fair consideration of its merits, such persons as might at present misunderstand it, would be reconciled to its provisions. To afford therefore to any who opposed the measure an opportunity of correcting their errors, and amending their feelings, he proposed if the bill should be read a first time, to move that it be printed, and the second reading fixed for this day three weeks.—The house having resumed, the report was received, and the chairman obtained leave to bring in the bill moved for by the lord advocate.