HC Deb 27 January 1807 vol 8 cc558-9
The Lord Advocate

of Scotland moved the second reading of the bill, for suspending, for a time to be limited, the powers granted to the lords of council and session in Scotland by an act of the parliament of Scotland, made in the 4th session of the first parliament of queen Anne, intituled, "Act anent Plantation of Kirks and Valuation of Teinds," so far as relates to the granting augmentations of the stipends of the clergy in Scotland in certain cases.

Mr. W. Dundas

expressed his approbation of the present bill. The frequency of the augmentations of stipends for these many years past rendered such a measure highly necessary; but more particularly so at present, because since the intimation was lately given in the other house of parliament of a change being in contemplation in the courts of Justice in Scotland, a race had been run by the clergy of that country for augmentations of their stipends. In the parish in which he had some connection, the clergyman had applied for a new augmentation within a few months after having received a very large addition to his former stipend.

Mr. Perceval

observed, that if this was the true state of the case, it formed an argument not only for this bill to suspend the powers of the court of session, but also for the proposed regulations; for if that court exercised its power of granting augmentations blindly and without consideration, it was a good reason why it should be deprived of it. And if the clergy shewed such improper greediness, certainly they ought to be restrained. He was sorry, however, to hear this character of them, for he had before understood that the clergy of Scotland were a most respectable body of men, against whom there was less ground of reproach than almost any other class whatever. The house was not in a situation, however, to decide upon these points, and therefore this could not be any argument in favour of the bill at present. But, in addition to this, it would be hard to stop suits already commenced, and therefore if there were a great many suits of this sort pending, this was rather an argument for not suspending the powers of the court of session.

Mr. W. Dundas

denied his having expressed any distrust of the court of session, or having said any thing disrespectful to the clergy of Scotland. What he said was, that some repose was desirable for the clergy, and he was not singular in this opinion, for the present president of the court of session had, when lord advocate, introduced a bill for discontinuing these suits for augmentation for 40 years.

Mr. Horner

said, that he understood this bill to be brought in, not in the spirit of hostility to the court of session, but the contrary, for it was intended as a relief to them. The power to grant augmentations belonged to the members of the court of session only as commissioners. It was not a business that came under their jurisdiction as a court of justice, but properly of a legislative nature. This business had lately much increased, and it was proper that the court should be relieved. He highly complimented the clergy of Scotland, who were distinguished for their piety and good morals. Their emoluments, he said, were very inadequate to their station, and the duties they had to perform.

The Lord Advocate

disclaimed any distrust of the court of session, or any disrespect to the clergy of Scotland. It was his pride to be descended from a family, which the clergy of Scotland, who were eminent for their learning, piety, and morals, had always looked up to as their firmest friends. The object of the bill was to relieve the court of session from a press of business of this nature. No less than 149 suits for augmentations had commenced since July last.—After some further conversation, the bill was read a second time, and ordered to be committed on this day se'nnight.

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