HC Deb 04 June 1824 vol 11 cc1093-5

On the order of the day for receiving the report of the committee on this bill,

Colonel Davis

opposed the motion. He adverted to the returns laid upon the table of the House to show that even under the late erections, no attention was paid to the accommodation of the people. He instanced the populous places of Manchester and Bristol in support of that inference. He had no hostile feelings towards the national establishment, of which he was a member; but he felt persuaded, that in guarding against such a profligate waste of the public money, he best proved his respect for its character. He then moved as an amendment, "that the report be received upon that day six months."

Mr. Leycester

supported the amendment. It was pastors and priests that the people wanted, and not edifices of brick and mortar. The people sought for spiritual bread, and the chancellor of the Exchequer gave them a stone. He objected to such demands from a richly endowed church upon their dissenting brethren. It could leave no other impression on the people, but a conviction of the cupidity of our establishment.

Mr. B. Cooper

defended the bill, as the best means of assisting the national church, and preventing the continuance of that want of accommodation which tended to wean so many from the established church and fill the congregations of the Dissenters. He had heard with regret the term profligate expenditure of the public money applied to the measure. That appeared to him most extraordinary language—and only applicable to brothers. If the law permitted Dissenters to sit in that House, good sense and good taste should induce them not to speak in such unmeasured and inappropriate language.

Mr. Hume

deprecated the language made use of by the hon. member. He defended the conduct of the Dissenters, and contended for the right of that body to deliver their sentiments upon the church establishment whenever they pleased; unless, indeed, they were to be fleeced of their money without complaint. He strongly opposed this bill, as tending to make the clergy less useful than before, and to encourage a profligate expenditure of the public money for partial purposes. This work ought to be effected by private contribution, and he would not vote one shilling of the public money for it out of the pockets of the Dissenters and Catholics. No parish in England ought to receive a shilling of the grant, unless it was proved to be unequal to the expenditure. It was in vain to build churches unless clergymen were provided calculated to give satisfaction to their congregations.

Mr. Carus Wilson

contended, that the measure was highly acceptable to a majority of the community.

Mr. Hudson Gurney

asked, whether it was intended to empower these commissioners to supply the whole funds for building the churches which might be found wanting in populous districts, or whether they were simply to grant an aid to such districts, the principal expense being to be borne by the parishioners? He asked this question, because, if the first were intended, it seemed to him to be unfair to tax the country for building churches in the towns.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer,

in answer to the hon. gentleman, observed, that the commissioners under the bill had the discretion of distributing or lending the money according to their view of the means and securities of particular parishes.

Sir J. Newport

complained of the inconsistency of making the Catholic population of Ireland pay for building Protestant churches. The extension of the new churches in England ought to be made in a different manner from that provided by the bill. He was apprehensive that this grant would be abused here as a similar grant had been in Ireland. It was extraordinary to hear the advocates of the established church talking of the great liberality with which they treated their dissenting brethren, when it was an undisputed fact, that in France and Hungary, both Catholic countries, the pastors of the Protestant church were all supported at the expense of the state.

Mr. Grattan

took the same view of the subject as his right hon. friend, the member for Waterford.

Mr. Philips

felt that it was a disgrace to the House that no grant should be made for the religious instruction of the population of Ireland, where such aid was particularly wanted, and yet that 500,000l. should be granted for the purpose of erecting new churches in England, in places where the inhabitants declared that such buildings were not wanted.

Mr. Monck

would support the measure, if he thought it would conduce to the interest of the established church. He could not, however, convince himself that it was required by the interest of the establishment, and he must therefore pause before he gave it his support. He complained that the church of England had not, at present, its root in the affections of the people; and attributed its unpopularity to a want of zeal in its teachers, who, however respectable they might be in other attainments, were certainly deficient in attention to the spiritual wants of their flocks. Adverting to the manner in which the money already granted had been expended, he observed that large sums had been advanced to parishes where the inhabitants were rich; but that nothing had been advanced to parishes equally large and populous, where the inhabitants were poor. He attributed this circumstance to the regulations of the bill itself, which were exceedngly faulty. He believed that if the Methodists were allowed to build churches, and to retain the patronage of them in their own hands, it would bring back a numerous and respectable class of Dissenters to the pale of the church. In conclusion, he wished the bill to be postponed till next session, in order that the subject of it might undergo the further consideration of government.

Sir I. Coffin

—I say, Sir, let us go on, and have the churches.

The House then divided: For the amendment 9: Against it 42. The report was then brought up.