HC Deb 07 June 1809 vol 14 cc920-2

The house resolved itself into a committee of the whole house, to consider further of a supply to be granted to his majesty.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

called the attention of the committee to the subject of the Smaller Livings in England, the increase of which was the object of queen Anne's Bounty. He had himself given the matter much consideration; and from the pains taken, he was in hopes he should have been enabled to have brought the matter fully under their consideration in the course of this present session; but though the returns were as yet but imperfect, those from four dioceses not having been made, yet he thought no time should be lost, as they approached to the end of a session, of doing something, by way of pledge that the business would be ultimately reduced to a system. By the returns already made, imperfect as they were, it appeared, that by the regular application of queen Anne's Bounty, it would take forty years to come, to make the smaller livings up to 50l. a-year; that it would take three times that period, of 120 years, to make them up 100l. a-year, end so on in a greater proportion. He considered it wise, therefore, to take a step towards accomplishing the first degree, by proposing to the house, to vote the sum of 100,000l. to be paid to the governors of queen Anne's Bounty, to be laid out in the same manner as that fund. Supposing the house to pursue that system yearly, without any increase, they would attain the first object, namely, the increase of small livings of 50l. a-year, in the short space of four years. He declared his intention of not confining the measure to England, but intended, on a future day, to move an address to his majesty for a statement of the Poor Livings in Scotland and Ireland, for the purpose of extending similar relief. He concluded with moving "That a sum not exceeding 100,000l. be granted to his majesty, to enable his majesty to pay the same to the Governors of the Bounty of queen Anne, for the augmentation of the maintenance of the Poor Clergy, to be by them applied in the increase of the maintenance of the Poor Clergy, according to the rules and regulations by which the Funds of that Corporation are governed; and that the said sum be issued and paid without any fee or other deduction whatsoever."

Lord Milton

did not object to this resolution, but observed, that a part of queen Anne's Bounty had been applied to other than purposes strictly clerical. He also remarked that a great many of the small livings were in the possession of rich pluralists, who could have no need of the augmentation.

Mr. Wilberforce

expressed in strong terms his approbation of the measure, and observed, that it was highly honourable in his right hon. friend to have attended to this subject, amidst such a variety of avocations. Many of the inferior clergy suffered the most extreme hardships, and the vote was equally gratifying to the feelings and to the judgment. He then adverted to the scandalous fact that in many places, particularly in the large towns, the poorer classes had not the means of attending public worship. Some remedy ought to be applied, and for this purpose, he thought the building of churches ought to be facilitated. The expense and other circumstances formed at present very powerful obstacles.

Lord H. Petty

concurred in the object of assisting the parochial clergy, and looked with satisfaction to what had been done by a bill which he himself had some time ago brought in for relieving the small livings from the land tax. He wished that a plan could be devised to confine the relief to such small livings as were not possessed by rich pluralists. He also suggested the propriety of making queen Anne's Bounty effective in Ireland.

Mr. Curwen

approved of the measure, and concurred in what had fallen from the hon. gent, near him respecting the want of accommodation in churches for the poorer classes. He thought some attention ought to be paid to the condition of schoolmasters, and referred to the northern parts of the island, as an instance of the advantages of educating the poor.

After some observations from sir J. Newport, Mr. D. Browne, Mr. Parnell, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Babington, and Mr. Carew,

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

rose, and expressed his satisfaction at the reception which the proposition met with. It was not at present proposed to form a system. The suggestions for improvement would be afterwards considered. He stated that the present grant, if continued, would in four years raise the value of the lowest livings to 50l. a-year.

The resolution was unanimously agreed to.